Division Three, 1980
3 May ~ In the final game of the season, a rampant Grimsby team secured the Third Division championship by crushing a Sheffield United side that boasted record £160,000 signing and future Argentina manager Alex Sabella, in front of what now seems an improbable 19,000 crowd at Blundell Park.
"There were five local Grimsby kids who had known each other since they were 12 or 13 playing," defender Dave Moore recently recalled to the Grimsby Evening Telegraph, citing the game as his favourite in a Grimsby shirt. One of those players was his brother Kevin, who played over 400 times for Town, and who died in 2013 from Pick's Disease, a rare form of dementia possibly linked to excessive heading.
Another local lad in the team that day was 19-year-old Kevin Drinkell, who banged in a hat-trick and went on to play for Norwich, Rangers and Coventry. He stayed at Grimsby until 1984, when the club finished fifth, level on points with Manchester City, but ten points off a promotion spot to the top flight. They survived in Division Two until 1987, where they played two further spells before falling through and eventually out of the Football League in 2010.
"Today's match is bound to be a colourful, exciting and emotional affair," chairman RK Middleton accurately forecast in his programme notes. His optimism extended to a headmasterly appeal for a peaceful afternoon: "I hope that goodwill and good sense among the rival factions will prevent any senseless hooliganism." Though it's possible that fans of ninth-placed United – who had led the division in December – were so cowed by this shellacking that they quietly sloped off to nurse their battered pride over the summer break.
Most detailed Sheffield United player profile "Len de Goey: A Dutchman signed from Sparta Rotterdam for £75,000." He's a Dutchman – what else do you need to know? Probably plays just like Cruyff and Neeskens.
Most fulsome gratitude expressed to the media Grimsby manager George Kerr: "To the press, radio and TV... thanks for the coverage. If it has made you a few bob we are delighted."
Result Grimsby 4 (Waters, Drinkell 3) Sheffield United 0
Grimsby Batch, D Moore, K Moore, Waters, Wiggington, Crombie, Brolly, Ford, Drinkell, Mitchell (Stone), Cumming
Sheffield United Richardson, Cutbush, Tibbot, Kenworthy, A Moore, Matthews, de Goey (Charles), Speight, Brown, Sabella, Wiggon