Mariners Memories: The night Grimsby Town beat Exeter to take the fourth division title
In the second part of our new nostalgia series, Graham Precious from the Mariners Trust recalls the night a town roared their heroes to the Division Four championship.
THIS must rank as the most memorable encounter at Blundell Park in living memory – more than 20,000 fans in attendance for a Division Four game!
Town had finished the previous season 19th in the division, despite taking 17 points from a possible 22 over the last 11 games (there were only two points for a win then, if you think my maths is shaky!)
Even though Town avoided the dreaded, but likely, re-election, it cost boss Bobby Kennedy his job.
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Then a moment of sheer inspiration came as chairman Paddy Hamilton appointed a Messiah – step up Lawrie McMenemy.
It was a great season as McMenemy brought the team to the town and the town came to see the team.
He was an inspired leader and motivator. He took the players 'down dock' to see how hard the fans had to work to earn a living and this inspired the team to work harder.
The season started with a 4-1 win over Scunthorpe with 7,497 in attendance. Town then beat Exeter 4-3 away, and drew away at Workington, who were a league side then, as were Barrow, Newport County and Chester.
After such a good start, Town attracted 10,236 for the next home game, a 3-1 defeat of Doncaster Rovers.
The season progressed with Town scoring for fun, always there or thereabouts near the top of the table, and promotion was assured by mid-April.
The season 'finished' on April 29 but Town still had one final game on Tuesday, May 2, as their home match with Exeter City had been postponed from March 18.
A total of 22,489 (including myself) packed into Blundell Park that balmy Tuesday evening. I was stood in the Constitutional Corner terrace under the floodlights.
Town only needed a point to clinch the Championship but were in no mood to take chances playing for a draw.
The goals came from Matt Tees (in his second spell as a Mariner), Mike Hickman and Lew Chatterley, as Town ran out 3-0 winners and were worthy champions.
There was a pitch invasion, with the players eventually making their way to the directors' box in the Main Stand to accept the plaudits.
This was followed a week later with an open-top bus tour of the town, finishing at the Town Hall for a civic dinner and the players appearing on the balcony like royalty.
They finished the season with 88 league goals – the highest in all four divisions. Tees finished top scorer with 27, Stuart Brace knocked in 19 and Mike Hickman 13.
After witnessing two relegations since my first game at Blundell Park in 1964, this was the greatest night of my life – but there were to be many more ups and downs to come.
The Mariners Trust needs 750 members before it can take a seat on the Grimsby Town board. Have you say on the club's future by joining up. Visit www.marinerstrust.co.uk for details.