By Jostein Jensen, 06/08/2018
It’s time for something a little bit different now as Norwegian Mariner Jostein Jensen explores tbe link between Grimsby and the Scandinavian countries. In addition to this we also take a look at some of the Scandinavian players who have graced the Blundell Park pitch in the famous black and white.
There wouldn’t be a town called ‘Grimsby’ without the Danes and indeed you may not have existed if the Vikings hadn’t paid a ‘visit’ in the 9th century.
Scandinavia with tbeir Vikings for sure have had a long history in Grimsby. It’s now time for a history lesson on ‘Written In Black And White’.
While most Grimbarians think that the Danes were Danish people, it isn’t that easy. The myths tell of ‘Havelock the Dane’ who was saved by a fisherman named ‘Grim’ but the term ‘Dane’ is a wide notion. Archaeology professor Dagfinn Skre from the University in Oslo, Norway, explains it like this.
‘The concept of Danes come from a long time before we can speak about stable Scandinavian countries. We don’t know which parts of Scandinavia they came from. Even though they’re being spoken about as Danes it must be understood as a common term for Scandinavians. They are most likely to have been from the South and West of Scandinavia’
‘It is not easy to divide nationalities between the Vikings in England and Ireland. That is due to the fact that the first nationalities didn’t exist before the 900s, until then we identify more by names of regions. Secondly do all English sources refer to Vikings as Danes regardless of where they are from. For example, do they refer to the settlers who landed at Portland in Dorset in 788 as Danes despite the fact they landed from Hordeland in Norway. This is a common phenomenon, Englishmen knew about Danes from a time before the Vikings. When others came across the North Sea and behaved and talked in a similar manner there was no use in giving them a new designation.’
‘You can safely count on the fact that the largest armies were composed from several places but where the army that founded Grimsby came from is something that nobody knows.’
Nobody knows says Mr. Professor but as the founder of GTFC’s Norwegian fan website I can add some random name stats.
There are 122 people in Norway with the name Grim.
1572 people have the surname Grimstad in Norway.
116 people actually have Grimsby as their surname in Norway.
I know about several places in Norway that are named Grimsby or something similar, check out http://grimsbynorge.com/?p=5202
(By the way, you will not find anything like this in Denmark, not one single person has the surname Grimsby)
So whilst the Vikings may have been brutal, maybe a slightly more peaceful Scandinavian invasion will take place soon. Michael Jolley is believed to be bringing in at least one player from the Swedish league.
Jolley himself admitted this during a conversation with some visiting Scandinavian fans in the boardroom following the win over Chesterfield last season. The only problem is that the Swedish season goes from Spring to Autumn meaning that his targets will only be out of contract during the January transfer window.
Former Scandi Links
There is a history of other Scandinavian players previously playing for the club, let’s take a walk down memory lane and look at former ‘Danes’ in Grimsby.
The first was Denmark’s Edvin Hansen during the 1946/47 season. Hansen, formerly of Køge played six matches for Grimsby Town and became the club’s third foreign signing (behind German Max Seeburg and Kansas-born Billy Andrews).
The Danish federation allowed Hansen to play as an amateur in some games for Grimsby and made the journey over on 30th November 1946 along with Køge manager Alf Young. During his six week stay, Edvin played in six games with five coming in the reserve team, scoring one goal.
As he had retained his amateur status, Edvin was still allowed to represent his country during the 1948 Olympic Games where he helped Denmark win the Bronze Medal, defeating Great Britain 5-3 in London.
Edvin Hansen passed away in 1990, aged 70 years old.
To get to our next example, we take a giant leap to the advent of the ITV Digital era as several foreigners came to the club under Lennie Lawrence’s management, between a Dutch villain and a Chinese cult hero we got David Nielsen from Denmark and Norwegian Knut Anders Fostervold. Later, under Paul Groves’ stewardship we also managed to get Swede Martin Pringle in as well.
David Jean Nielsen was the first, coming from FC Kobenhavn who were managed by Roy Hodgson at the time, a friend of Mariners boss Lennie Lawrence.
