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1975–76 in English football

1975–76 in English football

The 1975–76 season was the 96th season of competitive football in England.

Football in England
Men's football
First DivisionLiverpool
Second DivisionSunderland
Third DivisionHereford United
Fourth DivisionLincoln City
FA CupSouthampton
Anglo-Scottish CupMiddlesbrough
League CupManchester City
Charity ShieldDerby County

Diary of the season

16 August 1975: The First Division season begins with reigning champions Derby County held to a 1–1 draw by Sheffield United. Last season's Second Division champions Manchester United win 2–0 away to Wolverhampton Wanderers, while Queens Park Rangers beat Liverpool 2–0.[1]

23 August 1975: Derby County are beaten 5–1 by Queens Park Rangers at the Baseball Ground in their first home League match of the season.[1]

31 August 1975: Manchester United lead the First Division by one point from West Ham United at the end of August.[1]

30 September 1975: Two London clubs, Queens Park Rangers and West Ham United, lead the First Division table at the end of September, a point ahead of Manchester United. Sheffield United are bottom with just three points from ten matches.[1]

30 October 1975: England lose 2–1 to Czechoslovakia in Bratislava in a European Championship qualifier.[2]

31 October 1975: Seven clubs all lie within two points at the top of the First Division, with the table led by Queens Park Rangers, Manchester United and West Ham United. Sheffield United are already five points adrift of Wolverhampton Wanderers at the bottom, while Leicester City are still looking for their first win, having drawn nine of their fourteen games so far.[1]

8 November 1975: Manchester United fall from first place to third after the Red Devils were beaten by Liverpool. The new league leaders are West Ham United, with second-placed Derby level on points with the London club. Elsewhere, braces from Leeds United's Duncan McKenzie and Colin Bell of Manchester City help their clubs beat Newcastle United and Birmingham City respectively.[3]

12 November 1975: Manchester City thrash neighbours United 4–0 in the fourth round of the Football League Cup.[4]

19 November 1975: England draw 1–1 away to Portugal in their last European Championship qualifier, and must now hope that Czechoslovakia fail to beat Cyprus in order to qualify for the quarter-finals.[2]

23 November 1975: Czechoslovakia beat Cyprus 3–0 to confirm England's elimination from the European Championships.[5]

30 November 1975: The month ends with Derby County having recovered from their poor start to top the First Division table. They lead Queens Park Rangers and West Ham United by one point. Sheffield United have been joined by Birmingham City and Burnley in the relegation zone.[1]

20 December 1975: Liverpool avenge their opening day defeat to Queens Park Rangers by beating them 2–0 at Anfield in a top-of-the-table clash.[1]

31 December 1975: The year ends with Liverpool and Manchester United level on points at the top of the table, one point ahead of Leeds United and Derby County. Sheffield United are now eleven points from safety, and Wolverhampton Wanderers and Burnley complete the bottom three. Arsenal are struggling in seventeenth place.[1]

3 January 1976: FA Cup third round day throws up a set of interesting results: table toppers Liverpool eliminate reigning FA Cup winners West Ham, Manchester City hit Hartlepool United for six and two late goals for Isthmian League outfit Tooting & Mitcham United help them force a replay against Swindon Town.[6]

17 January 1976: Stoke City play a league game at Port Vale's Vale Park ground during repair work to the roof of the Butler Street Stand at the Victoria Ground, after it had been blown off during severe winds a fortnight earlier.

24 January 1976: Substitute Roger Davies' goal sees Derby County beat Liverpool in the FA Cup fourth round; the Rams' reward is a tie against Southend United, victors over Cardiff City. Other qualifiers to round five include Division Three club Crystal Palace, who overcame Leeds–currently second in the First Division table–at Elland Road, and Fourth Divisioners Bradford City, responsible for ending the FA Cup campaign of Tooting & Mitcham, the last remaining non-Leaguers. The sole First Division match was a London derby between QPR and West Ham: Alan Taylor scoring the only goal for the Hammers.[7]

31 January 1976: Liverpool thrash West Ham United 4–0 at Upton Park but trail Manchester United by a point at the top of the table. Derby County, Leeds United and Queens Park Rangers also remain in contention.[1]

