“We had a spirit and we were fit,” said Robinson. “We were always doing running sessions and had sessions where there were no footballs. On a Tuesday we knew it would just be a running day if we didn’t have a midweek game. We used to grind teams down because we were fitter and mentally ready.”
There was Allan Smart’s 85th-minute winner at Queens Park Rangers; Gifton Noel-Williams’ 87th-minute clincher at Bolton and Michel Ngonge’s goal three minutes from time against Tranmere when the Hornets had two men sent off. But it did not all go to plan, though. They lost three successive games in August and September, went five without a win in December and January and five again in February and March.
But this group were made of stern stuff and they also got on an unbeaten streak as quickly as they got on a losing one. They were third midway through the campaign on the back of a 10-match unbeaten run and then finished the season like a train, winning seven of the last eight matches. The spirit in the group was forged as much off the pitch as it was on the pitch.
“We had a great togetherness,” Robinson said. “We would always go out together and everything we did, we did as a group. We’d always go for a beer or we'd go to the races. It was good fun and we had a laugh. We really enjoyed each other’s company. Richard Johnson and Peter Kennedy were the real characters in the dressing room, but they were all great lads, to be honest.”
GT also encouraged the players to get to know each other better by making sure no two away trips were the same. “I roomed with the likes of Tommy Smith, Darren Ward and then Peter Kennedy now and then,” Robinson said. “Graham wanted to mix and match the roommates. He wanted the new players to understand the club, he wanted us to understand the fans and he made sure the players fitted into the group. He was masterful at that and never added players that weren’t right.”
Ngonge, Smart and Nick Wright came in that summer and the squad were quietly confident of building on the title-winning season and doing more than just making up the numbers in Division One. “We knew we could do really well,” said Robinson. "We didn’t go over the top and think, ‘This is the year we are going to get promoted’. We always had a levelness about us. There were some top quality teams and we had to be at it every game.”
GT knew he had a lovely balance down the left-flank with the swashbuckling Robinson playing behind the poised Kennedy. “He was top drawer,” said Robinson. “It was a great learning experience for me to play behind a Northern Ireland international. He was a fantastic talker on the pitch and we had a great understanding. We knew each other’s run inside and out and just had that connection.”