D3D4 Grimsby Town Correspondent Sam Barrick looks at how important captain Craig Disley has been in his time with the Mariners…
Craig Disley has become a true Grimsby Town legend over the last 6 years with the club, leaving many fans thinking “if only we’d had him when he was 25 we’d have never been relegated.” He was exactly the type of player we needed after nigh on 10 years of utter dross and umpteen relegations. He, along with James McKeown and Shaun Pearson, has epitomised the Paul Hurst era and was an enormous part of our promotion back to the Football League!
He started his career as a youngster at Mansfield and played over 140 games for the Stags contributing seven goals in their 2001-02 promotion campaign. He left after 5 years and signed with Bristol Rovers where he again became an important player in the middle of the park. He was part of the Rovers side that won promotion in 2006-07 missing just one game and contributing four goals. After two years playing in League One he was told he was no longer required and subsequently signed with Shrewsbury. His time with the Shrews was less successful mainly due to a broken ankle that kept him out for a substantial part of the 2009-10 season and he was released a season later.
We signed Dis at the age of 29 in 2011 and we immediately realised that he was the kind of player we’d been crying out for, for so long. He had a composure on the ball not seen since the days of Paul Groves et al and also a handy knack getting into the right place at the right time in both boxes. He scored his first goal for us at York, which was a sign of things to come. It was late run into the box followed by deft little header. He subsequently scored 5 more goals that season and 6 in the following one, he then scored 9 goals in each of the next 2 seasons which gave us something we hadn’t had for many a year, a genuine goal threat from midfield! He was the kind of player that could get beyond the strikers and evade everybody’s attention.
People I speak to regularly say that Paul Bolland was the other best midfielder that we’ve seen since Groves. In my opinion, Bolland was nowhere near as good a footballer as Dis and wasn’t able to dictate the pace of the game or win headers in his own penalty area to prevent almost certain goals. Bolland was liked by fans because he worked hard and chipped in with a few goals, but Dis is all this and more. That is something that we lacked in the years before his arrival. He dropped into the Conference too early and I’m sure he could have stayed at league level longer than he did but he chose to come to us and that is testament to Paul Hurst and Rob Scott’s persuasive skills in convincing him to sign.
Dis has scored many important goals over the years including both goals in the play-off semi-final against Gateshead in 2014 and a last minute winner at Barnet the following year plus many more to boot. He has been the ultimate captain, you never hear of him being moody or stirring up trouble, he always gives 100% when he goes out onto the pitch. He hasn’t played very much this season but one would imagine his experience has been invaluable to the team. Sadly, I would be astonished if he is offered a new contract this season, he hasn’t played enough and at 35 his playing career is coming to an end. Nevertheless he is a true Town great that will never be forgotten.
Words Sam Barrick
D3D4 Football Grimsby Town Correspondent
Photo Catherine Ivill Getty Images