1982–83 in English football

The 1982–83 season was the 103rd season of competitive football in England.


First Division

Bob Paisley's last season as Liverpool manager ended on a high as they topped the First Division with a comfortable lead. Bob Paisley retired as Liverpool manager with 20 prizes in nine years. His successor was long-serving coach Joe Fagan. Newly promoted Watford were the shock of the season, finishing in second place in their first ever season in the top flight.

Manchester City were relegated despite a four-year spending spree totalling around £5 million. Swansea City were also relegated after only their second season as a First Division club. They had finished sixth a year earlier and at several stages had topped the league table. FA Cup finalists Brighton & Hove Albion joined them on the way down.

Second Division

Queens Park Rangers were champions with Wolverhampton Wanderers and Leicester City also promoted to the First Division. Rotherham United, Burnley and Bolton Wanderers were relegated to the Third Division. It was another blow for Bolton, who had been relegated from the First Division three years earlier.

Charlton Athletic and Wolverhampton Wanderers both came within hours of going bankrupt but were both saved by respective new owners.

Leicester City's promotion was appealed against by Fulham after their final day match against Derby County was stopped with more than a minute to play due to a pitch invasion. Fulham's appeal was eventually rejected and Leicester City's promotion was confirmed.

Third Division

Portsmouth's revival continued as they ran away with the Third Division championship, followed closely behind by runners-up Cardiff City and third-placed Huddersfield Town. Newport County finished 4th, their highest post-Second World War position in the Football League. Occupying the four relegation places were Reading, Wrexham, Doncaster Rovers and Chesterfield.

Fourth Division

Wimbledon were crowned Fourth Division champions and the efforts of manager Dave Bassett were bound to ensure that this would not be their last promotion. Hull City, Port Vale and Scunthorpe United occupied the other three promotion places. The re-election system once again went in favour of the bottom four sides in the Fourth Division.

At the end of the season, Fourth Division strugglers Crewe Alexandra appointed Milan-born ex-Wimbledon manager Dario Gradi as their new manager.

FA Cup

Manchester United won their first major trophy under Ron Atkinson's management by beating Brighton 4–0 in the FA Cup final replay after a 2–2 draw in the first match.

League Cup

Liverpool won their third successive League Cup as an added bonus for manager Bob Paisley during his final season in charge. When his team prepared to ascend the 39 steps to the Royal Box, they all insisted that he should be the man to collect the trophy.

European football

Aston Villa won the European Super Cup with midfield dynamo Gordon Cowans playing a major part in the win.

Star players

Star managers

Top goalscorers

First Division

Second Division

Third Division

Fourth Division

Diary of the season

11 August 1982: Tottenham Hotspur pay Bristol Rovers £105,000 for defender Gary Mabbutt, who turns 21 later this month.

19 August 1982: Newcastle United pay Southampton £100,000 for Kevin Keegan.

24 August 1982: The Shankly Gates are unveiled at Anfield, honouring former Liverpool manager Bill Shankly almost a year after his death.

25 August 1982: Arsenal sign 22-year-old striker Lee Chapman from Stoke City for £500,000.

26 August 1982: Bob Paisley announces that this season as Liverpool manager (his ninth in charge) will be his last.[2]

28 August 1982: The first games of the First Division season are played. Manchester United achieve the biggest win of the opening day of the season beating Birmingham City 3–0.[3] Peter Shilton exits Nottingham Forest in a £325,000 move to Southampton.[4]

4 September 1982: Manchester City's victory over Watford ensures the Maine Roaders are the new Football League leaders. The City club's win came despite having outfield player Bobby McDonald as goalkeeper thanks to regular custodian Joe Corrigan being rendered unavailable after just three minutes. In Bedfordshire, Paul Walsh scores his first goal for Luton Town against Notts County, before bagging two more as the Hatters won 5–3. Elsewhere, Bob Latchford scores three of Swansea's four without reply against Norwich City, Southampton's Justin Fashanu–on loan from Nottingham Forest–scores the only goal in the Saints' clash with Villa, West Bromwich Albion beat Manchester United and a "highly efficient" Liverpool triumph at the Arsenal.[5]

9 September 1982: Peter Beardsley, a 21-year-old former Carlisle United playing for Vancouver Whitecaps in Canada, signs for Manchester United in a £325,000 deal.

