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1886-87 in English football

1986–87 in English football

The 1986-87 season was the 107th season of competitive football in England.

Overview

First Division

The First Division championship went to Everton in their final season under the management of Howard Kendall before his departure to Athletic Bilbao. His side overcame a spate of injuries to fight off competition from runners-up Liverpool and third-placed Tottenham. Fourth place went to George Graham's emerging young Arsenal side who also won the League cup in his first season in charge. Fifth place in the league went to newly promoted Norwich City, whose manager Ken Brown built a strong squad on a limited budget to achieve a finish which would have been enough to qualify for UEFA Cup had it not been for the ongoing ban on English clubs in European competitions.

Wimbledon finished sixth in the First Division in only their tenth season as a Football League club. Dave Bassett's men had led the league for the first two weeks of September, but sixth place was still much higher than most pundits had tipped them for at the start of the season.

Aston Villa were relegated to the Second Division just five years after they won the European Cup. Chairman Doug Ellis had sensed from the start that 1986-87 would be a tough season for the club, so he axed manager Graham Turner in September and replaced him with Manchester City's Billy McNeill. But McNeill was unable to stop the rot and Villa went down in bottom place. McNeill was subsequently sacked and replaced by Watford's Graham Taylor.

Villa were joined on the way down by Manchester City and Leicester City. In the first season of the relegation/promotion playoffs, Charlton Athletic beat Second Division Leeds United to retain their top flight status.

Manchester United, whose blistering start to the previous season had ended in failure, started the 1986-87 season badly and entered November second from bottom in the league. Manager Ron Atkinson paid for these failings with his job and in came the Aberdeen manager Alex Ferguson to replace him. Ferguson rejuvenated United and they climbed up the table to finish in a secure 11th place.

Second Division

Just two clubs were promoted from the Second Division this season. Champions Derby County were promoted for a second successive season; 12 seasons after they were last crowned champions of the First Division. Under the management of Arthur Cox they arrested an alarming slide which had seen them spend their centenary season (1984-85) in the 3rd Division. Runners-up spot went to Portsmouth, who were also automatically promoted.

The three playoff places were occupied by Oldham Athletic, Leeds United and Ipswich Town. Oldham and Ipswich blew their chances in the semi-finals, while Leeds were defeated by Charlton in the final to miss out on promotion - an FA Cup semi-final defeat had ended their chances of success in the cup competitions.

The relegation/promotion playoffs which operated between the Second and Third Divisions saw Sunderland go down to the Third Division for the first time in their history after losing to Gillingham in the promotion-relegation play-offs. Gillingham were subsequently defeated in a play-off final replay that saw Swindon Town promoted to the second tier. Lawrie McMenemy was sacked by the Rokerites at the end of March and Bob Stokoe, manager of the 1973 FA Cup winning team, was brought in as his successor, but was unable to keep Sunderland clear of the drop.

Third Division

The three promotion places in this division were gained by three clubs who were among the least fancied promotion contenders at the start of the season. Champions Bournemouth were promoted to the Second Division for the first time in their history thanks to the efforts of hard working manager Harry Redknapp. Runners-up spot went to Bruce Rioch's Middlesbrough, who had begun the season on the verge of extinction and had been forced to play their first home game of the season at Hartlepool's ground because the official receiver had locked them out of Ayresome Park.

The relegation/promotion playoffs between the Third and Fourth Divisions saw Bolton Wanderers go down to the bottom division for the first time. Carlisle, Darlington and Newport County were also relegated.

Fourth Division

The stars of the Fourth Division during 1986-87 were Graham Carr's runaway champions Northampton Town, with young midfielder Eddie McGoldrick being the key player in his side's season of success.

Down at the bottom end of the division, an injury time winner for Torquay United kept them in the Football League after a police dog had bitten one of their players. The introduction of automatic relegation to the Conference saw Lincoln City lose their league status in favour of Conference champions Scarborough.

1986-87 saw many famous clubs reach their lowest ebb throughout the league. In the Fourth Division it was Burnley - league champions 27 years earlier - who plummeted to new depths. They finished third from bottom in the league and only a win on the last day of the season prevented them from going down to the Conference.

