Lincoln City boss Graham Taylor announced his arrival on the managerial scene as his side's outstanding home record gave them the Division Four title, Roger Titford recalls
The long-term significance
This was the season that launched Graham Taylor’s career. Look at those Lincoln City stats – 71 home goals (an average of more than three a game!), 111 in all and 74 points (equivalent to 106 with three points for a win). Among the stars of the side were John Ward and Percy Freeman up front; Ian Branfoot and Sam Ellis at the back. Two years later Taylor nearly repeated the feat with Fourth Division Watford. Sadly, international football was another matter.
Story of the season
The top four clubs all get great starts, only three home points dropped between them by Christmas. Huddersfield, playing in Division Four for the first time, chase all the way to the line but can’t catch them. Home form made the difference.
Northampton’s 68 points would usually have been enough to win the title, but Bill Dodgin’s side had to settle for runners-up. In third place were Charlie Hurley’s Reading – winning promotion for the first time in 50 years and conceding only nine home goals. Tranmere finished two points ahead of Huddersfield to take the final promotion place and bounce back at the first time of asking.
In the bleak north-north-west, Southport and Workington suffer wretched seasons with average sub-2,000 crowds, but both are re-elected to the League. It won’t last much longer, though, the Reds going out the next year and the Sandgrounders the year after.
For the record books
Leading scorer: Ronnie Moore (Tranmere) 34 – now Rotherham manager.
Highest attendance: Reading v Lincoln, 15,683. Lowest: Southport v Lincoln, 871.
Lincoln’s 74 points (and its 106 three-points-for-a-win equivalent) are still an all-time League record.
Same place today
Swansea City finished 11th in this table and at the end of the 2003-04 season they were still 11th in the division. To be fair, in the meantime they have also been in first and 92nd positions among all League clubs.
Moved furthest away
Watford, Reading and Crewe are now two divisions up; Workington are three levels below, while Newport, Southport and Exeter have also left the League.
Went on to greater things
Mark Palios: Tranmere midfielder – chief executive of the FA until recently
Brendan Batson: Cambridge defender – West Brom star then one-time deputy chief executive of the PFA
Stephen Baines: Huddersfield midfielder – later became a Football League referee
Robin Friday: Reading centre-forward – became the patron saint of lower-division bad boys
Luther Blissett: Watford forward – AC Milan and England
Arnie Sidebottom: Huddersfield centre-half – Yorkshire CCC and England
Eamon Dunphy: Reading midfielder – journalist and biographer
Ron Atkinson: Cambridge manager – Man United boss, then cheerleader
Disappearing from view
George Best: Stockport winger – patron saint of superstar bad boys but couldn’t keep hold a place in the County team
Trevor Hockey: Bradford City midfielder – the pioneer of the footballer’s hair-band
Rod Belfitt: Huddersfield striker (right) – much travelled, now at the end of the road
Chris Balderstone: Doncaster midfielder and Leicestershire and England batsman – even today, still the only man to play football for Rovers while in the middle of making a first-class century, but on his way down from the previous season, with Carlisle in the top flight
From WSC 211 September 2004. What was happening this month