IT is nearly 15 years since the Mariners made their first trip to Wembley, where they faced AFC Bournemouth in the 1998 Auto Windscreens Shield Final.
Midfielder Wayne Burnett netted the famous Golden Goal that won the match for the Mariners and, ahead of the side's FA Trophy clash with Wrexham on Sunday, we look back at that historic day.
GRIMSBY TOWN 2 (Black, Burnett) AFC BOURNEMOUTH 1 (Bailey)
19.04.98 – Auto Windscreens Shield Final (Wembley Stadium)
The Mariners had waited 120 long years to make an appearance at the ‘Home of Football’, but they managed it twice in the space of five weeks back in that amazing season of 1997/98.
It had been an unbelievable campaign for Alan Buckley’s men; a League Cup exit at Liverpool and an FA Cup departure at Leeds had seen the Mariners claim some memorable scalps along the way but the Auto Windscreens Shield was an-altogether different story.
Chesterfield, Hull, Scunthorpe, Blackpool and Burnley had all been accounted for as the Mariners made their inaugural trip to the Twin Towers.
Mel Machin’s Bournemouth side saw the Wembley trip as a chance to wipe out their financial debt and, with both teams pushing for the Division Two Play Offs, the Cherries were hopeful of getting one-up on a side that had done the double over them in the league.
Buckley’s side generally picked itself; Aidan Davison had been immaculate in goal all season; whilst the back four of John McDermott, Tony Gallimore, Peter Handyside and Mark Lever had been amongst the stingiest in the division all season.
Kevin Donovan had been a revelation on the right wing with over 20 goals and captain Paul Groves had picked up where he had left off nearly two years previous.
A pair of January signings completed Buckley’s midfield quartet; Wayne Burnett had been another hidden gem with his classy passing since arriving from Huddersfield's reserves and current Commercial Manager Dave Smith was given the nod ahead of Kingsley Black on the left hand side.
The manager’s only area of concern was up front. Combative striker Jack Lester was suspended, so it was youngster Daryl Clare who was chosen to partner Lee Nogan up front.
Both strikers had sightings of goal in the early stages, as both teams tested each other out on the lush Wembley surface.
It was the Cherries who took the lead just after the half hour though; Davison and Gallimore hesitated from a left wing cross and that allowed John Bailey to nip in and slot the ball into the empty net.
For the remainder of the half the Mariners were second best and were relieved to get to the half time break with just a one-goal deficit.
Town were struggling to get a foothold in the game and were in desperate need of a lift. It came just ten minutes into the second half, with another tactical masterstroke from Buckley.
The physical presence of Steve Livingstone was brought on for Clare up front. Left back Gallimore was sacrificed for Black, with the adaptable Smith moving back to defence – from then on Town were firmly on top.
The Mariners began to play some marvellous football and put the Bournemouth defence under pressure. McDermott was having the game of his career and strode forward to sting the palms of Jimmy Glass in goal with just over an hour gone.
Town fans could sense an equaliser and it duly arrived on 75 minutes. There was a trademark link-up between McDermott and Donovan on the right. The former swung in a deep cross and Black was lurking at the far post to nod the ball goalwards, the effort going in off the unfortunate Glass.
It was all Grimsby now and just three minutes later they thought they had taken the lead. A corner was cleared as far as Burnett, 30 yards from goal. The perm-haired midfielder hammered a volley that smashed the stanchion behind the goal before rippling the net. Over 31,000 Mariners fans, as well as manager Buckley and TV commentators, thought the ball was in, but it had flashed yards wide.
The final action of the 90 minutes went to the imperious McDermott who again tested Glass with a vicious swerving effort from over 25 yards.
With the scores tied at one-apiece, the game entered a Golden Goal extra time period. Buckley played his final card – Kevin Jobling replaced an exhausted Nogan and slotted in at left back, Smith moved back to left wing, with Black in the ‘hole’ behind Livingstone.
The Cherries had regrouped though and they looked most likely of the sides to snatch a winner, with former Chelsea star Mark Stein being a constant threat.
The game moved into the second period of extra time with the tie being 15 minutes away from the lottery of a penalty shoot out.
With just nine minutes remaining the match turned on its head. Davison pulled off a marvellous save from Stein to keep Town in the game, and 60 seconds later they were celebrating the win.
A long ball put Ian Cox under pressure and he in turn forced Glass into a difficult clearance with an ill-advised back pass.
The resulting corner was swung in and went right across the penalty area where it was met by the flick of Burnett’s heel for arguably the most famous goal in Grimsby Town’s history.
The victory turned Wembley into a sea of black and white as the jubilant Town squad celebrated in front of their vociferous backing. The same scenes would be repeated five weeks later when the Mariners secured promotion with victory over Northampton.
MARINERS: Davison, McDermott, Gallimore (Black), Handyside, Lever, Burnett, Donovan, Smith, Nogan (Jobling), Clare (Livingstone), Groves.
CHERRIES: Glass, Young, Vincent, Howe, Cox, Bailey, Beardsmore (O’Neil), Robinson, Stein, Fletcher, Warren (Brissett). Subs not used: Rolling
A comprehensive 52-page edition of this Auto Windscreens Shield Final programme was on hand for the clash between the Mariners and the Cherries.
An A4-sized edition, the programme featured many top articles on the day’s teams. Head to Head features focused on Russell Beardsmore and Mark Lever and Franck Rolling and Kevin Donovan.
Cherries’ manager Mel Machin was applauded for the job he was doing under intense financial constraints at Dean Court, and there was an extensive look at the two teams’ routes to Wembley.
There was an exclusive interview with Cherries’ star Steve Fletcher and Town manager Alan Buckley looked forward to the game on the eve of his 47th-birthday.
Town favourites Kingsley Black and Lee Nogan looked back on their own Wembley memories, whilst there was a look forward to the impending World Cup in France.
All this was housed on full-colour glossy paper for the price of £3.50.