Holland II Division

Holland. After the decline of late 70-s and early 80s, Dutch football was rapidly coming back – with talented young generation of players, talented crop of coaches, and two strong teams, playing exciting football. And scoring spectacular number of goals.

Second Division. Promotion was the only important thing – two teams directly and the third: the winner of promotional tournament after the end of the regular season.

Spcl. Cambuur – 19th with 19 points. Last.

Emmen – 18th with 24 points.

SC Heerenveen – 17th with 27 points.

FC Eindhoven – 16th with 29 points.

DS’79 Dordrecht – 15th with 29 points.

FC Wageningen – 14th with 30 points.

NAC Breda – 13th with 32 points.

Helmond Sport – 12th with 32 points.

SVV Schiedam – 11th with 33 points.

RBC Roosendaal – 10th with 33 points.

De Graafschap – 9th with 33 points.

Vitesse – 8th with 38 points.

FC Volendam – 7th with 40 points.

Telstar – 6th with 41 points.

Willem II – 5th with 42 points.

SC Veendam – 4th with 44 points.

RKC Waalwijk – 3rd with 45 points.

PEC Zwolle – 2nd with 51 points. Way stronger then most of the league and promoted as a result.

FC Den Haag – 1st with 62 points. Dominant and impressive champions: they did mot lose even one match! 26 wins, 10 ties, 0 losses, 85-33 goal-difference. They left the second-best team 11 points behind. Was it really important or not, but FC Den Haag had the only player with well established name in the whole league: Martin Jol, now 30-years old and back from successful career in West Germany and England.

The third promoted team had to be decided in the traditional small tournament after the season between 4 teams, qualifying by performance in different stages of the regular championship. Probably ambition played biggest role at this stage.

Vitesse was last just 2 points. RKC Waalwijk – 3rd with 3 points. Willem II – 2nd with 7 points. Veendam played perfect tournament – 6 games-6 wins – and won the last promotion to First Division.

France the Cup

The Cup final opposed Bordeaux to Marseille. Now, cup tournaments escape common wisdom and logic, but there were also critical signs to the current state of affairs there: Marseille, at its current state, was big outsider – Bordeaux had the best squad in the country. Yes, Bordeaux won, but it was only 2-1 and they prevailed only near the end of the overtime. The first half ended with Marseille leading 1-0 and in regular time Bordeuax managed only to equalize. That was the rub: against quite mediocre Marseille, mighty Bordeaux prevailed with great difficulty. Age… the signs of dangerous aging were there.

Nothing surprising Marseille lost – after all, they had only one high-class players and he was the goalkeeper. But even the loss was no big deal – it brought new confidence, something to step on and build on. Of course, losing a trophy was no fun, but determination to do better was probably freshly fueled.

Bordeaux was still on top – lost the championship, but won the Cup. And this was not just a small consolation for failing in the championship: this was only the 2nd Cup Bordeaux won and the first time was in ancient 1941. May be not confident victory, but still a great victory! That was also a third year in a row the team won a trophy – two titles, now the Cup. They were still best, still running fast, still focused and eager for more. Aging? But they were winning, so who cares? Well, it was not the end. Not this year.

France I Division

First Division. A two-team duel for the title, one outsider, and more dramatic battle for escaping relegation, involving almost half the league.

Bastia was the outsider – last with 20 points, only 4 of them acquired on the road and the only team without away win. It is rather shocking to see the Polish national goalkeeper Mlynarczyk going down: he played at the 1986 World Cup and is mostly remembered for winning the European Champions Cup – but that happened later and with another club.

Strasbourg – 19th with 31 points and relegated. This may have been direct result from faulty selection policy – Bulgarian Zhelyazkov and Czechoslovakian Knapp were the imports and they old and far gone , pale shadows of their former selves.

Nancy – 18th with 33 points. Although coached by now legendary Wenger, they lost the battle for survival. However, they were not relegated yet – they still had to play against Mulhouse in the promotion/relegation play-off. This time they won and kept first division place.

Le Havre – 17th with 33 points. Lucky to survive on better goal-difference.

