Mariners Memories: Marc North scores to secure famous FA Cup win over Middlesbrough
This week, lifelong Town fan Graham Precious recalls a famous FA Cup giant-killing which even rivals some of the weekend's shock results.
TOWN were 20th in Division Four when they travelled to Middlesbrough for a Third Round FA Cup tie on January 7, 1989 – the hosts were 13th in the First Division.
In the First Round, the Mariners had beaten Wolves – who were top of Division Three on the day – 1-0.
And in Round Two, they had beaten Division Four table-toppers Rotherham 3-2.
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Middlesbrough, being a top-flight club, hadn't had to play in the competition until the Mariners' visit.
However, they had been knocked out of the League Cup by Tranmere – also a fourth division side – so would be firm favourites, but cautiously optimistic of avoiding another embarrassment.
Middlesbrough's side included the well-known Bernie Slaven and a certain Gary Pallister – who become legendary at Manchester United alongside Steve Bruce under Alex Ferguson when the Premier League was established.
Town's side, under Alan Buckley, consisted of Paul Reece in goal, John McDermott, Paul Agnew, Andy Tillson, Marc Lever, Shaun Cunnington, Kevin Jobling, Steve Saunders, Richard O'Kelly, John Cockerill and Keith Alexander.
Middlesbrough, being the home side, were expected to take the game to Town, but the visitors held their own quite comfortably.
Reece didn't have a stop to make until the 20th minute when he saved from Peter Davenport.
Five minutes later, Cunnington went on one of his amazing runs, being fed by McDermott, only to be foiled by 'Boro keeper Pears.
Town held out until the 40th minute when 'Boro attacked down the left and a ball from Hamilton was passed by Ripley into the path of top-scorer Slaven to put the home side up at the half-time break.
In the second half, Town came more into the game with a fine effort from O'Kelly saved by Pears, and Alexander firing over when he could perhaps have done better.
On 70 minutes, Buckley played a masterstroke. He took off O'Kelly and brought on Marc North. The next 30 seconds were magic!
The substitution was made as Town had won a throw-in. Jobling took the throw to Alexander who beat Pallister to slide the ball through to North to score with his first touch.
Both sides went all out for a winner, with Pallister beating Reece only to see his header come back off the bar.
With three minutes remaining – and the Town fans dreaming of a replay – Jobling and Alexander combined to put in a low ball which North met with a stooping header to put Town into Round Four. I was there among the 2,000 Town fans in the 19,190 crowd.
Sadly, neither Marc nor Keith are with us anymore, but this game is a fitting legacy of two 'Town Greats.'
If any Grimsby Town fans have a game they would like featured in Mariners Memories or want information on joining the Mariners Trust, please contact Graham Precious by email at email@example.com