Brighton v Grimsby Town: Ex-captain backs Mariners to pull off another FA Cup shock

As Grimsby Town prepare for their historic FA Cup Quarter Final against Brighton, ITV News sports reporter Chris Dawkes has been speaking to former Mariners captain Dave Worthington about their prospects.

Playing for Grimsby Town in the early 1970s was an interesting time.

Not only were there ups and downs on the pitch – at one point there was even a piano on it!

As the Mariners sought to win promotion from the old Division Four in the 1971-72 season, their young manager Lawrie McMenemy invited 75-year-old supporter Charlie Gibbs onto the Blundell Park surface to tinkle the ivories as the players joined in a rendition of his latest number "Up the Mariners".

Grimsby Town players singing "Up the Mariners" at Blundell Park Credit: ITV Calendar News

Front and centre, occasionally conducting his teammates, was Dave Worthington – younger brother of 70s footballing maverick Frank – and, at 27, captain of the Mariners.

He said: "Lawrie said 'we're not training this morning, we've got a bit of fun for you.' And he brought the pianist in and we sang this song about the Mariners. It was a bit of a laugh and it was good fun."

There were plenty of laughs that season.

At the start of the campaign, Grimsby fan Dick Broadbent told his workmates he'd run around the factory naked if Grimsby were promoted.

Dick kept his word, but lost his trousers. Grimsby were promoted to Division Four and Dick took a chilly jog.

Dave said: "Lawrie made him stick to that. We all went down to the factory to clap him when he set off running and when he came back in as well. It wasn't a good sight but it was good fun."

Dick Broadbent running round Grimsby factory naked after losing bet Credit: ITV Calendar News

Those memories came flooding back to Dave this week, with Grimsby back in the national headlines.

Their history-making run to the Quarter Finals of the FA Cup has put the club back on the map.

Dave gets over to Grimsby from his home in West Yorkshire when he can to catch up with former teammates and take in a game at Blundell Park.

Dave Worthington with Fourth Division Championship trophy in 1972 Credit: ITV Calendar News

And, although he admits it's going to be tough against Premier League side Brighton this Sunday, Dave knows more than most the strength of the underdog.

"You can always win it. You can always nick a goal." says Dave. "I'm pretty sure the lads will be wound up to the hilt. They'll get a good backing from the supporters.

"The boys have nothing to lose on Sunday and if they get stuck in they have every chance. I'm hoping Hursty (manager Paul Hurst) and the boys do it again."

His confidence is well-founded. Grimsby are the first club in FA Cup history to beat five teams from divisions above them in a single season and claimed the scalp of Premier League Southampton in the fifth round.

At 77, Dave has a treasure trove of mementoes in scrapbooks and a mind full of memories from his playing and scouting days.

Dave Worthington playing for Grimsby Town Credit: MEN Media

From pitchside pianos to streaking supporters, Dave has probably seen most things (however disturbing) football can throw at you. Victory for Grimsby at Brighton on Sunday might just be a new one, even for him.

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