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1968–69 in English football

1968–69 in English football

The 1968–69 season was the 89th season of competitive football in England.


First DivisionLeeds United (1)Liverpool
Second DivisionDerby CountyCrystal Palace
Third DivisionWatfordSwindon Town
Fourth DivisionDoncaster RoversHalifax Town
FA CupManchester City (4)Leicester City
League CupSwindon Town (1)Arsenal
Charity ShieldManchester CityWest Bromwich Albion
Home ChampionshipEnglandScotland

Notes = Number in parentheses is the times that club has won that honour.

FA Cup

Manchester City completed a disappointing season for relegated Leicester City by defeating them 1–0 in the FA Cup Final. Neil Young scored the only goal of the game, although Leicester's David Nish gained the record as the youngest captain of a cup finalist at the age of 21.[4]

The season's big giant-killers were Third Division Mansfield Town who accounted for Sheffield United in the Third Round and West Ham in the Fifth before going out to Leicester in the Sixth Round.

League Cup

In one of the biggest shocks in the history of the competition Swindon Town won the final 3–1 against Arsenal. Swindon's non-top flight status saw them barred from competing in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup which led to the creation of the Anglo-Italian Cup the following season.

European football

Newcastle United won the first, and to date only, European trophy in their history by beating Újpest of Hungary 6–2 on aggregate to lift the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup.

Football League

First Division

Leeds United won the League for the first time in their history, finishing six points ahead of Liverpool.

Manchester United's final season under the management of Sir Matt Busby before his retirement ended in an 11th-place finish, although their defence of the European Cup lasted until the semi-finals. Their cross city rivals finished 13th a year after being league champions, but had an FA Cup triumph as compensation for their failed defence of the league title and their failure to succeed in the European Cup.

Newly promoted Queens Park Rangers were relegated after finishing bottom, along with the FA Cup runners-up Leicester City.

PosTeamPldWDLGFGAGRPtsQualification or relegation
1Leeds United422713266262.53867Qualified for the European Cup
2Liverpool422511663242.62561Qualified for the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup
4Arsenal422212856272.07456Qualified for the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup[1]
6Tottenham Hotspur4214171161511.19645
7Southampton4216131357481.18845Qualified for the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup[2]
8West Ham United4213181166501.32044
9Newcastle United4215141361551.10944Qualified for the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup[3]
10West Bromwich Albion4216111564670.95543
11Manchester United4215121557531.07542
12Ipswich Town4215111659600.98341
13Manchester City4215101764551.16440Qualified for the Cup Winners' Cup
15Sheffield Wednesday4210161641540.75936
16Wolverhampton Wanderers4210151741580.70735
18Nottingham Forest4210131945570.78933
19Stoke City429151840630.63533
20Coventry City4210112146640.71931
21Leicester City429122139680.57430Relegated to the Second Division
22Queens Park Rangers424102839950.41118

Second Division

Derby County were runaway winners of the Second Division and they were joined in being promoted by runners-up Crystal Palace. Despite still boasting the talents of Johnny Haynes and George Cohen, Fulham finished bottom and were relegated. They were joined in the Third Division by perennial strugglers Bury

PosTeamPldWDLGFGAGRPtsPromotion or relegation
1Derby County422611565322.03163Promoted to the First Division
2Crystal Palace422212870471.48956
3Charlton Athletic4218141061521.17350
5Cardiff City422071567541.24147
6Huddersfield Town4217121353461.15246
7Birmingham City421881673591.23744
9Sheffield United4216111561501.22043
11Hull City4213161359521.13542
12Carlisle United4216101646490.93942
13Norwich City4215101753560.94640
14Preston North End4212151538440.86439
16Bristol City4211161546530.86838
17Bolton Wanderers4211161555670.82138
18Aston Villa4212141637480.77138
19Blackburn Rovers4213111852630.82537
20Oxford United421292134550.61833
21Bury421182351800.63830Relegated to the Third Division

Third Division

Watford won the title on goal average (Goal Ratio) from Swindon Town and both teams were duly promoted. At the bottom end Northampton Town, Hartlepool, Crewe Alexandra and Oldham Athletic were all relegated.

