THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Sheffield Wednesday were promoted along with Champions Oldham Athletic and West Ham United. Saul Pope reports that Big Ron also added another trophy to the cabinet as well as their promotion

The long-term significance
The first full season following the Taylor Report saw the beginning of a change in attitude towards football fans. A landmark Home Affairs Committee report published in 1991 called for fans to be treated with more respect by the authorities, for lower-profile policing and for limited desegregation of rival fans. In response to Football League proposals for a joint board to control the game, the FA produced its blueprint for a new Premier League of 22 clubs. Of course, we all knew such folly wouldn’t come to anything…

Story of the season
Oldham Athletic held off West Ham to win the title and appear in the top flight for the first time since the 1922-23 season. With four games to go, the Hammers were top, but Oldham, who had earlier led and then wandered off course, finished the stronger. Expansion of the First Division meant that third-placed Sheffield Wednesday were also promoted, bouncing straight back from relegation and winning the League Cup as well, beating manager Ron Atkinson’s old club Manchester United 1-0 in the final. No team from outside the top flight has won a domestic cup since. Notts County beat Brighton in the play-off final 3-1, with Tommy Johnson scoring twice. Barnsley missed out on a play-off place on goal difference, but were to have their season in the sun a few years later. Only two teams were relegated, with the second of those places going down to the last match. Watford were second bottom for much of the run-in, but leapt out of danger with three matches to go. This meant that Leicester went into the final day in 23rd place, favourites to be relegated to the Third Division for the first time in their history. However, they defeated Oxford 1-0 to send West Brom, whose toga-clad away fans saw them only draw at Bristol Rovers, down for their lower-tier debut. Hull were also relegated, although had shown some decent form earlier in the season, including the 5-2 defeat of Leicester at Boothferry Park, a game in which despondent away fans could be seen cheering Hull’s final goal.

For the record books
West Ham conceded the fewest goals, 34, which remains a divisional record, though they scored fewer than anyone else in the top ten. Brighton were 90 minutes away from promotion, yet finished the regular season with a goal difference of minus six. Millwall’s Teddy Sheringham was top scorer in all divisions with 38, but was sold to Nottingham Forest following Millwall’s failure to get promotion.

Same place today

No one has been at this level throughout. Hull returned from a long lower-division exile in 2005-06 along with Sheffield Wednesday; Plymouth did the same a year earlier. Ipswich and Leicester have flirted with the Premier League and early rounds of the UEFA Cup but are now back at this level, where they are joined by Millwall, Brighton, Wolves and Watford.

Moved furthest away

Notts County finished 19th in League Two in 2005, having earlier been in danger of relegation to the Conference. Oxford and Bristol Rovers seem to have become basement regulars. By contrast, Middlesbrough, who finished 11 points behind County in 1990-91, are playing in the UEFA Cup in 2005-06.

Went on to greater things
Glenn Hoddle ~ Began his coaching career as player-manager at Swindon and got them promoted in 1993. Went on to Chelsea, England, Southampton and Spurs, but now back at this level with Wolves.
Blackburn Rovers ~ Jack Walker’s takeover couldn’t prevent the club from finishing 19th, but the following year Blackburn won promotion and signed Alan Shearer for an English record fee of £3.5 million, and then were Premiership champions by 1995.
Pavel Srnicek ~ The Czechoslovakia goalkeeper, soon to be a Premiership regular, made his Newcastle debut late in the season.

Disappearing from view
Viv Anderson ~ England’s first black player began to wind down his career at Sheffield Wednesday, following a move from Manchester United.
Glenn Roeder ~ Soon to become Gazza’s chaperone in Rome, the 35-year-old scored a vital goal for Watford against West Brom in the relegation run-in.
Ricky Hill ~ Given a free transfer by Leicester, the Luton legend now coaches in Trinidad.
Wayne Fereday ~ Made just ten appearances for Newcastle before spells lower down the league. Now working at a prestigious furniture store in Christchurch.

From WSC 229 March 2006. What was happening this month

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