1984–85 in English football
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The season saw Everton build on their FA Cup success of the previous season by winning their first league title for 15 years and their first European silverware in the form of the European Cup Winners' Cup. However, they lost the FA Cup final to Manchester United. Norwich City won the Football League Cup but were relegated from the First Division.
However, the season was overshadowed by three tragedies involving English clubs. On 11 May 1985, the last day of the league season, a teenage spectator was killed at the St Andrew's stadium in a Second Division clash between Birmingham City and Leeds United in another incident of hooliganism which continued to blight English football at home and abroad. A far worse tragedy occurred on the same day when a fire ripped through the stadium of Third Division champions Bradford City, killing 56 spectators. On 29 May, at the European Cup Final in Brussels, rioting by Liverpool fans led to the collapse of a wall and 39 spectators (most of them Italian) were crushed or trampled to death in the panic. Shortly after the game, which Juventus of Italy won 1–0, all English clubs were banned from European competitions for an indefinite period, which ended up being 6 years for Liverpool and 5 years for every other English football club.
- 1 Overview
- 2 Awards
- 3 Notable managers
- 4 Diary of the season
- 5 Notable debutants
- 6 Honours
- 7 League table
- 8 Deaths
- 9 References
The 1984–85 season was dominated by two major disasters, at Bradford and at Heysel.
56 spectators died and more than 200 were injured when a fire ripped through the Main Stand at Valley Parade during Bradford City's Third Division fixture with Lincoln City on 11 May. This tragedy was seen by many as a wake-up call for English clubs to improve the state of their grounds and take more drastic safety measures to bring an end to problems which had been plaguing the game for years without any effective action being taken.
Less than three weeks after the Bradford fire, 39 spectators (mostly Italian) were trampled to death on the terraces of Heysel Stadium where Liverpool took on Juventus in the European Cup final. As a result, all English clubs were banned indefinitely from European competition with Liverpool ordered to serve an extra three years whenever the other English sides were re-admitted. Despite the tragedy, the match was played and Juventus beat Liverpool 1–0.
Howard Kendall's Everton side beat neighbours Liverpool to the league championship, while Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United followed closely behind. The blue half of Merseyside also collected the Cup Winners' Cup to complete a cup double, for the club. Despite winning the championship with a record breaking ninety points and completing the double, Everton were denied entry into the following season's European Cup, following the ban by UEFA on all English clubs following the Heysel tragedy. Stoke City finished bottom of the First Division with just three league wins all season and just 17 points – a record low under the 3 points for a win system in any division, which would stand for twenty-one years. Stoke City also set two more enduring records of scoring just 24 goals in a 42-game season, and a mere six goals away from home, both of which are record lows for the top tier of English football.
Jim Smith's Oxford United side won a successive promotion as Second Division champions and reached the First Division after just 23 years as Football League members. Following them into the big time were Birmingham City and Manchester City.
Slipping out of the league's second tier were Cardiff City, joined by Notts County and Wolverhampton Wanderers – both relegated for the second season in succession. Veteran manager Tommy Docherty had tried his hand at reversing financially troubled Wolves' rapid decline at the Molineux, but without success.
Bradford City's Third Division championship glory was overshadowed on the final day of the season when a fire at their Valley Parade ground killed 56 spectators – including two followers of their opponents Lincoln City.
Going down from the Third Division were Cambridge United (who won just four games all season), Orient, Burnley and Preston North End. Burnley and Preston were founder members of the Football League who had reached great heights in the past – just 25 years ago Burnley had been league champions. But those successes were now very much a distant memory as both clubs slid into the league's fourth tier for the first time.
Swansea City, who had finished sixth in the First Division just three years earlier, continued to suffer as a result of their financial problems as they narrowly avoided a third successive relegation.
The bottom four clubs, Halifax Town, Stockport County, Northampton Town (who had spent a season in the First Division some 20 years earlier) and Torquay United, all retained their league status after a successful re-election campaign at the expense of Football Conference champions Maidstone United.
