Club History

Club History

The Early Years and Jack Macartney
The club was founded in 1874. Early competition was in the Midland Amateur league which was won in 1910/11. Prior to the Second World War the club competed in the Central Alliance which was won in 1924/25 and the Midland Counties league where the club finished runners up to Shrewsbury Town in 1938. In the period after the war local legend Jack Macartney became and still remains the clubs leading scorer. By the time he retired in 1955 he had scored 416 goals for the club in just 456 appearances

The Sixties & Seventies (The Golden Years) With Rayner & Bly
In 1964 under new manager Jim Rayner the club won the Midland League scoring a record 152 goals in the season. Jim Rayners departure to Notts County in 1965 saw the arrival of Terry Bly as player manager and the next 14 years were to prove some of the most successful in the clubs history. The Midland League was won in 1971 and 1972 and regular cup runs brought large crowds to the London Road ground. Amongst the clubs played were Swindon (twice), Oldham (twice), Stockport, Rotherham, Bradford City, Rochdale and Port Vale. Perhaps the most memorable was when Jack Charlton brought his Middlesborough team to London Road for a third round FA cup tie. A record crowd of 6578 saw Middlesborough win 2-0. The FA Trophy quarter final was reached in 1972. A move to the Southern League saw Division One North won in 1978 and the following year runners up in the Premier Division. Following relegation in 1978 the club again won the Division One North title the next year.

Reorganisation & The NPL
With the reorganisation of non-league football the club was moved to the Northern Premier League. Fourth spot was achieved in 1983/84 under the management of Bob Duncan but the following year after finishing 21st the club failed
to gain re-election and returned to the Southern League Midland Division

Martin O'Neil Arrives With John Robertson
Financial problems meant that the club had little success but in 1987/88 the Board took the bold step of appointing former Forest and Northern Ireland player Martin O'Neil as manager and he appointed his former Forest colleague John Robertson as his assistant. Under Martin, promotion was missed by one point at the end of the season and the following season the club finished 5th after being in contention all season. Martin moved on at the end of the season to continue his progress up the management ladder leading to his present position at Aston Villa.

Leaving London Road & Moving To The Stadium
Following a brief spell under Danny Anderson the club brought back John Robertson as manager. In 1990/91 the club left its London Road home and after a spell
ground sharing with Spalding United moved back to Grantham into the new South Kesteven Sports Stadium. Early years at the Stadium brought little success with the exception of a second round proper FA Trophy appearance in 1993/94.

Mills Bring Some Success
In Feb 1996 John Barnwell the ex Arsenal and Nottingham Forest player and Wolves manager was appointed manager. In July John was appointed Chief Executive of the Professional Managers Association and had to stand down as manager. His successor was the ex Nottingham Forest, Derby, Leicester and Notts County player Gary Mills who along with his assistant Darron Gee led the club to fourth place in the Midland Division in 1996/97. The following season the club led the Midland Division table for most of the season finally winning the Championship on the last Saturday. They also reached the quarter final of the Umbro FA Trophy thanks to a superb 2-1 victory in the third round over Conference high fliers Hednesford Town before going out after a replay to another Conference side Southport. The 3695 gate at the first game at Grantham was the best of the round and shattered the attendance record at the clubs South Kesteven Stadium

The Antrac Year
1998/99 saw the club taken over by local businessman Mr. Reg Brearley. They became full time with a bold plan to gain promotion to the Conference. Alan Prince who had been chairman during the Championship year remained as Chairman. One casualty of the change was manager Gary Mills along with assistant Darron Gee. Sadly things didn’t work out well and the club struggled to finish in 17th spot. In addition the club sustained heavy financial losses and when Antrac walked away from the club its dire financial position threatened its very existence for a time. The remaining Directors, officials and supporters were able to save the club but the club had to enter a CVA.

Post Antrac Recovery
Thankfully following a great deal of hard work from the clubs supporters & officials the club were able to commence another season in the Premier Division. The uncertainty about the clubs future had an effect on the pitch. By November the clubs' future was again in the balance and it was saved by a considerable investment from local dentist Dr Gordon Hotson who became Chairman.

Wilko Arrives
With half the season gone the club had just 9 points but the appointment of John Wilkinson as manager brought about a remarkable revival and at the end of the season the club had 47 points but sadly were relegated on goal difference. After finishing third the next season promotion back to the Premier Division as Eastern Division runners up was gained in May 2002 along with the Merit Cup as the leagues leading scorers with 99 goals. Dr Hotson left the club during the season following a buy out from Directors and supporters and he was replaced as Chairman by long serving director Barry Palmer.

Match Of The Day Under Roger Ashby
Shortly after the end of the next season John Wilkinson resigned as manager and he returned to his former club Lincoln United taking with him several of the clubs players. The Board appointed former Rushden and Diamonds manager Roger Ashby who along with assistant Kevin Wilkin set about rebuilding the side. The club made an excellent start to the season losing just once in their first 11 league outings. In the FA Cup the club reached the first round proper and were rewarded with a home tie against 3rd Division Leyton Orient in front of the Match of the Day cameras. They put up a brave performance before losing 2-1 with the winning goal coming 4 minutes into time added and just 30 seconds from the full time whistle. Another change during this period was a change in Chairman with local builder Roger Booth taking over from Barry Palmer who became Vice-Chairman.

