In the 11th of our countdown series celebrating Grimsby Town's 140th anniversary as a club, we focus on the major talking points in 1908 - 1899.
Town built a completely new squad in 1898, with just one regular from the previous season being retained. Although the Mariners finished the year in a comfortable mid-table position, that season will be remembered for the record of a 9-2 victory over Darwen, who were already bound for re-election, and for the season being the last at Abbey Park.
Blundell Park became the third home of Town, and Luton were the first visitors for a game that ended all square with a share of six goals - with Town 3-0 up at half-time!
Walsall became the first team to be beaten at BP with a 4-2 victory for Town. Stands had been brought along from Abbey Park, with a new one being built at the Grimsby end, which was given the name "the Pontoon" and, in that respect, "the rest is history!"
The new century - the 1900-01 season brought fantastic success to the Mariners. Seventeen league games without defeat from September to January put Town in pole position, but a shaky Christmas and New Year set the nerves jangling.
Another late winter surge had Town on top before a defeat to their rivals for top-spot – Small Heath (now known as Birmingham City) – brought a nervy few games, though Small Heath suffered nerves at the same time. It all depended on the last game.
Middlesbrough held Town to a 0-0 and, after waiting ages for the Small Heath result (no mobiles, not even local radio back then!), it was worth it as Town were confirmed champions of Division Two and promoted to Division One!
For the first season in Division 1 a brand spanking new stand was built on the Harrington Street side of BP... And there it stands to this day – the Main Stand – having been the oldest structure in the Football League for decades!
It had all the latest accoutrements - changing rooms, a Directors Box, even a Press Box! We can find no proof that John Tondeur was asking someone in Hull to cut the sound off in his headphones even then. The season looked to be heading for a quick return to Division Two until half a team was signed for the New Year including Cleethorpes fisherman ‘Cockles’ Appleyard.
The following season saw Town relegated, and talk of the "Lancashire ring" fixing games so that Blackburn could stay up at Town’s expense were partially proved when Blackburn's secretary was banned from football for life for his attempts at match-fixing.
Town spent the next few years in Division Two without ever threatening promotion or relegation, and played for a while in salmon pink shirts.
Much of this period featured two other Lincolnshire clubs - Lincoln City and Gainsborough Trinity, as well as the newly-formed Hull City, so there was plenty of rivalry for league games, as well as the keenly-contested Lincolnshire Senior Cup!
The penultimate article in our series will look at the club between 1898 and 1889.