1978–79 in English football
The 1978–79 season was the 99th season of competitive football in England.
Bob Paisley won his third league title as his Liverpool side fought off competition from Nottingham Forest and West Bromwich Albion to finish eight points clear at the top of the table. Their final points tally of 68 was a record under the two points for a win system, and Ray Clemence kept 28 clean sheets in a season that saw Liverpool concede only four goals at home. Reigning champions Forest finished second, a point ahead of West Brom, who were in their first season under the management of Ron Atkinson.
At the other end of the First Division table, the three relegation places went to Queens Park Rangers, Birmingham City and Chelsea. QPR had declined since the departure of Dave Sexton in 1977 and were relegated just three years after finishing second in the league. Chelsea's manager Danny Blanchflower paid for his team's shortcomings by losing his job.
Money dominated the headlines during the season: Trevor Francis became England's first million-pound footballer after joining Nottingham Forest from Birmingham City, and Liverpool became one of the first English clubs to have a shirt sponsor when they agreed a sponsorship deal with the Japanese hi-fi manufacturers Hitachi.
Crystal Palace won the Second Division title, and were joined in promotion by Brighton & Hove Albion (going into the top division for the first time) and third-placed Stoke City. Going down were Sheffield United, Millwall and Blackburn Rovers.
Shrewsbury Town were crowned champions of the Third Division. The other two promotion spots were occupied by Watford and Swansea City, who within a few seasons would make their mark on the First Division. Peterborough United, Walsall, Tranmere Rovers and Lincoln City were relegated to the Fourth Division.
Reading, Grimsby Town, Wimbledon and Barnsley occupied the Fourth Division promotion places. The success came for Wimbledon in only their second season as a league club and within a decade they would be an established First Division club. The re-election system voted in favour of the league's bottom four clubs and there was no relegation from the Fourth Division this season.
Arsenal won the FA Cup after surviving a late fight-back from Manchester United in the final at Wembley. Manchester United scored twice in the last five minutes to make the score 2–2, but a last-minute goal from Alan Sunderland saw Arsenal claim the trophy with a 3–2 scoreline. It was their first trophy success since Terry Neill replaced Bertie Mee as manager.
- Liam Brady was credited for his part in Arsenal's FA Cup triumph with the PFA Players' Player of the Year.
- Cyrille Regis played a major part in West Bromwich Albion's best league season for years and received the PFA Young Player of the Year award in recognition of his excellence.
- Kenny Dalglish was voted FWA Footballer of the Year for helping Liverpool win the First Division.
- Bob Paisley brought league championship glory to Liverpool.
- Brian Clough guided Nottingham Forest to a double triumph of the European Cup and League Cup.
- Terry Neill won his first major trophy as Arsenal manager in shape of the FA Cup.
- Ron Atkinson led West Bromwich Albion to third place in the League, just two places and nine points away from the top spot.
- Gordon Lee took Everton into the UEFA Cup after steering them to fourth place in the league.
- Terry Venables took Crystal Palace into the First Division as Second Division champions.
- Graham Turner took Shrewsbury Town into the Second Division for the first time by winning the Third Division title.
- Graham Taylor won his second promotion with Watford to bring them within one division of the top flight.
- John Toshack completed back-to-back promotions with Swansea City to take them into the Second Division.
Diary of the season
19 August 1978: The First Division season begins with newly promoted Tottenham Hotspur holding Nottingham Forest to a 1–1 draw at the City Ground - the visitors' goal scored by new Argentine signing Ricardo Villa.
31 August 1978: Liverpool, West Bromwich Albion and Everton are level on points at the top of the League at the end of August with three wins from three matches. Wolverhampton Wanderers are bottom after three consecutive defeats.
2 September 1978: Liverpool thrash Tottenham Hotspur 7–0 at Anfield to take their goal tally to sixteen in four League matches at the start of the season.
30 September 1978: Liverpool hold a two-point advantage at the top of the First Division from Merseyside rivals Everton, having dropped just one point from their first eight League games. Nottingham Forest are still unbeaten, but are five points off the pace having drawn six matches already. Birmingham City are bottom, still looking for their first win of the season.
