1983–84 in English football
The 1983–84 season was the 104th season of competitive football in England.
Liverpool had a great first season under the management of Joe Fagan as they wrapped up their third successive league title and the 15th in their history. They overcame strong competition from Southampton, Nottingham Forest and Manchester United to lift the championship trophy. Southampton's second place was their highest ever final position. The relegation places were occupied by Birmingham City, Notts County and Wolverhampton Wanderers, the last-named being in their first season after promotion.
A terrible season saw Cambridge United finish bottom of the Second Division and go down to the Third Division. They did not win a single game between 1 October 1983, when they beat Oldham Athletic 2–1 at the Abbey Stadium, and 28 April 1984, when they beat Newcastle United 1–0. They were joined by two clubs who had been enjoying better fortunes only a short time ago – Swansea City, who had finished sixth in the First Division just two years earlier but entered and exited administration without arrangements, and Derby County, who had been league champions just nine years earlier. Derby’s Peter Taylor, who almost guided the club to the semi-finals in the FA Cup that season, resigned as manager and his successor was Arthur Cox, who had just taken Newcastle into the First Division.
Dave Bassett agreed to take charge of Crystal Palace at the end of the season, but changed his mind three days later – without signing the contract – and returned to Wimbledon. Palace installed former Manchester United winger Steve Coppell, 29, as their new manager.
York City, Doncaster Rovers, Reading and Bristol City occupied the Fourth Division promotion places. York City became the first team in English league football to gain more than 100 points in a season, with 101. It was Bristol City’s first successful season for a long time and a welcome piece of good news after their recent fall from the First to Fourth Division in successive seasons.
The re-election system voted in favour of the bottom four clubs in the Fourth Division once again.
Everton overcame Watford 2–0 at Wembley to win the FA Cup, with goals from Graeme Sharp and Andy Gray. The biggest shock of the season came in the third round, when AFC Bournemouth beat holders Manchester United 2–0.
Liverpool also won the European Cup, to complete a unique treble of trophies. Keith Burkinshaw resigned after seven years as Tottenham Hotspur manager, and went out on a high after his side won the UEFA Cup.
Diary of the season
6 June 1983: Resurgent Portsmouth, newly promoted to the Second Division after winning last season's Third Division title, prepare for their latest challenge by paying a club record £180,000 for Coventry City's 21-year-old striker Mark Hateley.
31 August 1983: Notts County, West Ham United, Aston Villa and Arsenal all win their first two matches of the First Division season to lead the table at the end of August. Leicester City, Birmingham City and West Bromwich Albion lose their first two matches of the season.
3 September 1983: Victory for West Ham against Tottenham preserves the Hammers' 100% record - the only one remaining in the First Division after Arsenal, Aston Villa and Notts County are beaten, by Southampton, Queens Park Rangers and Ipswich Town respectively.
23 September 1983: Newcastle United boost their Second Division promotion push by signing Peter Beardsley, who was rejected by Manchester United the previous season, in a £150,000 deal from Vancouver Whitecaps.
30 September 1983: With six wins from seven matches, West Ham United are top of the First Division at the end of September, with Manchester United, Southampton, Liverpool and Ipswich Town completing the top five. Leicester City's terrible start to the season sees them prop up the top flight with only a single point from their opening seven games. Wolverhampton Wanderers (winless) and Stoke City (one win) complete the bottom three. Sheffield Wednesday head the race for promotion from the Second Division, followed closely behind by recently relegated Manchester City and a Huddersfield Town side who only won promotion from the Fourth Division four seasons ago. Middlesbrough, Charlton Athletic and Chelsea have also made a good start to the Second Division campaign.
12 October 1983: England keep their faint hopes of European Championship qualification alive by beating Hungary 3–0 in Budapest in their penultimate qualifying game, but Denmark remain top of the group.
26 October 1983: Giant-killings in the second round of the Football League Cup, as third-tier clubs Oxford United and Wimbledon knock out Newcastle United and Nottingham Forest. Elsewhere in round two, Leeds United overcome a 1–0 deficit from the first leg to beat the Football League's basement club Chester City 4–2 on aggregate and Lincoln City win on the night at home to Tottenham Hotspur but lose out on aggregate.
31 October 1983: October draws to a close with Manchester United top of the First Division. Liverpool continue their push for a third successive league title as they stand second, while newly promoted Queens Park Rangers occupy third place, level on points with West Ham United, Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur. Wolverhampton Wanderers, still without a win after 11 games, remain bottom of the table. Leicester City and Notts County complete the bottom three. Sheffield Wednesday are still top of the Second Division, joined in the top three by Newcastle United and Manchester City. Chelsea, Huddersfield Town and Grimsby Town are pushing them hard for promotion.
