HISTORY CORNER: Looking Back At The 1987/88 Season

By Steve Whitney

The beginning of the 1987/88 season saw the GM Vauxhall Conference being used as a `guinea pig` by FIFA to use a new offside rule.

Lincoln City, who became the first team to suffer automatic relegation from the Football League, have been made the bookmakers` favourites to make an immediate return.

They have remained full-time and made eight new signings.

Alan Gane resigns as manager of Wycombe Wanderers for `personal reasons`, while Kettering Town lose their former Wolves and Manchester City star Steve Daley, who departs Rockingham Road to pursue a career outside the game.

Two of the league`s top marksmen are in demand, with Runcorn`s Mark Carter turning down a move to Scottish side Hibernian and Welling United rejecting a £15,000 bid from Weymouth for Gary Abbott.

The season starts well with opening day attendances showing a 47% increase on the previous campaign.

Dave Sansom netted an opening day hat-trick as the 1986/87 runners-up Barnet beat Lincoln 4-2 in front of 2,598 at Underhill.

Lincoln sell keeper Lee Butler to Aston Villa for £85,000.

Wycombe appoint former Blackpool stalwart Peter Suddaby as their new manager.

Suddaby finished his playing career with Wycombe four years previously.

Lincoln`s poor start continues as they lose 3-0 at Weymouth in the first competitive fixture at the Terras` new Wessex Stadium in front of a crowd of 3,500 – their best for 12 years.

Rated as `the most complete player in non-League football`, Noel Ashford, joins Barnet for £17,000 from Wycombe.

Lincoln invest £48,000 on Port Vale forward Paul Smith.

Weymouth maintain 100% start with a 1-0 win against Altrincham to go top of the table.

Kidderminster Harriers announce plans to invest £8million re-developing Aggborough.

Weymouth unveil profits of £492,291 but lose for the first time 2-1 at Maidstone United, but spend some of their profit on defender Shaun Teale from Northwich. Teale, of course, went on to make over 150 appearances for Aston Villa in the top flight.

Wealdstone sack manager Colin Meldrum, appointing former Arsenal assistant Terry Burton in his place.

Barnet score seven at Wycombe – a Conference record for an away win – and go top.

Former Chelsea, Manchester United and Scotland boss Tommy Docherty(pictured) is a appointed as manager of Altrincham following the dismissal of John Williams and signs a three-year contract.

Alty`s neighbours Macclesfield Town`s forwards Steve Burr and John Askey (the club`s current manager) join Everton for a week`s trial.

Maidstone record their first home victory over Enfield in 21 years with three goals in last 13 minutes.

Meanwhile, Enfield`s striker Nicky Francis scores all five in their next game at Wycombe.

Kidderminster put 11 goals past Penycae in the Welsh Cup with striker Paul Davies scoring 6.

Fourteen Conference sides move into the First Round of the FA Cup.

Kettering go top of the table, while Lincoln`s 2-1 victory over Barnet draws highest crowd of the season to date – 4,624 – and sees Bees lose run of 29 away games without defeat.

Striker Paul McKinnon returns to Sutton United from Swedish football and scores 3 times in two matches to take his tally for the club past the 200-mark, while another striker on the move sees Dave Mehew join Bath from Bristol Rovers.

Ray O`Brien quits as manager of Boston United after a poor run of just 7 points from possible 36. Former Lincoln boss George Kerr takes over.

Sutton, Macclesfield, Runcorn and Lincoln all beat League opposition to enter the Second Round of the FA Cup with six other Conference sides.

Bill Williams moves `upstairs` at Maidstone with John Still moving in to control team affairs.

Former Arsenal assistant boss Terry Burton resigns at Wealdstone after just two months in charge without a win.

Weymouth `keeper Peter Guthrie continues to attract attention with six League scouts watching him keep a tenth clean sheet of the season to date.

Maidstone`s Gary Roberts scores the second fastest goal of the season after just 14 seconds in a 2-1 defeat by Boston.

