Birmingham City F.C.
Birmingham City Football Club is a professional association football club based in the city of Birmingham, England. Formed in 1875 as Small Heath Alliance, they became Small Heath in 1888, then Birmingham in 1905, the team compete in the EFL Championship, the second tier of the English football league system. As Small Heath, they played in the Football Alliance before becoming founder members, the most successful period in their history was in the 1950s and early 1960s. They won the competition for the second time in 2011. St Andrews has been their ground since 1906. They have a long-standing and fierce rivalry with Aston Villa, their nearest neighbours, the clubs nickname is Blues, due to the colour of their kit, and their fans are known as Bluenoses. Birmingham City were founded as Small Heath Alliance in 1875, the club turned professional in 1885, and three years later became the first football club to become a limited company with a board of directors, under the name of Small Heath F. C. Ltd. From the 1889–90 season they played in the Football Alliance, which ran alongside the Football League, in 1892, Small Heath, along with the other Alliance teams, were invited to join the newly formed Football League Second Division. The club adopted the name Birmingham Football Club in 1905, and moved into their new home, St Andrews Ground, matters on the field failed to live up to their surroundings. Birmingham were relegated in 1908, obliged to apply for two years later, and remained in the Second Division until after the First World War. Frank Womacks captaincy and the creativity of Scottish international playmaker Johnny Crosbie contributed much to Birmingham winning their second Division Two title in 1920–21, Womack went on to make 515 appearances, a club record for an outfielder, over a twenty-year career. 1920 also saw the debut of the 19-year-old Joe Bradford, who went on to score a club record 267 goals in 445 games, and won 12 caps for England. In 1931, manager Leslie Knighton led the club to their first FA Cup Final and they were finally relegated in 1939, the last full season before the Football League was abandoned for the duration of the Second World War. The name Birmingham City F. C. was adopted in 1943, under Harry Storer, appointed manager in 1945, the club won the Football League South wartime league and reached the semifinal of the first post-war FA Cup. Two years later won their third Second Division title, conceding only 24 goals in the 42-game season. Storers successor Bob Brocklebank, though unable to stave off relegation in 1950, when Arthur Turner took over as manager in November 1954, he made them play closer to their potential, and a 5–1 win on the last day of the 1954–55 season confirmed them as champions. In their first season back in the First Division, Birmingham achieved their highest league finish of sixth place. They also reached the FA Cup final, losing 3–1 to Manchester City in the game notable for Citys goalkeeper Bert Trautmann playing the last 20 minutes with a bone in his neck
Stoke City F.C.
Stoke City Football Club is a professional football club based in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England, that plays in the Premier League, the top flight of English football. Founded as Stoke Ramblers in 1863 the club changed its name to Stoke in 1878 and they are the second oldest professional football club in the world, after Notts County, and are one of the founding members of the Football League. Their first, and to date only major trophy, the League Cup was won in 1972, the clubs highest league finish in the top division is 4th, which was achieved in the 1935–36 and 1946–47 seasons. Stoke played in the FA Cup Final in 2011, finishing runners-up to Manchester City and have reached three FA Cup semi-finals, in 1899 then consecutively in 1971 and 1972. Stoke have competed in European football on three occasions, firstly in 1972–73 then in 1974–75 and most recently in 2011–12, the club has won the Football League Trophy twice, in 1992 and in 2000. Stokes home ground is the bet365 Stadium, a 28,116 all-seater stadium, before the stadium was opened in 1997, the club was based at the Victoria Ground, which had been their home ground since 1878. The clubs nickname is The Potters, named after the industry in Stoke-on-Trent and their traditional home kit is a red and white vertically striped shirt, white shorts. Stokes traditional rivals are Midlands clubs West Bromwich Albion and Wolverhampton Wanderers whilst their local rivals are Port Vale with whom they contest the Potteries derby, the clubs first documented match was in October 1868, against an EW May XV at the Victoria Cricket Club ground. Henry