Ashby Leaves & Norton Arrives
The club were rocked in late February when Roger Ashby and Kevin Wilkin left the club to take up similar roles at Nuneaton. The Board acted quickly to appoint Dave Norton as replacement manager. Unfortunately results slipped badly and the club finished the season in bottom position and so remained in the Southern League rather than gaining the hoped for spot in the new Conference North league. The next season saw the club get off to a poor start and following the clubs early exit from the FA Cup at the hands of NPL Division 1 side Shepshed Dynamo Dave Norton resigned.

Lee Glover Appointed

Former Forest star and Scottish U21 International Lee Glover was appointed Manager following 2 years in a similar position at Corby Town. Lee set about re building the side and despite an excellent home record lack of success away from home meant that the club had to settle for a mid table position but did win the Lincs County Shield beating Conference North Gainsborough in the final. The following season a mid table finish was again achieved.

Back To The NPL & Marrow Replaces Glover
In the Summer the club received the bombshell that after 21 years in the Southern League it was to be moved to the UniBond league. The club struggled to come to terms with the move and after an FA cup defeat against Oadby Town manager Lee Glover was replaced by Gary Marrow. Despite an influx of more Northern based players results didn't improve and after Christmas Marrow was replaced by club captain Adrian Speed as Caretaker Manager.

Wilko Returns
Unfortunately fortunes again didn't improve and the club was relegated at the end of the season to the newly formed Division 1 South. In the Summer the club re grouped and former manager John Wilkinson returned and he assembled a side that was in the top half dozen all season. The season ended with a playoff semi final game away at Nantwich. Despite matching Nantwich throughout the game and taking the lead with just 13 minutes left they finally lost 2-1 with the winning goal coming just 3 minutes from the end.

Wilko Out Starbuck In
After a run of poor results, Grantham Town once more parted company with John Wilkinson in October 2008. On 16th October, The Board of Directors appointed Phil Starbuck as the new manager at The Meres. Starbuck had an immediate effect, making five new signings for his first game in charge and overseeing the Gingerbreads first away win of the season. Starbuck and assistant Chris White steered the Gingerbreads to a mid-table finish.

Starbuck Goes In Come Hallcro and Albans
Following a review of the clubs position the board decide that a change of management was required and Phil Starbuck left the club. The Board moved quickly to appoint former Shepshed pair Wayne Hallcro and Jimmy Albans as joint managers. Both are former Gingerbread players with Hallcro being part of the Gary Mills championship winning squad of the mid nineties. After a disappointing first half of the season changes were made and the clubs fortunes turned round with just 3 losses in the last 21 games ending with the club winning team of the month for April

A Play Off Final
In the 2011-2012 after a slow start that saw the club lose 6 league games by the end of October the club went on a remarkable run that saw them lose just 3 more league games to the season end. 5 wins in the final 5 games meant a play off place. After an excellent 3-0 away win in the semi final at Newcastle Town the final saw the club go down 2-0 away at Rushall Olympic with over half the 750 crowd making the trip from Grantham.

Season 2011-2012 saw the club win the Evostik Division 1 South by a 10 point margin to regain their place in the Premier Division for the following season. In addition the club won the Lincolnshire County shield defeating Boston United in the final.

Albans & Hallcro Leave and Sucharewycz & Robinson Come In
The club found life in the Premier Division difficult and following the resignation of Chairman Steve Boam joint managers Jim Albans and Wayne Hallcro resigned in early December. Pete Railton took over as Chairman and the Board appointed former players Gary Sucharewycz and Ian Robinson as new joint managers with the brief of keeping the club in the Premier division which was achieved.

Albans & Hallcro Return

Midway through the 2013-2014 season after a run of poor results Sucharewycz and Robinson left the club and Jim albans and Wayne Hallcro returned as joint managers and guided the club to a mid table finish

Pierpoint Arrives and Departs
Towards the end of the 2013-2014 season the Board appointed Barry Pierpoint former CEO of Leicester /city as the clubs CEO with a brief of pushing the club to the next level. By November 2014 it became apparent that the clubs expenditure was unsustainable and Pierpoint resigned as did Albans as team manager but Hallcro remained as team manager. The necessary budget cuts saw many players leave the club.

Hallcro Leaves Stevens Arrives
Hallcro brought in former Coalville manager Adam Stevens as joint manager but shortly afterwards Hallcro left the club to join his former managerial partner Jim Albans at Belper. Stevens remained in sole charge and guided the club to a 12th place finish at the end of the season a creditable result given the earlier cuts to the playing budget.

Why The Gingerbreads
It is said that Grantham Gingerbread came about as a result of a mistake by a local baker in the 1740’s. He was making Grantham Whetstone biscuits when he mixed up the ingredients and the result was Grantham Gingerbread. This proved so popular with his customers that he continued producing it. As a result of this Grantham Town FC have long been known by the nickname “The Gingerbreads”.