28 February 1976: Manchester City beat Newcastle United 2-1 in the League Cup final in what proved to be their last major trophy for 35 years.[4]

29 February 1976: The race for the title remains extremely close, with Liverpool, Queens Park Rangers and Manchester United tied on points at the top, and Derby County just one point behind. Leeds United trail by five points, but have at least two games in hand on each of their rivals. At the bottom, Sheffield United are ten points from safety, and Wolverhampton Wanderers, Burnley and Birmingham City appear to be fighting to avoid the other two relegation places.[1]

6 March 1976: Third Division Crystal Palace reach the FA Cup semi-finals by beating Sunderland 1–0 at Roker Park. Fourth Division giant-killers Bradford City lose 1–0 at home to Southampton, and Derby County beat Newcastle United 4–2.[8]

27 March 1976: Sheffield United are beaten 5–0 by Tottenham Hotspur and are relegated to the Second Division.[1]

31 March 1976: Unbeaten in the League since January, Queens Park Rangers lead the First Division by a point from Manchester United and Derby County with five games remaining. Liverpool are two points behind the leaders, but they and United have a game in hand.[1]

3 April 1976: Manchester United and Southampton reach the FA Cup final after 2–0 victories over Derby County and Crystal Palace respectively.[8]

8 April 1976: Malcolm Macdonald's brace helps Newcastle United beat beleaguered Birmingham City 4–0.[9]

10 April 1976: Derby County's bid to retain their League title is effectively ended when they lose 4–3 to Manchester City. Queens Park Rangers beat Middlesbrough 4–2 and have now taken 23 points from the last 24 available. They are now in control of the championship race, as Manchester United lose 3–0 at Ipswich Town and Liverpool draw 0–0 against Aston Villa.[1]

17 April 1976: Liverpool move back to the top of the First Division after they beat Stoke City 5–3 and Queens Park Rangers suffer a 3–2 defeat to Norwich City.[1]

19 April 1976: Burnley are relegated to the Second Division with one match of the season remaining.[1]

21 April 1976: Manchester United's bid for the double is virtually ended by a 1–0 loss to Stoke City, their first home League defeat of the season.[1]

24 April 1976: Queens Park Rangers end the best League season in the club's history by beating Leeds United 2–0. They are a point ahead of Liverpool, and need the Reds to lose their last match of the season to win the championship.[1]

28 April 1976: Liverpool recover from 2–0 down to beat Club Bruges 3–2 in the first leg of the UEFA Cup final at Anfield.[10]

1 May 1976: Southampton cause a major shock by beating Manchester United 1–0 in the FA Cup final thanks to a second-half goal from Bobby Stokes.[11] They emulate Sunderland's 1973 feat of winning the Cup from the Second Division.[8]

4 May 1976: Liverpool come from a goal down to beat Wolverhampton Wanderers 3–1 and win the League title.[12] They finish a point ahead of Queens Park Rangers and four ahead of Manchester United. The defeat condemns Wolves to relegation alongside Sheffield United and Burnley.[1]

5 May 1976: West Ham United lose 4–2 to Anderlecht in the European Cup Winners' Cup final at the Heysel Stadium in Brussels.[10]

15 May 1976: England lose 2–1 to Scotland at Hampden Park in their last Home Championship match. Kenny Dalglish scores the winning goal when his shot goes between the legs of England goalkeeper Ray Clemence.[2]

19 May 1976: Liverpool claim their second European trophy by drawing 1–1 with Club Bruges to complete a 4–3 aggregate victory in the UEFA Cup final.[10]

28 May 1976: England come from two goals down at half-time to beat Italy 3–2 in New York City in a tournament organised to commemorate the bicentenary of the independence of the USA.[2]

13 June 1976: England beat Finland 4–1 in their first qualifying match for the 1978 World Cup.[2]

National teams

UEFA Competitions

Liverpool won the UEFA Cup for the second time after a 4–3 aggregate victory over Club Bruges in the final. The 1975 FA Cup winners West Ham United reached the final of the European Cup Winners' Cup, where they lost 4–2 to another Belgian side, Anderlecht. League champions Derby County lost 6–5 on aggregate to Real Madrid in the second round of the European Cup.[10]

FA Cup

Southampton pulled off one of the greatest upsets in the history of FA Cup finals when a Bobby Stokes goal gave them victory over Manchester United at Wembley. It was the first major trophy in the club's history. Crystal Palace of the Third Division had an inspired run from the first round through to the semi-finals, beating Leeds United, Chelsea and Sunderland along the way, all of whom were in higher divisions.