A record nine Conference clubs enter the Second Round of the FA Cup.

Graham Bressington joins Lincoln for £10,000 from Wycombe, with Imps` boss Colin Murphy being quoted as saying: “We`ll have him in the full Welsh squad within a year!”

Macclesfield beat Rotherham 4-1 in the FA Cup and Sutton win 3-1 at Peterborough to enter the Third Round draw along with Kidderminster, Bath and Maidstone.

Welling United are offered the services of a professional hypnotist. But after their cup exit at home to Bath, manager Graham Hobbins claimed: “We didn`t need his services as the players played as if they were in a trance anyway!”

Barnet sign striker Gary Abbott from Welling for £15,000 after losing top scorer Nicky Evans to a broken leg.

Tony Jennings resigns as manager of Dagenham to take over at Wealdstone.

The Daggers appoint veteran player Joe Dunwell.

Former Arsenal and Everton midfielder Trevor Ross is signed by Tommy Docherty for Altrincham.

Crowd of 5,822 for Boston`s Boxing Day derby with Lincoln sets new Conference record.

Bolton Wanderers make an unsuccessful bid for Macclesfield striker Steve Burr, while Cheltenham Town reject a £35,000 offer for another striker, Brett Angel, from Weymouth.

Dagenham`s managerial problems worsen as they appoint a third boss in as many weeks as John McCombe takes the helm.

Weymouth keeper Peter Guthrie joins Tottenham Hotspur for a then non-League record fee of £100,000.

It`s the end of December and Wealdstone record only their second win of the campaign, while victories over Enfield and Sutton keep Barnet two points clear at the top of the table going into the New Year.

Sutton fly the Conference flag in the FA Cup after holding Middlesbrough to a 1-1 draw. Bath, Macclesfield and Maidstone all bow out.

Wycombe manager Peter Suddaby resigns as the Chairboys pick up just 8 points from a possible 45.

Kidderminster set a new club record by signing midfielder Pail Bancroft from Burton Albion for £12,000.

Lincoln join Barnet as joint leaders after the North Londoners are held 1-1 by Cheltenham and the Imps win 3-0 at home to Fisher.

Wycombe appoint Jim Kelman as manager and he guides them to a 5-3 win over Cheltenham in his first game in charge.

Sutton bow out of the FA Cup, losing after extra-time at Middlesbrough in front of 18,000.

Maidstone boss John Still signs Dagenham duo John Docker and Paul Goyette for four-figure fees, while Kettering lose experienced midfielder Billy Kellock, who retires due to work commitments.

Wycombe sign Trinidad & Tobago`s World Cup keeper John Granville.

FA Trophy holders Kidderminster bow out of this season`s competition after losing 2-0 at home to Runcorn.

Former Manchester United star Gordon Hill moves back to Northwich from Stafford Rangers and helps end Vics` 15-game run without a win.

Ex-Aston Villa skipper Dennis Mortimer leaves Kettering to take the managerial post at Redditch United.

Barnet open up a three-point lead at the top after winning 4-2 at Telford.

Tommy Docherty resigns as manager of Altrincham following a difference of opinion with the club`s new chairman. Club stalwart Jeff Johnson takes over.

Bath set a new club record by signing Bristol City`s Micky Tanner for £16,000.

Steve Daley, who moved from Wolves to Manchester City in 1979 for £1,437,500 – then an English record – re-joins Kettering.

Brett Angel leaves Cheltenham for Derby for £65,000.

Dagenham end 16-game run without a win by defeatin Wycombe 2-1 with Welling earning their first point of 1988 with a draw at Sutton.

Barnet lose to London neighbours Enfield to end a run of 14 games without defeat.

Cheltenham spend some of the money received for Angel by shelling out a club record £10,000 for Bath keeper David Mogg.

Lincoln cut Barnet`s lead at the top to three points with a 3-0 win at bottom side Dagenham.

Enfield and Telford reach semi-finals of the FA Trophy.

