Rival supporters get together for a worthy cause

The supporters last played against each other at Lincoln's home, Sincil Bank where the Imps won 6-4 on aggregate. Photo: Tom Farmery/The Linc

Saturday’s main fixture sees Lincoln City travel to Blundell Park to face local rivals Grimsby Town in a bitter relegation scrap. However a few hours before kick-off (3pm) there is a fans’ charity match scheduled to start at 11am at Wintringham School, Grimsby.

The teams – Grimsby Town fans vs. Lincoln City fans — in aid of the Help for Heroes charity which supports wounded servicemen and women coming back from war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Fans from a Lincoln supporters’ online forum (Lincoln Vital) and a Grimsby supporter’s online forum (The Fishy) came together for charity in September 2008 when fans cycled the distance from Blundell Park, Cleethorpes to Sincil Bank, Lincoln in what was called “Bike to the Bank”.

In the same season, the two sets of fans played against each other in two matches firstly at Grimsby and then at Lincoln’s Sincil Bank stadium with the aggregate result finishing 6-4 to the Imps.

Event organiser Jon Spurr, who coincidently organised last season’s events including “Bike to the Bank”, and the two charity games that raised just over £1000, believes his inspiration for these events come from being under pressure to make a difference.

“I enjoy the pressure, the people around me might disagree, but I really do. Just knowing you’re doing something different and worthwhile makes it something worth doing.”

It is not often rival fans come together for a good cause and given the distance between the two clubs there has always been a grudge held amongst supporters. Yet Spurr thinks that events such as this go a long way in raising awareness amongst both clubs.

He said: “Both the club [Grimsby] and the police have commented on how it helps bring everyone together and helps bring out the good in the derbies.”

Matthew Newton, who played for the Grimsby supporters team in the defeat against the Imps fans last season and will play in this season’s games, shares this view and feels it’s great to be a part of such a commendable effort by both sets of fans.

“These sorts of events are great for both sets of fans to interact, and for it to be played in a competitive manner adds a bit extra to the day.

“There have been numerous small outbreaks of trouble over the years when the two sides have met, so it is important that we try to curve the image that a derby is just an opportunity for trouble.

“Obviously coming together for the Help the Heroes charity is something personally I am very proud to do. With the success of Bike to the Bank and the football matches last year we have raised a large amount of money for several well supported local and national charities,” Said Newton.

As much as the event is for raising money and awareness it is also about wearing the club’s colours that are provided by both represented football clubs and Newton believes this is what the event is about, enjoying it and having fun.

He said: “For me personally I love pulling on a black and white shirt [of Grimsby Town]. Playing at Sincil Bank last season was a real highlight for me. Walking out before kick-off and taking a look at the stadium from the pitch was a bit special, especially being away from home.

“We all boarded the coach and everyone was buzzing. Being in the tunnel before kick-off was something I’ll always remember.

“But whether we are playing on an awful pitch in a park or a League Two stadium, the mentally is still the same for the Grimsby fans, and that is to have fun and win!”

A bucket collection will take place at Wintringham School, Grimsby where you will be able to donate any change to a worthy cause. It is also reminded that anyone wanting to donate after the event will have to wait until the return supporter’s fixture at Sincil Bank of which a date has not yet been announced.

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