For the first time since 1939, Grimsby Town have reached the FA Cup quarter-final after the League Two outfit stunned Premier League’s Southampton 2-1 to win the fifth round cup tie. Sixty-four places separate the two sides in the English Football League pyramid and yet the visitors, cheered on by over 4,000 fans, scored two penalties to hold on to a famous victory.
The Mariners defeated three League One sides and the Championship side Luton Town on their way to setting up their first fifth-round tie n 27 years and now they are the only team in FA Cup history to have knocked out five teams from higher divisions in one campaign.
As the fans erupted when both penalties hit the back of the net, the stadium was filled with the inflatable mascots of Harry the Haddock. Southampton had previously banned inflatables from the stadium but a last minute decision allowed the Grimsby supporters to bring their mascots 460miles down the country to St Mary’s.
Speaking after the match, the Grimsby manager Paul Hurst said: “Grimsby Town in the quarter-final of the FA Cup is something I never thought I would hear. We knew we had to get that bit of luck, but the work ethic, the discipline, the organisation, and the cool head from Gavan Holohan made it an amazing day.” Hurst also added, “We knew, no pun intended, (Southampton) had bigger fish to fry.”
As Grimsby and Harry the Haddock hit the headlines, here is all you need to know about the Mariners’ mascot...
Where does Harry the Haddock come from?
The inflatable mascot connections to Grimsby Town FC originally started when a newspaper football writer, Nigel Lowther, made a joke about ordering some inflatable fish after Grimsby won a game. At the time, Manchester United supporters were famous for bringing inflatable bananas to matches, so he thought it would add to the joke if the Mariners’ brought fish.
When fans started asking him when the fish would arrive, he accidentally started a sensation of fans queued around streets to get their fins on Harry the Haddock when the newspaper ordered some. He has since appeared at major games ever since.
Grimsby Live reported that a fan would be cheering on the Mariners in New Zealand with his original Harry that he bought in 1989 during the infamous FA Cup run in the year Harry the Haddock was born. Speaking to reporters, Andrew Bowkett said: “I remember getting the original Harry Haddock, I think through the Grimsby Telegraph, and taking it to Wimbledon in a van with five mates. “
Why was Harry the Haddock banned?
Despite the long-history of the inflatable mascot, Southampton initially said the fish would not be allowed at the FA Cup game. They said they had turned down similar requests by previous clubs and would confiscate any Harrys which arrived.
However, fans did not react well to this news, causing a stink online, and Harry the Haddock was allowed to return.
When will Grimsby next play?
Grimsby will take on Brighton and Hove Albion in the FA Cup quarter-finals on Saturday 18 March. The fixture will start at 3pm GMT. Their next league game comes on Saturday 4 March and they will take on Carlisle at 3pm. The Mariners currently sit 16th in League Two.