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Mar/Apr 2000 Review
By: Rob Sedgwick
The biggest talking point in March was a rumoured training-ground bust-up between manager Alan Buckley and striker Lee Ashcroft (pictured). Leading goalscorer Ashcroft was put on the transfer list very rapidly, although official sources at the club strenuously denied that any bust-up had taken place, and that the move was for purely 'financial reasons'.
Fred and Bert conducted an opinion poll at the time which showed that the fans, at least, believed otherwise.
Centre back Peter Handyside made his first appearance in a Town shirt of the season, playing in a reserve fixture against Port Vale. The former Scotland Under-21 international had suffered a horrific career-threatening ankle injury during a pre-season tour of Ireland in the summer of 1999.
Perhaps the Ashcroft saga got to the team, because having started the year with a fine run which had taken the Mariners to a comfortable mid-table position in the league, the bubble truly burst in March. A fine 1-0 win over Wolves at Blundell Park on 7th March, proved to be Town's last win of the season, with twelve games to go. What should have been a comfortable run-in became a gradually more and more nervous slide down the table as the season drew to a close.
The majority of this terrible run coincided with Billo's month long visit to the UK from his home in Australia, as recorded for posterity in the karaoke Billo's Quest.
April yielded few goals and very few points for the Mariners. The first four games of the month were all draws, three of which ended goal-less. Finally, the long awaited/dreaded moment arrived, when the Mariners fate in the battle against relegation was known. Although Grimsby lost 2-1 on the 24th of April at the Hawthorns, Town avoided relegation with other results going for them on the day. Rob Sedgwick composed a special karaoke to commemorate the occasion.
Off the field April was a fairly quiet month. Lee Ashcroft remained on the transfer list, although he continued to play in the first team, featuring in every game during the Month.
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