FA Cup

Coventry City and Tottenham Hotspur contested the 1987 FA Cup final. Coventry were in the final for the first time, whereas Tottenham had won all seven of their previous appearances. But a 3-2 scoreline surprised all the observers and saw Coventry lift their first-ever major trophy. But the ban on English clubs in Europe prevented them from qualifying for the Cup Winners' Cup. Tottenham goalkeeper Ray Clemence, 39, retired at the end of a long and distinguished playing career after this match.

League Cup

George Graham's return to Arsenal as manager was a success as he guided the North Londoners to glory in the League Cup after an eight-year trophy drought. Arsenal embarked on a memorable run in the League Cup including a famous semi-final tussle with their arch rivals Tottenham which they eventually won with a 2-1 replay victory at White Hart Lane. The final itself against Liverpool was a landmark because it was the first time the Merseysiders had lost a game in which Ian Rush had scored first. The Welshman gave them a first half lead only for Charlie Nicholas to bag two goals, the first a scrambled effort from a free-kick, and in the second half a low deflected shot past Bruce Grobbelaar after Perry Groves had broken away down the left hand side.

Star Players

  • Tottenham striker Clive Allen, who scored 49 goals in all competitions, was voted Player of the Year by both the PFA and FWA - although his prolific goalscoring was not enough to win any trophies for Spurs who had been in the hunt for all three domestic prizes throughout the season.
  • 20-year-old Arsenal defender Tony Adams was voted Young Player of the Year by the PFA for contributing to his side's good progress in the league as well as their League Cup triumph.
  • Mick Quinn scored 24 league goals to help Portsmouth win promotion to the First Division, despite missing three games in February while he served a prison sentence for disqualified driving.
  • 21-year-old Nigel Clough was Nottingham Forest's joint top league goalscorer with 14 First Division goals.
  • Winger Martin Hayes, 22, was Arsenal's top scorer with 26 goals in all competitions.

Star managers

  • Howard Kendall was voted Manager of the Year for guiding Everton to their second league title in three seasons, but he faced stiff competitions from other managers who enjoyed success during the 1986-87 season.
  • In the First Division, Ken Brown guided Norwich to a top-five finish just one year after winning promotion back to the top flight. Dave Bassett helped Wimbledon achieve a strong sixth-place finish in their first season as a top division club - and only their tenth in the Football League. George Graham ended Arsenal's eight-year trophy drought by bringing them silverware in the shape of the League Cup. And Coventry's John Sillett brought his unfancied club their first-ever major trophy by guiding them to victory over favourites Tottenham in the FA Cup final.
  • In the Second Division, Arthur Cox helped Derby County win the Second Division championship one year after they had won promotion from the Third Division. Portsmouth's Alan Ball guided his side to runners-up spot and helped them win promotion after a long absence from the top flight. Joe Royle continued to take Oldham from strength to strength in the Second Division and they only just missed out on promotion.
  • In the Third Division, Harry Redknapp guided Bournemouth to championship glory and brought them Second Division football for the first time. Bruce Rioch rescued Middlesbrough from financial oblivion to secure the second promotion place to the Second Division. Lou Macari secured Swindon's second successive promotion, this time as playoff winners in the Third Division.
  • In the Fourth Division, Graham Carr built a strong Northampton side which ran away with the championship and gave hope for the future at a club who some years earlier had completed a quick slump from the First Division to the Fourth.
  • Neil Warnock became the first manager to take a Conference side into the Football League after Scarborough won the Conference title and became the first club to gain automatic promotion to the league.

Diary of the season

1 July 1986 - After one season at Everton, Gary Lineker departs to Barcelona of Spain in a £2.75million deal, where he will play alongside former Manchester United striker Mark Hughes in a side managed by Terry Venables.

9 July 1986 - An appeal by Wolverhampton Wanderers against their winding-up order is adjourned for 21 days by the Court of Appeal.

18 July 1986 - Sir Stanley Rous, chairman of the Football Association from 1934 to 1961, dies aged 91.

25 July 1986 - Ipswich Town, who were relegated to the Second Division at the end of last season, sell England international defender Terry Butcher to Glasgow Rangers (managed by former Liverpool midfielder Graeme Souness) in a £700,000 deal.