League Cup

Manchester City beat Newcastle to claim the League Cup, their first major trophy for six years. It would be 35 years before they would win another major trophy.

Football League

First Division

Liverpool won the First Division title and the UEFA Cup in their second season under the management of Bob Paisley. They finished just one point ahead of Queens Park Rangers, who had emerged as serious title contenders under the management Dave Sexton, who had won silverware with Chelsea a few seasons earlier. Manchester United enjoyed a strong First Division comeback by finishing third. Derby County's defence of the league title finished with a fourth-place finish. Leeds United continued to recover from the departure of Don Revie by moving up to fifth place a year after finishing ninth.

FA Cup holders West Ham United could only manage an 18th-place finish in the league, and were runners-up in the European Cup Winners' Cup.

Sheffield United's terrible season saw them relegated in bottom place after five years back in the First Division. They went down with Burnley and Wolves.

Bertie Mee, 57, retired after ten years as manager of Arsenal. The highlights of his career had been the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup triumph of 1970 and the Double win of 1971, but Arsenal had fallen behind the best in recent seasons and Mee handed over the reins to Terry Neill.

PosTeamPldWDLGFGAGRPtsQualification or relegation
1Liverpool422314566312.12960Qualified for the European Cup
2Queens Park Rangers422411767332.03059Qualified for the UEFA Cup
3Manchester United422310968421.61956
4Derby County4221111075581.29353
5Leeds United422191265461.41351
6Ipswich Town4216141254481.12546
7Leicester City4213191048510.94145
8Manchester City4216111564461.39143Qualified for the UEFA Cup
9Tottenham Hotspur4214151363631.00043
10Norwich City4216101658581.00042
12Stoke City4215111648500.96041
14Coventry City4213141547570.82540
15Newcastle United421591871621.14539
16Aston Villa4211171451590.86439
18West Ham United4213101948710.67636
19Birmingham City421372257750.76033
20Wolverhampton Wanderers4210102251680.75030Relegated to the Second Division
22Sheffield United426102633820.40222

Second Division

Three years after their famous FA Cup win, Sunderland finally made it out of the Second Division as champions. Bristol City finished runners-up to end their 65-year exile from the First Division. Johnny Giles enjoyed a dream start to his managerial career by ending West Bromwich Albion's three-year stay in the Second Division. Bolton Wanderers missed out on promotion by a single point under Ian Greaves. Sixth placed Southampton won the first silverware of their history by winning the FA Cup at the expense of Manchester United.

Nottingham Forest finished eighth in Brian Clough's first full season as manager. Chelsea finished a disappointing 11th in their first season outside the top flight for over a decade.

Portsmouth, York City and Oxford United finished the season relegated to the Third Division.

PosTeamPldWDLGFGAGRPtsQualification or relegation
1Sunderland422481067361.86156Promoted to the First Division
2Bristol City421915859351.68653
3West Bromwich Albion422013950331.51553
4Bolton Wanderers4220121064381.68452
5Notts County4219111260411.46349
6Southampton422171466501.32049Qualified for the Cup Winners' Cup
7Luton Town4219101361511.19648
8Nottingham Forest4217121355401.37546
9Charlton Athletic4215121561720.84742
14Hull City4214111745490.91839
15Blackburn Rovers4212141645500.90038
16Plymouth Argyle4213121748540.88938
17Oldham Athletic4213121757680.83838
18Bristol Rovers4211161538500.76038
19Carlisle United4212131745590.76337
20Oxford United4211112039590.66133Relegated to the Third Division
21York City421082439710.54928

Third Division

Hereford United won the Third Division title and with it promotion to the Second Division in only their fourth season in the Football League. Cardiff City and Millwall went up with them to seal an instant return to the Second Division. Brighton, managed by Brian Clough's former assistant Peter Taylor, missed out on promotion by one place. Crystal Palace, semi-finalists in the FA Cup, missed out on promotion after a late season collapse in form, which was followed by the replacement of Malcolm Allison as manager with Terry Venables.

