Season in brief

Steve Anders recalls Manchester United's only season in the last 75 years in the second tier of English football, which proved to be a year remembered for hooliganism

The long-term significance
Hooliganism was becoming a major social problem. In the first significant trouble involving the English abroad, Spurs fans had rioted at the second leg of the UEFA Cup final in Rotterdam in May 1974. Three months later, a Blackpool fan was stabbed to death during a Division Two match against Bolton at Bloomfield Road.

Peter Bateman recalls the 1965-66 season when Liverpool and Everton both had campaigns to remember

The long-term significance
This season confirmed the shift in football’s balance of power northwards. The Championship trophy went to Merseyside for the third time in four seasons and the FA Cup for the second season running. Liverpool also reached their first European final. Leeds Utd established themselves as a force in the game while Manchester Utd had a rare trophyless season in between Championships.

Mike Ticher describes the Australian season which saw Eastern Suburbs overcome Marconi Fairfield on goal difference

The long-term significance
As the first national competition of any winter sport in Australia, the National Soccer League (NSL) was hugely ambitious. Unlike Australian rules and rugby league, which spread gradually from their respective strongholds in Melbourne and Sydney, the NSL had to juggle a geographically balanced competition from the start. With impressive sponsorship from Philips, the project was driven by two Sydney club visionaries hoping to build on Australia's 1974 World Cup exploits: Frank Lowy of the Jewish club Hakoah and Alex Pongrass of St George Budapest.

Graham Forshaw decribes the season which saw champions Fulham accumulate 101 points

The long-term significance
The three promoted clubs all stayed up the following season – the only time this has happened since the Premier League started. Indeed, none of the three has been relegated since. Fulham's Jean Tigana was the only black manager in the League at the time and the first foreigner to take a team up to the top level – Ossie Ardiles had won promotion through the play-offs with Swindon Town ten years earlier but they were then demoted for financial irregularities.

Mark Poole describes the season in which Celtic won the championship on goals difference

The long-term significance
The year Hearts threw it all away, in one of Scotland's most dramatic league finales ever. The Jam Tarts last won the title in 1960 and only Celtic and Rangers have won it since Aberdeen in 1984- 85. Hearts, unbeaten in seven months, went into the last day of the season needing just a draw.

Graham Hughes recounts the only season of English League football to have been played during war time

The long-term significance
This was the only time that a full English League programme has gone ahead during wartime. Since its formation 26 years earlier, the Football League had been growing in membership and popularity. It now faced its first real setback, with a barrage of criticism over the decision to play on while Britain's young men were being asked to go to war.

With the Soviet national team causing huge disappointment at the 1952 Olympics, Sasha Goryunov explains how the fallout had huge ramifications for the Soviet league

The long-term significance
This was a year of upheaval for Soviet football. After a hiatus of 17 years the national side took to the field again and participated in its first ever official international tournament, the 1952 Olympics. In losing to Tito's Yugoslavia in the first round, the team failed in both sporting and political terms with grave consequences for the reigning champions, CDSA. The famous "Lieutenants' Team" had dominated post-war USSR football, with five titles in seven years, but was held responsible for what happened in Helsinki and disbanded. This opened the door for Spartak Moscow, who went on to dominate the domestic scene for the next dozen years.

Seb White looks back over the season where Gary Johnson's insatiable Yeovil Town strolled to succes

The long-term significance
In the summer of 2002 the Football League finally approved an extra promotion/relegation place between the top tier of non-League football and Division Three. In 1987 the controversial election process had been replaced with one promotion and relegation spot between the two. Strict ground regulations saw three clubs in the mid-1990s being denied promotion, this and the increasing good fortune of non-League sides in the FA Cup saw a clamour for change.
 The decision to increase movement between the divisions has been vindicated with all the teams that finished in the top six this season now members of the Football League. Three other sides – Barnet, Stevenage Borough and Burton Albion – have also made the step up. The extra promotion place has also done those relegated from the Football League a favour with Shrewsbury Town, Carlisle Utd, Exeter City and Torquay Utd all returning via the play-offs.

James Calder recalls a time when the Colombian championship was dominated by well-paid foreign players

The long-term significance
The beginning of the end of El Dorado, the great Colombian gold rush. Blacklisted by FIFA following its foundation in 1948, the national professional league attracted some of the world’s leading players, lured by high wages funded by the country’s economic boom, massive attendances and a conservative government anxious to divert attention away from widespread and bloody political and social unrest.

Angered by the continuing exodus of its stars, the Argentinian FA complained of “piracy”, leading FIFA to expel Colombia in 1951. The dispute was ended shortly afterwards by the Pacto de Lima, an agreement by which an increasingly cash-strapped league agreed to let its well-paid imports return to their clubs of origin by October 15, 1954, in return for readmission to the international fold. The Colombian free-for-all also had an impact on the English game, the defection of a handful of players resulting in two sizeable increases in the maximum wage, which was eventually abolished in 1961.

Dermot Corrigan reviews a highly eventful La Liga campaign, in which Real Betis, managed by an Irishman, defied the odds

The long-term significance
La Liga was formed in 1929, and Real Betis' win this season was the first time one of the initially dominant "big three" of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao did not take the title. The leading clubs all featured players who had starred for Spain in the preceding summer’s World Cup finals. A skilful Spanish team were out-muscled in a quarter-final replay by the more physical Italians, who went on to win the competition watched by Benito Mussolini. Domestic Spanish football was also to suffer from the effects of fascism during the 1930s, with La Liga suspended once civil war broke out in July 1936. During the war separate leagues were organised in the Fascist and Republican controlled areas, before La Liga returned in 1939-40.

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