30 July 1986 - Wolverhampton Wanderers win a High Court appeal against their winding-up order, enabling them to compete in the 1986-87 Fourth Division campaign - the first time they have played at this level. Meanwhile, Middlesbrough (newly relegated to the Third Division) are also reprieved, but the bailiffs have locked them out of Ayresome Park and they are expected to play at least one home game at Hartlepool United's ground.

5 August 1986 - Wolverhampton Wanderers are saved from bankruptcy after Wolverhampton Council and the Asda supermarket chain agree to pay off the club's £3million debts.

8 August 1986 - Rival gangs of Manchester United and West Ham United hooligans are involved in violence on a Sealink ferry bound for Amsterdam, resulting in dozens of arrests, sparking fears that the ban on English football clubs in European competition (arising from the Heysel disaster of May 1985) could be extended to friendlies between English and foreign clubs.

12 August 1986 - In response to last Friday's disturbances, Sealink announces that it will not transport football supporters on its ferries unless police guards are provided at ports and on ships.

15 August 1986 - Middlesbrough are saved from closure and will soon be returning to Ayresome Park, from where they have been locked out by the bailiffs since the end of last month.

22 August 1986 - The Football League confirms that the First Division will decrease to 21 clubs for the 1987-88 season, while the Second Division will simultaneously expand to 23 clubs, and that in 1988-89 the First Division will have 20 clubs and the Second Division will have 24.

27 August 1986 - Luton Town ban away fans from the club's Kenilworth Road ground.

1 September 1986 - Wimbledon, in the First Division for the first time and Football League members for just 10 seasons, go top of the league with a 1-0 away win over Charlton Athletic.

6 September 1986 - Wimbledon win their fourth successive game of their first top flight season when Glyn Hodges scores a late goal to give them a 1-0 win at Watford.

14 September 1986 - Aston Villa sack manager Graham Turner after just over two years at the helm.

16 September 1986 - Gordon Hill, the 32-year-old former Manchester United and England winger, becomes a high profile new signing for GM Vauxhall Conference side Northwich Victoria, managed by former United striker Stuart Pearson.

22 September 1986 - Luton Town are banned from this season's League Cup for refusing to lift the ban on away fans.

6 October 1986 - Luton Town lose an appeal against their expulsion from the FA Cup.

16 October 1986 - Former Everton goalkeeper Ted Sagar dies at the age of 76.

5 November 1986 - Ron Atkinson is sacked after five years as manager of Manchester United, who are second from bottom in the First Division and were last night eliminated from the League Cup with a 4-1 defeat at Southampton in the Third Round.

6 November 1986 - Manchester United appoint Alex Ferguson from Aberdeen as their new manager.

29 November 1986 - Wimbledon midfielder Vinnie Jones (21), who was recently signed from GM Vauxhall Conference side Wealdstone, scores on his Football League debut in a 1-0 victory over Manchester United at Plough Lane.

3 December 1986 - Former Southampton and Republic of Ireland winger Austin Hayes dies of lung cancer at the age of 28, 3 weeks after the illness was diagnosed. He had recently returned from a short spell playing in Sweden, and since leaving Southampton in 1981 he had also played for Millwall and more recently Northampton Town.

7 December 1986 - Rochdale, struggling in the Fourth Division, make an amibitious offer for Ron Atkinson (sacked by Manchester United last month) to become their new manager, but Atkinson turns the offer down.

14 December 1986 - 18 months after the stadium fire that killed 56 spectators, Bradford City return to a revamped Valley Parade.

26 December 1986 - Manchester United beat Liverpool 1-0 at Anfield. It is United's first away win of the season and Liverpool's first home defeat.

30 December 1986 - Glasgow Celtic are reported to be in the process of signing Norwich City captain Steve Bruce, but Norwich manager Ken Brown dismisses the speculation as "rubbish".

19 January 1987 - Portsmouth striker Micky Quinn is found guilty on a double charge of driving while disqualified and receives a 21-day prison sentence.

