Newcastle United. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2
THE PARTY that Newcastle had been planning since September can now begin. Kevin Keegan's team are champions of the First Division, and Tyneside's adoration of the man who has turned its footballing fortunes upside down will know no bounds.
Keegan's mission when he was installed as manager 15 months ago was to save the club from the ignominy of relegation to what was then the Third Division and carry them forward to what is now the Premier League. He has done all he promised.
With three games to play in the season's final week and only two points neeeded, there did not seem much doubt Newcastle would assume the crown. By taking three points last night, they can face Oxford tomorrow and Leicester on Sunday in a mood of uninhibited celebration.
It must have pleased Keegan then that the man he bought to provide a final impetus should achieve the breakthrough last night, less than a minute into the second half.
Andy Cole, whose pounds 1.75m arrival from Bristol City took Keegan's spending close to pounds 5m, offered Robert Lee a chance that almost brought a goal in the last minute of the first half. Within moments of the restart, Lee returned the compliment with a masterly through pass and Cole, hardly breaking stride, struck the ball left-footed past Rhys Wilmot from 15 yards. Cole has scored eight times in nine matches since moving.
He has speed of thought and movement, combined with good touch, and desires to make an impact in the top flight to match his idol, Ian Wright. He may not be disappointed. His partnership with the splendid Lee Clark, who ought not to be too far from the full England team, promises riches.
For a frightening few minutes after Cole's goal, when the Osmond End, bursting with some 4,500 exuberant Geordies, spilled some of its number on to the pitch, visions loomed of a night marred by tragedy and play was suspended for five minutes. Happily, injuries were only slight.
In time added on as a consequence, David Kelly rounded Wilmot to make sure nothing could spoil the night.
Grimsby Town: Wilmot; McDermott, Croft, Futcher (Childs, 90), Rodger, Dobbin, Ford, Gilbert (Smith, 83), Groves, Mendonca, Woods.
Newcastle United: Srnicek; Venison, Beresford, Bracewell, Scott, Howley, Lee, Cole, Kelly, Clark, Sellars. Substitutes not used: Kilcline, Peacock.
Referee: T Lunt (Ashton).
Old Trafford's new theatre, page 33