21 October 1978: Liverpool continue their tremendous start to the season by beating Chelsea 2–0. The result puts them four points clear at the top of the table - they have taken 21 points from a possible 22, scoring 35 goals and conceding just four in eleven matches so far. West Bromwich Albion continue their good start to the season by thrashing Coventry City 7–1.
28 October 1978: Everton beat Liverpool for the first time for nearly seven years when Andy King scores the winning goal in a 1–0 victory at Goodison Park. The result cuts Liverpool's lead over the Toffeemen to two points. Like Everton, Nottingham Forest are still unbeaten, and are a further two points behind. At the bottom, Birmingham City remain without a win, and have just three points from twelve matches.
11 November 1978: Birmingham City record their first League win of the season at the fourteenth attempt, 5–1 at home to Manchester United.
23 December 1978: Everton lose their first League match of the season, 3–2 to Coventry City, after a sequence of 19 unbeaten games. Arsenal beat Tottenham Hotspur 5–0 at White Hart Lane in the North London derby.
31 December 1978: At the end of the year, Liverpool lead Everton on goal difference at the top of the First Division, with a game in hand. West Bromwich Albion remain in contention, just two points off the top. Birmingham City are bottom with just eight points so far, and Chelsea and Wolverhampton Wanderers are also in the relegation zone.
22 January 1979: After four draws, the FA Cup third round tie between Arsenal and Third Division Sheffield Wednesday is finally resolved when the Gunners win the fourth replay 2–0.
31 January 1979: At the end of a month in which only twelve First Division matches were played, West Bromwich Albion and Everton have moved above Liverpool at the top of the table, although the Reds have played fewer games.
3 February 1979: Liverpool beat West Bromwich Albion 2–1 at Anfield to reclaim top spot in the First Division table as Everton suffer just their second League defeat of the season, 1–0 at relegation-threatened Wolverhampton Wanderers.
7 February 1979: England move to the top of their European Championship qualifying group with an emphatic 4–0 win over Northern Ireland at Wembley.
9 February 1979: Trevor Francis becomes Britain's first £1million footballer when he is transferred from Birmingham City to Nottingham Forest, doubling the British record fee set when West Bromwich Albion signed David Mills last month.
26 February 1979: Arsenal beat Nottingham Forest 1–0 at the City Ground in the FA Cup fifth round. Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool, Manchester United and Ipswich Town are amongst the other First Division sides to progress.
28 February 1979: Liverpool at now five points clear of Arsenal and Everton at the top of the First Division, with two games in hand. Birmingham City are eight points from safety at the bottom, and are joined in the relegation zone by Chelsea and Queens Park Rangers.
3 March 1979: Chelsea débutant goalkeeper Petar Borota picks up a clean sheet against Liverpool, while Osvaldo Ardiles and David Mills score their first goals for their clubs: the Argentine internationalist bags a brace in Tottenham's 2–0 win over Derby County while Mills contributes to West Bromwich Albion's 3–1 win over Coventry City.
31 March 1979: Arsenal beat Wolverhampton Wanderers 2–0 at Villa Park to reach the FA Cup final. In the other semi-final at Maine Road,. In the league, Liverpool hold a comfortable four-point lead over Everton at the top at the end of the month. Chelsea have slipped behind Birmingham City on goal difference at the bottom, and Queens Park Rangers remain in the relegation zone.
1 April 1979: Manchester United and Liverpool draw 2-2 at Maine Road in the FA Cup Semi-finals
25 April 1979: Nottingham Forest reach the European Cup final at the first attempt when a 1–0 win away to West German side Cologne gives them a 4–3 aggregate victory.
4 May 1979: Queens Park Rangers take the last First Division relegation place when they are beaten 4–3 by Leeds United.
8 May 1979: Liverpool beat Aston Villa 3–0 at Anfield to clinch the First Division title. They finish unbeaten at home this season, and have scored 51 and conceded just four goals in 19 wins and two draws.
12 May 1979: Arsenal win the FA Cup to end an eight-year trophy drought, defeating Manchester United 3–2 in the final with a last-gasp goal by Alan Sunderland after United had scored two goals in the last five minutes.