20 January 1987 - The country's biggest anti-hooliganism police operation sees 26 suspected football hooligans arrested in raids in the West Midlands and Southern England.

30 January 1987 - Out-of-favour Arsenal defender Tommy Caton leaves the club after three years and signs for Oxford United in a £100,000 deal.

2 February 1987 - Micky Quinn is released from prison after serving 14 days of his 21-day sentence for motoring offences.

6 February 1987 - UEFA confirms that the ban on English clubs in European competition (which arose from the Heysel disaster nearly two years ago) will continue for at least another season.

22 February 1987 - Title-chasing Everton are knocked out of the FA Cup in the Fifth Round when they lost 3-1 to Wimbledon in what is the latest of a string of giant-killing victories by the south-west Londoners who are playing their first top division campaign and only their tenth in the Football League.

27 February 1987 - Details are announced of a proposed merger between Crystal Palace and Wimbledon.

1 March 1987 - Plans for a merger between Fulham and QPR are scrapped.

9 March 1987 - Alex Ferguson announces that he is interested in bringing striker Mark Hughes back to Old Trafford, nine months after he signed for FC Barcelona, but hopes of an imminent transfer are faced with doubt due to the fact that Hughes will be liable for taxation on any earnings from his time in Spain if he returns to England before April 1988.

15 March 1987 - Coventry City progress to the FA Cup semi-finals for the first time in their history thanks to a 3-1 away win over Sheffield Wednesday in the quarter-finals.

19 March 1987 - One of the league's most promising young players, 22-year-old Paul Stewart, leaves Third Division strugglers Blackpool and signs for Manchester City in a £200,000 deal, as manager Jimmy Frizzell makes one last attempt at saving City from suffering relegation to the Second Division for the second time in five seasons.

26 March 1987 - Arsenal pay Leicester City £850,000 for 24-year-old striker Alan Smith, and then loan him back to Leicester until the end of the season.

28 March 1987 - Liverpool's title bid is hit with a shock 2-1 home defeat against Wimbledon.

2 April 1987 - Former Aston Villa and Wales midfielder Trevor Hockey dies of a heart attack at the age of 43 after collapsing during a charity football match in West Yorkshire.

9 April 1987 - Fourth Division side Halifax Town become the first Football League members to be run by their local council as part of a rescue package to save the club from bankruptcy.

16 April 1987 - Lawrie McMenemy, currently the highest-paid manager in the Football League, resigns as manager of Second Division strugglers Sunderland and is succeeded by Bob Stokoe, who was manager at Sunderland when they won the FA Cup in 1973.

30 April 1987 - Scarborough seal the GM Vauxhall Conference title to become the first team to win automatic promotion to the Football League following last summer's abolition of the re-election system.

3 May 1987 - Everton are confirmed champions of the First Division.

10 May 1987 - The First Division campaign ends with Everton as champions, with the remaining top-five places going to Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and Norwich City respectively, but none of these teams will be competing in Europe next season as a majority vote by UEFA has resulted in the ban on English teams continuing for at least another season.

16 May 1987 - Coventry City win the first major trophy of their history with a 3-2 victory over Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup final. Their opponents, managed by David Pleat, had been unbeaten in all of their previous seven appearances in the final.

18 May 1987 - Graham Taylor resigns after 11 years as Watford manager to succeed Billy McNeill at relegated Aston Villa. During his time at Watford, Taylor took the club from the Fourth Division to the First, finishing league runners-up in their first top flight season and reaching the FA Cup final in their second.

9 June 1987 - Orient revert to their original title of Leyton Orient.

30 June 1987 - Liverpool break the British transfer fee record by paying £1.9million for Newcastle United and England striker Peter Beardsley.