Halifax, Southend, Colchester and Aldershot were relegated. Narrowly avoiding the drop were Sheffield Wednesday, who during the interwar years had won the League championship and the FA Cup.

PosTeamPldWDLGFGAGRPtsQualification or relegation
1Hereford United462611986551.56463Promoted to the Second Division
2Cardiff City4622131169481.43857
4Brighton & Hove Albion462291578531.47253
5Crystal Palace4618171161461.32653
8Preston North End4619101762571.08848
9Shrewsbury Town4619101761591.03448
10Peterborough United4615181363631.00048
11Mansfield Town4616151558521.11547
12Port Vale4615161555541.01946
16Rotherham United4615121954650.83142
18Grimsby Town4615102162740.83840
19Swindon Town461682262750.82740
20Sheffield Wednesday4612161848590.81440
21Aldershot4613132059750.78739Relegated to the Fourth Division
22Colchester United4612142041650.63138
23Southend United4612132165750.86737
24Halifax Town4611132241610.67235

Fourth Division

32-year-old Graham Taylor achieved the first success of his managerial career by winning the Fourth Division title for Lincoln City. He was linked with several job vacancies in the First and Second Divisions but surprised everyone by taking over at Elton John's Watford, who were still in the Fourth Division. Joining Lincoln in the Third Division were Northampton Town, Reading and Tranmere Rovers.

The Football League voted in favour of the bottom four clubs remaining in the Fourth Division, and so there were no departures or arrivals in the league for 1976–77.

PosTeamPldWDLGFGAGRPtsQualification or relegation
1Lincoln City4632104111392.84674Promoted to the Third Division
2Northampton Town462910787402.17568
4Tranmere Rovers4624101289551.61858
5Huddersfield Town4621141156411.36656
7Exeter City4618141456471.19150
9Torquay United4618141455630.87350
10Doncaster Rovers4619111675691.08749
11Swansea City4616151566571.15847
13Cambridge United4614151758620.93543
16Crewe Alexandra4613151858571.01841
17Bradford City4612171763650.96941
19Scunthorpe United4614102250590.84738
21Stockport County4613122143760.56638Re-elected
22Newport County461392457900.63335

Top goalscorers

First Division

  • Ted MacDougall (Norwich City) – 23 goals[1]

Second Division

  • Derek Hales (Charlton Athletic) – 28 goals

Third Division

  • Dixie McNeil (Hereford United) – 35 goals

Fourth Division

  • Ronnie Moore (Tranmere Rovers) – 34 goals

Non-league football

Isthmian LeagueEnfield
Northern Premier LeagueRuncorn
Southern LeagueWimbledon
FA TrophyScarborough
FA VaseBillericay Town

Star players

  • Tottenham Hotpsur goalkeeper Pat Jennings was credited with the PFA Players' Player of the Year award.

  • Liverpool striker Kevin Keegan was voted FWA Footballer of the Year.

  • Manchester City winger Peter Barnes added the PFA Young Player of the Year award to his League Cup winners medal.

  • Southampton striker Bobby Stokes inspired his side to their first ever major trophy by scoring the winning goal in the FA Cup final against Manchester United.

  • Manchester United's young winger Steve Coppell showed immense promise after helping his newly promoted employers reach third place in the league and reach the FA Cup final.

  • Arsenal gave a debut to 17-year-old defender David O'Leary who went on to make 30 appearances that season on the way to a club record of 722 in a 17-year career with the club.

Star managers

  • Bob Paisley won his first two trophies as Liverpool manager – the League championship and UEFA Cup – and he would pile up many more prizes over the next seven seasons.

  • Lawrie McMenemy guided Southampton to their first major trophy, beating favourites Manchester United in the FA Cup final.

  • Dave Sexton guided Queens Park Rangers to the club's best finish of second in the league.

  • Tommy Docherty built an exciting young side at Manchester United and a year after promotion back to the First Division they finished third in the league and reached the FA Cup final.

  • Bob Stokoe led Sunderland into the First Division, three years after they won the FA Cup.


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