Manchester United won their second FA Cup in three years after a Norman Whiteside goal gave them an extra-time 1–0 victory over Everton at Wembley. Defender Kevin Moran became the first player to be sent off in an FA Cup final after he brought down Peter Reid in what he insisted was a misjudged tackle. United's triumph ended Everton's hopes of completing a treble of trophies – they had already lifted the league title and UEFA Cup Winners Cup. Millwall fans rioted in their 6th round match against Luton Town, causing Luton to ban away fans from their ground. Non-League Telford United reached the fifth round proper, collecting four League Scalps in the process. No post-war non-League side has bettered Telford's cup-run, although it has been equalled.
Norwich became the first club to win a major trophy in a relegation season as they lifted the League Cup after beating Sunderland, who went down with them to the Second Division. This occurrence would not be repeated for some 26 years when Birmingham City suffered the same fate; also relegated after lifting the League Cup earlier in the season.
- Everton's team included PFA Player of the Year Peter Reid and FWA Player of the Year Neville Southall.
- PFA Young Player of the Year was Manchester United's Welsh striker Mark Hughes, who helped his side lift the FA Cup.
- First Division: Kerry Dixon (Chelsea) and Gary Lineker (Leicester City) won the Golden Boot as the joint top scorers in Division One, with 24 goals each. Lineker's team only escaped relegation by two points.
- Second Division: John Aldridge (Oxford United) – 30 goals
- Third Division: Tommy Tynan (Plymouth Argyle) – 31 goals
- Fourth Division: John Clayton (Tranmere Rovers) – 31 goals
- Howard Kendall brought glory to Everton as they lifted the league championship trophy and the Cup Winners' Cup.
- Ron Atkinson won his second FA Cup in three years with Manchester United.
- Jim Smith brought First Division football to Oxford United less than a quarter of a century after they were elected to the league.
- Ken Brown guided Norwich City to League Cup glory which compensated for their relegation to the Second Division.
- Howard Wilkinson guided newly promoted Sheffield Wednesday to seventh place in the First Division in their first top division season for more than a decade.
- Ron Saunders took Birmingham City back into the First Division at the first time of asking.
- Trevor Cherry guided Bradford City to Third Division championship glory.
- Former Arsenal player George Graham achieved managerial success with Millwall as they won promotion to the Second Division.
- Brian Horton took Hull City to promotion in the Third Division.
- Cyril Knowles (who played for Tottenham in the late 1960s and early 1970s), enjoyed success in management by getting Darlington promoted to the Third Division.
Diary of the season
24 August 1984: Liverpool pay £575,000 for Ajax and Denmark midfielder Jan Molby, while Norwich City pay £125,000 for Gillingham defender Steve Bruce and Sheffield Wednesday sign striker Lee Chapman from Sunderland for £100,000.
25 August 1984: On the first day of the First Division season, champions Liverpool are held to a 3-3 draw by Norwich City. Tottenham Hotspur record the biggest win of the day, 4-1 away to Everton.
31 August 1984: Aston Villa, under their new manager Graham Turner, finish the first month of the season as First Division leaders. Newcastle United, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Queens Park Rangers complete the top five. Stoke City, West Ham United and Southampton fill the bottom three places in the table.
22 September 1984: Queens Park Rangers and Newcastle United draw 5-5 at Loftus Road in the highest-scoring game of the First Division season.
30 September 1984: Tottenham Hotspur, in their first season under the management of Peter Shreeves, finish September as First Division leaders, level on points with Nottingham Forest and Arsenal, and followed by Manchester United, Sheffield Wednesday and Everton. Watford, yet to win a game this season and recently beaten 5-4 at home by Everton, are bottom of the table, and are joined in the bottom three by Coventry City and Stoke City. The Second Division is being dominated by leaders Birmingham City, who have collected seven wins from their first eight games. Oxford United stand second and are in the hunt for a second successive promotion, which would give them top flight football for the first time in their history – just 23 years after joining the Football League. Blackburn Rovers complete the top three.
