With the 1898/99 season nearing its end, and no new ground on the horizon, there was speculation that GTFC might fold. It was then that local businessman Mr. Alcock – and his purchasing of land in Cleethorpes – came to the attention of club director, Mr.Thompson, a local wine and spirit merchant. The land bought by Mr. Alcock that was to eventually become Blundell Park was ironically only a couple of goal-kicks from the site of Town’s former home at Clee Park.
The 1887 Ordnance Survey map of the area shows that, while the Grimsby side of Park Street was developed, that in Cleethorpes between Grimsby Road and the railway lines was still mostly rural. Indeed, apart from the Clee Park Gardens and Clee Park ground, the only other landmarks of note were a Brick and Tile Works, spring, pond and windmill pump – all in the immediate vicinity of or overlapping the site of the later Blundell Park.
By 1899 however, the familiar street layout from Park Street to Mr. Alcock’s land was in place. Harrington Street though extended only as far as Blundell Street (it was still some years before it became an Avenue), while the Neville, Fuller and Manchester Streets etc. had yet to be built. Nevertheless it was an area of growing population, and Mr. Alcock’s eye for a business opportunity – in this case the building of a hotel (to be known as ‘The Imperial’) on the prime corner of Blundell Street and Grimsby Road – was to become a mecca for residents and thirsty fans alike.
The proposed hotel would though occupy only part of Mr. Alcock’s land, and when GTFC director Mr. Thompson approached him about the availability of the rest, according to one story the meeting took on a comical air. ‘Do you want to make a fortune?’ asked Thompson. ‘Will a duck swim?’ replied Alcock. ‘Very well,’ said Thompson. ‘Build your hotel and lay out a football ground in the rear, and the thing is done.’
Mr. Alcock apparently made his decision so quickly that Mr. Thompson could relay the good news to his fellow directors at the next Grimsby Town FC board meeting!