Mariners Memories: 'Drinks' all round as Grimsby Town clinch Division Three title in 1980
In the next part of his series of great Grimsby Town matches from the past, the Mariners Trust's Graham Precious recalls when Town hit an awesome foursome to clinch the Division Three title on the final day.
GRIMSBY Town had been in the third division for five years following their title win in 1972.
Following the departure of Lawrie McMenemy to Southampton in '73, Town dropped back into Division Four, but took only two seasons to gain promotion under the guidance of John Newman – who then moved on to Derby County.
John had brought in George Kerr as his assistant when Lincoln decided they had no further need for his services.
And after a spell as caretaker, Kerr was appointed as Newman's successor.
Town's team had seen its share of changes, with Nigel Batch having replaced the long-serving Harry Wainman in goal.
The success of the club's Youth system had helped to develop Kevin Moore, Kevin Drinkell, Tony Ford and Bobby Cumming into first-team regulars.
Dean Crombie came from Lincoln on a free, and Bobby Mitchell was signed from Blackburn Rovers.
Kerr also brought in defender John Stone from Darlington – a move that raised a few eyebrows as Town had put seven past them the previous season.
Kevin Kilmore was also drafted in for a then club record fee of £60,000 from Scunthorpe
This was to be a tremendous season for the Mariners with almost all home gates over 10,000 from mid-season, as Town climbed to top of the table by February.
They dropped to second in March, but got back on top for the run-up to the end of the season.
On the final day, they stood one point and four goals better off than second-placed Blackburn Rovers
At that time, it was still only two points for a win, so unless Blackburn won by five, a draw would be enough for Town to clinch the Championship.
But the Mariners were in no mood to risk playing for a draw.
They were up against Sheffield United who had been contenders themselves earlier in the season, but had fallen away into tenth.
From as early as the first minute, when Joe Waters was thwarted by a brave save from United's keeper Richardson, it was clear Town were eager to win the game.
The first breakthrough came on 18 minutes when an in-swinging corner from Mike Brolly was met by the head of Drinkell.
Town had a goal from Bobby Cumming disallowed two minutes later, but they were not to be denied, and struck again seven minutes before the break.
It came from Waters, the mercurial Irishman, who danced around three defenders before slotting home.
Two minutes later, Town were 3-0 up when a Mitchell through-ball found an unmarked Drinkell, right, for his second.
Although Town dominated the second half, they found it hard to add to their tally until Kevin Moore took a free-kick from the halfway line.
There was an almighty tussle in the box until the ball fell loose to 'Drinks' and he completed his hat-trick to ensure Town were again champions.
An open-top bus ride was to follow and another Civic Reception at the Town Hall where thousands of fans again cheered their heroes.
A total 19,276 were there for that final match – I was lucky enough to watch from the old Barratt's Stand.
Don't miss the next installment of Mariners Memories, when we look back at how Town toppled Chelsea in the battle of the Bridge in 1983.