11 September 1982: Watford, in the First Division for the first time, go top of the league on goal difference (level with Manchester United and Manchester City) by beating West Bromwich Albion 3–0 in their fifth league game of the season.[3]

22 September 1982: England draw 2–2 with Denmark in Copenhagen in their opening 1984 European Championship qualifier, their first game under the management of Bobby Robson.[6]

25 September 1982: 50 goals are scored in a remarkable day in the First Division. Watford beat Sunderland 8–0 at Vicarage Road in only their seventh game as a First Division club, Ipswich Town win 6-0 at Notts County, and Stoke City and Luton Town draw 4-4.[3]

30 September 1982: The month ends with defending champions Liverpool top of the First Division, with Manchester United in second place. Watford occupy third place, West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur complete the top five, and Southampton, Birmingham City and Norwich City occupy the bottom three places.[3] In the Second Division, surprise promotion contenders Grimsby Town head the race for a place in the First Division, joined by Wolverhampton Wanderers and Sheffield Wednesday in the top three.[7]

2 October 1982: Liverpool's unbeaten start to the season ends when they are beaten 1-0 by Ipswich Town at Portman Road.[3]

6 October 1982: Nottingham Forest smash six past West Bromwich Albion in the League Cup.[8]

10 October 1982: Manchester United's 1–0 over Stoke sees them go top of the table, and West Ham ascend to second in the table with victory over Liverpool. Garry Brooke bags a hat-trick in six minutes as Tottenham hit Coventry City for four: Garth Crooks is the other Spurs scorer. WBA exact revenge for the Foresters' 6–1 League Cup victory four days earlier by coming from behind to beat the Nottingham club, who have Steve Hodge sent off.[8]

13 October 1982: Karl-Heinz Rummenigge scores twice as West Germany beat England 2-1 in a friendly at Wembley.[9]

31 October 1982: October ends with Liverpool, West Ham United and Manchester United all level on 22 points at the top of the First Division. West Bromwich Albion finish the month in fourth place and Tottenham Hotspur complete the top five, while Birmingham City, Norwich City and Sunderland occupy the bottom three places.[3] Sheffield Wednesday and Queens Park Rangers now head the Second Division promotion race, with Fulham joining them in the top three and their manager Malcolm Macdonald turning heads with his promising young side who are looking like serious contenders for a second successive promotion. Derby County (First Division champions as recently as 1975) are second from bottom.[10]

6 November 1982: In the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park, Liverpool beat Everton 5–0 with four goals from Ian Rush and a further goal from Mark Lawrenson.[11]

10 November 1982: Colchester United striker John Lyons, 25, commits suicide at his home in Essex.[12]

17 November 1982: England beat Greece 3–0 in Salonika in a European Championship qualifier.[9]

25 November 1982: Derby County are fined £10,000 and "warned as to their future conduct" by the Football League over breaches of two regulations relating to illicit negotiations with Roy McFarland, who resigned his post as player-manager at Bradford City.[13]

30 November 1982: Liverpool remain top of the First Division as November draws to a close, four points ahead of second-placed Watford. Nottingham Forest, Manchester United and West Ham United complete the top five, while the bottom three clubs remain unchanged from the end of last month.[3] Queens Park Rangers, Fulham and Sheffield Wednesday head the Second Division promotion race.[14]

6 December 1982: Mike Bailey is sacked from his job as manager at Brighton & Hove Albion, reportedly because Albion's supporters deemed the team "too boring".[15]