26 November 1983: Kenny Dalglish scores his 100th competitive goal for Liverpool in a 1-1 league draw against Ipswich Town. Elsewhere, QPR fail to hold on to their lead at fellow Londoners Spurs, who win 3–2 thanks to Mark Falco's double and Steve Archibald's 15th of the season. Meanwhile, in the First Division Notts County beat Aston Villa 5–2, and Burnley are the high scorers of the day, shooting seven without reply in a Division Two match at home to Port Vale.
30 November 1983: Liverpool's bid for a third successive league title is now looking stronger, as they finish November as First Division leaders with a one-point lead over West Ham United and Manchester United. Tottenham Hotspur occupy fourth place, while Luton Town are fifth. Wolverhampton Wanderers, with just one win, are still bottom of the table, with Watford (the previous season's runners-up) and Stoke City completing the bottom three. Sheffield Wednesday are still top of the Second Division, while Newcastle United remain in the top three, with Chelsea overtaking Manchester City to move into third.
1 December 1983: Newcastle United further boost their promotion bid with the £150,000 acquisition of QPR defender Glenn Roeder, while Terry Neill makes a last-ditch attempt to reverse Arsenal's dismal league form by signing 21-year-old Manchester City defender Tommy Caton for £500,000.
16 December 1983: Terry Neill is sacked after more than seven years as manager of Arsenal, who occupy 16th place in the First Division.
27 December 1983: Wolves gain their first home win of the season against Everton, while Manchester United throw away a two-goal lead to draw 3–3 with struggling Notts County in a bad-tempered match featuring nine yellow cards for County's cohort.
31 December 1983: The year draws to a close with Liverpool still top of the First Division, with a three-point margin over Manchester United. They are followed by two teams who have never won the league title, West Ham United and Southampton. Nottingham Forest are fifth. At the other end of the table, Wolverhampton Wanderers continue to prop up the top flight having still only achieved three wins this season. Stoke City and Notts County complete the bottom three. Chelsea, Sheffield Wednesday and Manchester City occupy the top three places in the Second Division, but Newcastle United are close behind along with surprise promotion contenders Grimsby Town and Carlisle United. At the other end of the table, Leeds United and Derby County, both First Division champions during the 1970s, are hovering just above the relegation zone.
7 January 1984: AFC Bournemouth pull off one of the biggest FA Cup upsets of all time with a 2–0 win over holders Manchester United in the third round. Arsenal, Leicester City and QPR lose to Second Division opponents (Middlesbrough, Crystal Palace and Huddersfield Town respectively), while Manchester City are beaten 2-1 by Fourth Division Blackpool.
29 January 1984: Brighton & Hove Albion knock Liverpool out of the FA Cup for the second season running. In other fourth round ties, Third Division Gillingham hold Everton to a 0-0 draw, Shrewsbury Town beat Ipswich Town 2-1 and Southampton win the South Coast derby against Portsmouth 1-0.
31 January 1984: At the end of January, Liverpool are still top of the First Division, two points ahead of Manchester United, with West Ham United, Nottingham Forest and Queens Park Rangers completing the top five. Wolverhampton Wanderers, Stoke City and Notts County occupy the bottom three, and Ipswich Town, league runners-up just two seasons earlier, have dropped to 17th. The 1982-83 runners-up Watford have recovered from a poor start to climb to 13th place. Chelsea, Sheffield Wednesday and Manchester City continue to lead the way in the Second Division, still pushed hard by Newcastle United, Grimsby Town, Charlton Athletic, Carlisle United and Blackburn Rovers.
14 February 1984: Liverpool reach the final of the Football League Cup for the fourth year in a row after a 4-2 aggregate victory over Third Division Walsall.
29 February 1984: England's first international game since their failure to qualify for the European Championship Finals ends in a 2–0 defeat to France in the Parc des Princes. On the club scene, Liverpool continue to top the First Division, with a four-point lead over Manchester United. Nottingham Forest, West Ham United and Southampton complete the top five. Wolverhampton Wanderers remain bottom of the table, 13 points adrift of safety with 14 games to go. Notts County are 11 points adrift of safety, and Stoke City complete the bottom three, just behind West Bromwich Albion, Leicester City and Ipswich Town. Sheffield Wednesday and Chelsea are level at the top of the Second Division, while Grimsby Town have crept into the top three at the expense of Manchester City.