Toulon – 16th with 33 points. Also lucky, thanks to better goal-difference. Now Emon was coached by his former national team co-player Dalger. Meaning, Emon was too old for inspired play and may be the same applied to the Yugoslav second-string star Cukrov.

Sochaux – 15th with 34 points. Their strong period was evidently over – now the main concern was not how to play in the European tournaments, but to avoid relegation.

Brest – 14th with 34 points. Vladimir Petrovic was playing here after his English misadventure – the gentle and more forgiving French football was closer to his technical style, but he was no longer first-rate star. Enough for modest Brest, though.

Rennes – 13th with 34 points. Traditionally unpredictable and wildly fluctuating team, now they on the lower end.

Olympique Marseille – 12th with 34 points. Still in the darkness, but they managed to come back from Second Division and, for the moment, achieved their most urgently important goal: to keep themselves in the top division. Still a poor squad – the best players were the two imports: the great Cameroonian goalkeeper Bell and the Dane Brylle, who somewhat never became a great star and reached his peak a few years back as well. Really, Marseille had to start building entire new team if wanting to return to leading position.

Like Toulon, Le Havre, Brest, Laval was quite happy to keep a top-league place – 11th with 35 points. Not bad finish by their modest standards.

Lille – 10th with 36 points. Typical mid-table club, so nothing new here even if they were mostly concerned with escaping relegation this season. Traditionally, Yugoslavs were heavily imported by French clubs and there was no surprise Lille had two: Primorac and Savic. Oldish, but still good enough.

Monaco – 9th with 37 points. Given the squad, rather disappointing season. But this was France – rarely a club had well-balanced squad and ups and downs were frequent. Monaco traditionally was up-and-down club, so it was a down season. Hardly unusual… then again, one expects more from a bunch like Amoros, Bellone, Bravo, Stojkovic, Genghini, Ettori, and Fofana.

Nice – 8th with 39 points, Their final position suggests a beginning of recovery to their former strong presence, but such conclusion would be misguided: given the relative mediocrity of the current squad, it was more of a chancy strong season.

Auxerre – 7th with 41 points. Perhaps the sounder team in the league, continuing to solidify its presence. Still depending on Polish talent – Janas – and producing new hopefuls like Basile Boli.

Metz – 6th with 42 points. Unassuming squad, led by Didier Six, but perhaps better balanced than most.

Lens – 5th with 43 points. Top row from left: Marx, Arghirudis, Mattelin, Leclerq, Sowinski, Rousseaux. Middle row: Lea, Gillot, Dubois, Warlop, Dewilder, Makengo, Krawczyk, Delache. Sitting: Huard, Pagal, Catalano, Carreno, Lerat, Xuereb, Ramos, Denizart, El Ouard, Gardie. Like Rennes, inconsistency was the trademark of Lens, so this season they were on their high end. As for the next – who knows.

Toulouse – 4th with 43 points. A pleasant surprise, but it looked like they were going to have strong stretch for a change. Perhaps it was quite a fall for Tarantini to end up playing for relative unknown, but at this point of his unlucky career it was even good that he was in a team going up. There was second Argentine as well – Marcico – and two prominent Frenchmen – Domergue and Stopyra. Bergeroo was still among the best French goalkeepers, so Toulouse had a solid skeleton already and with few additional players would be even stronger.

Bordeaux – 3rd with 49 points. Much stronger than most of the league, but almost a title contender – not all that strong to really run for the title. Still the most solid team in France, but getting old – Battiston, Dropsy, Giresse, Tigana, Lacombe and the imports Chalana and Reinders too. Thouvenel, Tusseau, and Girard were not exactly of the class of the already mentioned stars, so inevitable transitional period was going to be rough – if quick changes were not made. And radical reinforcement may not have been in the books for this team was still well-rounded and formidable when compared almost to everybody.

Nantes – 2nd with 53 points. Lost the race for title by three points, but there was nothing to worry about: they were the steadiest club in the country, consistently among the leaders for about 25 years already. Unlike any other French clubs, Nantes was capable of changing generations without tremors and weaknesses – transitions were smooth and the current version confirmed tradition: enough experienced stars – Amisse, Le Roux, Bertrand-Demanes, Halilhodzic, very strong new addition – Burruchaga, World champion with Argentina this very year, and young talent pushing up – Deschamps, Toure.

