A detailed look at tomorrow's opponentsFor the first time since the end of the First World War, Bristol Rovers open a season of football played outside the Football League. The last day result of Rovers last League game doomed them to relegation.
The new season opens with Rovers facing an old adversary, Grimsby Town who were themselves relegated in 2010.
Town Boss Paul Hurst saw his team complete their pre-season preparations with a 2-1 win at Brigg Town. After the game he commented, "It was a different formation and we were trying to play a system that worked for the pros, so there weren't too many that were far out of position.
"I thought we started the game extremely well and played some excellent football but then we started looking for things that weren't there the longer the game went on.
"It wasn't as free-flowing in the second half, but overall, it was a good work-out and got lads some minutes in the legs, which was especially important for those that are suspended for the start of the new season.
"I've been pretty happy with pre-season – from the first game at Cleethorpes Town to last night against Brigg. We haven't picked up any serious injuries and the lads' levels have increased, you could see that from the way we started the game last night.
"I've been ready for the new season for about three weeks. In seriousness though, we're ready as a team now, but it doesn't matter how ready you feel, it doesn't always mean you'll get the result.
"But we've been waiting for it for a while now and sometimes it seems to drag because you desperately want to get to that first game and let all the proper games begin."
Founded in 1878 Grimsby for many years was one of the only teams who never played a home game. The reason? Their Blundell Park ground is actually situated in Cleethorpes.
The two teams met for the very first time on 14 September 1920 when two goals by Joe Walter secured maximum points for Rovers. Just four days later John Clarke (2) and George Morrall scored for the Mariners with Sid Leigh replying for Rovers.
The last time the Mariners and the Gas crossed swords was back in 2006/07, when both home teams won by a single goal. However there was a great contrast between the two games.
The game at the Mem on 12th August was settled by an Andy Sandall goal that secured Rovers their first points of the season.
The return fixture at Blundell Park saw a rare double by Craig Disley and a Lewis Haldane strike give Rovers three away goals. However Dan North, Justin Whittle, Ciaran Toner and Dan Boshell all scored for the home team to secure a 4-3 home win.
On 14 December 1957; Town inflicted Rovers with their heaviest-ever home defeat, 7-0. But the following season Rovers ran out 7-3 winners and won in Cleethorpes too. Town were relegated that season and by the time they finished Third Division Runners-up in 1961/62 Rovers passed them in the opposite direction!
However it was just two seasons in the higher Division before the Mariners dropped back down again and once more the goal sprees started.
In a game at Eastville on 1st September 1964, Rovers were 3-0 up after 32 minutes, scoring them in an 8-minute spell. It began when Johnny Brown latched on to a soft goal kick from keeper Charlie Wright. Harold Jarman increased the lead with a rare headed goal from a Bobby Jones corner and Jarman laid on the third for Alfie Biggs.
Jarman and Jones scored further goals for Rovers in the second half, but Grimsby (who included future England manager Graham Taylor amongst their number) staged a late rally with goals by Hill, Tees and Pennington to give a final score of 5-3.
When the teams met on 29th January 1966, the following season, Rovers had gone 14 games without a win. The unwanted record looked like continuing with Grimsby leading 1-0, but two Roger Frude goals in the last few minutes secured an unlikely looking victory.
It inspired the team to go on a run of six wins in the next ten games, including a 5-0 away thrashing of Brentford in the very next game.
Town Boss Paul Hurst's strategy in the transfer market over the summer seems to have focussed on players with solid experience at this level.
Scott Brown and Aristote Nsiala impressed at Southport last season. Jack Mackreth, from Macclesfield has been a long-term target of Hurst. Nathan Arnold, has been brought in on loan from Cambridge and Carl Magnay has been signed from Gateshead to boost the defence.
Trialists Craig Clay and Jon-Paul Pittman have earned one-year deals with the club. Finally Andrew Boyce has returned on loan from parent club Scunthorpe United after a loan spell last season. One player who will be very familiar to Gasheads is Mariners regular Craig Disley,
Boyce’s return to Grimsby came as something of a surprise the 24-year-old admitted, "I wasn't expecting to be going out on loan so early in the season, but the manager at Scunthorpe told me that I'm not going to be involved for them at the moment.
"That's when I got the call from my agent who told me about the option of coming back here and it didn't take much thought, to be honest. I really enjoyed my time at Grimsby last season, it's a good set of lads there and I get on well with the manager, so it was an easy decision to make.
"I'm not going to lie, my initial hope was to break into the Scunthorpe side this season, but it hasn't worked out like that so I'm more than happy to be coming back to Grimsby."
Explaining his interest in bringing Boyce back to Blundell Park Hurst said: "On the face of it, perhaps people might think we don't need another centre-half. When he became available my initial feeling was that we didn't really need him but then I gave it a bit more thought.
"We're obviously missing the two centre-halves that many people would expect us to be starting with on Saturday. They're both suspended for the first two games, so it gives me a bit more cover there.
"And there are six games in three weeks at the start of the season, so the more I thought about it the more it made sense. How we've been able to bring him in fits as well, and I'm really pleased to have him on board."
Whatever the result of the game the losers can take comfort from the fact that the last two Champions, Luton and Mansfield, both got off to shocking starts to their respective campaigns.
Luton only won two of their first nine games, scoring just five goals in the process. The year before, Mansfield won just two of their first five games, they lost the other thre.