10 March 1984: Watford and Everton reach the FA Cup semi-finals. Liverpool pay Ipswich Town £450,000 for midfielder John Wark.
14 March 1984: FA Cup surprise package Plymouth Argyle book a semi-final place by beating Derby County 1–0 in the quarter-final replay at the Baseball Ground, four days after the first match ended in a goalless draw at Home Park.
20 March 1984: Southampton become the fourth team to reach the FA Cup semi-finals, thrashing Sheffield Wednesday 5-1 in a quarter-final replay at The Dell.
25 March 1984: Liverpool and Everton draw 0–0 in the first all-Merseyside Football League Cup final.
28 March 1984: Liverpool win an unprecedented fourth successive Football League Cup by beating Everton 1–0 in the replay at Maine Road.
31 March 1984: Liverpool remain top of the First Division as March draws to a close, but their lead over Manchester United is now just two points. Nottingham Forest, West Ham United and Southampton complete the top five. Wolverhampton Wanderers are 14 points adrift of safety, behind Notts County and Ipswich Town, who complete the bottom three. Stoke City and Sunderland are barely clear of the drop zone, while Coventry City, who lost five League matches in March, have also been drawn into the relegation battle. Chelsea, Sheffield Wednesday and Newcastle United are level at the top of the Second Division on 66 points, six points ahead of Carlisle United.
14 April 1984: Everton defeat Southampton 1–0 at Highbury in the FA Cup semi-finals to reach their first final for 16 years, while Watford reach the FA Cup final for the first time ever with a 1–0 win over giantkilling Plymouth Argyle at Villa Park. Liverpool's lead at the top of the First Division remains at two points as both they and Manchester United suffer surprise defeats, against Stoke City and Notts County respectively.
30 April 1984: April ends with the First Division title race now virtually a two-horse race between leaders Liverpool and Manchester United. Liverpool hold a two-point lead with four games remaining. QPR, Southampton and Nottingham Forest complete the top five, ahead of Arsenal and West Ham United. At the other end of the table, Notts County are eight points from safety, and Stoke City, Ipswich Town and out-of-form Birmingham City are amongst the other clubs fighting to avoid relegation alongside Wolverhampton Wanderers. Sheffield Wednesday have sealed their return to the top flight after 14 years away, as have Chelsea after a five-year absence, though the Second Division title has yet to be decided. Newcastle United only need four points from their final three games to be sure of promotion.
7 May 1984: Manchester United's 2–1 defeat by Ipswich Town and Liverpool's 5–0 win over Coventry City give the Anfield club a five-point lead in the First Division with two games left. Notts County draw 0-0 at Sunderland and are relegated, but Stoke City win 1-0 at Luton Town to move level on points with Coventry City and Birmingham City. West Bromwich Albion, Sunderland, Norwich City and Ipswich Town are still not safe from relegation going into the last day of fixtures of the season.
12 May 1984: Liverpool claim their third successive league title after drawing 0-0 with Notts County. Birmingham City go down as they draw their final match 0-0 with Southampton while Coventry City and Stoke City both win, and join Notts County and Wolverhampton Wanderers in relegation. Newcastle United are promoted to the First Division behind champions Chelsea, and Sheffield Wednesday. Kevin Keegan announces his retirement from playing at the age of 33.
14 May 1984: Alan Mullery departs Crystal Palace, ostensibly "by mutual consent" though Palace players suspect the sack. Meanwhile, Archie Gemmill is one of eight released by Derby County, who will spend their centenary season in the Third Division.
17 May 1984: In the last match of the First Division season, Southampton beat Notts County 3-1 to finish in second place – the highest finish in their history - while Nottingham Forest, Manchester United and QPR complete the top five and qualify for the UEFA Cup.
19 May 1984: Everton win their first major trophy in 14 years by defeating Watford 2–0 in the FA Cup final with goals from Graeme Sharp and Andy Gray. This given them entry to next season's European Cup Winners' Cup.
21 May 1984: PFA Young Player of the Year Paul Walsh joins Liverpool from Luton Town for £700,000 as manager Joe Fagan lines him up as a potential long-term successor to the 33-year-old Kenny Dalglish.
23 May 1984: Tottenham Hotspur draw 1–1 with Anderlecht in the UEFA Cup final second leg at White Hart Lane, and win 4-3 on penalties to lift the trophy.
