What Became Of The Likely Lads? #1: Glen Downey

Welcome to the first in a new regular series looking back at some of the more obscure names who have represented The Mariners over the years.

Our first entry into the series looks at a player so obscure, there isn’t even a photo of him on Google image search.

Sometimes football throws up it’s own JFK moment, ask any Manchester United fan and they’ll be able to tell you where they were when United won the Champions League in 1999 just in the same way that Arsenal supporters can tell you their exact location when Michael Thomas netted his winning goal at Anfield in 1989.

For a handful of Town supporters, December 31st 2005 is one of many memorable dates as this was the day the invisible man momentarily stepped out of the shadows and headed home a dramatic winning goal. Hands up now, who can actually say they were there when Glen Downey scored for Grimsby Town?

Downey, a centre-half by trade, had started his career in 1997 with Hartlepool United but had failed to make a senior appearance in his time with the club and spent prolonged periods of time on loan with non-league clubs local to the North East, notably Bishop Auckland and Gateshead.

After a spell in Ireland with Shelbourne and Newry City, Downey returned to the North East of England, turning out for Spennymoor United in the 2002-2003 season.

Following his time at Spennymoor, Downey found himself signing for Scarborough under the stewardship of Russell Slade but found first team appearances limited as he struggled to make an impact.

After Slade made the move down the coast to Cleethorpes, many were surprised when Downey followed Grimsby’s new manager. Rumours began to abound that Slade was a family friend of Downey’s parents with further whispers claiming that Downey’s father was making a substantial contribution to his wages.

The centre-half would spend his time with The Mariners mainly as a squad player, acting as cover for first team regulars Simon Ramsden, Rob Jones, Tony Crane and veteran Justin Whittle. A rare first team appearance came on the final day of the 2004/2005 campaign in a 4-1 away win at Kidderminster Harriers.

Downey was rewarded with a new contract for the 2005-2006 season and struggled to see any first team action until New Year’s Eve of 2005 when an injury crisis took hold.

Already blighted by absentees and a goal down, Rob Jones went off injured and was replaced by Martin Gritton whilst Simon Ramsden, himself making a rare appearance, also succumbed to an early second half injury and was replaced by Downey as Russell Slade had to think on his feet and shuffle his defensive pack.

As time ticked on, Town were looking to improve on their position after Michael Reddy had dragged them level in riposte to Mark Jones’ first half goal for the home side.

With six minutes to go, Tom Newey launched a free kick into the penalty area. The ball was headed goalwards by none other than Downey and nestled in the back of the Wrexham net. The unlikeliest of unlikely heroes had been born, Glen Downey had scored the winning goal to keep Town’s promotion push alive.

Unfortunately, that would be it as far as high spots in Downey’s Grimsby Town career, at the end of the 05-06 campaign following the Play-Off Final defeat to Cheltenham Town, Downey was released from the club at the end of his contract.

Downey found himself at Worksop Town at the beginning of the 2006-2007 season but only made a handful of appearances, after his time at Worksop came to an end he never played competitive football again.

After his career had ended, Downey moved back to his native North East and found himself in a spot of bother after he was accused of money laundering and running a brothel in Sunderland.

After he was cleared of the charges in 2009, Downey went into business with his brother and now runs a chain of successful fish and chip shops along the Wearside coast with his brother Gareth, also a former non-league footballer.

This was literally the only photo containing Glen Downey I could find on Google image search.

I hope you have enjoyed our brief look back at one of the many obscure Mariners from down the years. Who is your favourite forgotten Town player? Let us know on Twitter where we can be found @writteninBaW.

Until next time Mariners fans, take care.

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