May 11, 2008

England, League Two 2007-’08: the 3 Promoted Clubs, and the 4 Playoff Contenders.

Filed under: Eng-4th Level/League Two,Engl. Promotion Candidates — admin @ 8:01 am


In League Two (which is the 4th Level of English Football) MK Dons, Peterborough, and Hereford have clinched promotion to League One, by finishing in first, second, and third places.

MK Dons, with their giant new stadium, clearly have ambitions beyond the third tier.  There is still a great deal of antipathy towards the club, from many in the English footballing world, for the way they abandoned the fans of South London, when Wimbledon FC moved up to Buckinghamshire, in 2005.  That being said, their new fan base is growing in the Milton Keynes area: attendance has risen from 4,896 (in 2004-’05, the club’s first year in Milton Keynes) to 9,456 (this season).

Peterborough United also has the reputation of a club with ambitions.  The ”Posh” are managed by Darren Ferguson, the son of Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson.  There is new ownership at the club {see this}, and continued investment in new players is expected.   There also is an initiative for a new stadium.  The club’s attendance was up by around 1,300 this season, to an average of 5,995.

Hereford United stands in direct contrast to the other two automatically promoted clubs, as they are not a small club with big ambitions, but a small club that has found a way to survive, and even thrive, in spite of little fan support, miniscule cash-flow, and a stadium that really deserves the wrecking ball.  Their ground, Edgar Street is one of the most bare-bones and outdated stadiums in the League {see this};   {see this, from The Ground Guide 1, a Lincoln City travelling fans’ site}.  The club had a heavy reliance on loan players during this campaign.  And the inhabitants of Herefordshire seem uninterested in the club’s recent success…there was an average of only 3,421 this season.   But the bottom line is that the Hereford United Bulls will be in the third tier next season, after their second promotion in three years.

In the League Two Playoffs, it’s #6 Darlington  vs.  #5 Rochdale;   and #4 Stockport County  vs.  #7 Wycombe Wanderers

The in-form club was Rochdale, who had won 5 of their last 8 league games; conversely, it was Darlington who went into the playoffs on a down, losing 4 of their last 8.  But on Saturday, Darlington resisted a second half Rochdale onslaught, which included a deflected goal by the Dale’s 2007 leading scorer Chris Dagnall {see this profile, from the Rochdale site} (now fully rcovered from a cruciate injury).  Darlington then scored a late goal against the run of play, via an Ian Miller injury-time header, to win the first leg 2-1.  {Click here, for a report on the match, from the Sky Sports site.}

**{Click here for video highlights (youtube, via 101 Goals site)}. 

Darlington’s first goal came as a result of on-loan Middlesbrough winger Jason Kennedy, who curled a sublime shot from the left corner of the penalty area in the 28th minute. The second leg, at Rochdale’s Spotland {see this, from Ground Guide 1} will be on 17 May (next Saturday).   Rochdale has remained in the 4th Level for 34 straight seasons, the longest of any club currently in League Two.  [Note: on the map, Rochdale's usual blue home jersey is replaced by one that looks like Newcastle's, because the club is celebrating their Centenary, and black-and-white vertical stripes was their original uniform.  Next season, the club has come up with the inspired idea of combining both jerseys...they will look like Inter Milan, with black and blue vertical stripes.]

In the other League Two playoff match-up, Stockport County hosts Wycombe on Sunday; the second leg is also on 17 May.

Here is the winning goal in the League Championship Playoff game (first leg)- Crystal Palace 1-2 Bristol City.  The fantastic shot was scored by Bristol’s David Noble, in injury time…{Click here (from the 101 Goals site)}.    {Click here, for a report on the match, from the Sky Sports site.}

Thanks to ( for the kits. 

May 7, 2008

England, League One, 2007-’08: the 2 Promoted Clubs, and 4 Playoff Contenders.

Filed under: Eng-3rd Level/League One,Engl. Promotion Candidates — admin @ 5:28 pm


In League One (the 3rd Level of English football), Swansea City and Nottingham Forest have finished in 1st and 2nd place, and will be automatically promoted to the League Championship (the 2nd Level). 

For Swansea City, this will be their second promotion in four seasons.  As they have a relatively new stadium (opened in 2005),  promotion could really expand this Welsh club’s fan base.  Since moving into Liberty Stadium (and being promoted from League Two to League One), the Swans have seen their average gate rise from 8,458 (2005) to 13,673 (this season).  A decade ago, in 2003, Swansea was mired at the bottom of the old Division Three: they finished just two places above relegation from the League, at 21st,  while averaging 5,160 (and only 3,690 in 2002).  Swansea will definitely have an uphill battle, trying to stay afloat next season, in the League Championship.  Their leading scorer this season was Trinidad-born 29-year-old Jason Scotland, who led League One in scoring, with 23 goals (28 goals in all competitions)   {see this (from an independant site);  and see this}.  

Nottingham Forest are simply too big a club to be in the third tier of English football (they averaged 19,955 per game, this season).   The club has never really come close to their pinnacle, as English National champions in 1978, and European Champions in 1979, and 1980.  But they should be able to establish themselves next year in the League Championship.   Their leading scorer this season was 28-year old Junior Agogo (born in Accra, Ghana), with 13 league goals {see this}.  Nathon Tyson had 9 league goals (12 total)  {see this};  Nottinghamshire-born Kris Commons, a 24-year-old winger, had 8 league goals (9 total) {see this}.

In the Playoffs, #6 Southend United will take on # 3 Doncaster Rovers on Friday 09 May,  for the first leg, at Roots Hall {see this, on Roots Hall, from the Internet Football Grounds Guide}.    The second leg is on the following Friday, in Yorkshire.   Southend United aims to jump right back into the second level, after relegation last season.  Traditionally a 3rd Level club,  Southend has actually spent more of the last two decades in the 2nd Level (7 seasons), and the 4th Level (8 seasons).  They enjoy good fan support for such a medium/small sized club.  Their leading scorer this season was midfielder Nick Bailey {see this, from the Southend Utd Official site}. 

The Doncaster Rovers have came a long way in 5 seasons…from the Conference (the 5th Level) to a club which is in the playoff places of the 3rd Level.  Plus, they have a new ground, Keepmoat Stadium {see this, from the Internet Football Ground Guide}.  Their leading scorer this season was Isle Of Wight-born James Hayter, with 7 league goals, and 10 overall {see this}.

The Roots Hall fixture on Friday is the opening match for the Playoffs, in all 3 Divisions of the (English) Football League.  Here in the USA, Setanta Broadband will be carrying most of these matches live, and archived.


On Monday, 12 May, #4 Carlisle United will play #5 Leeds United, up in Cumbria, with the second leg just 3 days later at Elland Road.  Carlisle United is another club in this playoff group that was in the Conference recently:  just 3 seasons ago.  The club could make it 3 promotions in 4 years if they win the Playoffs.  Their leading scorers were Danny Graham, with 14 league goals (16 overall) {see this, from the Carlisle Utd Official site};  and Joe Garner, also with 14 goals {see this}.  Brunton Park {see this} is the northwestern-most ground in the Football League.