18 May 1979: Nottingham Forest pip West Bromwich Albion to second place in the League by beating them 1–0 at The Hawthorns. Forest finish eight points behind champions Liverpool and one ahead of Albion, who are themselves eight points ahead of fourth-placed Everton.
6 June 1979: England win 3–0 away to Bulgaria to move closer to next season's European Championship Finals.
28 April 1979 – Ian Rush, 17-year-old Welsh striker, makes his debut playing out of position (in midfield) for Chester in their 2–2 Third Division draw with Sheffield Wednesday at Sealand Road. On the same day, Clive Allen, 17-year-old striker, scores a hat-trick on his debut for Queens Park Rangers in the 5–1 First Division win over Coventry City.
Notes = Number in parentheses is the times that club has won that honour. * indicates new record for competition
Liverpool won their third First Division title under Bob Paisley, and set a new Football League record by conceding just 16 league goals. Defending champions Nottingham Forest finished second, but their amazing success story under Brian Clough continued as they won the European Cup and also retained the Football League Cup. In February 1979, they made history by signing Trevor Francis from Birmingham City in British football's first million-pound transfer. West Bromwich Albion finished third in their first full season under the management of Ron Atkinson. Everton and Leeds United completed the top five.
Arsenal, who finished seventh, compensated for a failure to challenge for the league title by winning the FA Cup, where they beat Manchester United 3-2 in a dramatic final where they had surrendered a 2-0 lead in the final few minutes before Alan Sunderland scored a last-gasp winner. It marked the end of a disappointing second season in charge for Dave Sexton, whose United team could only manage a ninth-place finish in the league.
New manager Danny Blanchflower was unable to save Chelsea from relegation to the Second Division, and with financial problems still affecting the West London club, midfielder Ray Wilkins was sold to Manchester United for £750,000. Birmingham City and QPR also went down.
|3||West Bromwich Albion||42||24||11||7||72||35||+37||59|
|20||Queens Park Rangers||42||6||13||23||45||73||−28||25|
Crystal Palace continued to excel under Terry Venables and finished the season as Second Division champions, with their promising young side being dubbed "the team of the eighties" by the sporting press, who expected them to challenge for honours at the highest level in the coming decade. Brighton and Stoke City were also promoted, while Sunderland missed out by a single point.
Blackburn Rovers, Millwall and Sheffield United went down to the Third Division.
|2||Brighton & Hove Albion||42||23||10||9||72||39||+33||56|
|5||West Ham United||42||18||14||10||70||39||+31||50|
|7||Preston North End||42||12||18||12||59||57||+2||42|
Graham Turner kicked off his managerial career by delivering the Third Division title to Shrewsbury Town, who reached the Second Division for the first time in their history. They finished one point above the other two promoted sides, Watford and Swansea City, while Gillingham missed out on promotion by a single point.
Lincoln, Tranmere, Walsall and Peterborough all went down to the Fourth Division.
Reading won the Fourth Division title to clinch a return to the Third Division, while Grimsby Town, Wimbledon and Barnsley were bracketed together four points behind them to join the Berkshire club in promotion. Wigan Athletic enjoyed a strong debut in the Football League by finishing sixth.
There was no movement between the Football League and the non-league system this year.
P = Matches played; W = Matches won; D = Matches drawn; L = Matches lost; F = Goals for; A = Goals against; GD = Goal difference; Pts = Points
- 13 July 1978 - George Reader, 81, scored in his only appearance for Exeter City in their last season before joining the Football League in 1920, and then signed for Southampton, playing three league leagues before dropping into non-league football to concentrate on his career as a school teacher before becoming a linesman in 1936 and being promoted to a referee in 1939. He refereed the decisive final group match of the 1950 World Cup between Uruguay and Brazil.
- 23 July 1978 – Tommy McLaren, 29, former Port Vale midfielder; committed suicide.
- 15 August 1978 - Dan Tremelling, 80, kept goal in 382 league games for Birmingham City between 1919 and 1932, then playing a further 57 league games for Bury before retiring in 1936. He won one England cap in 1927.
- 18 September 1978 - Bobby Finch, 30, who died of meningitis, played six league games for QPR in the late 1960s before moving to South Africa.