11 December 1982: Second-placed Manchester United hit Notts County for four, high-flyers Ipswich Town and West Ham United are beaten at home, while Brighton's acting manager Jimmy Melia guides the Sussex club to their best result of the season so far: a 3–0 win over Norwich City.[16]

15 December 1982: England beat Luxembourg 9–0 at Wembley in the European Championship qualifiers. Luther Blissett scores a hat-trick on his England debut and becomes the nation's first black goalscorer. Débutant Mark Chamberlain is also on the scoresheet.[17]

22 December 1982: Everton sign 26-year-old midfielder Peter Reid from Bolton Wanderers in a £60,000 deal.

29 December 1982: Watford rise to third in the table with a win over West Ham, who move into fifth. At the lower reaches of the table, Norwich beat Luton and Birmingham draw with Swansea; all four clubs and Brighton are separated by four points. In the Second Division, QPR beat Charlton to go level on points with Wolverhampton Wanderers at the top of the table.[18]

31 December 1982: The year ends with Liverpool's lead at the top of the First Division increased to six points, with Nottingham Forest their nearest challengers and Watford and Manchester United two points further back. Sunderland, Birmingham City and Brighton & Hove Albion occupy the bottom three places.[3] An excellent month for Wolverhampton Wanderers has seen the Midlands side storm to the top of the Second Division, joined in the top three by Queens Park Rangers and Fulham.[19]

1 January 1983: Alan Ball, now aged 37 and the only England World Cup winner still playing, leaves Southampton on a free transfer and signs a contract with Bristol Rovers.

8 January 1983: Holders Tottenham Hotspur beat Southampton 1-0 in the FA Cup third round. Nottingham Forest are surprisingly beaten 2-0 by manager Brian Clough's former team, Second Division Derby County.[20]

19 January 1983: Aston Villa lose 1–0 to Barcelona at the Nou Camp in the first leg of the European Super Cup.

26 January 1983: Aston Villa clinch the European Super Cup by beating Barcelona 3–0 at Villa Park.

31 January 1983: As January ends, Liverpool are now ten points clear at the top of the First Division, their nearest rivals now being Manchester United. Watford are third, level on points with Nottingham Forest, and Coventry City have moved into the top five. Brighton & Hove Albion and Birmingham City are still in the bottom three, but Sunderland have climbed out of the relegation zone at the expense of Norwich City.[3] Wolverhampton Wanderers, Queens Park Rangers and Fulham continue to lead the way in the Second Division, with third placed Fulham now nine points ahead of their nearest challengers Sheffield Wednesday. At the other end of the table, fallen giants Derby County show no sign of improvement as they remain bottom of the division and are now eight points adrift of safety.[21]

19 February 1983: Tottenham Hotspur lose their first FA Cup match since March 1980, 2-0 to Everton in the fifth round. Aston Villa beat Watford 4-1, while Norwich City beat Ipswich Town 1-0 in the East Anglian derby.[20]

20 February 1983: Liverpool's hopes of a unique domestic treble are ended when they suffer a shock 2–1 home defeat against Brighton & Hove Albion in the FA Cup fifth round.[20]

26 February 1983: Arsenal goalkeeper Pat Jennings, 37, becomes the first footballer to appear in 1,000 competitive games in England, reaching the milestone in a 0-0 league draw with West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns.[22]

28 February 1983: Liverpool now have a 14-point advantage at the top of the First Division, with Watford one place behind and with a game in hand. Manchester United, Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa complete the top five. The bottom three remain unchanged from the end of last month.[3] Wolverhampton Wanderers, Queens Park Rangers and Fulham remain the leading force in the Second Division promotion race, but Leicester City are starting to put pressure on the leading pack.[23]

1 March 1983: Peter Beardsley leaves Manchester United and returns to Vancouver Whitecaps on a free transfer, having only made one appearance for the Old Trafford club.

