By Neil Fissler
THE MARINERS had never known anything like it as they won back-to-back promotions for the first and only time in the club’s history.
In 1979, they finished runners-up to Reading in Division Four but went one better the following season by lifting the Division Three title.
Under manager George Kerr, they hit top spot at the end of January with a 3-0 win at Blackpool and never looked back as they lost only one of their last 18 games.
With local hero Kevin Drinkell top-scoring with 16 goals, Kevin Kilmore chipping in with 15 and Bobby Cumming contributing 14 they pipped Blackburn to the title.
Midfielder Bobby Mitchell, who along with goalkeeper Nigel Batch played all 46 games, says teams had difficulty working out their tactics.
“We didn’t play any different away from home than we did at home, though maybe we had to defend a little bit more,” he said.
“But we had a formula and nobody seemed to be able to suss out the way we played.
“We just applied ourselves at the right time and it seemed to gell. We had players who weren’t going to be good enough to play at the very top, the likes of myself, Clive Wigginton, John Stone and Mike Brolly,
“We could do a job at a certain level and then, with the young players like the Moore brothers, Tony Ford and Kevin Drinkell, we just came together.”
It was a season that few Mariners will ever forget as they lost 5-0 to Liverpool in the FA Cup at Anfield and reached the League Cup quarter-finals.
Wolves, who went on to win the League Cup, needed two replays to see off Kerr’s side, which emphasised just how difficult they were to beat.
Grimsby clinched the title on the last day of the season with a 4-0 win over Sheffield United.
They stumbled across the line after drawing three of their last five games.
“It is a great feeling, no matter what your level, to win your league,” said Mitchell.
“We had to be pretty consistent to overcome injuries and other problems.
“Towards the end of the season, you always feel you are starting to doubt yourselves when the finishing line gets into sight. You start to worry if you are going to do it.
“There was some relief at the end. I remember one game towards the end of the season when we went to Wimbledon. We were drawing 1-1 at half- time and there was a big argument in the dressing room because we felt we should have had the game sewn up.
“Then, I think we came out at the start of the second half and scored three early goals to win the game 6-3.
“We thought we were going to slip up, but we came through it.”
Graham Cawthorne: A central defender who was business investment manager for Doncaster Council and is now college site supervisor at Kingsbridge College in Devon.
Phil Crosby: A full-back who took medical qualifications and is now chief clinical physiologist at Doncaster Royal Infirmary
Kevin Kilmore: A midfielder who went into pub management in his native Scunthorpe and now runs the Pack Horse, in Louth, Lincolnshire.
Kevin Drinkell: A striker who, for 13 years, was a football agent. Now, a sales executive at Arnold Clark Mercedes in Stirling.