31 October 1984: Arsenal finish October as leaders of the First Division, ahead of Everton, Tottenham Hotspur, Sheffield Wednesday and West Ham United. Stoke City, Watford and Luton Town lie in the relegation zone, and champions Liverpool are also struggling in the bottom half of the table. Oxford United's dream run continues as they top the Second Division. Birmingham City and Blackburn Rovers remain in the top three. Notts County are bottom of the Second Division, and in danger of a second successive relegation, after nine defeats from their first eleven games.
30 November 1984: Everton lead the First Division at the end of the month, while Liverpool have climbed to eighth in the table. Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United and Arsenal are three points behind Everton. Stoke City, who have won only one game so far, prop up the First Division, and are joined in the relegation zone by Luton Town and Coventry City. Oxford United continue to lead the way in the Second Division, followed by Blackburn Rovers and Portsmouth. Birmingham City have slipped to fifth in the table, five points adrift of the promotion places, after collecting just two points in November. Notts County remain bottom of the table.
12 December 1984: George Best is sentenced to 12 weeks in prison after being found guilty of drink-driving, assaulting a police officer, and failing to answer bail. He is released on bail pending an appeal.
26 December 1984: On a day of surprise results in the First Division, Liverpool slump to another defeat, 2-1 at home to Leicester City, and Stoke City record only their second win of the season, beating Manchester United 2-1.
31 December 1984: Tottenham Hotspur enter 1985 as First Division leaders on goal difference ahead of second-placed Everton, with Manchester United, Arsenal and Nottingham Forest completing the top five. Stoke City, Coventry City and Ipswich Town occupy the bottom three places. Blackburn Rovers now lead the Second Division, with Oxford United and a resurgent Birmingham City completing the top three. Notts County have been joined in the relegation zone by Wolverhampton Wanderers, also relegated from the First Division the previous season.
5 January 1985: In the FA Cup third round, Arsenal are held to a 1-1 draw by Fourth Division Hereford United. Leicester City beat Burton Albion 6-1, but The Football Association order the match to be replayed after an object was thrown from the crowd onto the pitch.
30 January 1985: Brian Clough's latest attempt to bring the FA Cup to Nottingham Forest ends when they suffer a shock 1–0 defeat to Wimbledon in a fourth round replay. Wimbledon, in their first season as a Second Division club, are playing in only their eighth season as Football League members.
31 January 1985: In a month blighted by match cancellations owing to bad weather, Everton have regained their lead in the First Division, two points ahead of Tottenham Hotspur. Manchester United and Sheffield Wednesday lie a further six points behind. Stoke City, Luton Town and Ipswich Town remain in the bottom three places. Blackburn Rovers, Oxford United and Birmingham City continue to head the Second Division promotion race.
4 February 1985: Alliance Premier League side Telford United beat Fourth Division promotion challengers Darlington 3–0 in an FA Cup fourth round replay, while First Division high flyers Chelsea suffer a 3–2 home defeat against Third Division Millwall.
16 February 1985: Telford United's FA Cup adventure ends in the fifth round when they lose 3–0 to Everton at Goodison Park, while Liverpool are held to a 1–1 draw by York City.
20 February 1985: York City's FA Cup run finally ends when Liverpool beat them 7–0 in the fifth round replay at Anfield.
28 February 1985: February ends with Everton still top of the First Division, with Tottenham Hotspur second and Manchester United third, but Liverpool improve to fourth position, cutting their deficit behind the leaders to 10 points. Stoke City are now sixteen points from safety, and Luton Town and Ipswich Town are still also in the bottom three. Blackburn Rovers remain top of the Second Division, while Manchester City have muscled into the top three to occupy second place, with Oxford United dropping to third. Notts County and Wolverhampton Wanderers remain in the bottom three.
