Clubs

Having a bad season? Worried that things couldn't be much worse? Cheer yourself up with some schadenfreude as Chris Lynham looks back on Gillingham's darkest hour

In 1993, Gillingham celebrated 100 years of chronic underachievement with a cam­paign so inept it even failed to meet the very limited expectations of our band of world-weary supporters. Having put up with five years of steady decline, we could all cope with the boredom of inoffensively squatting in the lower half of the old Fourth Division, but the et­ernal agony of the 1992-93 season was a step too far.

Duncan Young looks back on Leeds' darkest hour

Keith Mincher. Carlisle United fans know who I’m talking about, but most Leeds supporters have never heard of the former youth-team coach who very nearly became manager when Eddie Gray was sacked during 1985-86, which saw the club’s lowest league finish since Don Re­vie’s first full season in 1961-62.

Having a bad season? Worried that things couldn't be much worse? Cheer yourself up with some schadenfreude as Graham Lightfoot looks back on Sheffield Wednesday's darkest hour

Sheffield Wednesday’s fall from grace over the last few years has been more plummet than decline. Ask any supporter under the age of 30 to name their worst ever season and our most recent campaigns in the Na­­t­ionwide League would undoubtedly figure. Wed­nes­day­ites with the odd silver hair curling out from under their blue and white bobble hat will have mem­ories of darker days. In the 1970s, for the first time that most of us could remember, we would have to grudgingly admit that Sheffield United were actually a better side than us.

Arsenal have a new business venture. Al Needham has a go at Arsenal Monopoly

Monopoly is a board game that extols the virtues of avarice, greed and per­sonal gain to the detriment of everyone else. “The game reflects the essence and spirit of Arsenal football club,” says a spokesman for the makers of Monopoly, who have launched a new version of the Sunday afternoon pursuit of driving other members of the family into bankruptcy with the help of a couple of dice and a Get Out Of Jail card.

Tranmere Rovers may be on the verge of a possible takeover, but as Tony Morris discovers, it is not want the fans were hoping for

On Halloween, frightening rumours began circulating among Tranmere fans that Chester City’s owner Stephen Vaughan was about to buy Rovers, leading to a groundshare at City’s Deva Stadium and a merger of the two clubs. The next day’s papers reinforced fans’ fears. One claimed Tranmere would be forced to sell its Prenton Park ground to pay the £5.3 million the club owes to its owner Peter Johnson. Another confirmed Vaughan’s interest in pur­ch­asing Rovers, claiming a deal could be struck in days.

Life is complicated at both ends of the First Division. Norwich's chief executive Neil Doncaster explains how the Canaries are trying to plan for all eventualities

How well off are Norwich compared to other clubs in the wake of ITV Digital?
We certainly weren’t the worst hit, but we weren’t the lightest hit either. There are a number of clubs in the First Division whose aspirations year-to-year are not necessarily promotion and who had not pushed the boat out quite so far in terms of player salaries. Our wage bill this season of £5.5 million was budgeted for on the basis that we would receive £2.5 million income from TV. Even receiving it we expected to make a loss of £2.5 million over the year, so when the ITV Digital situation arose, you’re then looking at a budgeted loss of £5 million – which is why we had to go down the route of the share offer very quickly over the summer.

Down at the bottom of the First, something is stirring. Chris Eldergill reports on Steve Coppell's attempts to keep Brighton up with no visible means of support

When Steve Coppell took on his latest quest in man­agement at Brighton & Hove Albion, there were more than a few eyebrows raised. Coppell was taking over a team that sat rock bottom of the First Division, having lost ten games in a row and still with no permanent home. Brighton were employing a man who had managed their greatest rivals, Crystal Palace, on and off for over a decade. Supporters even had a terrace chant dedicated to him.

There is a new management team at Sunderland and Joe Boyle looks at how their coaching qualifications might fair in comparison to findings from a recent book

“Preparation, practice and training.” This is Howard Wilkinson’s way. After that, you’ll get some flair. As the Stadium of Light mustered one final groan at the end of Wilkinson’s first game in charge at Sunderland, the 1-0 defeat against West Ham, it was clear his players were set for a large dose of preparation, practice and training. Give me time, Wilkinson said afterwards. But, as Chris Green’s new book The Sack Race makes clear, time is something man­agers don’t have. Fifteen months is the average ten­ure in a job which, in Green’s account, of­fers long nights, sapping journeys up Britain’s motorways and the inevitable chop from a scapegoat-hunting boardroom.

In the past decade, the quest to find Scotland's 'Third Force' has become an increasingly vain one. Gary Panton runs the rule over the brief contenders

Just months after completing their meteoric rise from the lower rungs of Scottish football to a third place finish in the top flight, the critics are claiming that Livingston’s bubble has already burst. Ten games into the season, an im­pres­sive 4-3 UEFA Cup victory over Sturm Graz could not dis­guise the fact that the Livi Lions had slump­ed to the bottom of the SPL.

Yeovil, perhaps the most famous non-League side, are edging towards the Third Division. Adam Mornement weighs up the pros and cons of a possible promotion

On January 6, 1949 Yeovil Town beat Sunderland to reach the fifth round of the FA Cup. Subsequent generations of Glovers – handwear is still a thriving local industry – have been brought up to believe that achieving League status is Yeovil’s birth­right. But nearly 54 years on, the club’s destiny remains unfulfilled.

Sign up to the WSC Weekly Howl - a small portion of despair and enlightenment delivered to your inbox every Friday