1980-1997: Robinson the Saviour - Boring, Boring Dolan

Last updated : 03 January 2002 By Historian

To add insult to injury, the spectre of financial hardship was also coming to the surface yet again. In February 1982 the club was placed in administration. Harold Needler had died some years before and whilst his son had taken over the mantle of his father and continued to underwrite the vast bulk of the Club's finances, he did not appear to have his father's passion for the club. His decision, taken on the advice of his own financial advisers, meant the possibility of bankruptcy and extinction was rapidly turning into a reality.

Brian Horton
It is ironical, bearing in mind the club's uneasy relationship with its Rugby League neighbours at the start of its history, that it was an ex Rugby League player, Don Robinson, who was to rescue them. In doing so, he set in motion another chapter in the club's history that was to provide the supporters with a much needed period of success. Robinson, who had previously been chairman of non-league Scarborough, appointed Colin Appleton (a former manager of Scarborough) as manager. In his first season in charge Appleton guided the club to promotion. The following season, further success came agonisingly close, with the club missing out on a second promotion by one goal. The subsequent departure of Appleton to Swansea City set alarm bells ringing once again but another astute appointment, this time of Brian Horton as player-manager, saw the club finally return to Division Two in 1985/86. They again came close to joining the elite but eventually had to settle for sixth place.

The following two seasons saw the Tigers reside in the lower half of the table. The departure of Horton was followed by a succession of managers who failed to provide the club with the desperately needed place in the top flight of English football. A second spell as manager for Colin Appleton was short lived and unsuccessful, winning only one game (and that in a Football League Cup-tie) in his fifteen-match reign. When Robinson announced his own departure as Chairman, Appleton was swiftly replaced by the new Chairman, Richard Chetham, who then appointed Stan Ternent, a man with no previous managerial experience to revive the club's fortunes. This proved to be unsuccessful and Ternent's dismissal in January 1991 saw the appointment of Terry Dolan.

Terry Dolan
During the next six years the club were relegated twice to find themselves once again in the basement division of the league. In addition to the problems on the field, they also faced a constant battle to stay afloat against the rising financial tide that threatened to engulf them. Martin Fish, who had replaced Chetham as chairman, spent a lot of his time in the High Court defending numerous 'winding up' orders against the Club, whilst Dolan fought a losing battle against the dwindling band of loyal supporters whose patience had worn thin with the lack of success and the style of play he adopted.