4 March 1985: Sunderland beat Chelsea 5-2 on aggregate to reach the League Cup final, sparking fights during and after the match, where 48 people were injured and some 100 were arrested. Southampton's FA Cup challenge ends with a shock 2–1 defeat at home to Barnsley.
13 March 1985: Luton Town defeat Millwall 1–0 at Kenilworth Road in a match marred by serious rioting to book a place in the FA Cup semi-finals, where they will face Everton. Manchester United and Liverpool will contest the other semi-final.
24 March 1985: In the League Cup final, Norwich City beat Sunderland 1-0 with a goal scored when Gordon Chisholm deflects a shot from Asa Hartford into his own net. Clive Walker misses a penalty for Sunderland in the second half.
28 March 1985: Southampton's 18-year-old midfielder Dennis Wise joins Wimbledon on a free transfer.
31 March 1985: Everton remain leaders of the First Division, three points ahead of Tottenham Hotspur, and with a game in hand. Manchester United's title challenge and bid for the double is fading fast, while Arsenal, Liverpool, Sheffield Wednesday, Nottingham Forest and Southampton are pushing for UEFA Cup places. Manchester City are now top of the Second Division, joined in the promotion places by Oxford United and Birmingham City. Blackburn Rovers have fallen into fourth place, while a minor upturn in fortunes for Notts County keeps their hopes of avoiding a second successive relegation alive.
3 April 1985: Everton take a significant step towards their first title for 15 years by beating Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 at White Hart Lane.
17 April 1985: Manchester United beat Liverpool 2–1 in the FA Cup semi-final replay at Maine Road.
20 April 1985: Stoke City, who have only gained three wins and 17 points this season, are relegated from the First Division after losing at home to Everton. Tottenham Hotspur's faltering title challenge takes another major blow with a second successive home defeat, to relegation-threatened Ipswich Town.
24 April 1985: Everton reach the European Cup Winners' Cup final with a 3–1 win over Bayern Munich in the semi-final second leg at Goodison Park, after the first leg ended in a goalless draw at the Olympiastadion. Goals from Graeme Sharp, Andy Gray and Trevor Steven secure the Toffeemen's place in their first European final.
30 April 1985: In the First Division, Everton hold an 11-point lead over second placed Manchester United, with three games in hand, as April draws to a close. United, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool are the only sides now standing a mathematical chance of catching Everton. Oxford United have sealed promotion to the First Division for the first time, though Birmingham City, who only need two points from their final three games to ensure promotion, could still beat them to the Second Division title. Manchester City occupy third place, with Blackburn Rovers, Leeds United and Portsmouth still pushing Billy McNeill's men for the final promotion place.
11 May 1985: 56 people are burnt to death and more than 200 others injured in a fire at Third Division champions Bradford City's final league game of the season against Lincoln City. 54 of the dead are Bradford City fans, the other two Lincoln City fans. Birmingham City's promotion from the Second Division is marred by a riot by Leeds United fans in which a 14-year-old spectator is crushed to death by a collapsing wall. Manchester City win the final promotion place with a goal difference advantage over Portsmouth. Wolverhampton Wanderers and Notts County are relegated for a second season in succession, and are joined in the Third Division in 1985-86 by Cardiff City. A backlog of fixtures leaves the final relegation place from the First Division still undecided on the scheduled last day of the season, with Coventry City, West Ham United, Norwich City and Ipswich Town all still in danger.
14 May 1985: Norwich City beat Chelsea 2-1 in their final match of the season. They are eight points clear of Coventry City, who occupy the final relegation place but still have three matches to play.
17 May 1985: West Ham United win their penultimate match of the season at Ipswich Town to secure their place in the First Division next season. Coventry City keep their hopes of survival alive by beating Stoke City 1-0.
18 May 1985: A Norman Whiteside goal in extra-time seals victory in the 1985 FA Cup Final for Manchester United against league champions Everton. United defender Kevin Moran becomes the first player to be sent off in an FA Cup final.
