Mariners Memories: Joe Waters inspires Grimsby to victory in Battle of the Bridge
WITH almost 90 league places between Town and Roman Abramovich's Chelsea today, it seems inconceivable that 29 years ago the West-Londoners were only four places above the Mariners.
They were second and Town were sixth (yes, that's sixth-place in today's Championship).
In fact, by the end of the season Chelsea were champions and Town were fifth – their highest finish in the league since dropping out of the First Division in 1948 – and since then too. It was effectively our best season in the last 60 years.
Nevertheless, the chasm between the clubs – whilst not as enormous as it is today – was still huge.
Chelsea were the big-city slickers and Town the poor relations from 'up north'.
Chelsea included stars like John Hollins, Nigel Spackman, Kerry Dixon and a young Pat Nevin in their side, but Town had a famous name too – the ex-Ipswich, Derby and England international Trevor Whymark.
Despite the David v Goliath aspect of the game, Town were not overawed and travelled to Chelsea in confident mood. They were by now an established Second Division side and were having a good season.
Town started brightly, but both Whymark and Paul Wikinson were guilty of missing opportunities to put Town into the lead.
Unfortunately, the ever-reliable Kevin Moore conceded a penalty after 27 minutes from which Dixon opened the scoring.
On 57 minutes, John Bumstead added a second and the points looked safe for Chelsea.
However, 2-0 is the most dangerous lead in football. If it goes to 3-0, it's a long way back (especially for the away side), but if the trailing side pull one back, then it's all to play for and doubts creep in.
On 66 minutes, Joe Waters, pictured left, did just that – with a 30-yard chip beating Eddie Niedzwiecki in the Chelsea goal.
That goal and Waters' play were the inspiration Town needed. Eight minutes later, Paul Emson ran around the Chelsea defence and poked in a shot which the Chelsea 'keeper could only get his finger tips to as the ball entered the net.
The crowd of 13,151 saw Chelsea stunned when, only three minutes later, Emson put in a cross for Tony Ford to run on to and put the Mariners into the lead.
Stamford Bridge was silenced and Town held on to record a famous victory.
The referee, Mr D J Axcell missed the winner as he was stretchered off and replaced by his linesman after the equaliser.
The victory earned Town a £250 prize – Fiat were sponsoring the 'Outstanding Performance of the Week' and Town's comeback earned it for the club!
On top of the prize, there was a new strip for a local boy's club which went to Cleethorpes Boy's Brigade.
By Graham Precious of the Mariners Trust