Leeds United hopes their first-ever season in the 3rd Level will be their last.  As recently as 2001, this huge club, Yorkshire’s largest, was drawing 39,000 per game, and were in the Champions League Semi-Finals.  Their leading scorer this season was Jermaine Beckford, with 20 league goals {see this}.  Elland Road: {see this}. 

The 2 promoted clubs had the 2nd highest (Nottingham Forest) and 3rd highest (Swansea City) attendances in League One. The highest  attendances were at Leeds, with an average of 26,546,  which is pretty impressive for the third tier of English football.  The other 3 playoff clubs Doncaster (8,066), Southend (7,885). and Carlisle(7,835) were the 6th, 7th, and 8th highest draws.  Two clubs finished with a higher average gate than 3 of the playoff clubs.  They were Huddersfield Town (at 9,318 per game), and Milwall (at 8,815)… {click here, for the League One Attendance Table (SoccerStats site)}.

Thanks to (  for the kits.

April 3, 2008

Watford FC.

Filed under: Engl. Promotion Candidates — admin @ 4:10 pm


Watford Rovers were formed in 1881.  In 1890, they merged with the West Hertfordshire Rangers.  West Herts Rangers joined the Southern League, Second Division in 1896, and turned professional the next year.  In 1898,  West Hertfordshire Rangers merged with Watford St. Mary’s, to become Watford FC.

Watford FC won the Southern League, Second Division in 1900, and were promoted to the Southern League, First Division.  Four years later (1904), Watford won that divison’s title (there was no promotion to the League, back then).  The club won their second Southern League title in 1915.


Watford joined the English Football League in 1921, when the League expanded.  The entire Southern League, First Division  joined the League, en masse, as the Third Division, South.  The following year (1922), Watford moved from their Cassio Road ground to Vicarage Road, where they have played ever since {see this entry, from Wikipedia}.

Watford would spend 31 seasons (1921-1958) in the third tier of English football.  Their best finish would be in 4th place, which was achieved 3 straight seasons in the late 1930′s;  and in 1954.  They were almost relegated out of the League, in 1951, when they finished in 23rd place, but the club was successfully re-elected to the League (there was no Fourth Division then;  it was created in 1958 {see this}). 

Watford were relegated to the newly created Fourth Division in 1958, after a 16th place finish (12 of the 24 clubs in both the Third Division, South, and the Third Division, North were relegated to fill the new Fourth Division).   The club bounced back to the Third Division two seasons later (1959-60),  the same season they changed from blue and white, to yellow and black kits.  At this time, their nickname of the Hornets came into currency.

Watford spent the next 9 seasons in the Third Division,  and were finally promoted to the Second Division in 1969, when they finished in first.  Their stay in the second tier would last just 3 seasons, though, and by 1975, the club was back in the 4th level.  But this nondescript little club from the northern suburbs of London was about to go through its greatest period. 

In 1976, international pop/rock star Elton John became involved with Watford FC, the club he had supported as a child.  He became chairman of the club in ’77, and his hiring of Lincoln City manager Graham Taylor, along with his substantial cash investments, resulted in Watford’s successive promotions in 1978 (to the Third Division) and 1979 (to the Second Division).  Once in the Second Division, the club consolidated with finishes of 18th, then 9th place.  In the summer of 1981, Watford signed 17-year old Jamaican-born midfielder John Barnes {see this}.  He swiftly established himself in the squad, and along with Watford-born midfielder Kenny Jackett {see this, from an independant Watford FC site} and mainstay winger Wilf Rostron {see this}, they provided an effective complement to striker Luther Blissett (also from Jamaica) {see this, from the FA website}.  In the 1981-82 season, the squad began playing a more fluid brand of football that belied their reputation as a long-ball, “Route 1″ team, and Watford marched up the table.   

In the spring of 1982, for the first time in the club’s history, Watford were promoted to the First Division.  The club had finished in 2nd place in the Second Division, behind bitter local rivals Luton Town.  And once in the first level, the squad did not let up.  In September of 1983, in their seventh game in the top flight, Watford made their presence known in an emphatic manner:  a 8-0 annihilation of Sunderland.   {See this account of the eight-goal slaughter, from the Blind, Stupid and Desperate website}. 

Amazingly, Watford finished their First Division debut season in second place, 11 points behind Liverpool, and 1 point ahead of 3rd place Manchester United.  Luther Blissett led the league with 27 goals.  Europe beckoned.


The following season, Watford finished in 11th place.  But this was not a let-down, as the club had fine cup runs, in both domestic and European competitions.  The club had sold Luther Blissett to AC Milan for 1 million pounds (he would return back to Watford the following season, after a disappointing showing in the Italian Serie A).  This did not seem to affect their cup performances, though, even when more than half their starting squad was injured.

In the UEFA Cup competition, Watford first visited the German club Kaiserslautern, in September 1983, and promptly dug themselves a hole, as they went down 1-3.  To be fair, the squad was injury-depleted, with 7 starters out.  But in the second leg of the match, at Vicarage Road, Watford ran rampant, stunning Kaiserslautern 3-0, with a brace of goals by the diminutive Ian Richardson, in his first-team debut.  Watford advanced on a 4-3 aggregate score.  {To see some colorful accounts of both the Watford v. Kaiserslautern matches, from the B,S&D site, click on the following: {first leg-}.              {2nd Leg (Vicarage Road).}

**{Click here, for the video highlights of Watford 3-0 Kaiseslautern; 24-9-1984 (via youtube).}

The Hornets next UEFA Cup opponent was Levski Spartak Sofia.  Watford only managed a draw in the 1st leg, at home, 1-1.  The 2nd leg presented a huge challenge to the Watford traveling faithful: a 6-day,  3,000 mile journey into the Iron Curtain.   Nevertheless, a busload made it to the Bulgarian capital.  And they were rewarded with a surprising 1-3 Watford victory, in AET.  In the 3rd Round, Watford were matched with Sparta Prague, and this is where they ran out of steam, going down 7-2, aggregate.  But their ’83-’84 UEFA Cup run was still an unqualified successs.  After all, Watford had never even been in the first division before 1982.


The club’s FA Cup run that season was also successful.  After making it all the way to the Semi-Finals, they beat Plymouth Argyle 1-0, at Villa Park.  This meant a trip to Wembley Stadium, for the 1984 FA Cup Final, versus Everton.  Watford came up short, though, conceding a goal on each side of halftime, and falling to a strong Everton side that would go on to win the League the following season.

The Watford FC of the 1980s would go on to have a 6 season stay in the top flight, but they only finished once more in the top ten: 9th place, in 1987.   In the summer of’ 87, Graham Taylor left to manage Aston Villa, and Watford was unable to fill his shoes.  They were relegated the following May.

Since that time, Watford have spent 2 seasons in the 1st Level (on two different occasions: 1999-2000, and 2006-07);  16 seasons in the 2nd Level;  and 2 seasons in the 3rd Level.   Taylor had returned to Watford in 1996, as general manager, after Elton John had bought Watford FC for the second time.  In the interim, Taylor had led Aston Villa back to the top flight in 1988, guiding Villa to 2nd place there, in ’90;  then he had had a tumultuous three years as coach of the English National team {see this}.