Raris SG triumphed 3 points clear of Nantes: 23 wins, 10 ties, 5 losses – 56 points and 66-33 goal-difference. Well, that was why Paris SG was created in the first place – to win titles, but so far there were none. At last they won their first – which was, of course, fantastic. The rest was not so great – Paris SG from its beginning employed risky philosophy: get big names and then again, and again. It did not work so far up to expectations: as a rule, they were getting famous veterans, no longer at their prime and also not lasting, because of the age factor. Fan base was built thanks to this policy and Paris SG managed to become one of the leading French clubs, but no more. Even cups were won only in the recent years. On the other hand, it may be argued that the policy was sound – precisely because the young club established itself among the strongest and became popular. Eventually, success too – first in the Cup competition, now in the championship. Nothing wrong with winning, right? But it was still a team for the moment, depending on few stars – in this vintage: Rocheteau, Bats, Fernandez, Susic, Couriol, Bibard. Most of them were getting old… There was no similar classy players to take the leading positions. Same old story – Paris SG had to get new veterans to keep the level, still not having real team to last on top for a period of time. To a large point the title was due to the talent of their Houllier, himself rapidly becoming famous. Really, Paris SG needed big mental change if wanting to be truly successful club.

France Second Division Group B

Second Division, Group B. One favourite and one outsider.

CS Sedan-Ardennes – last with 22 points and relegated.

FC Rouen – 17th with 27 points and relegated.

FC Lorient – unlucky: 16th with 28 points and relegated on worse goal-difference.

SCO Angers – 15th with 28 points.

RCFC Besancon – 14th with 28 points.

US Dunkerque – 13th with 28 points.

US Valenciennes – 12th with 28 points.

AS Beauvais – 11th with 29 points.

FC Limoges – 10th with 29 points.

SC Abbeville – 9th with 30 points.

Stade Quimper – 8th with 32 points.

US Orleans – 7th with 33 points.

Stade Malherbe Caen – 6th with 37 points.

Chamois Niort – 5th with 37 points.

Stade Reims – 4th with 43 points. Carlos Bianchi back in Reims, no longer as great goalscorer, but coaching them. A beginning of successful coaching career, eventually reaching its peak in his native Argentina.

En Avant Guingamp – 3rd with 47 points. Unlike Group A, Group B virtually had no famous veterans – only Szarmach.

FC Mulhouse – 2nd with 50 points. Incapable of competing for top position, but strong enough season to have a chance for promotion – Mulhouse went to the promotion/relegation play-off against the 18th in First Division, Nancy, but lost it and remained in Second Division.

Racing Club easily won the championship after 24 wins, 8 ties, and only 2 lost games. 78-24 goal-difference and 56 points. The involvement of Matra, not merely a sponsor, but more directly involved with the club, was bringing results. Recovery from the big decline started in the late 1960s was going to take time, of course – so far: promotion to First Division. There was no other way. The squad was also getting stronger little by little – now Bossis was leading it. The Yugoslav star of the 1960s Takac successfully coached Racing this season, but Matra’s ambitions were big and that was still a step in the building process. Anyhow, Racing club was returning to First Division after many years of mediocrity.

France Second Division Group A

France. Brand new champion and some tiredness detected. A generation was going to change.

Second Division, Group A.

No contest at the top – one favourite. Two outsiders.

FC Grenoble – last and relegated with 19 points. Two Eastern European veterans going way downhill now – Csapo was playing for Hungary not long ago and Zdenek Nehoda was champion of Europe with Czechoslovakia in 1976.

ECAC Chaumont – 17th with 26 points and relegated.

Red Star – lucky survivor: 16th with 30 points.

SF Istres – 15th with 30 points.

FC Montceau Bourgogne – 14th with 30 points.

CS Thonon – 13th with 31 points.

AS Cannes – 12th with 31 points. Ruud Krol was taking it easy at his old age here. It was somewhat fitting to have famous player in the city of the glamorous film festival.

FC Martigues – 11th with 32 points.

