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1961–62 in English football

1961–62 in English football

The 1961–62 season was the 82nd season of competitive Football in England.


The season was notable for the remarkable achievement of Ipswich Town winning the League Championship. Under the managership of Alf Ramsey, the club progressed from the old Third Division South to the First Division. Ipswich were dismissed by most of the media at the time as relegation candidates, but Ramsey's tactics baffled the big clubs in the division such as favourites Tottenham Hotspur and Burnley, and other big names such as Manchester United and Arsenal. Before Ramsey's tenure Ipswich had no tradition to speak of, and indeed had never even played in the top flight of English Football. Ramsey's triumph led him to being offered the job of the England football team manager, which he duly accepted in 1963; England won the World Cup three years later. Liverpool were promoted from the Second Division after eight years. Manager Bill Shankly would soon take the club to unparalleled heights in the years to come. Accrington Stanley resigned from the league because of financial difficulties on 11 March 1962. As a consequence, all their previous results for the season in the Fourth Division were expunged from the records. They were replaced in 1962–63 by Oxford United.

Diary of the season

22 August 1961: Rotherham United beat Aston Villa 2–0 in the first leg of the first ever Football League Cup final. Fixture congestion has meant that last season's competition has stretched into this season.

11 September 1961: The floodlights at the City Ground are officially turned on for the first time as Nottingham Forest face Gillingham in the League Cup.[2]

11 October 1961: Reports surface indicating Welsh internationalist John Charles of Juventus will soon be back in English football after joining the Bianconeri in 1957: the Italian club's vice-president told the press "[Charles] had already told me of his wish to return to England to look after his children's education".[3]

18 November 1961: Table-topping Burnley drop their first points of the season by drawing 3–3 with Wolverhampton Wanderers. Elsewhere in the top-flight, Ipswich Town rack up a fifth win in a row by beating Manchester United 4–1, Tottenham Hotspur play out a goalless draw at Sheffield Wednesday, Birmingham City put four without reply past West Ham United, who slump into fifth, below both Ipswich and Spurs. In the rest of the Football League, Liverpool are seven points clear of Scunthorpe United at the top of the Second Division, South Coast clubs Bournemouth and Boscombe Athletic and Portsmouth lead Division Three, and Welsh club Wrexham, who have recorded 14 wins already this season, are top of the Fourth Division.[4]

23 April 1962: Ipswich beat Arsenal 3–0 and Burnley are held by Blackburn Rovers in the East Lancashire derby, giving Town a two-point lead over Burnley at the top of Division One. In the race to evade joining already-relegated Chelsea in next season's second-tier, Cardiff City pick up a useful win against West Ham United, while fellow strugglers Fulham were beaten by West Bromwich Albion. Both Cardiff and Fulham are on 31 points, but the West Londoners have one game more left to play compared with the Bluebirds. In the Second Division, Leyton Orient's win over Luton Town ensures the East London club continue to chase Scunthorpe and Sunderland for the last remaining promotion spot.[5]

28 April 1962: Ipswich, in the First Division for the first time, are crowned champions of English club football with a 2–0 win at home Aston Villa on the last day of the league season. It is the first major trophy of their history, and the first time that an English club has won the title in their first season as a top division club.[6]

5 May 1962: Tottenham Hotspur retain the FA Cup with a 3–1 win over Burnley at Wembley Stadium with goals from Jimmy Greaves, Bobby Smith and Danny Blanchflower.

July 1962: Manchester United pay a British record fee of £115,000 for Scottish striker Denis Law from Torino of Italy.


Football Writers' Association

  • Footballer of the Year – Jimmy Adamson (Burnley)

Top goalscorer

  • Ray Crawford (Ipswich Town) and Derek Kevan (West Bromwich Albion), 33


First DivisionIpswich Town (1)Burnley
Second DivisionLiverpoolLeyton Orient
Third DivisionPortsmouthGrimsby Town
Fourth DivisionMillwallColchester United
FA CupTottenham Hotspur (4)Burnley
League CupNorwich City (1)Rochdale
Charity ShieldTottenham HotspurFootball Association XI
British Home ChampionshipScotlandWales

Football League

First Division

Ipswich Town achieved a superb debut in the First Division as champions, finishing three points ahead of runners-up Burnley. Third placed Tottenham Hotspur were unable to retain their league title but at least managed to retain the FA Cup, while Everton and Sheffield United completed the top five.

Manchester United endured their worst postwar finish by finishing 15th despite the expensive signing of forward David Herd before the start of the season, which prompted Matt Busby to strengthen United's attack by bringing Denis Law back to England from Italy in British football's first six-figure transfer.

Chelsea, who had gradually lost touch with the First Division's leading pack since their 1955 title triumph, went down in bottom place, and were joined by Cardiff City in relegation.