After Watford were relegated to the 3rd Level, in 1996, he appointed himself manager, and was able to once again engineer back-to-back promotions for the club.  For the second time, Graham Taylor had brought the small club from Herfordshire up to the top flight.

However, their second stay in the first division lasted just one season.  This was also the case with Watford’s rather surprising promotion to the Premiereship in 2006.  There were other parallels between these two Watford teams.  Both Graham Taylor, and Watford’s current manager, Adrian Boothroyd {see this}, have utilized an uninspiring form of long-ball play that, while effective in creating scoring chances, is frankly not a joy to watch.

Longball tactics don’t translate well to the Premier League: Aidy Boothroyd’s squad looked overwhelmed in the top flight, and Watford were relegated in May 2007.  However, the club started off the 2007’08 season in the League Championship very strongly, and looked like a solid bet to return to the top tier.  The wheels started coming off around the Holidays, though, and lately, the club is stuck in the rut of drawing most of their games (recent form: 1 loss, preceded by 7 draws).  They have hung around just below the automatic promotion places, though, and it would be foolish to count them out of the promotion race, even after they sold one of their main scoring threats, Marlon King, to Wigan.   Their leading scorer is Darius Henderson {see this}, with 12 league goals.  Watford are in 5th place in the League Championship, 5 points , and two places, above the playoff spots.  They play struggling Coventry City at home on Saturday.

Aidy Boothroyd was able to get Watford promoted last season, with limited resources, and in the face of initial opposition from many Watford supporters (their thinking was that he was too young and inexperienced to lead a club in such a precarious position).  This, when many experts were picking Watford to be relegated, not promoted.  So  Watford could still salvage their bright start, and come through in the playoffs.  
[Note: this is the last of my series of 2nd Level English Promotion Candidates.  I profiled 12 clubs, and the whole dozen of them still have viable chances of making it to the Premier League next season.  The teams I profiled are sitting in 1st through 12th places.  {Click here for the League Championship table.}  Its pretty amazing that with about 85% of the season gone, half the league still has a chance at promotion.  It is a reflection of how competitive the 2nd Level of English football is. 

Thanks to (historicalkits[dot]co[dot]uk): the 5 older kits on the chart, and the 2 kits on the first illustrated gallery, are copyright Historical football Kits, and are reproduced by permission.   Thanks to (colours-of-football[dot]com):  for the newer kits on the chart.   Thanks to: (journeymanpro[dot]co[dot]uk) for the 1983-’84 Watford UEFA Cup gallery illustration;  to (watfordpremiumtv[dot]co[dot]uk);   to (footballgroundsguide[dot]com);  to (viewimages[dot]com);  and especially to the Blind, Stupid, and Dumb site (bsad[dot]org), for their valiant effort to keep alive the glory days of Watford.  Also, thanks to the Tim’s 92 site, which features excellent panaoramic views of English Football Stadiums.  I just added it to my blogroll.

March 24, 2008

Wolverhampton Wanderers FC.

Filed under: Engl. Promotion Candidates — admin @ 5:54 am


Formed in 1877, as the football team of the St. Luke’s school, in Blakenhall (a ward of Wolverhampton), the club merged with a local cricket club called the Wanderers, in 1879, to become Wolverhampton Wanderers FC.  In 1886, the club moved into their new grounds, Molineux, which has remained their home to this day.  Wolverhampton Wanderers became one of 12 founding members of the (English) Football League, in 1888.  They finished a respectable 3rd place in the inaugural season of the League (1888-’89), as well as making it all the way to the 1889 FA Cup Final, where they lost to Preston North End, 0-3 (Preston becoming the first winners of the League and Cup Double, that season).

Four years later (1893), Wolverhampton won their first FA Cup, with a 1-0 victory over Everton.  The goal was scored by Harry Allen, in the 60th minute.


The club made it to the FA Cup Final again, three years later, in 1896,  but lost to Sheffield Wednesday 1-2, at London’s old Crystal Palace.  In 1898, Wolves finished 3rd.  But by 1901, the club had slipped to 13th place, and in 1906, they were relegated to the Second Division.  Nevertheless, two seasons later, Wolverhampton defied the odds by winning the 1908 FA Cup, while in the second tier.  They beat Newcastle United 3-1, at Crystal Palace, with goals by Kenneth Hunt {see this}, George Hedley {see this}, and Billy Harrison.

Wolverhampton was unable to capitalize on their Cup success, and push for promotion in the following seasons.  The war (now known as World War I) interrupted play for 4 seasons (1915-1919), just as Wolves seemed on the brink of promotion (with a 4th place finish in 1915).   But Wolverhampton began their post-War play with poor results, finishing in 19th place in 1920.  The following season (1920-’21) saw a slight improvement, to 15th, and another great Cup run.  This time, the second division underdogs lost, 0-1, to Tottenham Hotspur, at Stamford Bridge.  More dissapointment was to follow, as Wolverhampton were relegated to the Third Division (North), 2 years later (1923).

The Wanderers bounced right back the next season though (1923-’24), narrowly beating out Rochdale, to win the third tier, and gain promotion back to the second level.  In the first two seasons back, Wolves seemed poised for a return to the top flight, with finishes of 6th, then 4th.  But in the 1926-’27 season, the club fell to 15th place.  In July, 1927, the club hired Frank Buckley {see this} as manager.  Major Frank Buckley (as he was known) was ahead of his time, in that he combined the factors that define the successful football manager today: establishment of a good youth system;  shrewd transfer deals;  creation of a solid scouting network; and an ability to manipulate the media for the club’s benefit.

Initially, Buckley’s squad showed no improvement.  But by his fourth season in charge (1930-’31), Wolves finished 4th.  And the next year (1932), Wolverhampton won the Second Division, and were promoted.  The club had finally returned to the top flight, after 22 seasons.

Back in the top tier, Wolves struggled, with a 20th place finish in 1933.  15th, 17th, and 15th place finishes followed.  During this period, a young defender named Stan Cullis emerged as the leader of the squad.  Debuting in 1934, a year later he was captain at just 19 years of age; he became skipper of the English team at 22.  Cullis would make 122 appearances for Wolves, retiring in 1947 to become assistant manager.

In the 1936-’37 season, the squad finally gelled, and finished in 4th.  The following season, the Title was theirs to win, but they lost 1-0 at Sunderland on the final day, conceding the crown to Arsenal.  The next spring brought more dashed hopes for the Wolverhampton faithful, as the club lost the 1939 FA Cup Final, 1-3, to Portsmouth, at Wembley.  Wolves repeated as runners-up in the league that season, the last one before the onset of World War II.

Frank Buckley stepped down as manager, during the War, and was replaced by Frank Vizard.  When play resumed after WW II, in 1946-’47, Wolverhampton suffered another crushing last-day letdown, losing at home to Liverpool, and conceding the title to the Reds.  Wolves finished 3rd.  The next year brought about a drop to 5th, and Vizard was sacked, and replaced by Stan Cullis {see this article, from Wolves’ official site}.

