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Response to the Stevenage Statement

What a crazy last 24hrs. You may have seen or read the news about the issues at Stevenage on BBC Sport or talkSPORT or the Daily Mirror or one of the myriad of other publications. It was the most read story on the BBC yesterday! We even made ELLE and mumsnet.com!

We’re still yet to receive a reply from Stevenage F.C., but we’d like to issue this additional statement based on their reports to the media last night. We will keep members informed as and when we receive a reply from Stevenage F.C.

“Although we have yet to receive any correspondence from Stevenage, we have seen their statement. We note they do not deny any of the allegations made and we would welcome contact from them when they have concluded their investigation.

“We were very surprised to see they claim not to have been made aware of the issues on the day, as they were tweeted by several supporters during the match (these tweets remain in the public domain) and issues were raised directly with numerous stewards and Hertfordshire Police.

“We also note the contents of the statement made by Grimsby Town which contradicts the account given by Stevenage FC.
“We hope such a family-orientated club will treat these allegations with the seriousness they deserve and we look forward to hearing from them once their investigations have been completed.”

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Mariners Trust letter to Stevenage F.C.

Dear Sirs,

We write to you on behalf of the Mariners Trust – the supporter’s group which represents over 3,000 Grimsby Town fans – following Saturday’s game against Stevenage FC.

We believe there were a number of serious failings by the stewards inside the Lamex Stadium which we urge you to investigate to ensure that supporters from other clubs are not treated with the same contempt. It is our view that the treatment of Grimsby supporters by your stewards was amongst the worst our fans have experienced in decades of travelling across the world to watch football.

Consequently copies of this letter will be sent to a number of local authorities and bodies, both football clubs and local and national press.

We must start this letter by stating we appreciate the need to steward and police football matches in a safe manner and, with current world events, to ensure the safety of all of those at the ground. As supporters we fully understand the need to ensure the safety of all staff and supporters and do not object to a fair search upon entry.

Several female supporters were asked to lift their tops up to show their bras to female stewards upon entry to The Lamex Stadium. This decision – in the queue in front of other supporters, including men and male stewards – is a gross invasion of privacy.  Female supporters have also since contacted us to state they were asked by female stewards if they could feel their bras if they confirmed that they were underwired.  The supporters were made to feel uncomfortable and when they replied they would ‘rather not’ they were ‘reluctantly’ let in to the ground.  This act would effectively constitute a sexual assault and these types of searches are unlawful.  If deemed necessary, although we cannot see how feeling an underwire in a bra could be deemed so unless acting on previous intelligence, then any fans in question should have been taken to a private area of the ground to be searched by a female steward rather than being searched in full view of male stewards, fans and Police. We are not aware at this stage that any previous intelligence contributed to these types of searches being implemented against female supporters.

It must also be stressed that not all supporters were subject to the same search – some supporters were patted down, asked to empty pockets and subject to a metal detector wand. Others – including members of the Mariners Trust Board – were waved straight through without any searches at all.

We have also been made aware of full body searches being carried out by stewards on children as young as five years old. Backpacks were searched and they were subject to the same metal detector search by male stewards as the adults.  We have been made aware that at least one minor was visibly upset by being searched in this manner.

A number of items not on your banned list were also seized by stewards upon entry to the ground. Again we understand the need to keep supporters safe, but amongst the items taken include a tiny bottle of hand sanitiser (which is allowed by law onto an aeroplane), contact lens solution, cough sweets and medication. This over-the-top approach unfortunately set the tone for the rest of the afternoon.

Once the match kicked off there were further issues all caused by the stewarding in the away stand. A female steward was posted inside the male toilets near the away turnstiles (photograph attached). The steward was asked to leave by Grimsby Town supporters, but she refused despite the fact several male stewards and police officers were stood outside. We have been told by Grimsby Town fans that a number of minors used the facilities during this time which we believe raises significant safeguarding issues.  We have further been made aware that one male minor was also visibly upset by the presence of a female steward within the male facilities.