Almond, the founder, was also captain. During this period they played at the Victoria Cricket Ground, however, in 1878, the club merged with Stoke Victoria Cricket Club, and became Stoke Football Club. They moved from their previous ground, Sweetings Field, to the Athletic Club ground and it was around this time that the club adopted their traditional red-and-white striped kit. In August 1885, the club turned professional, Stoke were one of the twelve founding members of the Football League when it was introduced in 1888. The club struggled in their first two seasons, 1888–89 and 1889–90, finishing bottom on both occasions, in 1890 Stoke failed to be re-elected and joined the Football Alliance, which they won and thus were re-elected to the Football League. Stoke spent the next 15 seasons in the First Division and reached the FA Cup Semi-Final in the 1898–99 season before being relegated in 1907, Stoke went bankrupt and entered non-league football until 1914, when the First World War meant the Football League was suspended for four years. During the wartime period, Stoke entered the Lancashire Primary and Secondary leagues, when football recommenced in August 1919, Stoke re-joined the league. The club became owners of the Victoria Ground in 1919 and this was followed by the construction of the Butler Street stand, which increased the overall capacity of the ground to 50,000. In 1925, Stoke-on-Trent was granted city status and this led the club to change its name to Stoke City F. C, the 1930s saw the debut of clubs most celebrated player, Stanley Matthews. Matthews, who grew up in Hanley, was an apprentice at the club and made his first appearance in March 1932, against Bury, by end of the decade, Matthews had established himself as an England international and as one of the best footballers of his generation
Cheltenham Town F.C.
Cheltenham Town Football Club /ˈtʃɛltnəm ˈtaʊn/ is a professional association football club based in the town of Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England. The team compete in League Two, the tier of English football. Their nickname is The Robins, and the club is affiliated to the Gloucestershire County FA. Promoted to The Football League as Conference Premier champions in 1999, Cheltenham have played as high as League One and their best FA Cup run saw them reach the last 16 in 2002. The last piece of silverware won by the club was the National League title in 2015–2016 and its league status was lost with relegation in 2015, only for the team to return, as champions, a year later. Cheltenham has a history of prior to The Robins. In 1849, the first use of three referees in a match, two in field and one in tribune, was recorded in the town. However, the club was founded in 1887 by Albert Close White. The club spent its first three decades in local football, notable players from those days include cricketers Gilbert Jessop and brothers Charles Barnett and Edgar Barnett. In the early 1930s the club turned professional and joined the Birmingham Combination before joining the Southern League in 1935 and they won promotion to the Alliance Premier League in 1985, but were relegated seven years later. They were promoted back to the Conference in 1997 and two years later gained promotion to the Football League, after two mid-table finishes in Division Three they won via the playoffs and were promoted to Division Two. The appointment of Steve Cotterill as manager during the 1996–97 was the start of a period of success at the club resulted in Cotterill being their most successful manager. In 1997–98, Cheltenham finished runners-up in the Conference and were close to champions Halifax Town until the end of April 1998 and they secured a place at Wembley in the FA Trophy final, beating Southport 1–0 in front of a crowd of 27,000. In 1998–99 Cheltenham secured the Conference title and entry to the Football League, after two mid-table finishes in Division Three, Cheltenham finally won promotion to Division Two at the end of the 2001–02 season. Shortly after winning promotion, Cotterill left Cheltenham to join Stoke City as their manager, Cheltenham replaced Cotterill with first-team coach Graham Allner who had won the Conference championship with Kidderminster Harriers in 1994. Allner and assistant manager Mike Davis, who was assistant to Cotterill, were sacked in January 2003, after six months in the job. Cheltenham turned to Bobby Gould, one of the most experienced managers in English football whose exploits include an FA Cup victory with Wimbledon in 1988. Cheltenham continued to struggle, and defeat in their game of the season condemned the club to relegation back to Division Three after just one season
Norwich City F.C.