In his first season in charge, Cullis led the Wolves to the 1949 FA Cup Final, where they defeated Leicester City 3-1, with goals by Jesse Pye (a brace), and Sammy Smythe.  It was Wolverhampton’s first major trophy in 41 years.


Wolves finished in second place, once again, the following season (1949-’50), losing out to Portsmouth by the narrowest of margins: a goal average difference of just 0.4.  The next two seasons were disasters, with 14th and 16th place finishes.  But by 1952, Cullis had led his squad back up the table, and Wolves finished in 3rd place in ’53.

Stan Cullis was a stern disciplinarian who simplified the team’s approach to the game, scrapping the overly complicated tactics.  Detractors dubbed his Wolves sides “kick and run merchants,” and “cloggers,” but their longball tactics proved effective.   Central defender and captain Billy Wright {see this}, and wingers Johnny Hancocks and Jimmy Mullen were the key players, as Wolverhampton went on to win their first National Title in 1954, beating out arch-rivals West Bromwich Albion by 4 points.

Finishes of 2nd and 3rd place followed, and by the mid-1950′s, Cullis was rebuilding the squad around Wright.  After a 6th place finish in 1957, the re-tooled Wolves won their second Title in 1958, finishing 5 points clear of Preston North End.  [This season was overshadowed by the Munich Air Disaster, which claimed the lives of 8 Manchester United players.]  The following season, Wolves ran riot, dominating the league, and winning their third (and last) Title by 14 points over the re-building Manchester United.

The next season (1959-’60) saw the club revert to an old role of heart-breaking also-rans, as they lost the Title to Burnley by 1 point, on the last day of the season.  But the squad made up for it by winning the 1960 FA Cup, 3-0 over Blackburn.   Winger Victor Deeley {see this} was man of the match, as his brace of goals, plus a Rovers own-goal, was the tally. 

Wolves finished 3rd the following year, and slid to 15th place in 1962.  The club’s Golden Age was over.  In September, 1964, after a disasterous start, Stan Cullis was sacked, and Wolves were relegated the following spring.  In 12 seasons, from 1948 to 1960, the Wolverhampton Wanderers had won 3 English Titles, and 2 FA Cups.

Since that time (1965), Wolverhampton has spent just 16 of 43 seasons in the 1st Level, with 23 seasons in the 2nd Level, 2 seasons in the 3rd Level, and 2 seasons in the 4th Level.  The club’s low point was the three successive relegations, from 1984-’86, which landed them in the Fourth Division for a 2 year spell.  Wolverhampton won the League Cup twice, in 1974, and 1980.  Wolves have spent one season in the Premier League, in 2003-’04, when, after a last place finish, they returned to the second division (the League Championship), which has been their home for 18 of the last 19 seasons.

Mick McCarthy took over as manager of Wolves in July, 2006, replacing Glen Hoddle.  The club had just undergone a wholesale clearance, halving their wage bill with the departure of 12 senior players.  In spite of this, McCarthy was able to assemble a squad that made it to the playoffs, with a 5th place finish.  They lost to rivals West Bromwich in the 1st Round.  In August, 2007, property developer Steve Morgan {see this} bought the club. 

This season, Wolverhampton was picked by many for automatic promotion, but inconsistent form has kept them adrift of the top 6.  In the January transfer window they picked up prolific striker Sylvan Ebanks-Blake from Plymouth (11 league goals at Plymouth; 7 at Wolves).   The squad is led by striker/wing Andy Keough {see this}, an Ireland international, with 7 league goals.  The club has struggled without injured playmaker Michael Kightly {see this} and goalkeeper Matt Murray {see this}, who was voted player of the year last spring by Wolves fans.  Both are expected back by late April, Kightly perhaps earlier.  These two players returns could be the crucial factor in Wolverhampton’s promotion push.  The club has been playing well, with 4 wins, 3 draws, and 1 loss in their last 8.  Last Saturday, it took a brace from Andy Keough, the second goal in extra-time, to grab a draw from the surging Queens Park Rangers.  Wolves sit two points below the playoff places, in 9th place, with a game in hand.

Click here, for the League Championship table.

Wolves FAQ:  Why is their ground named Molineux ?   Click here, for the answer.

Thanks to (historicalkits[dot]co[dot]uk): the 5 older kits on the chart, and the 2 kits in the first photo gallery are copyright Historical Football kits, and areeproduced by permission.  Thanks to (colours-of-football[dot]com): for the newer kits on the chart.  Thanks to: (viewimages[dot]com);  (webbaviation[dot]co[dot]uk;  (wolvespremiuntv[dot]co[dot]uk);  (media[dot]rivals[dot]net);  and (freewebs[dot]com/tims92/panoramics) for the great wide-angle shot of Molineux.

March 14, 2008

Burnley FC.

Filed under: Engl. Promotion Candidates — admin @ 4:44 am


Please note: there is a recent post that has info on the 2015-16 Burnley FC…click on the following,
2016–17 Premier League (1st division England, including Wales – location-map with chart: 14/15-&-15/16-crowds-&-finish + titles-&-seasons-in-1st-division./+ the 3 promoted clubs for 2016-17 (Burnley, Middlesbrough, Hull City AFC).

Burnley FC were one of the founding members of the English Football League.  The club started out as a rugby football team, but switched to association football in May, 1882.  The club moved to the Turf Moor ground in 1883, and have been there ever since.  They helped form the Football League, with 11 other clubs, on 17 April, 1888 {see this}.  Burnley spent 9 seasons in the First Division, before being relegated in 1897.  They bounced right back up in 1898, but were relegated again 2 seasons later (1900).

Burnley spent 13 seasons in the Second Division, before gaining promotion in the spring of 1913.  By this time, the club had switched to the claret and sky-blue kit that they have worn ever since (except for 4 seasons in the late 1930s, when they wore white jerseys and black pants).  They switched to the claret and blue, in 1910, in emulation of the successful Aston Villa FC.  This was done at the suggestion of their new manager, John Haworth.  Burnley had hired the Accrington secretary Haworth in 1910.  {See this article on John Haworth, from the Clarets-Mad site.} The young and untried Haworth made some good signings, including Bert Freeman, from Everton {see this article, from the Clarets-Mad website}.  3 years in, Haworth led the Lancashire club back to the First Division. 

Burnley finished in 12th place their first season back in the top flight ((1913-14).  The club had a strong cup run that season, making it all the way to th 1914 FA Cup Final.  At the old Crystal Palace {see this}, Burnley defeated Liverpool, 1-0, with the winning goal scored by Bert Freeman, in the 58th minute.  The Cup was presented to the winners by King George V.  This was the first time the reigning monarch had done so, and it was an indication of how prominent in the English cultural landscape the FA Cup (and football itself) had become. 


[The two kits above are copyright Historical Football Kits, and are reproduced by permission.]