On top of this, there were no washing facilities in the men’s toilets raising hygiene issues, no soap, drying facilities or hand sanitisers. Indeed one supporter had hand sanitiser removed from their bag during the entry search! We have copied in the licensing authorities at Stevenage Borough Council to make them aware of the significant basic hygiene issues.  We note the Football Stadia Advisory Council advises that grounds should have ‘hand wash basins with running water, warm air hand dryers and or paper towel dispensers and waste bins in each toilet area.’

Significant issues occurred throughout the game due to the antagonistic attitude of the stewards at the front of the away stand. Shortly after kick off a number of stewards – wearing both orange and yellow vests – lined up in front of the away supporters sat on the front and second rows, blocking their view of the match. When supporters questioned the decision to block their view the stewards rudely told them they could move if they couldn’t see. This is contrary to the terms and conditions of sale which very clearly state supporters must sit in the seat named on their ticket.

We would suggest it also caused significant obstruction to the view of those sat at the front. They were sold – in good faith – seats with unobstructed views and paid £21 each for the privilege. The seats were subsequently mis-sold and we have sent a copy of this letter to Trading Standards at Stevenage Borough Council for them to investigate. We would ask that Stevenage FC consider refunding all those supporters who purchased tickets on the front row as a gesture of goodwill for the unnecessary obstructed views caused by your stewards. Please find attached a photograph of the view which a young Grimsby Town supporter had when several of your stewards stood in front of him for the vast majority of the match.

When supporters – including a Mariners Trust board member – asked for the names of the stewards and their superiors they declined to provide them. They also tried to stop supporters taking their photographs to aid in their identification of the stewards in question to enable them to make a complaint, the female steward said supporters didn’t have the right to receive her name or take her photograph! Please find attached photographs of some of the stewards who behaved in a disgraceful manner and who abused their position. It would seem – at the very least – they lacked basic training to be put in the position they faced.

The female steward pictured was particularly antagonistic, making a ‘fisticuffs’ gesture to a colleague, suggesting she was actively looking for the opportunity for issues to present themselves. She also mock cheered when Grimsby scored and then made a ‘stirring’ gesture to another colleague immediately after. Her actions – had they been seen by other supporters – could have caused a serious flashpoint. They were naive and inappropriate.

We must note that despite a police presence – and the police being called by stewards – we have not been made aware of any issues or arrests and police officers told supporters on the way out they had generally been well behaved.

Due to the issues faced, we would like answers to the following questions please:

  1. Was there intelligence to suggest this was a high risk fixture?
  2. What was the the risk assessment for this fixture?
  3. What is the searching policy at the ground under the terms of the safety certificate? ie what should be seized?
  4. What is the safeguarding policy bearing in mind minor persons were the subject of the search process?
  5. Is there any guidance/training in relation to the breach of human rights?

As outlined above we believe there were a number of serious failings by your football club which need to be addressed as a matter of urgency, not just for any future visits by Grimsby Town fans, but also to ensure no other visiting team’s supporters are treated as animals in the way your club did on Saturday.

Please note a copy of this letter will be posted on our website and social media channels and has also been sent to: John Fenty (Grimsby Town FC), Nick Dale (Grimsby Town FC), Phil Wallace (Stevenage FC), Hertfordshire Police, Humberside Police, Stevenage Borough Council (various departments including Safety Advisory Group), The FA, The FSF, Supporters Direct, Grimsby Telegraph, BBC Radio Humberside, The Stevenage Comet, Talksport and other media outlets.

We look forward to you treating our complaints with the seriousness they deserve and to receiving a reply in a timely fashion.