Deaths

  • Austin Hayes, 28, died of lung cancer just 3 weeks after the illness was diagnosed. He had been on the losing side for Southampton against Nottingham Forest in the 1979 League Cup final and was capped by Éire in the same year. He later turned out for Millwall and Northampton Town, and just before his death had a brief spell playing in Sweden.
  • Trevor Hockey, 43, died of a heart attack while participating in a five-a-side football tournament for charity. He was a former Welsh international footballer who also played for clubs including Bradford City and Aston Villa.
  • Ted Sagar, 76, was a goalkeeper for Everton from 1929 until 1954. His team-mates included Dixie Dean and Tommy Lawton.
  • Jamie Baker, 9, was mascot for Everton in their fixture against Manchester United on 21st September and died hours later from leukaemia.
  • Barry Salvage, 38, a former QPR and Fulham midfielder, died of a heart attack after collapsing at Eastbourne during a charity run.

Honours

Competition Winner Runner-up
First Division Everton Liverpool
Second Division Derby County Portsmouth
Third Division Bournemouth Middlesbrough
Fourth Division Northampton Town Preston North End
FA Cup Coventry City Tottenham Hotspur
League Cup Arsenal Liverpool
Full Members Cup Blackburn Rovers Charlton Athletic
Freight Rover Trophy Mansfield Town Bristol City
Charity Shield Everton and Liverpool (shared)

League table

First Division

Pos Team Pl W D L F A GD Pts
1. Everton 42 26 8 8 76 31  +45 86
2. Liverpool 42 23 8 11 72 42  +30 77
3. Tottenham Hotspur 42 21 8 13 68 43  +25 71
4.

Arsenal 42 20 10 12 58 35  +23 70
5. Norwich City 42 17 17 8 53 51  +2 68
6. Wimbledon 42 19 9 14 57 50  +7 66
7. Luton Town 42 18 12 12 47 45  +2 66
8. Nottingham Forest 42 18 11 13 64 51  +13 65
9. Watford 42 18 9 15 67 54  +13 63
10. Coventry City 42 17 12 13 50 45  +5 63
11. Manchester United 42 14 14 14 52 45  +7 56
12. Southampton 42 14 10 18 69 68  +1 52
13. Sheffield Wednesday 42 13 13 16 58 59  -1 52
14. Chelsea 42 13 13 16 53 64  -11 52
15. West Ham United 42 14 10 18 52 67  -15 52
16. Queen's Park Rangers 42 13 11 18 48 64  -16 50
17. Newcastle United 42 12 11 19 47 65  -18 47
18. Oxford United 42 11 13 18 44 69  -25 46
19. Charlton Athletic 42 11 11 20 45 55  -10 44
20. Leicester City 42 11 9 22 54 76  -22 42
21. Manchester City 42 8 15 19 36 57  -21 39
22. Aston Villa 42 8 12 22 45 79  -34 36

Key
Champions
Qualified for the promotion/relegation playoffs
Relegated to Division Two
P = Matches played; W = Matches won; D = Matches drawn; L = Matches lost; F = Goals for; A = Goals against; GD = Goal difference; Pts = Points

Second Division

Pos Team Pl W D L F A GD Pts
1. Derby County 42 25 9 8 64 38  +26 84
2. Portsmouth 42 23 9 10 53 28  +25 78
3. Oldham Athletic 42 22 9 11 65 44  +21 75
4. Leeds United 42 19 11 12 58 44  +14 68
5. Ipswich Town 42 17 13 12 59 43  +16 64
6. Crystal Palace 42 19 5 18 51 53  -2 62
7. Plymouth Argyle 42 16 13 13 62 57  +5 61
8. Stoke City 42 16 10 16 63 53  +10 58
9. Sheffield United 42 15 13 14 50 49  +1 58
10. Bradford City 42 15 10 17 62 62  0 55
11. Barnsley 42 14 13 15 49 52  -3 55
12. Blackburn Rovers 42 15 10 17 45 55  -10 55
13. Reading 42 14 11 17 52 59  -7 53
14. Hull City 42 13 14 15 41 55  -14 53
15. West Bromwich Albion 42 13 12 17 51 49  +2 51
16. Millwall 42 14 9 19 39 45  -6 51
17. Huddersfield Town 42 13 12 17 54 61  -7 51
18. Shrewsbury Town 42 15 6 21 41 53  -12 51
19. Birmingham City 42 11 17 14 47 59  -12 50
20. Sunderland 42 12 12 18 49 59  -10 48
21. Grimsby Town 42 10 14 18 39 59  -20 44
22. Brighton & Hove Albion 42 9 12 21 37 54  -17 39