FC Gueugnon – 10th with 33 points.

FC Tours – 9th with 34 points.

AS Beziers – 8th with 35 points. Janvion played here now and fared better than Krol.

CO Le Puy – 7th with 35 points. This group was like a reserve for 1970s heroes – Hugo Bargas here.

Olympique Nimes – 6th with 38 points. More old species – Poortvliet and Nygaard.

La Paillade Montpellier – 5th with 39 points. Back to the 1978 World Cup – two Hungarians, Torocsik and Zombori.

FC Sete – 4th with 40 points. Bathenay here, not to miss encounters with his old playmate Janvion and those well known others.

Olympique Lyon – 3rd with 40 points. Another relic – Topalovic. 10 years ago he was seen as better option than Schumacher and that was that… a momentary chance, missed.

Olympique Ales – 2nd with 41 points. Good season, but promotion was out of reach.

AS Saint Etienne – won the championship easily with 46 points from 18 wins, 10 ties, and 6 losses. 50-29 goal-difference. Kasperczak did good job coaching the team and it was quick return to top flight, but it was not much of a squad. Milla was practically the star and it was not at all sure such a team could survive in the first division. Restoring the old glory was out of question.

England the Cups

The Cups – one final was pleasant contest between underdogs and the other simply continued the Liverpool rivalry. The Football League Cup final opposed Queen’s Park Rangers to Oxford United. QPR eliminated Liverpool at the semi-finals and overall was the likelier winner, having tradition and stronger squad in its favour. But this is England… In front of more than 90 000 fans, little Oxford practically destroyed QPR: 3-0!

QPR had stronger squad and desperately needed trophies, but trophies are to be won and winners score goals. Let say, it was wonderful achievement reaching the final.

Oxford was a pure delight – may be they did not play great football, may be they had rather anonymous squad, but victory of the underdog is always delightful. And it was very confident victory, nothing chancy – a triumph of commitment and desire.

Of course, Oxford was not going to win any more trophies, so the winners deserve a second look – the great team Oxford United ever had. The best moment in their history.

The FA Cup opposed Liverpool to Everton. Never-ending battle… Perhaps here the whole difference between the two rival clubs was fully displayed: Liverpool won 3-1. No matter how hungry Everton was, Liverpool was hungrier. And, overall, classier…

Everton lost twice to Liverpool this year and finished the season emptyhanded. However, it was not that much the lost tournaments, but the perspective – what works against Everton’s myth of stunted development is the fact that Liverpool usually prevailed over this very vintage of Everton: Liverpool prevailed in the 1983-84 League Cup final, they prevailed in this final, they prevailed in the championship. That is, Liverpool was getting the upper hand against this excellent Everton’s squad. Everton was a bit weaker…

Liverpool with double this season. Beating Everton twice. Simply great. Standing from left: Kenny Dalglish, Bruce Grobelaar, Alan Hansen, Mark Lawrenson, Gary Gillespie, Ian Rush, Kevin McDonald. First row: Jim Beglin, Steve Nicol, Craig Johnston, Ronnie Whelan, Steve McMahon. It is always good to see who was sitting on the bench – otherwise the might of Liverpool could not be truly grasped. And that was the big difference between them and Everton… Liverpool was much deeper, had very strong and experienced players in the back. Even banished from European football Liverpool was not slowing down. On the other hand… it was quite boring to see Liverpool win year after year.

England I Division

First Division. At the bottom, two teams were quite inferior to the league in general. At the top a battle between 3 clubs for the title, one of them quite surprising and perhaps incidental. The real battle was in Liverpool and was exciting to the very end of the season.

West Bromwich Albion – last and relegated with 24 points. Good times were over, downhill now.

Birmingham City – 21st with 29 points. Quite the expected – relegation was traditionally the likelier outcome.

Ipswich Town – lost the battle for survival between 7 teams and was relegated: 20th with 41 points. Like WBA, their strong period ended and now was going down fast.

Leicester City – barely survived: 19th with 42 points.

Oxford United – 18th with 42 points. Mere survival could be end of terrible season for another club, but for Oxford it was wonderful result – after all, they were modest club, playing for the first time among the best. It was not only that, though – this season was the best ever!