Yours faithfully,

Jon Wood (Chairman of the Mariners Trust)

Alan Rutter (Former Football Intelligence Officer and England Spotter with over 10 years experience)

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100s Club Results – July 2017

The winners of the July 100s Club draw were:-

1st Prize £200.00 Helen Cole

2nd Prize £50.00 Ian Townsend

3rd Prize £25.00 Peter Goodwin

4th Prize £10.00 P Gibson

5th. Prize £10.00 G Hanna

The draw was done by GTFC Office Manager Lisa Piggott and witnessed by C. Appleton.

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Statement: Mariners Trust Lower & Upper Young’s Bar

The Mariners Trust would like to clarify its position regarding the opening times of the Mariners Trust bar during a game.
Following discussions with Grimsby Town FC it had jointly been agreed to allow fans in the Upper to access the Trust bar 10 minutes before the half time whistle, and fans in the Lower five minutes prior.
At last night’s special board meeting it was agreed the two stands should have the same rules in place and it would be unfair to give one set of fans longer than the other.
As a result, with immediate effect, both sets of supporters will be able to access the bars from five minutes before the whistle.
If anyone has any further questions or queries they can be directed on email to enquiries@marinerstrust.co.uk
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Statement: Change of personnel within the Mariners Trust

At a special meeting of the Mariners Trust, held last night, Chairman Terry Rudrum tendered his resignation from the position. This was accepted by the board.
Jon Wood will become Chairman of the Trust on an interim basis until the annual general meeting in October. Paul Savage will be Vice Chairman on the same basis.
The Trust would like to thank Terry for his tireless work, much of it behind the scenes, and the passion he has shown for the football club.
Jon Wood said: “To ensure continuity within the Trust I am proud to take on the role of Chairman on an interim basis. We have started a consultation process with members of the Trust and we would like to invite fans, both members and non-members, to attend a special meeting prior to the Yeovil game at 11am on Saturday, 16 September. This will be an open forum giving supporters the opportunity to set the agenda for how we all take the Trust forward together.”
Further details for the process of submitting questions will be announced in due course.
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The Mariners Trust… where next?

The Mariners Trust Board are aware that sometimes organisations lose sight of where they are going.

When the Mariners Trust was reformed, it was with a clear goal in mind – aiming to get a seat on the board of the Club so that the fans’ voice could be heard directly in the Board Room, improving the match day experience, as well as connecting the Club and community.

Through a lot of hard work from a lot of people, the first goal was achieved, along with many others, to improve the match day experience of fans and to help finance the team we all love. We have run events, large and small, sponsored junior football leagues and supported other football based causes around the town/area. We have successfully run and improved the bars at Blundell Park, and let’s not forget Operation Promotion…

This all takes a massive amount of work from a group of volunteers (and a paid Bar Manager) who do it for the love of their team and in the service of their fellow fans.

The Trust has been a success by most measures; increased membership, increased influence and increased finances. But we find ourselves at a crossroad. The seat on the Club Board comes at the price of vocal opposition. Our views as fans are fed back in that arena in a calm, measured, but very clear way. With a seat on the Board the Trust is part of the Club and we can’t get away from that. The information that can come out of the board room is limited, and many people find that frustrating. Once board room opposition is voiced, the decision of the Football Club Board prevails and our representative (Jon Wood) is required to support this decision – something which can be frustrating at times. The Mariners Trust can then continue to articulate their view but cannot support anything that will potentially damage the Club (i.e. fan boycotts), without instructing Jon to resign.

The Trust has also become potentially a victim of its own success. A growing membership requires more and more administration and we have over promised and under delivered on that, because of the complexity and size of the task.

So the question is… where next?

As a Trust Board, we are seeking the views of our members as to what they think our next moves should be. The Trust Board will be holding an Emergency General Meeting (EGM) as soon as is practical, with one agenda item: ‘The future of the Mariners Trust.’

In the meantime, the Trust Board will meet next week to consider fans’ questions in advance. We will be actively seeking the views of ex-Board Members and other fans, and encouraging them to contribute to this process.

We urge all members to consider what you want your Trust to be.