The following season (1914-15), Burnley finished in 4th place.  The Great War (World War I) interrupted play from 1915-1919.  When play resumed, for the 1919-20 season, Burnley finished in 2nd place, 9 points behind champions West Bromwich Albion.  The following season (1920-21) Burnley lost its first three matches, but then went on a 30-game unbeaten run.  They went on to win the National Title, 4 points clear of 2nd place Manchester City.  This unbeaten streak lasted as a record for 83 years, until 2004, when it was broken by Arsenal.

Haworth set about rebuilding the aging Burnley side in the aftermath of the club’s championship.  Burnley finished in 3rd the following season (1921-22), but fell to 15th place in 1923.  Sadly, Howarth died in December, 1924, of pneumonia, at the age of 48.   Burnley stayed near the bottom of the table for 6 of the next 7 seasons, and were relegated in the spring of 1930. 

Burnley spent all the 1930s, and the first season after World War II (1946-47) in the Second Division.  They were promoted in 1947, under manager Cliff Britton.  That same season, Burnley made it all the way to the FA Cup Final, but they lost to Charlton, 0-1, in extra time.

Back in the First Division, and enjoying the post-War surge in attendance, Burnley had its peak season at the turnstiles in the 1947-48 season, averaging 33,621.  Throughout most of the next two decades (1949-’69), Burnley would average between 20 and 27,000 per game (but by 1970, their gate had shrunk to around 16,000). 

Burnley finished an impressive 3rd their first season back in the First Division (1948), but fell to 15th the next season. From 1950 to 1959, the club averaged an 8th place finish, with 6th place the best (twice) and 14th place worst. 

In February, 1958, Burnley hired Shrewsbury manager Harry Potts {see this}.  The squad at this time was centered around the duo of midfielder Jimmy Adamson {see this} and inside forward Jimmy McIlroy {see this}.  The 1959-’60 season was characterized by a 3-way race for the Title, between Tottenham, Wolverhampton, and Burnley.  The Clarets trailed Wolves and Spurs the entire campaign, only reaching first place on the final day of the season, with a 1-2 victory at Manchester City.  Goals were scored by Brian Pilkington and Trevor Meredith.


The next season (1960-61), Burnley finished in 4th place.  That season, the club played in the European Cup for the first time, beating Reims of France, before bowing out to Hamburg, of Germany.  

The 1961-62 season saw Burnley almost win the double, only to come up short in the League (2nd place, 3 points behind champs Ipswich Town) and the FA Cup Final (a 1-3 loss to Tottenham Hotspur).  A 3rd place finish in 1963 showed that Burnley was in the upper echelon of English football in the first half of the 1960′s.  However, their time near the top of the table was about to end.  McIlroy had been transferred to Stoke City in ’62 (to the ourage of Burnley supporters), and Adamson retired in ’64, and Burnley was unable to build a successful new nucleus.   Although the club finished in 3rd place in 1966, four straight finishes of 14th place followed (1967 through 1970).  And in 1971, they were relegated. 

Jimmy Adamson had returned to the club as manager, in 1970, and he was able to guide Burnley back to the top flight, in 1973, after a 2 year spell in the Second Division.  But despite a respectable 6th place finish the next year (’74), the club were relegated again, in 1976.

Burnley has not been in the first division since then.  Since 1976, the Clarets have spent 14 seasons in the 2nd Level, 11 seasons in the 3rd Level, and 7 seasons in the 4th Level.  Their low point was the 1986-’87 season, when a final day win versus Leyton Orient, coupled with a Lincoln City loss, was the only thing that kept Burnley from being relegated out of the League.

Burnley made it back to the second tier in 2000.  Two straight seasons finishing in 7th place followed, but for the last four seasons, they have finished no higher than 13th place.  Lack of funds have kept the club from fielding a squad deep enough to withstand the rigors of second division football, and a late season fade had become their unwanted trademark.  That is until this season.  Manager Steve Cotterill had augmented leading goal scorer Andy Gray with a number of Premier League veterans, including goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly, defender David Unsworth, and forward Ade Akinbiyi.  However, an uninspiring run of form led Cotterill to depart, by mutual consent, in November ’07.

Cotterill was replaced by Scotsman Owen Coyle {see this}, who came over from second tier Scottish club St Johnstone.  Since Coyle’s arrival, Burnley have begun playing an attractive style of attacking football, and have risen up the table.  The club sold Gray to Charlton in the January 2008 transfer window (for 1.5 to 2 million pounds, depending on appearances); and they brought in veteran goal-machine Andy Cole. 

Striker Robbie Blake leads the club with 8 league goals (9 overall);  Akinbiyi has 7 league goals (8 overall).  During the transfer window, Burnley refused multi-million pound bids from both Celtic and Rangers for their Northern Ireland international Kyle Lafferty (a 6′ 4” midfielder/striker) {see this}.  This is a good indication that the club is serious about their promotion push.

Burnley drew away to Stoke City, 1-1, last Saturday (with a goal by Lafferty), and beat Charlton 1-0, on Tuesday (with a goal by Wade Elliot).  That’s two straight clubs in the playoff places that Burnley were able to handle.  And now, Burnley sit just 2 points shy of the playoff places, themselves, in 8th place.  Owen Coyle’s squad has the second best road record in the league (behind Watford), and show no sign of faltering down the stretch..

Thanks to (historical kits[dot]co[dot]uk):  the 8 older kits on the right hand side of the chart are copyright Historical Football Kits, and are reproduced by permission.   Thanks to (colours-of-football[dot]com);  (stadiumguide[dot]co[dot]uk);  (viewimages[dot]com);  (fa-cupfinals[dot]co[dot]uk);  (webbaviation[dot]co[dot]uk);  Northern Ireland Football Greats website (nifg[dot]co[dot]uk. 

March 4, 2008

Charlton Athletic FC.

Filed under: Engl. Promotion Candidates — admin @ 6:07 am

Charlton Athletic FC were formed in 1905, when a number of youth groups in south-east London combined, including East Street Mission and Blundell Street Mission.  This area is near to where the Thames Barrier is today.  The nearby presence of Woolwich Arsenal FC kept Charlton Athletic from expanding their base, so when that club moved to north London, and became Arsenal FC (in 1913), Charlton Athletic began to attract more supporters.  The club turned professional after World War I, in 1919, and joined the Kent League.  In 1921, the were voted into the English Football League, joining the Third Division (South).

In 1923, Charlton almost merged with Catford Southend.  They played their games in Lewisham (just south and west of the Valley) for the 1923-’24 season.  They played in the light blue and dark blue-gray vertically striped jerseys of Catford (this uniform has been revived for Charlton’s 2007-’08 away kit).  But the hoped-for expansion in fan base did not occur, and Charlton abandoned the plans for the merger, and moved back to the Valley the next season. 

Charlton spent 8 seasons (1921-’29) in the 3rd Level, before gaining promotion to the Second Division, in 1929.  But four years later (1933), they were relegated back.  The club appointed Jimmy Seed {see this} manager, and two seasons later (1935), the club returned to the Second Division.  They achieved back-to-back promotions the following year.  So in the spring of 1936, 3 seasons into Jimmy Seed’s tenure , Charlton Athletic had risen two levels, and had finally reached the First Division.