PosTeamPldWDLGFGAGRPtsPromotion or relegation
1Watford462710974342.17664Promoted to the Second Division
2Swindon Town462710971352.02964
3Luton Town4625111074381.94761
4Bournemouth & Boscombe Athletic462191660451.33351
5Plymouth Argyle4617151453491.08249
6Torquay United4618121654461.17448
7Tranmere Rovers4619101770681.02948
9Stockport County4616141667680.98546
11Rotherham United4616131756501.12045
12Brighton & Hove Albion4616131772651.10845
15Mansfield Town4616111958620.93543
16Bristol Rovers4616111963710.88743
17Shrewsbury Town4616111951670.76143
21Northampton Town4614122054610.88540Relegated to the Fourth Division
23Crewe Alexandra461392452760.68435
24Oldham Athletic461392450830.60235

Fourth Division

The Division was won by Doncaster Rovers, who were promoted along with Halifax Town, Rochdale and Bradford City. No team failed re-election so no new members were admitted to the Football League.

PosTeamPldWDLGFGAGRPtsQualification or relegation
1Doncaster Rovers462117865381.71159Promoted to the Third Division
2Halifax Town462017953371.43257
4Bradford City461820865461.41356
6Colchester United4620121457531.07552
7Southend United4619131478611.27951
8Lincoln City4617171254521.03851
10Swansea Town4619111658541.07449
13Port Vale4616141646461.00046
16Scunthorpe United461882061601.01744
17Exeter City4616111966651.01543
18Peterborough United4613161760571.05342
19Notts County4612181648570.84242
21York City4614112153750.70739Re-elected
22Newport County4611142149740.66236
23Grimsby Town469152247690.68133
24Bradford Park Avenue4651031321060.30220

Top goalscorers

First Division

Second Division

  • John Toshack (Cardiff City) – 22 goals[5]

Third Division

  • Don Rogers (Swindon Town) – 22 goals[6]

Fourth Division

  • Gary Talbot (Chester) – 22 goals[6]

Events of the season

  • 3 August 1968 – The reigning champions Manchester City beat the FA Cup holders West Bromwich Albion 6–1 in the Charity Shield at Maine Road. Bobby Owen and Francis Lee both score twice.[7]

  • 10 August 1968 – The League season begins with Manchester City losing 2–1 to Liverpool at Anfield. Promoted Queens Park Rangers draw their first match in the First Division at home to Leicester City, and Arsenal win the North London derby 2–1 at White Hart Lane.[8]

  • 17 August 1968 – The Manchester derby at Maine Road finishes goalless. Draws for West Ham United and Arsenal (against Nottingham Forest and Liverpool respectively) end their 100% records, leaving Leeds United as the only First Division club with six points out of six. Crystal Palace and Millwall are the teams with maximum points in Division Two, while Mansfield Town and Lincoln City, of Divisions Three and Four respectively, have won both of their games thus far.[9]

  • 19 October 1968 – Geoff Hurst scores six times as West Ham United thrash Sunderland 8–0 to equal their record League victory.[10] Burnley beat Leeds United 5–1.[8]

  • 18 December 1968 – Tommy Docherty becomes the manager at Aston Villa, his third club in six weeks, after his resignation from Rotherham United and a brief spell at Queens Park Rangers.