Norwich City Football Club is an English professional football club based in Norwich, Norfolk. The club currently plays in the Championship, the tier of English football. They were first promoted to the top flight in 1972, Norwich have won the League Cup twice, in 1962 and 1985. The club has never won the top flight, but finished third in 1993, the club was founded in 1902. The fans song On the Ball, City is regarded as being the oldest football song in the world which is still in use, the club plays in characteristic yellow and green kits and are nicknamed The Canaries after the history of breeding the birds in the area. They joined the Norfolk & Suffolk League for the 1902–03 season, but following a FA Commission, the club was ousted from the amateur game in 1905, deemed a professional organisation. Later that year Norwich were elected to play in the Southern League and with increasing crowds, they were forced to leave Newmarket Road in 1908, moving to The Nest, a disused chalk pit. During the First World War, with football suspended and facing spiralling debts, the club was officially reformed on 15 February 1919 – a key figure in the events was Charles Frederick Watling, future Lord Mayor of Norwich and the father of future club chairman, Geoffrey Watling. When, in May 1920, the Football League formed a third Division and their first league fixture, against Plymouth Argyle, on 28 August 1920, ended in a 1–1 draw. The club went on to endure a mediocre decade, finishing no higher than eighth, the inaugural match, held on 31 August 1935, against West Ham United, ended in a 4–3 victory to the home team and set a new record attendance of 29,779. The biggest highlight of the four seasons was the visit of King George VI to Carrow Road on 29 October 1938. However, the club was relegated to the Third Division at the end of the season, the league was suspended the following season as a result of the outbreak of the Second World War and did not resume until the 1946–47 season. City finished this and the season in 21st place, the poor results forcing the club to apply for re-election to the league. The 1958–59 season saw Norwich reach the semi-final of the FA Cup as a Third Division side, in the 1959–60 season, Norwich were promoted to the Second Division after finishing second to Southampton, and achieved a fourth-place finish in the 1960–61 season. In 1962 Ron Ashman guided Norwich to their first trophy, defeating Rochdale 4–0 on aggregate in a final to win the League Cup. They made their first appearance at Wembley Stadium in 1973, losing the League Cup final 1–0 to Tottenham Hotspur. Relegation to the Second Division in 1974 came after Saunders had departed and been succeeded by John Bond, a highly successful first season saw promotion back to the First Division and another visit to Wembley, again in the League Cup final, this time losing 1–0 to Aston Villa. Bond departed to Manchester City in the autumn of 1980 and the club were relegated six months later, Norwich had also been the beneficiaries of one of English footballs first million-pound transfers when they sold striker Justin Fashanu to Nottingham Forest in August 1981
Wolverhampton Wanderers F.C.
Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club /ˌwʊlvərˈhæmptən/ is a professional association football club based in the city of Wolverhampton, West Midlands. The club was known as St. Lukes FC and was founded in 1877. They compete in the Championship, the second highest tier of English football, the following season saw two further managers dismissed as the club then suffered a second relegation, ending up in League One. However, in the season they gained promotion back to the Championship where they currently reside. The clubs current head coach is Paul Lambert, who took charge in November 2016, having become professional, the club were nominated to become one of the twelve founder members of the Football League in 1888, in which they played the first Football League match ever staged. They ended the season in third place, as well as reaching their first FA Cup Final, losing 0–3 to the first Double winners. At the conclusion of the campaign the club relocated for a time when they moved to Molineux. Wolves lifted the FA Cup for the first time in 1893 when they beat Everton 1–0, and added a second triumph in 1908, two years after having dropped into the Second Division. After struggling for years to regain their place in the top division, the club suffered a further relegation in 1923, entering the Third Division. Eight years later Wolves regained their status after winning the Second Division title under Major Frank Buckley. This game had been the last in a Wolves shirt for Stan Cullis, the 1950s were by far the most successful period in the clubs history. Captained by Billy Wright, Wolves finally claimed the championship for the first time in 1953–54. This became the final spur for Gabriel Hanot, the editor of LÉquipe, to propose the creation of the European Cup, although the decade opened with a fourth FA Cup victory and almost the first double of the 20th century, the 1960s saw Wolves begin to decline. Cullis was sacked in September 1964 in a season that ended with relegation and this exile would last only two seasons though, as they were promoted in 1967 as runners-up. During the close season in 1967, Wolves played a season in North America as part of the fledgling United Soccer Association league which imported clubs from Europe. Playing as the Los Angeles Wolves, they won the Western Division, the clubs return to the English top flight heralded another period of relative success under Bill McGarry, with a fourth place in 1971 qualifying them for the newly created UEFA Cup. They lifted silverware though two later, when they won the League Cup for the first time by beating Manchester City 2–1 in the final. The club was saved from liquidation at the last minute when it was purchased by a consortium fronted by former player Derek Dougan
Cardiff City F.C.