Charlton continued their fine form, finishing in 2nd place in their first season in the top flight (1936-’37).  Finishes of 4th place (’38), and 3rd place (’39) followed, and Charlton’s future seemed bright.  World War II interrupted play, from 1940 to 1946.  In the 1946-’47 season, the club’s League form plummeted (to 19th place), but their FA Cup run took them all the way to the Final, where they lost to Derby County, 1-4, after (incredibly) extra-time.  Charlton returned to the FA Cup Final the following year, and this time they won it, beating Burnley 1-0, on a spectacular volley by Chris Duffy in the 114th minute. 

During this post-War era, Charlton were also very successful at the turnstile,  with a peak average attendance of 40,216 in the 1948-’49 season. 

But the board refused to give Seed the money to invest in new signings, and the club’s league form took a nosedive.  In the 1949-’50 season, they finished in 20th place.  The club improved, and were 5th place finishers in 1953.  However, Charlton began another slide, and a disasterous start to the 1956-’57 season prompted the board to ask for Seed’s resignation.  He left, and Charlton were relegated in the spring of ’57.

Charlton remained out of the First Division for 29 seasons (1957 to 1986), spending 25 seasons in the Second Division, and 4 seasons in the Third Division.  Their low point on the field was in in 1974, when they finished in 14th place, in the Third Division.  Their low point financially was in 1984, when the club went bankrupt.  Charlton Athletic was put into administration, and reformed as Charlton Athletic (1984) Ltd.  But their troubles continued, as the League declared the club’s ground, the Valley, unsafe.  Charlton was forced to become tenants at Crystal Palace FC’s Selhurst Park.

Ironically, it was within this homeless context that Charlton finally returned to the top flight.  Under manager Lennie Lawrence, the club were promoted in 1986, as runners up of Division Two.  They stayed in the top tier for 4 seasons, pretty much battling relegation the whole time.  Lawrence departed for Middlesbrough after Charlton was sent down, in 1990.  He was replaced by joint-managers Steve Gitt, and a 34-year old Alan Curbishley.  The pair had initial success, but cash constraints forced the club to sell off players.  Curbishley was appointed sole manager in June, 1995.

Meanwhile, in 1992, Charlton returned to the refurbished Valley.  At this point, the club’s fan base had shrunk dramatically from it’s glory days of the late 1940′s.  Charlton were averaging just 6,780 in 1991-’92, their last season in exile, at Selhurst Park.   But by the end of the decade (1999), the club was drawing an average crowd of  19,825 to the Valley.

Alan Curbishley got Charlton back to the top flight (now called the Premiership) within 3 years of taking charge (in 1998), following a thrilling 4-4 match versus Sunderland, that Charlton won 7-6 on penalties.  It was widely hailed as one of the finest games ever seen at Wembley.  **{See this article, from the BBC website (ca. 1998).  {also, see this follow-up article, which tells you how much more lucrative a trip to the Premier League is these days (the jackpot has more than quadrupled, from ~7 million Pounds, in 1998, to ~30 million Pounds in 2007.  Anyways, if you don’t feel like reading them, the two articles have good photos.} 


But Charlton went right back down in 1999.  Undeterred, Curbishley guided them back up the following season.  In the next 6 seasons, Charlton Athletic began to look like Premier League mainstays.  They even flirted with a Champions League spot during the 2003-’04 season, but finished in 7th place, after a late slump (and late slumps became this cash-strapped club’s trademark).   It was the club’s best finish in 31 years.  

Ultimately, though, Alan Curbishley left, in the spring of 2006, with the position that he had taken the club as far as he could.  Charlton were relegated the following season (2006-’07).

Now under former Reading and West Ham manager Alan Pardew {see this}, Charlton are aiming to buck the odds, and return to the Premier League on the first try.  Mainstay Matt Holland (a former Ireland international), has stuck with the club.  Ex-Colchester striker Chris Iwulemo {see this} leads with 10 league goals.  Chinese international Zheng Zhi {see this} has 7 league goals (9 overall);  midfielder Darren Ambrose (who also has stayed on from last season) has 6 league goals (8 overall);  and striker Luke Varney, a recent purchase from Crewe, also has 7 league goals.

Last Saturday, Charlton went to Yorkshire, and beat Sheffield United 0-2, with goals by Chris Iwulemo and Sam Sodje.  They currently are in the playoff places, at 5th place,  in the League Championship.  The club has been in the playoff places pretty much the whole season. 

**Charlton FAQ: Why are Charlton Athletic called “the Addicks” ?

Note: in 1963, a contest was established to find a crest for Charlton Athletic.  The winning entry was the upraised arm with sword motif that is still in use today, but with the accompanying new nickname of “the Valiants”  (this emblem can be seen on the far left-hand side of the chart).   The Valiants name never stuck, and CAFC are only referred to these days as the Addicks. 

For the League Championship Tableclick here.   On Tuesday, March 4,  Charlton Athletic hosts Bristol City (5th place versus 1st place).
Thanks to (historicalkits[dot]co[dot]uk): the 6 older kits on the chart are copyright Historical Football Kits, and reproduced by permission; (colours-of-football[dot]com);  (stadiumguide[dot]com);  (footballgroundguide[dot]co[dot]uk);  BBC.

February 27, 2008

Plymouth Argyle FC.

Filed under: Engl. Promotion Candidates — admin @ 4:41 am

Argyle Football Club was formed in Plymouth, Devon, in 1886, but went out of existence in 1894.  The club was reformed 3 years later, in 1897, and merged with the nearby Argyle Athletic Club (a general sporting club) in 1898.   Plymouth Argyle chose to wear dark green, with black trim, the colors of the Borough of Plymouth.

In 1900, the club won it’s first trophy, winning the Devon Senior League; and the club purchased it’s lease on Home Park, their ground to this day.  The club became fully professional in 1903, joining the Southern League, and changing it’s name to Plymouth Argyle FC.  Their first pro match was on September 1, 1903, versus West Ham United.

Plymouth Argyle was invited to join the English Football League in 1920, when the League expanded to three levels.  PAFC became a founding member of the Football League Third Division.   Argyle just missed promotion for six straight seasons (1922 through 1927).  The club finally reached the Second Division in 1930, by winning the Third Division (South) in 1929-30.  Their stay in the second tier lasted 20 seasons, from 1930 to 1950.  Plymouth won promotion back to the 2nd Level two years later (1952), but this spell there lasted just 4 seasons (until 1956). 

Overall, Plymouth Argyle have had 8 promotions, and 7 relegations, spending 37 seasons in the 2nd Level, 38 seasons in the 3rd Level, and 5 seasons in the 4th Level.  Their highest finish was at 4th place, in the Second Division, which they acheived twice, in 1932, and in 1953.  Plymouth’s best FA Cup run was in 1984, when they made it all the way to the Semi-Finals, losing to Watford. 