The powerful striker had previously been a regular for the Danish giants but wasn’t playing regularly under Hodgson.
A loan deal with Grimsby Town was sorted but Nielsen thought he could have played for a better club. In his 2008 autobiography ‘Sorte Svin’ he wrote;
‘It was a bit down the ladder from what I expected but at the same time it was a small club where I was promised a lot plqying time’.
Nielsen got off to a great start, netting seven goals in his first eight appearances and earning the nickname ‘Messiah’ from the Blundell Park faithful.
However, the forward had a lot of gambling debt that he had got Kobenhavn to cover up but by now the club had decided they wanted their one million Danish krone back.
Pleased with his start for the club, Grimsby wanted to sign Nielsen and wanted to organise a 2.2 million DKK deal (roughly £200,000).
An agent came over from Denmark to sort out the details but it became clear that Kobenhavn wanted one million DKK from Nielsen’s signing on fee to recover his gambling debt.
Grimsby offered Nielsen 40,000 DKK a week, which at the time was the equivalent of around £3200 a week in addition to bonuses and a 1.5 million DKK signing on fee (around £120,000). The total package would have made him one of the club’s most expensive players ever.
Negotiations carried on for weeks with Kobenhavn wanting a split deal to help repay Nielsen’s debt. 500,000 DKK from the transfer along with the same amount from the signing on fee would have been taken by the club but Nielsen said no to the proposal and travelled back to Denmark.
The Danish media had the time of their lives and wrote page after page about the story, Never has there been so many stories about Grimsby Town in the Danish press.
Following a vacation to Portugal, a deal was arranged to take Nielsen to Wimbledon.
(Whilst he was playing for Grimsby, Nielsen’s wife stayed at home as she was pregnant with their son Noah Jean Holm who is now very talented and playing for German side RB Leipzig.)
Knut Anders Fostervold wasn’t the player Lennie Lawrence had in mind when he travelled to Bergen for the match between Brann and Molde on October 22nd 2000. He wFossias looking for a striker, although as Brann’s frontmen Azar Karadaz and Thorstein Helstad both scored twice it became clear that those two players would be a bit expensive. Molde strikers Andre Schei Lindbaek and Bernd Hulsker may have also been on the shopping list but it was Molde’s left-back Fostervold that impressed.
Fossi was 29 at the time and had been mentioned as a candidate for the Norwegian World Cup squad in 1998 but by now his knees were starting to feel it. Perhaps extending a long Norwegian season with a loan wasn’t the smartest idea, but the money was good.
Norwegian channel TV2 was the first to break the news, possibly due to Knut Anders’ sister Guro being a well known sports host at the channel.
Grimsby wanted to sign the Norwegian straight away but Molde demanded five million Norwegian krone (£375,000), the board felt the price was a bit too high and started off with a loan deal while negotiations continued.
Fostervold played ten games for the club and despite Grimsby’s hope of making a permanent transfer, a fee was never agreed on.
Knut Anders is probably now best remembered for this theatrical dive in 1999
After his football career ended, he made a radical career change, participating in the UCI Road Cycling World Championship in 2006 and 2007 in the individual time trial.
Swede Martin Pringle joined Town on loan in 2002 but would only play two matches for the club before Stockport’s Dave Challinor ended his career with a horror challenge that broke his foot in two places.
It was unlucky for Pringle as he had been impressive in his short time at the club alongside fellow Charlton Athletic loanee Andy Todd.
Earlier in his career, Martin had also played for Benfica, competing for the main striker role with Brian Deane, Nuno Gomes and joao Pinto, in addition to this he also earned two caps for Sweden.
Nowadays, Pringle works in coaching and is currently manager of Eskilaminne in Swedish women’s football and previously assistant to Roland Nilsson at FC Kobenhavn in 2011.
Pringle will always be a hero for Grimsby, it was just so sad that a fantastic career ended in an unfortunate manner.
A big thank you to Jostein for this article, I hope you found it as interesting as I did.
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Until next time, Mariners fans, take care.