Maidstone win first home match in five months with a 2-1 victory over leaders Barnet.

Conference attendances pass last season`s aggregate with a quarter of the season still to play.

Barnet set a new Conference transfer record by signing Dagenham`s Nicky Bissett, while Maidstone receive a record £13,000 from Yeovil for striker Micky Doherty.

Kidderminster attract highest league gate since 1951 when 2,635 watch a 3-3 draw with Lincoln, but Barnet open up a five-point gap at the top following a 2-1 win over Macclesfield.

Kettering extend their unbeaten run to eight matches with a 2-1 win at Cheltenham and head the chasing pack, five points behind second-placed Lincoln.

March 1988 sees discussion on artificial surfaces receive overwhelming support from Conference clubs.

Barnet register second highest away win since formation of the competition with a 6-0 success at Wealdstone.

Kettering edge closer to top two with an emphatic 5-0 win at Dagenham.

Boston reject a bid of £50,000 from Charlton for goalkeeper John McKenna.

Kettering win sixth successive game 3-2 against Wealdstone to join second-placed Lincoln on 67 points and Barnet give those two a boost by losing 2-1 to a last-minute own goal at Boston.

Lincoln set a new league attendance record with 7,542 watching a 5-1 victory over Boston with new £15,000 signing Paul Casey playing against his former club.

Telford on their way to the Trophy final, defeating Wokingham Town 2-0 in the semi-final first leg, and reach Wembley for the fourth time with an aggregate 3-0 win.

Enfield lose second leg 1-0 at home to Barrow to face a replay in their semi-final.

Altrincham confirm the appointment of Jeff Johnson as manager after a period in caretaker charge.

Enfield draw 1-1 in Trophy replay.

Fisher Athletic striker John Leslie scores fastest hat-trick of the season in 5 minutes against Dagenham, who lose tenth game in succession to become the first side relegated.

Lincoln`s run of 16 matches without defeat ends at Macclesfield and Kidderminster follow suit, losing at Fisher.

Wealdstone face the drop as Welling win 1-0 at Maidstone to open up a nine-point gap at the bottom.

Maidstone play last ever game at London Road, winning 4-2 against Stafford Rangers.

Enfield guarantee all-Conference final with a 1-0 win over Barrow after 420 minutes of football.

Bobby Jones resigns as manager of relegation-threatened Bath prior to club`s 2-1 victory over Lincoln.

Former `double` winners Wealdstone are relegated following Northwich`s equalising goal 3 minutes from time in a 2-2 draw.

Bath become the third to be relegated after losing 2-1 at Runcorn.

Tension increased at the other end as Kettering maintain their unbeaten run, defeating Lincoln 2-0 to throw promotion issue wide open as Barnet were held to a 1-1 draw by Kidderminster.

However, Kettering`s unbeaten run of fifteen matches ends with a 3-0 defeat at home to Runcorn, while Lincoln also drop points to give the advantage to Barnet.

But with only one win in seven, Barnet`s poor form continues as they relinquish leadership for the first time since November, losing 2-1 at home to Runcorn in front of highest Underhill gate for 10 years of 5,143.

Kettering`s hopes are dashed as they lose 2-0 at Enfield.

Maidstone set up a groundshare agreement with Dartford.

Lincoln City clinch the Conference title with a 2-0 victory over Wycombe in front of another new record attendance of 9,432.

Barnet finish runners-up and Kettering third.

The FA Trophy went to Enfield, but only after a replay at West Brom`s Hawthorns after a disappointing 0-0 draw at Wembley.

The replay though was a 3-2 thriller to round off a season full of records.

Where next?

Greaves: Draw Showed Never Say Die Attitude A 1-1 draw at Blyth Spartans left FC United of Manchester player-manager Tom Greaves pleased.
Double The Crowd, But Same Issues Remain For Pools Craig Harrison admits an incredible crowd of nearly 7,000 couldn’t mask on-pitch disappointment as Hartlepool’s poor run of form continued on Saturday.

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