The club’s lowest placement occurred rather recently, in 1999, when they finished 13th place, in the old Division Three (which is the 4th Level).   Attendance was poor too, with the club only drawing 5,5oo for two seasons (1997-’99).

Home Park was was almost entirely refurbished between 2001 and 2002, and the three new stands have (along with good recent form) helped swell gates to the 13,000-level (admittedly low, for the 2nd Level, and a city of Plymouth’s size of around 250,000).  The new Devonport Stand now dominates the ground, and the stand structure runs along 3 sides.  The Mayflower Stand remains from the past configuration, and the terraced part of the stand is kept empty for safety, while the club is unable to refurbish this remaining area (for lack of funds).


To see more photos of Home Park’s renovation, click here: (

Paul Sturrock {see here} was appointed manager in November, 2000, when Argyle were fourth from bottom, in the 4th Level, two spots away from relegation out of the League.  The Scotsman led the club to a 12th place finish that season, and to promotion the following season (2001-’02), by winning Division Three.  Two years later, in March, 2004,  Sturrock had Plymouth en route to their second promotion in 3 years, when he was enticed to take the managerial reins of the Premier League club Southampton.  A few weeks later, under new manager Bobby Williamson, Plymouth Argyle won promotion to League One (the 2nd Level,  now called the League Championship). 

Williamson’s tenure lasted 18 months.  He was sacked after the club began the 2005-’06 season with 6 straight defeats.  His successor, (current league-leading) Stoke City manager Tony Pulis, also did not mesh with squad, fans and the board.  Pulis left at the end of the ’06 season.  West-country born Ian Holloway took over, and Argyle had a good season , and a good FA Cup run, in 2006-’07.  PAFC made it to the Quarter-Finals of the FA Cup, and finished in 11th place in the 2nd Level, their best finish in two decades.  Actually, in spite of the high manger-turnover (4 different managers in 3 years), Plymouth Argyle have improved their League standing every year for the last 6 seasons.

However, manager instability continues to plague Argyle, as Ian Holloway left Plymouth for Leicester City, in November, 2007.  In stepped the prodigal son, Paul Sturrock, to return to the club he raised out of the fourth and third tiers.  From Holloway, Sturrock has inherited a scrappy side that features no real standout.  In fact, Plymouth just sold their leading scorer, Sylvain Ebanks-Blake, to Wolves, in January, for 1.5 million pounds.  Their current leading scorer is Hungarian international Peter Halmosi  {see this}, with 7 league goals (8 overall).  The squad is captained by Frenchman Lillian Nalis. 

Last Saturday, Argyle beat Burnley 3-1, to vault into the playoff places, at 5th place.**{See this short feature about Peter Halmosi making the Team of the Week.)

Plymouth Argyle has never been in the first division.  It is the furthest west and south club in the Football League.  PAFC,  Exeter City, and Torquay United are the only sizable clubs in Devon, further west is Cornwall, which has no clubs in the League (the highest 4 leagues), or the Conference (the 5th level).  The club, like Carlisle (up in the far northwest of England), suffers for it’s geographical remoteness.  Travel to fixtures is significantly further than other clubs, plus it is hard to attract players to this remote footballing outpost. 

** Click here, for a pretty nice article I stumbled upon, about the peculiar aspects of PAFC

**Click here, for an article about the January, 1932 4th Round FA Cup match in London, versus Arsenal.  

Thanks to (historical kits[dot]co[dot]uk):  the 5 older kits on the bottom, right-hand side of the chart are copyright Historical Football Kits, and are reproduced by permission.   Thanks to (colours-of-football[do]com) for the newer kits.   Thanks to (footballgroundguide[dot]co[dot]uk);   (stadiumguide[dot]co[dot]uk).  Thanks to Greens On Screen website, for the great photos of the Home Park renovation.

February 21, 2008

Hull City AFC.

Filed under: Engl. Promotion Candidates — admin @ 5:55 am

Early attempts to establish a football club in Hull were hampered by the city’s stronger rugby scene, which has featured two nationally prominent teams: Hull FC, and Hull Kingston Rovers.   Finally, in 1904, Hull City Association Football Club was founded.  In 1905, they joined the Football League, in Division Two.  Their first 21 seasons (1905 to 1929) were spent here. They just missed promotion in 1910, finishing in third, but with a goal average of just 0.29 lower than promoted Oldham. 

Right before the onset of WW I,  Hull made it to the quarterfinals of the 1914-’15 FA Cup.  Their best FA Cup campaign was in 1929-’30, when they made it all the way to the semi finals, losing in the the replay to Arsenal 0-1, at Villa Park.  But that same spring (1930), they were relegated to Division Three (North). 

In total, Hull City have had 7 relegations, and 8 promotions.  They have been in the 2nd Level 53 seasons, the 3rd Level 29 seasons, and the 4th Level 10 seasons.  The club has bounced back from their low point, which was the 8 years they recently spent in the old Division Three (the 4th Level), from 1996 to 2004. 

Crowds had dwindled to below 4,ooo for two years (’96-’97).  In December, 2002,  Hull began playing in the 24,500-seat Kingston Communications Stadium (the KC Stadium), sharing it with the rugby team Hull FC.  The new stadium, and burgeoning crowds, helped to energize the club.  In their first full season in their impressive new home, Hull finished 2nd, and were promoted to Division Two.  The next season (2004-’05), they were promoted again, with another second place finish.  Perhaps most important, though, is the recent enlargement of Hull City AFC’s fan base, as average attendances have rose around 12,000 per game- from 6,518, in 1990 (when they were in the 2nd Level), to 18,758, last season (when they were also in the 2nd Level). 

But Hull have struggled to stay in the League Championship the past two years.  After former England Under-21 manager Peter Taylor {see this} had guided the club to their back-to-back promotions, he left to manage Crystal Palace, in June, 2006.  His successor, Phil Parkinson was unable to keep Hull out of the relegation zone the next season, and was sacked in December, 2006.  Phil Brown {see this} was hired as caretaker, and did a good job getting the club out of trouble, as Hull finished in 21st,  just above the drop.  Brown had gotten veteran striker Dean Windass {see this} (on loan from Bradford City) to return to his hometown club, and his 8 goals helped the Tigers to safety.

This season, the much-travelled 38-year old ex-construction laborer Windass, now signed to a two-year deal, continues to score for the club he began with as a teenager.  His 12 goals (10 league) lead the club.  Frazier Campbell, on loan from Manchester United, has 8 league goals.  The squad is bolstered by standout American-born English goalkeeper Boaz Myhill.

Hull City are in 9th place in the League Championship, 4 points from the playoff places, with a game in hand.  This is the closest to promotion Hull have been in over 20 years.  Hull is the largest city in all of Europe to have never hosted first division football.

Click here, for a recent article about Hull’s surprise promotion push.

Below is a programme from 1966.  It shows the club’s old home, Boothferry Park, as well as the club’s old 3 crowns crest (a motif which both of Hull’s rugby clubs still use in their crests).