25 May 1984: Everton pay Sunderland £425,000 for 22-year-old midfielder Paul Bracewell.
10 June 1984: John Barnes scores a spectacular goal for England in their 2–0 away win over Brazil in a friendly. After Luther Blissett and Mark Chamberlain 18 months previously, he becomes only the third black player to score for the full England team.
22 June 1984: Coventry City sign 26-year-old goalkeeper Steve Ogrizovic from Shrewsbury Town for £72,000.
28 June 1984: AC Milan sign Portsmouth striker Mark Hateley for £915,000.
- Luton Town's promising young striker Paul Walsh was voted PFA Young Player of the Year, and would soon join Liverpool to team up with Ian Rush – who had been voted both PFA Players' Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year.
- Also hitting the headlines were Watford winger John Barnes, Manchester United midfielder Bryan Robson and Everton midfielder Peter Reid.
- Retiring striker Kevin Keegan ended his playing career on a high as he helped Newcastle United gain promotion to the First Division.
- Joe Fagan became the first manager to lead an English club to three major trophies in the same season as he ended his first season as Liverpool manager as league champions, League Cup winners and European Cup winners.
- Howard Kendall won his first major trophy as Everton manager in shape of the FA Cup.
- Keith Burkinshaw resigned from Tottenham at the end of the season but ended his time at the club on a high note by winning the UEFA Cup.
- Lawrie McMenemy guided Southampton to their highest-ever league finish – runners-up in the First Division.
- John Neal guided Chelsea to the Second Division championship with a new-look side, having helped the club narrowly avoid relegation to the Third Division a year earlier.
- Howard Wilkinson brought First Division football back to Sheffield Wednesday just a few seasons after they had narrowly avoided relegation to the Fourth Division.
- Arthur Cox helped Newcastle United return to the First Division before suddenly quitting and moving to fallen giants Derby County in hope of reversing their sharp decline.
- Jim Smith took Oxford United to title glory in the Third Division.
- Dennis Smith took York City to the Fourth Division championship.
- Dave Bassett took Wimbledon into the Second Division in only their seventh season as a Football League club.
- Ian Rush (Liverpool): 32 goals
- Kerry Dixon (Chelsea): 28 goals
- Keith Edwards (Sheffield United): 33 goals
- Trevor Senior (Reading): 36 goals
Number in parentheses is the times that club has won that honour. * indicates new record for competition
Liverpool went from strength to strength by becoming only the third English team to win three successive First Division titles and the first to win three major trophies in the season, as they won their fourth European Cup in eight seasons and their fourth Football League Cup in succession. But they were not without their contenders in the title race, which was not won until the beginning of May. Southampton enjoyed their best league season ever, finishing runners-up and reaching the semi-finals of the FA Cup (being unlikely contenders for the double until the final weeks of the season), while Nottingham Forest finished third, also taking in a run to the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup. Manchester United led the league more than once during the season but their form collapsed in the run-in and they finished fourth, the brightest moment of the season coming when they overhauled a two-goal deficit in the quarter-finals of the European Cup Winners' Cup to overcome a Barcelona side containing world superstar Diego Maradona. The top five was completed by newly promoted QPR, whose manager Terry Venables then accepted an offer to manage Barcelona.
After a dismal start to the season which saw many fans calling for the dismissal of manager Howard Kendall, Everton's fortunes took a dramatic upturn following the arrival of striker Andy Gray, which saw any fears of relegation swiftly forgotten as they climbed up the table and eventually finished seventh, and then ended their 14-year trophy drought by winning the FA Cup. Everton also reached the final of the Football League Cup, but were beaten in a replay by their Merseyside neighbours.
Tottenham Hotspur manager Keith Burkinshaw stepped down at the end of the campaign after eight years in charge, but went out on a high by winning the UEFA Cup. Watford climbed to a secure mid table finish after the arrival of high scoring striker Mo Johnston lifted them clear of the relegation zone, and they also reached their first ever FA Cup final, but lost to Everton.
Wolverhampton Wanderers suffered a swift return to the Second Division with just six wins all season, and were joined in the drop zone by Notts County and local rivals Birmingham City. Coventry City climbed clear of the drop zone after a turnaround in the final few games which had followed a dramatic slump down the table, while Luton Town's survival was ensured by an excellent first half of the season before a post-Christmas slump.
|5||Queens Park Rangers||42||22||7||13||67||37||+30||73|
|9||West Ham United||42||17||9||16||60||55||+5||60|
|17||West Bromwich Albion||42||14||9||19||48||62||−14||51|
A year after narrowly avoiding relegation, Chelsea thrived in the Second Division and won the title on goal difference, thanks largely to the prolific scoring of new striker Kerry Dixon. Sheffield Wednesday finished runners-up to end their 14-year exile from the First Division. The final promotion place went to Newcastle United, whose former England striker Kevin Keegan retired after achieving the objective of promotion that had been his clear target when signing for the Tynesiders two years earlier.
