Would you believe John Hollins actually made a few signings before the start of the new season? Not that I’m saying they were all any good. John Williams returned to us and could still beat anyone in one sprint but after that he’d be knackered. Nicolas Mezzina also arrived and he couldn’t have been up to much – he barely played. But one man who wasn’t bad was Mamady Sidibe, he had a few injury problems but on his day he was a class act. Sadly he only stayed one year but he ended up with Stoke in the Prem.
Hollins Last Stand
He’d stayed too long as it was but September saw the end of Hollins’ time in charge. A guy I used to sit next to in the East Stand at the time actually called it a few days before when we beat Exeter 4-2 at home when he spotted Colin Addison sitting a few rows in front of us. Sure enough he lumped a few quid on in the bookies and it came up trumps. Addison though would soon find out though that the job at the Vetch wasn’t what he’d signed up for…
Let’s get straight to it. This was the year Tony Petty became chairman and tried to get rid us of all our top earners to save money. We were all livid and the Supporters Trust which was formed earlier that season stepped in along with a load of local businessmen to buy him out. That the cut and thrust of it, although it took three long months for it to happen. Looking at it now he probably did us a favour as we’d stumbled from one disaster to another until we ended up with the current board. Don’t get me wrong though, he’d get a slap if I ever saw him again!
At the height of the Petty Out campaign the cretin finally showed his face at the Rushden game in early November. As he took his seat in the director’s box there was extreme hostility from the North Bank and he fled before the end of the game as he could see the crowd were preparing to come on the pitch to have it out with him. That was probably the day he realised he’d picked the wrong club to mess with. Sadly for us though it was too late to save our best player from leaving…
So Long Stu
Our side wasn’t up to much that year but we did still have local lad Stuart Roberts. He was one of my favourites was super Stu. Whenever you got the ball you always felt something might happen, a feeling you didn’t get when anyone else had it. Sadly for us Petty sold him for a miserly £100,000 to Wycombe and Lawrie Sanchez made sure any potential he once had was never realised. We tried to interview him for SoS a while back but he doesn’t like talking about the Swans these days. A crying shame.
There weren’t many during this season but our FA Cup 1st round tie with QPR was epic. We trounced our opponents from the higher division 4-0 on a brilliant night at the Vetch with goals from Williams, Nick Cusack, Sidibe and Steve Watkin. Unfortunately though we then hammered in the next round at Macclesfield where I suffered in the freezing cold and to complete our misery the Silkmen went onto draw West Ham in round three.
50 weeks/5 years
A 0-1 win in February at Halifax who would prevent us sliding into the Conference as they were so far adrift at the bottom may not sound like a key moment and it wasn’t at the time. It’s only afterwards that I can outline why this game was significant. Firstly it would be fifty weeks before we won in someone else’s back yard again as our away form took a dramatic turn for the worse. And the other reason is that it would be half a decade before we returned to Yorkshire and won so yes looking back this was the start of two dismal runs which we were all too familiar with at the time.
It was very hard to judge Addison’s six month’s in charge and I thought he was unlucky to get the chop in March after just six months in the dugout. He steadied the ship and had see Roberts and Matthew Bound depart and his replacements were all a lot cheaper like Terry Evans, Neil Sharp and Steve Brodie. He wasn’t given the chance to build something though as Cusack and Roger Freestone took charge for the rest of the season and things quickly got worse again.
His name sends a shiver down my spine. The worst goalkeeper I’ve ever seen play professional football. He let in four at Rushden and then seven in the last away game at Hartlepool prompting Cusack to apologise to the fans who made the trip. In the last game at home to Torquay every time he caught the ball unchallenged the North Bank sarcastically clapped and cheered. A rather miserable campaign ended with us finishing in 20th place. There was one way we could lift our spirits though…
We had a three week wait before facing Cardiff in the FAW final at Ninian Park and in that time the Bluebirds had amusingly lost to Stoke in the Play-Offs. We knew we had no hope of winning and spent most of the game mocking their failure to go up. Predictably the game ended 1-0 to them and they won the trophy for the first time. It was easier to take than normal but I still hated losing to them.