12 March 1983: Arsenal, Brighton & Hove Albion and Manchester United reach the FA Cup semi-finals after home wins in the sixth round. Burnley and Sheffield Wednesday draw 1-1 in an all-Second Division tie.[20]

16 March 1983: Sheffield Wednesday thrash Burnley 5-0 to reach the FA Cup semi-finals for the first time since 1966.[20]

26 March 1983: Liverpool clinch the League Cup for the third season running by beating Manchester United 2–1 in the final at Wembley.[24]

30 March 1983: England are held to a 0-0 draw by Greece at Wembley in a European Championship qualifier.[25]

31 March 1983: Liverpool are looking all set to add the league title to their League Cup this season, as they end March as First Division leaders with a 13-point lead over nearest challengers Watford. Manchester United, Aston Villa and Southampton complete the top five. The bottom three clubs remain unchanged for the second month-end running.[3] Queens Park Rangers have overhauled Wolverhampton Wanderers at the top of the Second Division, while Fulham remain third but still under pressure from a determined Leicester City side. Derby County are at last showing some sign of being able to avoid relegation as they are now just two points adrift of safety.[26]

4 April 1983: Tottenham inflict a five-nil thumping on Arsenal, exacting revenge for the Gunners winning by the same scoreline in manager Keith Burkinshaw's first season at the Spurs helm.[27]

16 April 1983: Manchester United, FA Cup winners four times, reach the FA Cup final along with Brighton who have never reached the final before.[20]

23 April 1983: Liverpool are now 17 points clear at the top of the First Division, and need just one more point to guarantee the League title. Watford, Manchester United, Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest complete the top five, with Stoke City, Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur providing strong competition in the race for a UEFA Cup place. Brighton & Hove Albion and Birmingham City remain in the bottom two, but Norwich City have climbed out of the drop zone at the expense of Swansea City, who are now at the foot of the table with four games left. Queens Park Rangers are promoted to the First Division after a 1-0 win over Leeds United.[3]

27 April 1983: England beat Hungary 2–0 at Wembley in a European Championship qualifier.[28]

30 April 1983: April ends with Liverpool confirmed as champions following Manchester United's draw with Norwich City. It is their 14th League championship. Watford are second with three games to go, while Manchester United are three points behind Watford with two games in hand. Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest complete the top five, but the next six teams are still in contention for a UEFA Cup place. Swansea City and Brighton & Hove Albion have been cut loose at the bottom of the table. Birmingham City win 2-1 at Sunderland to move within a point of out-of-form Manchester City.[3] Wolverhampton Wanderers need only one win from their final three games to be sure of promotion to the First Division alongside Queens Park Rangers. Fulham, meanwhile, have lapsed and are just one point ahead of Leicester City in the race for the final promotion place. Newcastle United and Sheffield Wednesday still have an outside chance of going up this season.[29]

7 May 1983: FA Cup finalists Brighton & Hove Albion are relegated from the First Division after losing 1–0 at home to fellow strugglers Manchester City. Swansea City join them in relegation after losing 2-1 to Manchester United. Luton Town drop into the bottom three with one game remaining after being thrashed 5-1 at home by Everton, but Birmingham City virtually guarantee their survival by beating Tottenham Hotspur 2-0.[20]

14 May 1983: The First Division season ends with champions Liverpool, who failed to win any of their last seven matches, 11 points clear of second-placed Watford. Manchester United are third, followed by Tottenham Hotspur, Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa. The final day drama comes at Maine Road, where Manchester City and Luton Town both go into the game scrapping to avoid the last relegation place. The home side require a draw to stay up, while the visitors need to win to survive.[3] A late goal from Raddy Antic keeps Luton Town up and relegates a Manchester City side who were top of the league 17 months ago.[30] Leicester City take the final Second Division promotion place behind Queens Park Rangers and Wolverhampton Wanderers after they draw 0-0 with Burnley and closest challengers Fulham lose 1-0 to Derby County. A pitch invasion causes the match at the Baseball Ground to finish early, but the result is allowed to stand.