22 May 1985: England draw 1–1 with Finland in Helsinki in their fifth World Cup qualifier.
26 May 1985: Coventry City beat champions Everton 4-1, their third consecutive win, to escape relegation and send Norwich City down to the Second Division.
28 May 1985: Belatedly, the First Division season ends when Everton lose 2-0 at Luton Town.
29 May 1985: 39 spectators, most of them Italian, die when a wall collapses at the European Cup Final between Juventus and Liverpool at the Heysel Stadium in Brussels. Despite the tragedy, the match is played, and Michel Platini scores from a penalty as Juventus win 1–0. Just hours before the kick off, Liverpool manager Joe Fagan had announced that he would be retiring as manager after two seasons in charge, sparking speculation that striker Kenny Dalglish will be appointed player-manager or that the job could be offered to Alex Ferguson, manager of Scottish league champions Aberdeen.
30 May 1985: Everton sign 21-year-old goalkeeper Bobby Mimms from Rotherham United for £150,000 as a backup for Neville Southall. Kenny Dalglish becomes Liverpool's player-manager on the retirement of Joe Fagan.
31 May 1985: The Football Association bans all English clubs from European competitions until further notice as a result of the Heysel disaster. Kenny Dalglish is confirmed as Liverpool's new player-manager.
1 June 1985: Lawrie McMenemy announces his resignation after 12 years as manager of Southampton.
2 June 1985: UEFA places an indefinite ban on English clubs playing overseas, and rules that Liverpool should be banned for an extra three years when all other English clubs are eventually readmitted to European competitions.
3 June 1985: Neil Webb, 22-year-old Portsmouth midfielder, signs for Nottingham Forest in a £250,000 deal after the South Coast club failed to win promotion to the First Division. Also joining Brian Clough's team is 23-year-old Coventry City defender Stuart Pearce, for £200,000.
6 June 1985: Lawrie McMenemy makes a swift return to football management with Sunderland.
26 June 1985: Lawyers acting for Everton, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United, Southampton and Norwich City vow to challenge the ban on English clubs in European competitions in the High Court, claiming that the blanket ban placed by UEFA and endorsed by FIFA was "illegal" and that only Liverpool - whose fans were involved in the fatal rioting at Heysel Stadium last month - should be barred from Europe.
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25 August 1984: Dale Gordon, 17-year-old winger, makes his debut for Norwich City in a 3–3 away draw with Liverpool in the First Division.
23 March 1985: Martin Allen, 19-year-old midfielder, makes his debut for Queen's Park Rangers in a 2–0 away defeat against Luton Town in the First Division.
Notes = Number in parentheses is the times that club has won that honour. * indicates new record for competition
Everton won their first league title for 15 years with four matches to spare, and also won the European Cup Winners' Cup to claim their first ever European trophy, but were denied a treble when they lost to Manchester United in the final of the FA Cup. Liverpool endured their first trophyless season for a decade, although they did finish runners-up in the league, reached the FA Cup semi-finals and were on the losing side in the European Cup final - a match marred by a riot before kick-off in which 39 spectators died. The British government swiftly banned all English clubs from competing in the following season's European competitions, before UEFA placed an indefinite ban on English clubs playing in Europe and ordered Liverpool to serve an extra three years when the ban on other clubs was lifted.
Tottenham Hotspur enjoyed another good season, topping the First Division over Christmas before finished third in the final table. Southampton continued to compete with the bigger clubs and finished fifth. Newly promoted Chelsea, Sheffield Wednesday and Newcastle United enjoyed a strong return to the First Division, finishing sixth, eighth and 14th respectively.
Stoke City went down in bottom place with one of the worst First Division records ever - a mere three wins from 42 games and 17 points from a possible 126. Sunderland, runners-up in the Football League Cup, had a dismal season in the league and were relegated in second place from bottom. Norwich City went down with 49 points (more than any other relegated First Division side) but the blow was cushioned by victory in the League Cup. QPR, who had finished fifth a year earlier, avoided relegation by one place and one point. Player-manager Frank Sibley was dismissed after one season to be replaced by Jim Smith of Oxford United. Ipswich Town's decline since the departure of Bobby Robson to the England job three years earlier continued as the Suffolk club finished 17th, with most of Robson's fine team now gone.
