1975–76 in English football
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- 1 Overview
- 2 Star players
- 3 Star managers
- 4 Top goalscorers
- 5 Diary of the season
- 6 Honours
- 7 League table
- 8 References
Liverpool won their first major trophy under Bob Paisley by narrowly winning the league title after a strong challenge from Dave Sexton's Queens Park Rangers, who finished in their highest ever position of runners-up and qualified for the UEFA Cup. Following QPR into Europe were Tommy Docherty's promising young Manchester United side, Dave Mackay's defending champions Derby County and Jimmy Armfield's Leeds United.
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.
Three years after winning the FA Cup, Bob Stokoe's Sunderland finally won promotion to the top flight as Second Division champions. Bristol City and West Bromwich Albion occupied the two other promotion places. Oxford United, York City and Portsmouth went down to the Third Division.
Hereford United won the Third Division title to reach the Second Division just four years after joining the league. Also going up to the Second Division were Cardiff City and Millwall. Aldershot, Colchester United, Southend United and Halifax Town were relegated to the Fourth Division. Narrowly avoiding the drop were Sheffield Wednesday, who during the interwar years had won the League championship and the FA Cup.
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.
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.
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.
- Tottenham goalkeeper Pat Jennings was credited with the PFA Player of the Year award.
- Liverpool striker Kevin Keegan was voted Player of the Year by the FWA.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
23 November 1975: Czechoslovakia beat Cyprus 3–0 to confirm England's elimination from the European Championships.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
3 April 1976: Manchester United and Southampton reach the FA Cup final after 2–0 victories over Derby County and Crystal Palace respectively.
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.
19 April 1976: Burnley are relegated to the Second Division with one match of the season remaining.
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.
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 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. They emulate Sunderland's 1973 feat of winning the Cup from the Second Division.
4 May 1976: Liverpool come from a goal down to beat Wolverhampton Wanderers 3–1 and win the League title. 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.
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.
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.
Notes = Number in parentheses is the times that club has won that honour. * indicates new record for competition
|2||Queens Park Rangers||42||24||11||7||67||33||34||59|
|18||West Ham United||42||13||10||19||48||71||−23||36|
|3||West Bromwich Albion||42||20||13||9||50||33||1.515||53|
|4||Brighton & Hove Albion||46||22||9||15||78||53||1.472||53|
|8||Preston North End||46||19||10||17||62||57||1.088||48|
P = Matches played; W = Matches won; D = Matches drawn; L = Matches lost; F = Goals for; A = Goals against; GA = Goal average; Pts = Points
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- Ionescu, Romeo (2008). The Complete Results & Line-ups of the European Football Championships 1958-2008. Cleethorpes: Soccer Books Ltd. ISBN 9781862231726.
- Smailes, Gordon (2000). The Breedon Book of Football Records. Derby: Breedon Books. p. 232. ISBN 1859832148.