Coventry City – the eternal survivors. 17th with 43 points.

Aston Villa – 16th with 44 points. Their success a few years back was pretty much accidental one-time affair, it was quite clear at the time, so going down was hardly a surprise. They were losing players, not piling up talent: the predicament of poorer clubs.

Manchester City – 15th with 45 points. The prime goal – to stay in the league after their fresh return – was achieved, but building formidable team and restoring the leading position they had about 15 years ago was unlikely to happen. It was a matter of life or death only.

Southampton – 14th with 46 points. Their strange approach of getting few big-name veterans every year sooner or later was going to misfire. And it did – after few seasons in the top of the league they found themselves trying to avoid relegation.

Queen’s Park Rangers – 13th with 52 points. Not worried by possible relegation and even having good season, but the team was a bit uneven and hardly able for something better than midtable existence.

Watford – 12th with 59 points. Doing well actually, for a small club like them would not challenge the leading clubs for long. Now the surprise was gone and they settled in the middle of the league. It was great.

Newcastle United – 11th with 63 points. No miracles were expected from them and no miracles happened, but here was the future, already protruding in the grim present of the mid-80s: Paul Gascoigne and Peter Beardsley. A club like Newcastle cannot be blamed for having two vastly talented strikers and nothing else, though.

Tottenham Horspur – 10th with 65 points. Perhaps they were praised too much in the recent years and that somewhat blinded management: the squad was not truly great, it needed additional strong players, but remained unfinished. It reached its peak already, it was not going to go higher. The Spurs were not going to win a championship, that was certain.

Great season for Luton Town, perhaps their best ever – 9th with 66 points. But it was also an accidental one. Unfortunately, Luton was modest club.

Looking at the names here, this squad should have been able to do much better than 8th place and 68 points. Clough may have been a genius, but his much repeated excuse – that the team won everything and lost motivation for there was nothing else to concur – was lame: he had very strong squad and to end a bit ahead of Luton Town was not even routine, but a disaster. But Nottingham Forest did not have money, traditionally was a modest club, thus even the fans easily forgave. Too bad, really – the slow decline already started.

Arsenal – 7th with 69 points. Underachievers, that was what they were for many, many years.

Chelsea had second consecutive strong season after coming back from second division darkness – again 6th, but this time with 5 points more than the previous year: 71. However, it did not look like real comeback and even less like rapidly developing club – the squad was ordinary at best and running on adrenalin. Unlikely to stay among the top clubs for long.

Sheffield Wednesday – 5th with 73 points. Now, this was a team in good shape and having strong period. Perhaps not expected to become a title contender, but nearing its peak and bright.

Manchester United – 4th with 76 points. One looks at this squad and wants to cry – so much talent and not even a title contender. Year after year – nothing. Ron Atkinson must go…

Surprising and wonderful – West Ham United run for the title and came close to winning it. 3rd with 84 points at the end. Looking at the squad and one understand why they lost the title race: inferior squad compared to the other candidates. A freak accident at best, one time wonder. It was so nice the Hammers challenged the mighty, but… they did not have the real power.

With West Ham short on great talent, the real battle for the title happened in Liverpool – a clash between old local rivals, one at its peak and the other… well, the other was on its peak for something like 25 years.

Eventually, Everton lost the race by 2 points and finished 2nd with 86 points. Naturally, club and fans were more than disappointed, but with time excuse was found: Liverpool was blamed for stunting their development. Sky was the limit, goes the story, often repeated to this very day, and Everton was on the road to concur the world, but because of the Liverpool’s fans English clubs were banished from international football and thus Everton’s wings were viciously clipped off. Speculations cannot be proved with fact, though… as good as this Everton vintage was, the club historically had only sporadic strong periods. It is also questionable how would Everton fare in the changing reality of football – to keep and improve a strong squad… it was a big matter of policy, money, and competing with rich Italian and Spanish sharks. Liverpool had great tradition built already, almost uncanny ability to sell and buy at the right moment and very successful string of home grown managers – Everton did not have anything similar at its hands, so it was not that much a minute matter of who won or lose one championship, but long-term vision and ability to put it to practice. However, Everton was here to stay – they had great team, they worked on reinforcement.

