History is full of famous double acts, from Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt, to Morecambe and Wise.
In football, on the pitch, partnerships are essential for any team to be successful; however it is uncommon for a club to have joint-managers and it often ends in failure and an acrimonious split, for example Roy Evans and Gerard Houllier at Liverpool.
A team bucking this trend are Conference Premier side Grimsby Town who, after a stunning run of seven wins and three draws in their last 10 games, are looking like serious promotion contenders.
The Mariners, relegated from the Football League in 2010, have turned a corner since the arrival of former Rotherham United defenders Rob Scott and Paul Hurst as joint-managers in March 2011, with the pair instilling a more defence-minded game into the squad, conceding just 19 goals so far in the league, after 27 games.
As well as making the team difficult to beat, Scott and Hurst boosted Grimsby’s attack, signing striker Ross Hannah, initially on loan from Bradford City, with the 26-year-old forward chipping in with ten goals before heading back to Valley Parade. Grimsby then swooped to make Hannah’s switch permanent in the current transfer window.
Apart from drawing on decades of lower league football experience, another attribute that has made Scott and Hurst such a formidable management duo, like most successful double acts, is friendship.
Scott and Hurst’s paths first crossed at Rotherham United in 1998 when Scott signed for the Millers from Fulham. The duo formed part of a back-to-back promotion winning defence, with Rotherham finishing runners-up in the third division in 1999/2000 and again in the second division the following season.
Scott left Rotherham in 2005 for Oldham Athletic before eventually ending his playing days at Halifax Town in 2008. Hurst stayed on at Rotherham until 2008, making over 400 appearances for the club, and hung up his boots after a short loan spell at Burton Albion.
The pair then teamed up for their first managerial appointment at Ilkeston Town where they achieved promotion to the Conference North via the playoffs. Financial problems at the club saw the managerial double act then leave for Boston United, where they guided the York Street club to promotion, again to the Conference North, and again via the playoffs.
Their achievements in non-league football did not go unnoticed and persuaded Grimsby to make a move for their services, appointing the pair just a day after they resigned at Boston, in March 2011.
In less than two years the duo have changed Grimsby from a team down on their luck and struggling in mid-table obscurity to a side that presently sit top of the Conference Premier. They have the club’s fans believing that league football will again grace North East Lincolnshire and are an excellent example of how young English managers can work in a dynamic and effective way to achieve success.
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