Aston Villa start their climb up the table, chasing Bournemouth and Notts County
18 December ~ Aston Villa made a moderate start to their second season in Division Three, which included home defeats by Mansfield and Rotherham. But they went top early in the new year during a run of 11 wins in 12 games and took the title by five points. Their home game with Bournemouth on February 12 drew the division's biggest ever crowd of 48,110 (a record broken by the Sheffield derby at Hillsborough on Boxing Day 1979).
Villa's winning goal against Bolton was scored by Scottish full-back Charlie Aitken, who still holds the club's League appearance record of 561 games. One of the other scorers, Ray Graydon, got the only goal in the 1975 League Cup final. Other notable members of the championship squad were centre-back Chris Nicholl, midfielder Bruce Rioch and goalkeeper Jimmy Cumbes, who also played county cricket for Worcestershire among others.
Division Four champions the previous year, Notts County led the table at Christmas but eight games without a win in the spring damaged their promotion push and they finished fourth. Centre-forward Les Bradd scored two of their goals against Walsall with the third from his striker partner Tony Hateley, father of Mark, who was playing in his last full season.
Bournemouth were in the top two for most of the season but five draws in their last ten matches proved crucial; they were overhauled by Brighton who clinched the second promotion spot with two games to go. It was only the second season in management for Brighton boss Pat Saward, a former Villa player and coach at Coventry. He was sacked shortly after Brighton's relegation the following season and never managed another League club.
Bournemouth striker Ted MacDougall was the division's joint top scorer with 35 goals – shared with Shrewsbury's Alf Wood – and also got an FA Cup record nine goals in his side's 11-0 first round victory over non-League Margate. MacDougall later had short spells with Manchester United and West Ham before a successful reunion with his former Bournemouth boss John Bond at Norwich.
Bradford City and Torquay finished joint bottom, four points behind the other relegated clubs, Mansfield and Barnsley. Tranmere were in 22nd place when most clubs had completed their fixtures but they still had three games in hand. They stayed up – albeit only on goal average – thanks to a 2-1 win over Bristol Rovers in the 44th fixture with the decisive goal scored by their player-manager, former Liverpool centre-half Ron Yeats.