It was not easy, but the end was… routine: one more title for Liverpool. 26 wins, 10 ties, 6 losses, 89-37 goal-difference. A little ahead of Everton in every department – a little, but ahead. The squad was the typically great squad, most names already more than well known. The biggest change this season was their new manager – Kenny Dalglish, a player-manager at first. Bob Paisley was returned as a consultant, given the unusual for Liverpool position and the lack of experience of Dalglish, but there was no problem. Liverpool continued its own tradition: change one great manager with another, coming from ranks, just like his predecessor. It was seamless and smooth transition as it was before.

England II Division

Division 2. One dominating team and one outsider. Bigger fight for escaping relegation than for promotion. Apart from the leader, only other teams competed for the remaining 2 promotional spots. The agony of Leeds United continued without a sign of recovery, it was painful to watch it. That for sympathetic hearts, of course. And one pleasant promotion, although not suggesting things to come. Yet.

Fulham – terrible this season: last with 36 points an out.

Middlesbrough – put some fight, but also inferior and joining Fulham in exile: 21st with 45 points.

Carlisle United – the third relegated team: 20 the with 46 points.

Blackburn Rovers – 19th with 49 points. It was becoming almost unbelievable that once upon a time they played in the top division.

Sunderland – down on their luck and perhaps happy to escape relegation. 18th with 50 points.

Shrewsbury Town – 17th with 51 points.

Huddersfield Town – 16th with 52 points.

Grimsby Town – 15th with 52 points.

Leeds United – 14th with 53 points. One can really pity Peter Lorimer…

Bradford City – 13th with 54 points.

Barnsley – 12th with 56 points.

Brighton & Hove Albion – 11th with 56 points.

Stoke City – 10th with 59 points.

Millwall – 9th with 59 points.

Oldham Athletic – 8th with 60 points.

Sheffield United – 7th with 62 points. Considering they were in Third Division only recently, not bad.

Hull City – 6th with 64 points. Nice achievement – they were just promoted.

Crystal Palace – 5th with 66 points. A prove of rarely fancied norm: if you stay long enough, you become a minor legend – Micky Droy was considered hopeless once upon a time. Now, after many years with Chelsea, he was the veteran star of Palace. Tradition works, though… a team with Droy was never a winning team.

Portsmouth – strong season, battling for promotion, but failing short at the end: 4th with 73 points.

Wimbledon was on focus in recent years and the season was sensational, but they were still a minor sensation: 3rd with 76 points. Overcoming Portsmouth and missing 2nd place by a point – and promoted to the top league. What a joy – in 1982-83 they were still playing in Forth Division and now were going to the First, practically repeating the amazing climb of Watford. But they were less spectacular than Watford and surviving among the best was questionable.

Charlton Athletic clinched 2nd place with 77 points. The trend, started in the second half of the 1970s, of smallish clubs climbing and sometimes even playing for a few season in the First Division was still going on.

Norwich City had no real rival and won the championship with 84 points. 25 wins, 9 ties, 8 losses, 84-39 goal-difference. Comfortable victory, which in a way was a commentary of sudden decline of second level standards: Norwich was just relegated and immediately they were going back to top football. But they were relegated largely for having inferior squad and this one was similar – experience helped, but… it was a team with much promise. The problem was not Norwich itself – they hardly could afford big names – but clubs like Leeds, Middlesbrough, Sunderland, Sheffield, Stoke, which were in dire straits and unable to gather even a squad similar to Norwich’s. As for the winners – they deserved their triumph, their second division title and their return to top flight.

England III Division

Division 3. English football could be best appreciated in the lower divisions – former champions would descent there, strong clubs just a few years ago, famous clubs… and relatively unknown clubs could go up in the same time. It was still that time, it was still not just possible, but regularly happening. And everything was still the same – 4 teams relegated, 3 teams promoted.

Swansea City – last and out with 43 points. Just for the perspective: in 1981-82 ‘The Swans” were 6th in First Division. In the same year Jimmy Rimmer won the European Champions Cup with Aston Villa. Now it was going to Forth Division.

