9 November ~ Rushden & Diamonds, managed by former England international Brian Talbot, were to win Division Three in only their second season in the League. Striker Onandi Lowe, scorer of the first goal against Darlington, was one of two Jamaican internationals in the squad, the other being ex-Portsmouth winger Paul Hall. Full-back Marcus Bignot and midfielder David Bell both went on to play in the Championship. Max Griggs, owner of the Dr Martens footwear company, had created the club as a merger of two Northants teams, Rushden Town and Irthlingborough Diamonds, in 1992.
After one season at the third level – which included this 3-3 draw with QPR – they were relegated. Griggs left in the summer of 2005 and they dropped back into non-League at the end of that season. Six years later they were expelled from the Conference after going into administration. A new club, AFC Rushden, play in the United Counties League, five levels below the Football League.
Hartlepool led the division from September until mid-April, but finished second, two points behind Rushden, after one win in their last four games; manager Mike Newell then left to join Luton. Wrexham won their last eight matches to finish third. Fourth-placed Bournemouth beat Lincoln City 5-2 in the play-off final. This was the first of Lincoln's five consecutive appearances in the fourth-level play-offs, all of which ended in defeat.
Shrewsbury finished seven points adrift at the bottom. Beset by financial problems, Swansea spent the majority of the season in the relegation places. They finished 21st, a point clear of second-bottom Exeter, thanks to a 4-2 win over Hull on the final day. This was the penultimate season for the Swans' 34-year-old goalkeeper Roger Freestone who had joined them from Chelsea in 1989.
The self-described “mystifier" Uri Geller was on Exeter's board at the time of their relegation. Michael Jackson was among the celebrities who took part in a fund-raising concert for the club organised by Geller in the summer of 2002. Football League debutants Boston United finished 15th having had four points deducted for financial malpractice the previous season.
Everton loanee Leon Osman was in the Carlisle team that won at Kidderminster. Other notable names playing this week included Dean Whitehead (Oxford), Peter Beagrie (Scunthorpe), Darren Ferguson (Wrexham), Liam Ridgewell (Bournemouth) and Dave Kitson (Cambridge).