Key
Promoted to Division One
Qualified for the promotion/relegation playoffs
Relegated to Division Three
P = Matches played; W = Matches won; D = Matches drawn; L = Matches lost; F = Goals for; A = Goals against; GD = Goal difference; Pts = Points

Third Division

Pos Team Pl W D L F A GD Pts
1. Bournemouth 46 29 10 7 76 40  +36 97
2. Middlesbrough 46 28 10 8 67 30  +37 94
3. Swindon Town 46 25 12 9 77 47  +30 87
4. Wigan Athletic 46 25 10 11 83 60  +23 85
5. Gillingham 46 23 9 14 65 48  +17 78
6. Bristol City 46 21 14 11 63 36  +27 77
7. Notts County 46 21 13 12 77 56  +21 76
8. Walsall 46 22 9 15 80 67  +13 75
9. Blackpool 46 16 16 14 74 59  +15 64
10. Mansfield Town 46 15 16 15 52 55  -3 61
11. Brentford 46 15 15 16 64 66  -2 60
12. Port Vale 46 15 12 19 76 70  +6 57
13. Doncaster Rovers 46 14 15 17 56 62  -6 57
14. Rotherham United 46 15 12 19 48 57  -9 57
15. Chester City 46 13 17 16 61 59  +2 56
16. Bury 46 14 13 19 54 60  -6 55
17. Chesterfield 46 13 15 18 56 69  -13 54
18. Fulham 46 12 17 17 59 77  -18 53
19. Bristol Rovers 46 13 12 21 49 75  -26 51
20. York City 46 12 13 21 55 79  -24 49
21. Bolton Wanderers 46 10 15 21 46 58  -12 45
22. Carlisle United 46 10 8 28 39 78  -39 38
23. Darlington 46 7 16 23 45 77  -32 37
24. Newport County 46 8 13 25 49 86  -37 37

Key
Promoted to Division Two
Qualified for the promotion/relegation playoffs
Relegated to Division Four
P = Matches played; W = Matches won; D = Matches drawn; L = Matches lost; F = Goals for; A = Goals against; GD = Goal difference; Pts = Points

Fourth Division

Pos Team Pl W D L F A GD Pts
1. Northampton Town 46 30 9 7 103 53  +50 99
2. Preston North End 46 26 12 8 72 47  +25 90
3. Southend United 46 25 5 16 68 55  +13 80
4. Wolverhampton Wanderers 46 24 7 15 69 50  +19 79
5. Colchester United 46 21 7 18 64 56  +8 70
6. Aldershot 46 20 10 16 64 57  +7 70
7. Orient 46 20 9 17 64 61  +3 69
8. Scunthorpe United 46 18 12 16 73 57  +16 66
9. Wrexham 46 15 20 11 70 51  +19 65
10. Peterborough United 46 17 14 15 57 50  +7 65
11. Cambridge United 46 17 11 18 60 62  -2 62
12. Swansea City 46 17 11 18 56 61  -5 62
13. Cardiff City 46 15 16 15 48 50  -2 61
14. Exeter City 46 11 23 12 53 49  +4 56
15. Halifax Town 46 15 10 21 59 74  -15 55
16. Hereford United 46 14 11 21 60 61  -1 53
17. Crewe Alexandra 46 13 14 19 70 72  -2 53
18. Hartlepool United 46 11 18 17 44 65  -21 51
19. Stockport County 46 13 12 21 40 69  -29 51
20. Tranmere Rovers 46 11 17 18 54 72  -18 50
21. Rochdale 46 11 17 18 54 73  -19 50
22. Burnley 46 12 13 21 53 74  -21 49
23. Torquay United 46 10 18 18 56 72  -16 48
24. Lincoln City 46 12 12 22 45 65  -20 48

Key
Promoted to Division Three
Qualified for the promotion/relegation playoffs
Relegated to the Conference
P = Matches played; W = Matches won; D = Matches drawn; L = Matches lost; F = Goals for; A = Goals against; GD = Goal difference; Pts = Points

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