20 May 1983: Everton sell midfielder Steve McMahon, 21, to Aston Villa for £175,000.

21 May 1983: Manchester United and Brighton & Hove Albion draw 2–2 in the FA Cup final to book a replay in five days time. Brighton nearly win the game with a late shot by Gordon Smith, which United goalkeeper Gary Bailey saves.[31]

26 May 1983: Manchester United thrash Brighton & Hove Albion 4–0 in the FA Cup final replay to lift the trophy on legendary former manager and current director Sir Matt Busby's 74th birthday.

1 June 1983: England clinch the Home Championship by beating Scotland 2-0 at Wembley.[32] 19-year-old Swindon Town striker Paul Rideout moves from the Fourth Division to the First in a £200,000 transfer to Aston Villa.

Famous debutants

1 January 1983: Tony Cottee, 17-year-old striker, scores on his debut for West Ham United in 3–0 win over Tottenham Hotspur at Upton Park.[33]

26 February 1983: Ian Baird, 18-year-old striker, makes his debut for Southampton in 1–1 draw with West Ham United at Upton Park.[34]

20 April 1983: Colin Hill, 19-year-old defender, makes his debut for Arsenal in 3–1 defeat by Norwich City at Carrow Road.[35]


First DivisionLiverpool (14*)Watford
Second DivisionQueens Park RangersWolverhampton Wanderers
Third DivisionPortsmouthCardiff City
Fourth DivisionWimbledonHull City
FA CupManchester United (5)Brighton & Hove Albion
League CupLiverpool (3*)Manchester United
Charity ShieldLiverpoolTottenham Hotspur
Home Championship England Scotland

Notes = Number in parentheses is the times that club has won that honour. * indicates new record for competition

League table

First Division

Bob Paisley went out on a high when retiring as Liverpool manager after nine years and numerous trophies by winning the league title and the Football League Cup. His formidable team had looked uncatchable in the league by the turn of 1983, and finished top of the table by 11 points. Their nearest rivals were Watford, in the First Division for the first time and spearheaded by the ownership of Elton John, management of Graham Taylor and the attacking prowess of Luther Blissett and John Barnes. Third placed Manchester United had been on the losing side to Liverpool in the League Cup final and were very nearly beaten by a last minute Brighton goal in the FA Cup final, only for a Gary Bailey save to force a replay which United won 4-0. The top five was completed by Nottingham Forest and Tottenham Hotspur.

FA Cup finalists Brighton were relegated after four seasons in the top flight. Next to go down were Swansea City, whose second season among the elite was a complete contrast to their first, where they had finished sixth. The final relegation place was decided in dramatic fashion at Maine Road, where Luton Town had to beat their hosts Manchester City to stay up and send the home side (who had never been in the relegation zone at any point of the season until then, and had been safely in mid-table until the controversial sacking of manager John Bond in February, leading to a disastrous run of results under replacement manager John Benson) down. A late winner by Luton's Raddy Antic gave Luton survival, which manager David Pleat famously celebrated by running on the pitch when the final whistle was blown.

3Manchester United421913105638+1870
4Tottenham Hotspur42209136550+1569
5Nottingham Forest42209136250+1269
6Aston Villa42215166250+1268
8West Ham United42204186862+664
9Ipswich Town421513146450+1458
11West Bromwich Albion421512155149+257
13Stoke City42169175364−1157
14Norwich City421412165258−654
15Notts County42157205571−1652
17Birmingham City421214164055−1550
18Luton Town421213176584−1949
19Coventry City42139204859−1148
20Manchester City42138214770−2347
21Swansea City421011215169−1841
22Brighton & Hove Albion42913203868−3040

Second Division

A year after being runners-up in the FA Cup, QPR won the Second Division title and secured a return to the First Division after four years away. Runners-up spot went to Wolverhampton Wanderers, who had been saved from closure by former player Derek Dougan just before the start of the season, while Leicester City clinched the final promotion place, a point ahead of a Fulham side who came close to a second successive promotion under the management of former England striker Malcolm Macdonald. Another former England striker, Kevin Keegan, who was still playing, had an impressive first season at Newcastle United but could not quite inspire them to promotion, nor could World Cup winner Jack Charlton as manager of FA Cup semi-finalists Sheffield Wednesday.

