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1979-80: Town Crowned Champions - Joe Waters Interview

With the anniversary of the 1979/80 title win, we spoke to Joe Waters on the day he came back to Cleethorpes from his home in the USA. The Irish midfielder remembers that title clinching 4-0 win against Sheffield United on the final day of the season.

3 May 2020

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Listen to the exclusive iFollow interview with Joe Waters. 

Waters spent eight years as a Town player, making over 300 appearances for the club in what was one of the most successful periods in its history. 

Asked what his fondest memory of playing in that time under George Kerr was, Waters picked the game that sealed the Mariners promotion in May 1980. 

He said: ''I think the Sheffield United game is the one that stands out, just because of the occasion and what it meant for us. 

''Right from the day the fixtures came out, we were looking and thinking that if both teams needed to be promoted that day, the place will be full and little did we realise that we were going to be going for the Championship and the place was going to be full anyway. 

''That, to me, was the one game that really set it up. 

Town went on to win 4-0 that day to win the third division Championship in front of a crowd of 19,276, taking the lead through Waters after a mazy run through midfield before a Kevin Drinkell scored a hat-trick. The type of goal that he scored that day is what his former manager George Kerr believes made him stand out as a player.

Waters eventually left Town to move to the United States in 1984, where he is currently coaching, and still has a heavy heart about having to make the move. 

''It was disappointing I hadn't really expected it," Joe said.

''We'd had a good year but it's one of those things - all good things come to an end.

''I nearly stayed and I could've stayed, I got a phone call before it was made final to ask me what would it take for me to stay, I said the same money I'm on and what have you. 

''They said we can't do that because of whatever it was, so I said okay, you gotta do what you gotta do. 

''At that point, I think there was a little bit of changing of the guard, there was a change in the way we were playing few of us that went in a short space of time.'' 

Other members of that famous Town team include Tony Ford, Kevin Moore and Kevin Drinkell. The then Town boss, George Kerr, humorously recalled a time that he received an offer for Drinkell, one of the local heroes in the side. 

He said: ''I remember one time I had a huge offer from Middlesbrough for Kevin Drinkell. 

''I called Kevin in and said look, I've received this written offer,  I've. gotta get to the board. He said there's no way that I'm going there gaffer, I said why is that. He said 'Look how they've spelt my name, there's only one L. They can't even spell my name right so I'm not going'.

''When I told the chairman that, you can imagine what he said because it was a really big offer, in the hundreds of thousands, so that was the end of the matter!''

Kerr also spoke about how close the club were to making it three promotions on the bounce and making it to the top division of English football at the time. However, despite finishing above the likes of Chelsea and Newcastle United, the club just fell slightly short and finished seventh in the 1980-81 season.

George said: ''People forget that the team was almost good enough to go in the first division, there was just a little bit of a hitch now and again. 

''With five games to go, we were still in with a chance and it was a time when you got two points for a win, this is where the success of the club is underestimated.'' 

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