Wolverhampton Wanderers – 23rd with 43 points. Well, that was a real shame. In 1983-84 they were still in the First Division – but will play Forth Division in 1986-87.

Cardiff City – 22nd with 45 points and relegated. Cardiff mostly played second division football in the last ten years, dropping to the third occasionally, but Forth Division? Well, there they went.

Lincoln City – 21st with 46 points. The best among the relegated and the only modest name among the unfortunate.

Bury – lucky 20th with 49 points. Good for another season.

Newport County – 19th with 51 points.

Bolton Wanderers – 18th with 53 points. England was perhaps the only country in Europe where one can see famous names playing in the lower divisions: Asa Hartford here, for example. True, they were veterans, but elsewhere big names hardly ever played lower than second level, even at their last legs.

Chesterfield – 17th with 53 points.

Bristol Rovers – 16th with 54 points.

Bournemouth – 15th with 54 points.

Darlington – 14th with 58 points.

Rotherham United – 13th with 57 points.

Blackpool – 12th with 63 points.

Doncaster Rovers – 11th with 64 points.

Brentford – 10th with 66 points.

Bristol City – 9th with 68 points. At least ahead of city rivals Bristol Rovers.

Notts County – 8th with 71 points.

York City – 7th with 71 points.

Walsall – 6th with75 points.

Gillingham – 5th with 79 points. The best of the bulk of the league, but short of aiming at promotion.

Wigan Athletic – 4th with 83 points. Unlucky – they tried hard, but missed promotion by a point.

Derby County – clinched 3rd place with 84 points and achieved their aim to climb up to Second Division. However… one can laugh: ‘spending spree pays off’ with clinching third place. A project for going back to top flight? Strangely, it was.

Now, Plymouth Argyle harboured no similar to Derby’s ambitions and certainly had no money or mind for ‘spending spree’, but they finished comfortably 2nd with 87 points. They spent the last 10 years in Third Division, seemingly glued to it, but finally managed to climb up and were going to play second level football for the first time since their relegation in 1976-77.

Reading had fantastic season and won the championship with 94 points. 29 wins, 7 ties, 10 losses, 67-50 goal-difference. Hard to recall what exactly made them ‘record breakers’ – possibly something counted only in their own minds – but it was nice victory. They were going back to Second Division for the first time since their relegation in 1930-31 and won Third Division for the first time since 1925-26.

England IV Division

England. With no European football to be played after UEFA suspended English teams from participating, the country returned to its preferred insular game. Not everybody was happy, but for the most clubs there was no loss.

Division 4. A record was made here – the winner finished with 102 points. That was because England adapted 3-points for a win in 1981-82. Down in the lowest professional league only promotion really mattered – 4 teams going up, as ever.

Torquay United – last with 37 points and the only team winning less than 10 fixtures this season.

Preston North End – 23rd with 43 points.

Cambridge United – 22nd with 54 points.

Exeter City – 21st with 54 points.

Halifax Town – 20th with 54 points.

Tranmere Rovers – 19th with 54 points.

Rochdale – 18th with 55 points.

Peterborough United – 17th with 56 points.

Aldershot – 16th with 58 points.

Scunthorpe United – 15th with 59 points.

Burnley – 14th with 59 points.

Wrexham – 13th with 60 points.

Crewe Alexandra – 12th with 63 points.

Stockport County – 11th with 64 points.

Hereford United – 10th with 64 points.

Southend United – 9th with 64 points.

Northampton Town – 8th with 64 points.

Hartlepool United – 7th with 70 points.

Colchester United – 6th with 70 points.

Orient – 5th with 72 points.

Port Vale – 4th with 79 points. Fought for promotion and got it. Well done.

Mansfield Town – 3rd with 81 points. Going back to III Division after their 1971-72 relegation.

Chester City – 2nd with 84 points. Promoted, but not a title contender.

Swindon Town dominated the championship and won it with record 102 points from 32 wins, 6 ties, and 8 losses. 82-43 goal-difference. Wonderful season, much applauded. The former Manchester United star Lou Macari did excellent job.

One more look at the champions in the their happiest moment.