The list of players that have featured for both Grimsby and Lincoln is only marginally longer than the list of players David Holdsworth brought to the club. Trying to pick just one or two out isn’t easy, but here are my three picks of off the wall, none obvious players that have played for both clubs.
Toner was an accomplished and composed midfielder who added real value to the squad when he signed in August 2004. He had started out at Spurs as a trainee and arrived via Peterborough, Bristol Rovers and Leyton Orient. It took him some time to settle in the side, but goals against Grimsby in a 4-2 win and then a week later against Mansfield in a 2-0 win certainly helped. It appeared at that stage he would go on the cement a place in the first team, especially as he gave a solid performance in his next outing against Oxford in which we won 3-0.
He managed to keep Peter Gain on the bench as Keith solidified the midfield with stronger, central players. That turned me against Ciaran Toner in the first instance.
Unfortunately for all connected with the club he was involved in a training ground incident with giant striker Marcus Richardson that allegedly resulted in a Ciaran Toner shaped dent in the bonnet of Gary Simpson’s car. Both players were immediately made available for transfer, and Toner spent the rest of the season on loan at relegated Cambridge United.
In the summer of 2005 he signed for Grimsby and the script writers up above gifted him a derby-day goal as they ran out 3-0 winners in December. That didn’t derail our promotion push though and Toner represented the Cods as we hammered them 5-0 in March. He was one of the players withdrawn at half time by a ranting Russell Slade. He lost his first team place, but still came off the bench in both play-off semi-final matches as Keith Alexander bowed out as Imps manager.
He was still wearing black and white in September 2007, his 52nd minute penalty giving them a 2-1 win as John Schofield careered towards the sack. Latterly he appeared for Rochdale three times against City, drawing every game before winding his career down with Gainsborough Trinity.
Matt Bloomer was a versatile defender who operated primarily as a right back. Alan Buckley first brought him in on loan towards the end of the 2001/02 season. He played in the penultimate game of the campaign in the 1-1 draw with Rochdale that was preceded by a fans march around Lincoln.
In January of 2003 Keith Alexander brought him back to the club from non-league exile with Telford. He came to act as cover for his back five and with his versatility he was able to do that comfortably. He was in and out of the team as suspensions and injuries affected the other players, but he struggled to force himself into the first team on a consistent basis.
He did manage to feature more regularly the season after, even bagging a goal in the 3-1 FA Cup win over Brighton. His versatility was often his undoing as he flitted between midfield and defence without managing to make a single position his. He often had to battle Richard Liburd and Mark Bailey for a starting spot, and although he played regularly towards the end of the season it was usually in an unfavoured central role.
The next season saw him play much more regularly after replacing veteran Dean West at right back. He never shook the tag of utility man though, often covering anywhere across the defence. He had an absolute stinker in March 2005 against Nathan Tyson and Wycombe, coming off after 48 minutes having been directly at fault for two of Tyson’s three goals. He’d started that game at centre half covering for the injured captain Paul Morgan. He dropped to the bench for the remainder of the season, appearing as a 94th minute substitute in the play-off final against Southend. As a striker. We didn’t score and went on to lose 2-0.
He featured as a 33rd minute sub for an injured Lee Beevers in our 3-0 defeat at Grimsby Town on December 28th, the same game Toner scored his revenge goal in. Just five days later he was starting alongside Toner for Grimsby after completing a loan deal. He only played once more for Lincoln in a 1-1 draw with Bury.
Bloomer filled a role without ever making himself indispensable to Keith Alexander. His ability to play a number of positions adequately ensured he kept getting a run out, but a lack of outright excellence in any one position meant he was often yo-yoing between the bench and the first team.
More recently he has been an integral part of Cleethorpes Town rise up the non-league pyramid, he still features for them as they currently top Lincoln United’s league.
Jamie Forrester was a ‘proper footballer’. Sometimes you’ll talk to fans and they’ll describe a player as just that, a proper footballer. A player who can dictate a game, a player who can adjust their game to suit the opposition and adjust their game to suit their own physical decline. Jamie Forrester had lost pace by the time he came to Lincoln, but rather than fade into the obscurity of the non-league his footballing brain adjusted his game so he was always one step ahead. Jamie Forrester understood the game of football and what was needed to do well in it.
He had played for Grimsby early in his career after graduating from the same Leeds youth team as Noel Whelan. His short spell at Blunder Park ended in March 1997 when he moved to Scunthorpe United which, arguably, is where he made his name. In February 1998 he announced himself to Imps fans, equalising Colin Alcide’s opener for City in our league clash. The following season, with us out of the firing line in the third tier, he bagged 23 goals for the Iron.
His career took him to Walsall, Northampton and Hull City to name but a few, and by the time he pitched up at Sincil Bank he was considered by many to be a ‘has been’. They couldn’t have been more wrong. It took him just 16 minutes of his Imps debut to score a goal, and it was the second goal of a 5-0 win over Grimsby Town, our local rivals and his former club. He had signed on loan from Bristol Rovers, and in one swoop Keith Alexander concluded his eternal search for a goal scorer.
He ended the season (and his loan spell) on five goals having signed in March, and despite our failure to negotiate the play offs, he made his move permanent. The following year with Keith gone it was up to John Schofield to reap the rewards of some smart business.
Forrester hit four against Mansfield as we won 4-2. He hit a hat trick against Barnet in a 5-0 win, and then again against Rochdale as we won 7-1. He scored against Grimsby again as we beat them at Sincil Bank (2-0) again. He blotted his copy book slightly with a red card away at Notts County, but it was easily forgiven. Alongside Mark Stallard he looked as dangerous and as lethal as at any time throughout his career. I maintain they are the best centre forward pairing I have to write about in this book.
The following season he still managed to hit 14 goals as Schofield left and Jackson came in. He weighed in with his obligatory strike at Sincil Bank against the Cod heads (that’s three in three) and won us points singlehandedly first gaining revenge for his sending off at Meadow Lane with a goal against Notts County (1-0) and then a brace as we beat Chester (2-1). Even as Stallard faded away, Jamie Forrester was still on fire.
The following season there was no room at the Bank for Forrester, he was cast aside at the same time as Alan Marriott by Peter Jackson. Whilst two of the ‘Magnificent Seven’ weren’t scoring for us (Graham and Gall), Forrester netted eight for Notts County. Bravo Jacko, bravo.
Jamie Forrester remained in Lincoln after he retired, and is still seen at Sincil Bank every so often. He turned out for Lincoln Utd too, and I expect he’s playing in an over 40’s league somewhere at the moment, still as much of a complete footballer as he ever was. Very few ex Grimsby and Scunthorpe players can commandeer the sort of respect that Jamie Forrester can with Lincoln fans.