Having led the mighty Glasgow Rangers to world success in previous games, I felt the need for a
change of scene. Where better to do this than at Boundary Park, Cleethorpes, where I would try to
lift the mariners into the Premiership.
My first impressions where a culture shock to say the least. Very little money in the bank and a
very low average attendance meant that I would have to scrounge around for bargains. I quickly
decided that only three players were good enough, and one of them was on loan. Thus Danny Coyne
(GK), Marlon Broomes (DC) and Alan Pouton (AMRC) were retained and I looked to fill the rest of
the side with my own men.
With a 3-5-2 formation in my head, my first priority was the defence. The veteran Richard Gough
(DC) was signed from Northern Spirit for next to nothing and installed as captain. Neil Cox (DC)
was secured from Watford for 450k obtained from outgoing transfers. For wing-backs I signed Michael
Twiss (D/DML) on a free and got Stephen Warnock (D/DMRC) on loan from Liverpool. His 20 at set
pieces was to become useful later. For the engine room, I bought the still excellent Stuart McCall
(SW/DMC) for 40k from Bradford to act as minder for the creative Pouton. To play in the hole behind
the strikers, I pulled off a major coup in bringing Kim Kallstrom (AM/FC) from Hacken for an
unbelievable 180k due to his minimum fee release clause. Up front proved a problem, as although I
signed Daniel Amokachi (SC) on a free (who's signing led to the Grimsby fans dancing in the
streets) I could not find another striker to play along side him. Thus I pushed Kallstrom up front
with Pouton in the hole and Chris Boulder (MC), a youth player, in midfield.
So I approached the first game of the season away against Portsmouth with confidence, only to get
gubbed 3-0. The first few games were a disaster, with Kallstrom floundering up front and Amokachi
scoring only the one goal, although he was playing well. I could see that I had a creative forward
and a target man, and lacked a poacher. My prayers were answered when I discovered Nando (FC). He
had scored 6 goals in 5 games for his Spanish B division team, and had 20 for finishing. He was
snapped up for 30k, with Kallstrom falling back into the free role and Pouton replacing Boulder
in the midfield.
My next game was away against Coventry, the runaway league leaders. Expecting another away defeat,
I was delighted when we sneaked a draw thanks to a Nando debut goal and a Warnock free-kick. From
there on in, Grimsby's fortunes improved. Boundary Park proved to be a fortress, with the team
being unbeaten there and away form improved.
The first away victory came against 3rd placed Preston thanks to a Kallstrom double. Broomes'
loan ended, and he was replaced in the team by Norweigan legend Kjetil Rekdal (SW/DMC) who was
available on a free after being sacked as manager of Valeraenga. A decent league cup run was
mounted, only to disappointingly go out to Sheff Wed in the quarter-finals. By this time Grimsby
had risen to 6th in the table and were making up ground on those above quickly. Two games then
followed that were to propel the mariners into a great season. 2nd placed Wolves were crushed 3-0
at Boundary Park thanks to a fantastic hat-trick of free-kicks from Warnock. This result sent
Grimsby to 3rd, but we were still some distance behind Coventry and Wolves for the automatic
The next game was the Fourth-Round FA Cup replay against Everton. After a 1-1 draw at Goodison, the
Toffees were brought back to Cleethorpes. The players were still riding high after the Wolves
game, especially Warnock. He followed up his hat-trick with a free-kick double, and another of his
free-kicks led to Cox nodding in the third. 3-0 against a Premiership side was a massive
achievement. The FA Cup run lasted until the semis, when the brave mariners were defeated on
penalties by the mighty Arsenal. None the less, it was a fantastic achievement.
The league finished with Grimsby in 3rd behind Wolves and Coventry. Nando helped himself to 20
goals, with Kallstrom and Amokachi behind on 12 and Warnock on 10. The first play-off game was
Watford away. Alan Pouton scored in the last minute to steal a 1-0 win and surely send us into the
play-off final. Unfortunately, the team chose this moment to lose their undefeated home record.
Watford won 1-0 to send the match into extra time. Kallstrom scored with 2 minutes to go, only for
Watford to score in the last minute. I thought I was out, only to find that away goals didn't
count double! In the shoot-out Coyne proved to be the hero, saving 2. The mariners marched on into
the play-off final against Millwall.
I was expecting to win, but I was sure it would be nail-biting. My team surprised me with a fairly
straight forward 2-0 victory thanks to an Amokachi double. Amokachi was made Fan's Player of the
Season, probably just for his final performance. A £12 million windfall for reaching the
Premiership was quickly spent. Gough, McCall and Rekdal were too old and needed replaced, and
Stephen Warnock's loan spell ended. Regillio Vrede (DC) was bought from Roda for 950k, and Abel
Xavier (D/DMRC) came on a Bosman from Everton. To replace Warnock, David Prutton (D/DMRC) was
signed for 4.6 million from Notts Forest. Pa Modou Kah (D/DM/FC) came for 2.5 million to replace
McCall. Up front, I wasn't convinced Nando or Amokachi would hack it in the Premiership so Victor
Ikpeba (FRC) and Constantin Barbu (SC) came in on Bosmans. Raimond van der Gouw joined the club as
back up to Coyne and goalkeeping coach. With Gough retired to the coaching staff (he was 40!)
Kallstrom took his place as captain. With the side of Coyne, Xavier, Vrede, Cox, Prutton, Twiss,
Kah, Pouton, Kallstrom, Ikpeba and Barbu I am confident the mighty mariners will avoid relegation