- 13 October 1978 - Bill Yates, 75, kept goal six times in the league for Bolton Wanderers and 47 times for Watford during the interwar years.
- 23 October 1978 - Vic Woodley, 68, kept goal in 252 league games for Chelsea during the 1930s, signing for Derby County in 1946 and completed his senior career with a further 30 league games for the East Midlanders. He was England's regular goalkeeper in the immediate pre-war era, being capped 19 times from 1937 to 1939.
- November 1978 – Hugh Neil, 42, former Carlisle United defender; died in a car accident.
- 8 November 1978 - Geoff Marlow, 63, was a left-winger for Lincoln City between 1937 and 1949, with the war restricting him to just 80 league appearances for the Sincil Bank side, scoring 26 goals.
- 14 November 1978 - Charlie Flood, 82, scored 68 league goals as a forward during the 1920s for Hull City, Bolton Wanderers, Nottingham Forest, York City and Swindon Town.
- 18 December 1978 - Cuthbert Coundon, 73, played 39 league games as a right-winger for Southampton and Wolverhampton Wanderers in the 1920s.
- 24 December 1978 - Stan Seymour, 83, served Newcastle United as a player, manager, vice-chairman and life president from 1920 until his death. He played in their FA Cup winning side of 1924 and league title winning side of 1927, and managed them to FA Cup glory in 1951 and 1952. As a player, he could play as a winger or striker, and managed 73 goals in 242 league games between 1920 and 1929.
- 20 January 1979 - Johnny Paul, 74, Scottish born winger, played 206 league games and scored 49 goals for Bristol City from 1922 until a knee injury ended his career in 1930.
- 21 March 1979 - Leslie Allman, 76, made his 15 Football League appearances as a goalkeeper for Norwich City in the late 1920s, spending the rest of his career at non-league level.
- 13 April 1979 - Fred Worrall, 68, was capped twice by England as a right-winger in the 1930s and was an FA Cup runner-up in 1934 and a winner in 1939 with Portsmouth.
- 31 May 1979 - Ernest Perry, 87, was with Port Vale as a centre-half when they joined the Football League during 1919-20 on taking over the fixtures of Leeds City, playing 44 league games for the Valiants, later playing 62 times in the league for Crewe Alexandra.
- 17 June 1979 - Sir Hubert Ashton, 81, was a full-back during the interwar years for West Bromwich Albion, Corinthian, Bristol Rovers and Orient. He was more famous as a cricketer and after retiring for sport he entered politics, serving Chelmsford in Essex as a Conservative MP from 1950 to 1964. He was knighted in 1959.
- Smailes, Gordon (2000). The Breedon Book of Football Records. Derby: Breedon Books. p. 142. ISBN 1859832148.
- Payne, Mike (1993). England: The Complete Post-War Record'. Derby: Breedon Books. ISBN 1873626398.
- West Bromwich Albion's Laurie Cunningham was the first black player to wear an England shirt at any level, in England under-21's friendly against Scotland at Bramall Lane on 27 April 1977 England Players – Viv Anderson. Englandfootballonline.com. Retrieved on 2011-03-23.
- Sky Sports Football Yearbook 2011-2012. London: Headline. 2011. p. 1025. ISBN 9780755362318.
- Smailes, Gordon (2000). The Breedon Book of Football Records. Derby: Breedon Books. p. 233. ISBN 1859832148.
- Smailes, Gordon (2000). The Breedon Book of Football Records. Derby: Breedon Books. p. 234. ISBN 1859832148.
- "Totts blank Derby". The Gazette. Montreal. Associated Press. 5 March 1979. p. 27. Retrieved 16 October 2014.
- Smailes, Gordon (2000). The Breedon Book of Football Records. Derby: Breedon Books. p. 258. ISBN 1859832148.
- English Division Three (old) 1978–1979 Results, Saturday 28 April 1979. statto.com (28 April 1979). Retrieved on 2011-03-23.
- QPR REPORT MESSAGEBOARD – Clive Allen's Debut Hatrick – Synopsis/Report. Qprreport.proboards.com. Retrieved on 2011-03-23.
- Kevin Moran – Manchester United FC – Football-Heroes.net. Sporting-heroes.net. Retrieved on 2011-03-23.