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Sep/Oct 2000 Review
By: Rob Sedgwick
September saw the start of the trialists and loan players promised by Lennie Lawrence arriving at Blundell Park. The first player to arrive was New Zealand international goalkeeper Jason Batty. Batty's arrival was actually nothing to do with Lennie Lawrence. The Kiwi keeper had been spotted by Peter Lilliman, a Town fan living in New Zealand, who arranged for Batty to have a three month trial with Grimsby Town.
Next to arrive were the first trialists from continental Europe, a German and a Spaniard, neither of whom were eventually taken on. The first new player to actually make it into the first team was British, 22 year old Stuart Campbell, a midfielder who arrived on a month's loan from Leicester City.
Grimsby's first league win under Lennie Lawrence came on the 9th September with a 1-0 victory against Gillingham at Blundell Park. This lone victory asides in a poor game, September was a barren month for the Mariners, and by the end of the month Grimsby were firmly established in the bottom three places in first division table. Only three league goals were scored all month, despite Lawrence trying out a number of formations, principally variants of 3-5-2 , which Town used in most of the early games under their new manager.
Time and again the fans were told that a new striker would be found soon, and it was just a matter of waiting for the right person(s) to become available. Grimsby were linked with Jevers from Everton, Dyer from Barnsley, Nigerian Samuel Ipoua, even former hero Clive Mendonca, but none came anywhere near Blundell Park.
Former player Paul Wilkinson returned to the Mariners in mid- October as a new reserve team coach. 35-year-old Wilkinson, who began his playing career with Town in 1982, took charge of the team's second string, leaving Assistant Manager John Cockerill to concentrate on the coaching side with the first team.
The Great Coates stadium development took a significant turn in Town's favour in October. NELC had commissioned an independent consultant to look into alternative sites within the county, and the report concluded that there that the only suitable site which met all the criteria was in fact the A180 site.
The club expressed their satisfaction with the report, saying in a statement: "The findings are very positive and it was the outcome we were hoping for."
October saw a quite remarkable turn-around in Grimsby's results. They won four out of their five league games during the month, including a 1-0 away victory at Crystal Palace, normally a ground reserved for one of the Mariners worst performances and heaviest defeats of the season.
The improvement in the club's results was due in part to the arrival at the club of the long-promised striker David Nielsen (pictured), on a three month loan from Danish club FC Copenhagen. Nielsen made an instant impact with the fans and scored two fantastic goals in his first two full home games against QPR and WBA. Suddenly, for the first time in a long while, the fans had an instant new hero.
A daring 4-3-3 formation, even away from home, was a feature of most of the games during October. The good run also coincided with a return to first team action by Scottish central defender Peter Handyside after his long injury lay-off lasting over a year, and the spectacular form of Welsh keeper Danny Coyne.
More trialists arrived at Blundell Park during October, including 29 year old Norwegian left-sided defender Knut Anders Fostervold from FK Molde for a week's trial. Knut Anders was "discovered" by Grimsby manager Lennie Lawrence during a scouting mission to Norway earlier in the month.
The Norwegian was soon joined by 27-year-old Scottish defensive-midfielder Neil Murray on a two month loan from the German club FSV Mainz.
During October NELC met to consider the results of the consultants report, and to decide on their next actions. In a further development, the plans for the stadium were amended slightly to ensure all of the development would be outside a recently extended consultation zone.
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