TOWN come up against an old adversary in their Johnstone’s Paint Trophy first-round tie at Grimsby on Tuesday.
They’ve been doing battle with Alan Buckley since the Seventies.
Now in his third spell as manager of the Mariners, the 56-year-old also has strong associations with Walsall.
His second spell as a player at the West Midlands club, where he remains a £175,000 club-record signing from neighbours Birmingham City, included the 1979-80 campaign, when he was player-manager.
That’s when Town and Walsall did battle for promotion, and ultimately the Division IV title, with Mick Buxton’s side taking the honours by two points.
Buckley had seven years in the Walsall hot seat, but reserved his biggest achievements for Grimsby, taking from the old Fourth to Second Division in the early Nineties during his first stint as manager, then in his second, into what is now League I via the play-offs in 1998, when Grimsby also won the JPT, then known as the Auto Windscreens Shield.
Promotion from League II is again the aim at Blundell Park, where Buckley has been at the helm since last November.
The Mariners finished 15th last season, since when Buckley has brought keeper Gary Montgomery from Rotherham, defender Jamie Clark from Boston and midfielder James Hunt from Bristol Rovers.
It’s certainly been an even-stevens kind of season so far, because going into today’s League II match at Shrewsbury, all four previous Grimsby games had finished 1-1, against Notts County, Bury, Macclesfield and, in the Carling Cup, Burnley, who won the tie on penalties.
Tuesday’s JPT clash with Town could end up in a shoot-out, and it’s worth noting there is no extra time.
That’s because the organisers want as early a finish as possible in order to attract younger fans (hence the earlier than usual start time of 7.30).
Accompanied juniors get in free, while it’s £10 adults and £5 seniors and students.
It’s Town’s first visit to Blundell Park since a pre-season friendly in 2001, when Chris Hay scored both goals in a 2-0 victory.
Town’s previous trip there, for a Championship game in October 2000, brought in 1-0 defeat and proved to be Steve Bruce’s last game as Town boss.
The sides have met twice before in this competition, Town winning 3-1 in a first-round tie in 1988-89 before a 3-3 draw in a group game the following season.