Bolton Wanderers, Rotherham United and League Cup semi-finalists Burnley ended the season relegated, while Chelsea narrowly avoided the drop, as did Derby County after the return of former coach Peter Taylor to the club as manager.

1Queens Park Rangers4226797736+4185
2Wolverhampton Wanderers42201576844+2475
3Leicester City422010127244+2870
5Newcastle United421813117553+2267
6Sheffield Wednesday421615116047+1363
7Oldham Athletic42141996447+1761
8Leeds United42132185146+560
9Shrewsbury Town421514134848+059
11Blackburn Rovers421512155858+057
12Cambridge United421312174260−1851
13Derby County421019134958−949
14Carlisle United421212186870−248
15Crystal Palace421212184352−948
17Charlton Athletic42139206386−2348
19Grimsby Town421211194570−2547
20Rotherham United421015174568−2345
22Bolton Wanderers421111204261−1944

Third Division

Portsmouth's revival continued as they clinched the Third Division title to secure a second promotion in four seasons. Cardiff City won promotion back to the Second Division after suffering relegation the previous season as well as Huddersfield Town who like Portsmouth continued their revival by also securing a second promotion in four seasons, while Newport County's collapse in the final weeks of the season cost them a place in the Second Division, a similar fate befalling Oxford United in the first full season of Robert Maxwell's ownership and Jim Smith's management. For the second season running, Lincoln City just missed out on promotion.

Chesterfield, Doncaster Rovers, Wrexham and Reading ended the season relegated.

2Cardiff City462511107650+2686
3Huddersfield Town462313108449+3582
4Newport County46239147654+2278
5Oxford United462212127153+1878
6Lincoln City46237167751+2676
7Bristol Rovers46229158458+2675
8Plymouth Argyle46198196166−565
11Sheffield United46197206264−264
12Bradford City461613176869−161
15Southend United461514176665+159
16Preston North End461513186069−958
18Wigan Athletic46159226072−1254
19Exeter City4614122081104−2354
23Doncaster Rovers46911265797−4038

Fourth Division

Wimbledon set the Football League points record in the second season of three points for a win, gaining 98 points to win the Fourth Division title and their third promotion at this level since joining the Football League in 1977. They were joined by Hull City, Port Vale and Scunthorpe United.

Hereford United, Crewe Alexandra and Hartlepool United perhaps unsurprisingly propped up the league and had to apply for re-election, but the fourth club to suffer this humiliation were fallen giants Blackpool, of Stanley Matthews fame and 1953 FA Cup glory. However, all four clubs were successful in gaining re-election.

Crewe Alexandra built for the future by appointing Dario Gradi as manager, hoping that he could keep them clear of the Fourth Division's lower reaches and achieve some of the success with them that he had achieved in two promotion winning campaigns at Wimbledon (although he did not complete the second promotion campaign at Wimbledon).

2Hull City46251567534+4190
3Port Vale462610106734+3388
4Scunthorpe United46231497142+2983
6Colchester United46249137555+2081
7York City462213118858+3079
8Swindon Town461911166154+768
9Peterborough United461713165852+664
10Mansfield Town461613176170−961
11Halifax Town461612185966−760
12Torquay United46177225665−958
14Bristol City461317165970−1156
15Northampton Town461412206575−1054
16Stockport County461412206079−1954
19Tranmere Rovers461311224971−2250
22Hartlepool United46139244676−3048
23Crewe Alexandra46118275371−1841
24Hereford United46118274279−3741

P = Matches played; W = Matches won; D = Matches drawn; L = Matches lost; F = Goals for; A = Goals against; GD = Goal difference; Pts = Points
* Two points deducted for on-field brawl.



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