  • How should we go forward?
  • What should our aims be?
  • Should we continue with the seat on the Club Board?

We will collate all questions and comments emailed to suggestions@marinerstrust.co.uk and ask that these are sent to us by 9pm on Tuesday 1st August at the latest.

Please keep your eye out for the notification of the EGM and PLEASE come along and participate. Policy is made by people that turn up and get involved.

 

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Operation of the Mariners Trust bars – 2017/18

Following a meeting between several of our Board Members and Club representatives, it has been agreed that there will be minimal change to the way in which our bars will run this season. All Trust bars around Blundell Park will continue to operate the same opening times as previous seasons, however the bar pass system will be removed.

The operation of the Trust bar in the Lower Young’s will change this season as follows:

  • Supporters can still drink throughout the match, with certain restrictions. Five minutes after the start of each half of the match, access will be restricted to the bar via the door to the Con’s. Corner (Lower Young’s), and the door to the vomitory will become an emergency exit. This means that supporters can make a decision at this time whether they wish to be inside or out. The door will open again five minutes before half time.
  • The same procedure will apply to the Upper Findus, except that the closure will be ten minutes after the start and restart, and will be open ten minutes before half time.
  • Two members of security staff will be in the bar before and throughout the game. These new staff members will ensure things runs smoothly, and will build rapport with the supporters and bar staff, in order to make this procedure workable.
  • The opening times for this bar will remain the same – opening at 12pm for afternoon kick offs, and 6pm for evening kick offs.
  • Supporters from all stands will be allowed inside this bar until turnstiles open, and then will be transferred to the appropriate stand where they will be able to access separate bars.

This procedure will be subject to review by the Trust and the Club a few home games into the season, and we welcome any feedback during this trial period.

If you have any questions regarding this statement or the operation of the bars in general, please direct them to our Chairman, Terry Rudrum, at enquiries@marinerstrust.co.uk

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Win a £50 Club Shop Voucher!

Join our Mariners Trust Fantasy League to be in with the chance of winning a £50 Club Shop voucher at the end of the season!

To join the league, visit https://fantasy.premierleague.com and enter the code 63118-19849 on the League page.

Entrance is free for Mariners Trust members only. If you are a non-member of the Mariners Trust, you are required to pay a £2.50 entrance fee into our Fantasy League to be in with the chance of winning the voucher.

If you are paying on behalf of someone else, please give us their name so we can mark them off our list and include them in the competition.

Anyone who hasn’t paid by the first game of the season will be removed from the league.

Non-members of the Mariners Trust, please click here to pay your entrance fee: http://www.marinerstrust.co.uk/product/fantasy-league-entrance-fee/, or alternatively you can join the Mariners Trust here: http://www.marinerstrust.co.uk/register/

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Trust Statement – The Checkatrade Trophy

The Mariners Trust Board remains unanimously against the inclusion of Category 1 under 21 teams in the Checkatrade Trophy. The Trust has listened to members – both on social media and through direct correspondence – and feels the inclusion of teams such as Manchester City and other top sides is against the ethos of the competition. We feel the issue has been handled poorly by the Football League and that fans’ views have not been listened to despite protests and boycotts last season, resulting in one of the lowest home attendances in the club’s history.

The Trust’s representative on the board of Grimsby Town FC voted against the measure when it was discussed ahead of the annual Football League meeting.

However, the Trust board respects the rights of fans to choose to attend matches as they see fit. We feel it is important supporters are allowed to make their own decisions as to whether they choose to watch a football match. Individual Board Members will make their own decisions as to whether or not they attend matches in the Trophy this season, just as they did last year. Opinion is divided, and whilst the majority are clearly against the inclusion of U21 teams, this is by no means unanimous.

As a result, we entirely support the decision of each individual supporter to make up their own mind as to whether they attend matches in this competition next season. The Trust hopes common sense will eventually prevail, and that Category 1 clubs will, in future, no longer be allowed to participate in the Trophy.