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23 years after joining the Football League, Oxford United reached the First Division by clinching the Second Division title and securing a second successive promotion, the only downside to their promotion being the departure soon afterwards of manager Jim Smith to QPR, leaving Maurice Evans to try and build an Oxford side capable of defying the odds and surviving at the highest level. Birmingham City achieved an instant return to the First Division after keeping faith in manager Ron Saunders, while Manchester City won promotion on goal difference ahead of Portsmouth. Blackburn Rovers, absent from the First Division since 1966, missed out on promotion by a single point, while just two points kept Brighton out of the First Division.
Wimbledon, in their first season as a Second Division club and only their eighth in the Football League, finished a secure 12th.
Notts County and debt-ridden Wolverhampton Wanderers suffered a second successive relegation, while Cardiff City returned to the Third Division after just two years away. Middlesbrough, another club faced with mounting debts, narrowly avoided relegation to the Third Division for the first time in 20 years.
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Bradford City's promotion glory and Third Division title triumph ended in tragedy with the death of 56 spectators (all but two of them Bradford fans) in a stadium fire on the final day of the season at home to Lincoln City. The second promotion place went to a Millwall side who had a happy end to the season just weeks after they had made the headlines for all the wrong reasons after hundreds of their fans ran riot in an FA Cup tie at Luton. The last promotion place was sealed by Hull City, while Gillingham and Bristol City just missed out.
Derby County failed to mount a serious challenge for an immediate return to the Second Division, although their seventh place finish was hardly disastrous. Newly promoted York City finished eighth in the league but made headlines in the FA Cup by beating Arsenal in the third round and taking Liverpool to a replay in the fourth.
In an era where consecutive relegations were a regular event, Cambridge United were rooted to the bottom of the Third Division with a hapless four wins, 21 points and a joint league record of 33 defeats. Orient also went down, but the biggest news at the lower end of this divisions was the relegation of Preston North End and Burnley to the Fourth Division for the very first time - an incredible low for two clubs with a host of league titles and FA Cup wins to their name, with Burnley's most recent title win coming as recently as 1960, although Preston's only two league titles had come in the league's first two seasons nearly a century earlier and their last FA Cup win was in 1938.
Debt-ridden Swansea City, who had finished sixth in the First Division in 1982, narrowly avoided a third successive relegation.
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Administration entrance = Cambridge United
Chesterfield sealed the Fourth Division title, with runners-up spot going to a Blackpool side who had recently been saved from closure. Former Tottenham Hotspur star Cyril Knowles achieved his first success as a manager by guiding Darlington to promotion in third place, while the last promotion spot went to Bury, who finished seven points ahead of Hereford United.
P = Matches played; W = Matches won; D = Matches drawn; L = Matches lost; F = Goals for; A = Goals against; GD = Goal difference; Pts = Points
- 14 August 1984 – Mike Barrett, 24, Bristol Rovers winger. Died as a result of cancer.
- 6 November 1984 – Micky Cave, 35, former Torquay United, Bournemouth and York City midfielder. Died from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning.
- 27 December 1984 - Leslie Compton, 72, who played senior football and cricket between 1930 and 1956, died from a diabetes related illness. He spent his entire footballing career at Arsenal and was capped twice for England in 1950 at the age of 38.
- 9 March 1985 - Harry Catterick, 65, manager of Everton from 1961 to 1973, during which time they won two league titles and an FA Cup. Died from a heart attack at Goodison Park after watching Everton draw 2-2 with Ipswich Town in the quarter-final of the FA Cup.
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- "Dalglish the new manager". New Straits Times. 1 June 1985.
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- "English clubs to fight ban in court". The Herald (Glasgow). 26 June 1985.
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