Grimsby Town have taken up the option of extending Lenell John-Lewis’s contract by a further 12 months, which means he’ll once again lead the line as the Mariners look to climb their way out of the Conference at the fifth attempt. Let’s hope The Shop, who has never knowingly undersold, is ‘open for business’ (wahey!) when the 2014/15 season gets underway in early August.
Full backs Aswad Thomas and Paul (not Marcus) Bignot have also had their contracts extended, while keeper James McKeown, Andy Thanoj, club captain Craig Disley and Alex Rodman have all been offered new deals. I’d be delighted and pleasantly surprised if all four sign them, but I’ve already come to terms that McKeown played his last game for Town in the play-off defeat at Gateshead.
Meanwhile Caine Winfarrah, Ellis Humble and Paul Walker have been offered pro deals, which represents a relatively good year for the youngsters at Blundell Park. It’d be nice to see them involved in first team duties early on, and not kept on the periphery like Dayle Southwell, whose release today came as no surprise to anyone – this despite his five goals from a limited number of appearances last season.
Of the players released, I’m only really sad to see Andy Cook go. Following a slow start he enjoyed an excellent debut season with us, scoring 17 goals (one at Wembley in the FA Trophy final) and winning the Conference’s Young Player of the Year award. The reasons for his limited appearances in the 2013/14 first team are varied according to which fans you speak to, but there was no doubt he had talent to be a real force at this level.
In a Mariners World interview manager Paul Hurst confirmed that he had already been speaking to a couple of players, which should appease the impatient fans. Although he wouldn’t disclose who they were, it seemed to me that they were from smaller clubs, given that he mentioned the size of Town’s home support as a reason to join. Pure speculation, of course, but maybe Wes York of Nuneaton?
Scunthorpe have released Connor Jennings, who did spectacularly well on loan at Macclesfield in the first half of the season but was unable to replicate that with us in the second half. I question whether he was really fully fit when he joined us on loan in January following a serious knee injury, and then he missed the final part of the season with an ankle injury. Signing him would represent something of a risk.
Oh, and it’s all gone quiet on the Liam Hearn front. We’re told he was invited to come back and train with us in the summer, and nothing would delight us more than to see him sign for us again on a 12-month deal, but rumour has it that he’s on Mansfield’s radar. Based in Nottingham and with the ambition to play in the Football League, this would suit him more than a return to Cleethorpes.