  • 21 December 1968 – Liverpool beat Tottenham Hotspur 1–0 to top the First Division table at Christmas. Leeds United, who avenge their earlier defeat to Burnley by beating the Clarets 6–1 at Elland Road, are three points behind with two games in hand, while Everton and Arsenal remain in contention. At the bottom, Queens Park Rangers and Coventry City occupy the relegation places.[11]

  • 14 January 1969 – Sir Matt Busby announces that he will retire as the manager of Manchester United at the end of the season.[12]

  • 20 January 1969 – Brian Purcell and Roy Evans, two Hereford United players, are killed in a car crash on their way to an FA Cup tie at Nuneaton Borough.[13]

  • 15 March 1969 – Third Division Swindon Town cause a major shock by beating Arsenal 3–1 in the League Cup final thanks to two goals in extra-time from Don Rogers.[14]

  • 19 March 1969 – Struggling Manchester United beat bottom-of-the-table Queens Park Rangers 8–1 at Old Trafford in one of the highest-scoring matches of the First Division season.[8]

  • 29 March 1969 – Queens Park Rangers lose 2–1 at home to Liverpool and are relegated from the First Division in their first season after promotion, having won just three of their 38 matches so far.[8]

  • 11 April 1969 – The Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year award is shared for the first time in the 21 years the accolade has existed: Manchester City's Tony Book and Dave Mackay of Derby County are the joint-winners. Leeds' Billy Bremner finishes third, and Jimmy Greaves of Tottenham is fourth.[15]

  • 26 April 1969 – Manchester City win the FA Cup with a Neil Young goal giving them a 1–0 win over relegation-threatened Leicester City in the Wembley final.[16]

  • 28 April 1969 – Leeds United draw 0–0 with second-placed Liverpool at Anfield to clinch the First Division title for the first time in their history.[17]

  • 15 May 1969 – Manchester United's defence of the European Cup ends when they are knocked out by Milan in the semi-finals. They win the second leg at Old Trafford 1–0 with a goal by Bobby Charlton, but lose 2–1 on aggregate. Milan's goalkeeper Fabio Cudicini is injured by an object thrown from the crowd.[18]

  • 17 May 1969 – Three weeks after their FA Cup final defeat, Leicester City are relegated from the First Division. Needing to beat Manchester United to overtake Coventry City, they lose 3–2 in Matt Busby's last match as Manchester United's manager.[19] Liverpool's draw with Newcastle United leaves them in second place, six points behind Leeds United, who finish the season with just two defeats and unbeaten in their last 28 League games since October.[8]

  • 11 June 1969 – Newcastle United beat Újpest Dózsa 3–2 in the second leg of the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup Final to secure a 6–2 aggregate victory and win their first European trophy.

Star players

For the only time in its history the Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year was shared by two players — Tony Book of Manchester City and Dave Mackay of Derby County.[15] For the sixth and final time in his illustrious career Tottenham Hotspur's Jimmy Greaves was Division One top-scorer with 27 goals. He was also top-scorer in the league overall with 22 goals taking the Second Division award for John Toshack of Cardiff City,

Star managers

  • Don Revie led Leeds United to their first ever League win, with a record number of points, losing just two matches and set in place a team that was to become one of the most successful of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

  • Already a club legend as a player, Joe Harvey became one of Newcastle United's most celebrated managers by leading the club to European glory.

  • Ken Furphy took Watford into the Second Division after a close race with Swindon Town. However Swindon's Danny Williams also won the League Cup to make his own name.

National team

The England national football team enjoyed a successful year in the build-up to the 1970 FIFA World Cup, for which they had automatically qualified as holders of the trophy after the 1966 FIFA World Cup. They won the 1969 British Home Championship by beating all three opponents and only lost one game all year, to Brazil during an end of season tour to the Americas.

American tour


  • 5 October 1968 – Joe Brough, 81.[20]

  • 8 October 1968 – Frank Womack, 80.

  • 14 October 1968 – Paul Shardlow, 25, heart attack.[21]

  • October 1986 – Eric Sweeney, 65[22]

  • December 1968 – Brian Hill, 31.[21]

  • 20 January 1969, Brian Purcell, 30, and Roy Evans, 25, car accident.[21]

  • 21 January 1969, Len Andrews, 80.[23]

  • April 1969, Harry Nuttall, 71

  • 13 July 1969, Bobby Barclay, 62


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Citation Linkopenlibrary.orgSouthampton qualified for Inter-Cities Fairs Cup ahead of Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur, who finished below Arsenal, due to the "only one club per city" rule.
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