Although the top three all secured promotion before the final game of the campaign, there had been no shortage of competition in the promotion race for much of the season, from the likes of Manchester City, Grimsby Town and Carlisle United.
Cambridge United's six-year stay in the Second Division ended after a terrible season where they secured just four wins. Swansea City fared little better, going down for the second season running - a mere two years after finishing sixth in the First Division - as financial problems mounted. The last relegation place went to Derby County, First Division champions just nine years previously.
|9||Brighton & Hove Albion||42||17||9||16||69||60||+9||60|
Administration entrance and exit without arrangements = Swansea City
Jim Smith, who had guided Birmingham City into the First Division four years earlier, made use of Robert Maxwell's funds to strengthen Oxford United and this policy paid of at the second attempt as he led Oxford United to the Third Division title by a wide margin. Also going up were Wimbledon and Sheffield United, while Hull City failed to follow Wimbledon to a second successive promotion only on goals scored. Walsall's impressive run to the Football League Cup semi-finals, which had dispensed of Arsenal on the way and cost Gunners manager Terry Neill his job after seven years, finished sixth in the league. Millwall, who had achieved a remarkable escape from relegation a year earlier under new manager George Graham, progressed to ninth place in the Third Division.
Exeter City, Port Vale, Southend United and Scunthorpe United ended the season relegated to the Fourth Division. New owner Anton Johnson made an instrumental move to reverse Southend's decline by appointed England's World Cup winning captain Bobby Moore as manager.
|16||Preston North End||46||15||11||20||66||66||0||56|
York City became the first English league team to amass 100 league points in a season, and in doing so clinching the Fourth Division title and a place in the Third Division. Leeds United legend Billy Bremner took Doncaster Rovers to promotion as runners-up, while Reading climbed out of the league's basement division in third place and the final promotion place went to a Bristol City side on the comeback trail after their recent catastrophic hat-trick of relegations and near brush with closure. Aldershot just missed out on promotion, as did a Blackpool side who had been under threat of closure and loss of league status a year earlier.
P = Matches played; W = Matches won; D = Matches drawn; L = Matches lost; F = Goals for; A = Goals against; GD = Goal difference; Pts = Points
The England national football team had failed to qualify for Euro 84 but the FA kept faith in manager Bobby Robson. England also performed badly at the 1984 British Home Championship, coming joint second with Wales behind Northern Ireland but only scoring two goals in the process. However, a tour to South America during June instigated to replace the European Championship for the England team was more successful, with a notable victory over Brazil in the Maracana Stadium.
- 31 October 1983: George Smith, 68, played 125 league games at centre-half for Charlton Athletic, Brentford, QPR and Ipswich Town between 1938 and 1950. He was capped once for England and after retirement had spells as manager of four different non-league clubs before serving in the Football League in charge of Crystal Palace and finally a nine-year spell at Portsmouth which ended in 1970. He died at Bodmin, Cornwall.
- 5 December 1983: Les Talbot, 73, played for Blackburn Rovers and Cardiff City in the 1930s and finished his playing career in 1947 at Walsall. He then moved to the Netherlands where he managed seven clubs between 1949 and 1972, and stayed there until his death.
- 10 February 1984: Tommy Briggs, 60, scored 256 Football League goals in a 12-year career which began in 1946 and took him from Grimsby Town to Coventry City, and then to Birmingham City and Blackburn Rovers before he completed his playing career back at Grimsby.
- 4 April 1984: Frank Mitchell, 61, who was born in Australia but spent his whole playing career in England, made 361 Football League appearances between 1946 and 1958 for Birmingham City, Chelsea and Watford.
- 23 April 1984: Harry Hibbs, 77, kept goal for England 25 times between 1924 and 1939 and also played 358 times for Birmingham City in the Football League. He later managed Walsall for seven years.
- 13 June 1984: Ken Armstrong, 60, wing-half from Chelsea 1955 league title winning team, died in New Zealand, where he had coached the national side for two spells between 1958 and 1980.
- 18 June 1984: Arthur Chandler, 89, was Leicester City's all-time leading goalscorer, finding the net 259 times in the league and 273 in all competitions between 1923 and 1935. He also scored a further 16 league goals for his first club QPR and six for his last club Notts County.
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