Thanks to (historicalkits[dot]co[dot]uk)- the 5 older kits at the bottom of the chart are copyright Historical Football Kits, and are reproduced by permission.   Thanks to (colours-of-football[dot]com).   Thanks to (fusion group[dot]uk[dot]com);  (blackpooltoday[dot]co[dot]uk);  footballstadiumart[dot]co[dot]uk).

February 10, 2008

Bristol City FC.

Filed under: Engl. Promotion Candidates — admin @ 10:54 am


Bristol City FC was formed in 1897, when Bristol South End FC turned professional, and changed it’s name.  In 1901, the club joined the League, in the Second Division.  In 1906, they finished first, and were promoted to the First Division.  The following season (1906-’07), Bristol City finished in 2nd place.  Two seasons later, they had a great Cup run, which culminated in their appearance in the 1909 FA Cup Final, versus Manchester United, at the old Crystal Palace.  They lost 0-1.  Two years later (1911), the club was relegated.

Since then Bristol City have been essentially a medium-sized 2nd/ 3rd Level club.  After 65 seasons, they finally won promtion back to the top flight, in 1976.   But their second spell in the First Division lasted only 4 seasons.  Following this relegation, in 1980, the club went into free-fall.  They became the first English club to suffer three straight relegations.  Right before their third relegation, in the spring of 1982, the club went out of business, declaring bankruptcy.  A new company, BCFC (1982) Ltd. was formed.  But the survival of the club was assured only when eight high-paid senior members of the squad accepted redundancy,  in the form of a half-payment on their contracts. These players were known as the ‘Ashton Gate Eight’.  By 1990, the club was back in the second level, but stayed there only 5 seasons.  17 seasons in the third tier followed (1995 to 2006). 

In September 2005, Gary Johnson was hired as manager of Bristol City.  He had just led nearby Yeovil Town to 2 promotions in 3 seasons (5th Level to 3rd Level).  After a rocky start, City found it’s form, and finished a respectable 9th.  The following season (2006-’07), the club started poorly again, but by November they were in the top 6.  A good Cup run saw them beat Coventry City in the 3rd round, and take Middlesbrough to penalties, in the 4th Round.  Promotion to the 2nd Level was secured on the final game of the season, as Bristol City finished in second place in League One. 

At the start of the 2007-’08 season,  no one expected Bristol City to do much more than avoid the drop,  but Johnson’s squad,  bolstered by several new signings, has surprised everyone.   The club has been in the playoff places pretty much the whole season.   They survived the inevitable dip in form, in November,  and have racked up some impressive wins since,  including an away win at Watford.   The scoring leaders are two Milwall transplants,  Darren Byfield (8 league goals),  and Marvin Elliot (5 league goals).   The squad is led by captain Louis Carey, and right back Bradley Orr.   Orr was chosen in the Setanta Sports all-league 11, at the start of January.

Saturday, Bristol City defeated Sheffield Wednesday 2-1, with goals by Dele Adebola and Bradley Orr.  Bristol City are currently in 3rd place in the League Championship, 1 point behind leaders Watford.

**{See this recent article, from the Telegraph UK website.}

Thanks to (historicalkits[dot]co[dot]uk)- the 5 older kits on the bottom of the chart are copyright Historical Football Kits, and reproduced by permission.  Thanks to the Colours of football website (colours-of-football[dot]com) for the newer kits.  Thanks to the stadium guide website (stadiumguide[dot]co[dot]uk);   (tims92[dot]co[dot]uk);   (freewebs[dot]com).

February 4, 2008

Ipswich Town FC.

Filed under: Engl. Promotion Candidates — admin @ 5:57 am


Ipswich Town FC was formed in 1888, with the merger of Ipswich Association FC (established 1978), and Ipswich Rugby Club.  The club remained steadfastly amatuer for it’s first four decades, only turning pro in 1936.  In 1938, the club was elected to the League, joining the Southern League (which is today the equivalent of the 3rd level). 

Ipswich Town were first promoted to the Second Division in 1954, but went right back down the next spring.  In August, 1955, Alf Ramsay took over the club as manager; the team improved to 3rd place, and the following season (1956-’57) the club returned to the second tier.  Four years later, in 1961, Ipswich Town were promoted to the First Division for the first time.  The following season, they stunned English football by winning the 1962 National Title.  They are the second-to-last club to have won the Title the first year after promotion (Nottingham Forest did it last, in 1977-’78).  The fluke-like nature of this championship can be emphasized by the club’s 17th place finish the following season (1962-’63).  That same spring, Alf Ramsay left Ipswich to take over the management of the English National team.  The following year (1964) Ipswich Town were relegated.


Four seasons later (1968), Ipswich Town were promoted back to the First Division under Bill McGarry.  He left to manage Wolverhampton the following  year, and was replaced by Bobby Robson.  Robson would manage Ipswich Town from 1969 to 1982, leading the club to an FA Cup victory, in 1978, and a UEFA Cup, in 1981. 

The club would remain in the top flight for 18 seasons, finishing in 2nd place twice (1980, and ’81), 3rd place three times, and 4th place twice.   Robson’s Ipswich teams played a fluid, attacking style of football, led by prolific striker Paul Mariner (22 goals in ’77-’78), all-time fan favorite John Wark (a tough, attacking midfielder, who had 3 spells at the club; see this), and Dutch midfielder Arnold Muhren {see this}.  This squad was bolstered in the back by captain Mick Mills (most Ipswich Town appearances, with 591), England international Terry Butcher, and Scottish international George Burley.

 **{See these highlights of Ipswich Town’s 1981 UEFA Cup victory.}

**{See this Ipswich Town tribute.}


Ipswich Town regularly drew in the mid 20,000′s in attendance through the mid 1970′s, peaking at a 26,672 average gate, in 1976-’77.   But by 1997, the club was only drawing around 12,000.  Crowds came back, and have recently peaked at 25,651, in 2004-’05 (when the club finished 3rd in the second level).

Following Robson’s departure in 1982, Ipswich Town slid gradually down the table, and were relegated to the second level, in 1986.  Since then, the club has had two short spells in the top flight, the last from 2000 to 2002, when George Burley was manager.  

Under current manager Jim Magilton, Ipswich Town still plays the attractive passing game that Robson developed.  Their top scorers this season are Spaniard Pablo Counago (back for his second spell with the club), and former Irish under-21 forward Jonathan Walters, with 10 league goals each.  Irish international Alan Lee has 9. 

This season, the Tractor boys are still unbeaten at home,  in the league.   The club jumped up 4 places to 6th, on Saturday, beating Sheffield Wednesday 1-2.  It was their first away win of the season, and has put them in the playoff places.  Goals were scored by Alan Quinn (against his former club), and Alan Lee, in the 71st minute.   Click here, for report on the game.

Thanks to Historical Football Kits (historicalkits[dot]co[dot]uk): the 6 older kits on the bottom, left are copyright Historical Kits , and are reproduced by permission.  Thanks to the Colours Of Football website (colours-of-football[dot]com).   Thanks to the Pride of Anglia website (tmwmtt[dot]com).  Thanks to (viewimages[dot]com).   Thanks to BBC.   Thanks to Tim’s 92 site.

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