PosTeamPldWDLGFGAGRPtsQualification or relegation
1Ipswich Town422481093671.38856Qualified for the European Cup
3Tottenham Hotspur4221101188691.27552
5Sheffield United421991461690.88447
6Sheffield Wednesday422061672581.24146
7Aston Villa421881665561.16144
8West Ham United4217101576820.92744
9West Bromwich Albion4215131483671.23943
11Bolton Wanderers4216101662660.93942
12Manchester City421771878810.96341
14Leicester City421761972711.01440
15Manchester United421591872750.96039
16Blackburn Rovers4214111750580.86239
17Birmingham City4214101865810.80238
18Wolverhampton Wanderers4213101973860.84936
19Nottingham Forest4213101963790.79736
21Cardiff City429141950810.61732Relegated to the Second Division

Second Division

Liverpool finally secured a First Division comeback as champions of the Second Division, with forward Roger Hunt being instrumental with 41 league goals. They were joined in promotion by a Leyton Orient side who had never appeared in the top flight before. Sunderland missed out on promotion by a single point, while Scunthorpe United (with just over a decade of league football behind them) emerged as surprise promotion contenders before having to settle for a fourth-place finish - still their best finish yet.

Norwich City had a disappointing season in the league after last season's promotion push, but compensated for this by winning the Football League Cup - the first major trophy of their history.

Brighton and Bristol Rovers went down.

PosTeamPldWDLGFGAGRPtsQualification or relegation
1Liverpool42278799432.30262Promoted to the First Division
2Leyton Orient4222101069401.72554
4Scunthorpe United422171486711.21149
5Plymouth Argyle421981575751.00046
7Huddersfield Town4216121467591.13644
8Stoke City421781755570.96542
9Rotherham United421691770760.92141
10Preston North End4215101755570.96540
11Newcastle United421591864581.10339
13Luton Town421752069710.97239
15Charlton Athletic421591869750.92039
16Derby County4214111768750.90739
17Norwich City4214111761700.87139
19Leeds United4212121850610.82036
20Swansea Town4212121861830.73536
21Bristol Rovers421372253810.65433Relegated to the Third Division
22Brighton & Hove Albion4210112142860.48831

Third Division

Portsmouth achieved an instant return to the Second Division as champions of the Third Division. They were joined in promotion by Grimsby Town.

Newport County, Brentford, Lincoln City and Torquay United went down to the Fourth Division.

PosTeamPldWDLGFGAGRPtsQualification or relegation
1Portsmouth462711887471.85165Promoted to the Second Division
2Grimsby Town462861280561.42962
3Bournemouth & Boscombe Athletic462117869451.53359
4Queens Park Rangers46241111111731.52159
5Peterborough United4626614107821.30558
6Bristol City462381594721.30654
8Northampton Town4620111585571.49151
9Swindon Town4617151478711.09949
10Hull City462081867541.24148
11Bradford Park Avenue462071980781.02647
12Port Vale4617111865581.12145
13Notts County461792067740.90543
14Coventry City4616111964710.90143
15Crystal Palace4614141883801.03842
16Southend United4613161757690.82642
18Halifax Town4615102162840.73840
19Shrewsbury Town4613122173840.86938
21Torquay United4615625761000.76036Relegated to the Fourth Division
22Lincoln City469172057870.65535
24Newport County467831461020.45122

Fourth Division

Millwall clinched the Fourth Division title, and were joined in promotion by Colchester United, Wrexham and Carlisle United.

Accrington Stanley were forced to resign from the season several weeks before the end of the Fourth Division campaign, and their place in the Fourth Division went to Football League newcomers Oxford United.

PosTeamPldWDLGFGAGRPtsQualification or relegation
1Millwall4423101187621.40356Promoted to the Third Division
2Colchester United4423912104711.46555
4Carlisle United442281464631.01652
5Bradford City442191494861.09351
6York City4420101484531.58550
10Crewe Alexandra442061879701.12946
11Oldham Athletic4417121577701.10046
14Mansfield Town441961977661.16744
15Tranmere Rovers442042070810.86444
16Stockport County441791870691.01443
18Exeter City4413112062770.80537
21Doncaster Rovers441172660850.70629Re-elected
22Hartlepools United4481125521010.51527
24Accrington Stanley0000000Resigned from the league[1]

Top goalscorers

First Division

  • Ray Crawford (Ipswich Town) and Derek Kevan (West Bromwich Albion) – 33 goals[7]

Second Division

Third Division

  • Cliff Holton (Watford and Northampton Town) – 37 goals[8]

Fourth Division

  • Bobby Hunt (Colchester United) – 37 goals[8]


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