Cardiff City Football Club is a professional association football club based in the city of Cardiff, Wales that competes in the Championship, the second tier of the English football league system. The club was founded in 1899 as Riverside A. F. C. before changing its name to Cardiff City in 1908 and they play their home games at the Cardiff City Stadium, after moving from Ninian Park in 2009. The club reverted to their traditional blue in January 2015 and they have long-standing rivalries with nearby clubs Swansea City, known as the South Wales derby, and Bristol City, known as the Severnside derby. The club was founded in 1899 as Riverside A. F. C and their first season saw them playing friendlies against local sides at their Sophia Gardens ground, but in 1900 they joined the Cardiff & District League for their first competitive season. To combat this they arranged to join the South Wales Amateur League in 1907, with the club growing in stature, they were forced to turn down the opportunity to join the newly formed Southern League Second Division due to the lack of facilities at their Sophia Gardens ground. The club eventually secured land to build their own stadium, moving into Ninian Park, the club made its first signing the following year with the acquisition of Jack Evans from fellow Welsh club Cwmparc. With the new ground in place, Cardiff joined the Southern League Second Division, and appointed their first manager in Davy McDougall, who became player-manager. They went on to finish in place in their first year in the league but the board decided to replace McDougall with Fred Stewart. In 1920, the club submitted an application to join the Football League and were placed into the Second Division for the 1920–21 season. Stewart brought in players with Football League experience, breaking the clubs transfer record on two occasions to sign Jimmy Gill and later Jimmy Blair from The Wednesday. In the 74th minute, after collecting a throw George MacLachlan, dan Lewis, the Arsenal goalkeeper, appeared to collect the ball but, under pressure from the advancing Len Davies, clumsily allowed the ball to roll through his grasp. In a further attempt to retrieve the ball Lewis only succeeded in knocking the ball with his elbow into his own net, captain Fred Keenor received the FA Cup trophy from King George V only seven years after Cardiff City had entered the Football League. However, he was unable to turn the fortunes around by the end of the season. McCandless left the club soon after and was replaced by Cyril Spiers who led the club to promotion the in 1951–52 season, however, despite spending five seasons in the First Division, the club continually struggled in the bottom half of the table and were eventually relegated in 1957. They returned to the First Division for two seasons between 1960 and 1962 before again suffering relegation, during the 1960s, Cardiff began qualifying for European competition for the first time as a result of winning the Welsh Cup. They went on to reach the quarter-finals before being knocked out by Real Zaragoza, despite their exploits in Europe, the club were still struggling in league competition under the stewardship of Jimmy Scoular, finishing in 20th position in the Second Division. After a 1–1 draw in the first leg, just over 43,000 fans turned out at Ninian Park to watch Hamburg win 3–2, during the 1970–71 season, Cardiff reached the quarter-finals of the Cup Winners Cup where they faced Spanish side Real Madrid. The first leg of the tie was held at Ninian Park where 47,000 fans watched one of the most famous victories in the history when Brian Clark headed in to give Cardiff a 1–0 win
Rushden & Diamonds F.C.
Rushden & Diamonds Football Club was an association football club based in Irthlingborough, Northamptonshire, England. It was formed by a merger of Rushden Town and Irthlingborough Diamonds in 1992, the club played in the Conference National following a short spell in the Football League at the start of the 2000s. Nicknamed The Diamonds, the played at Nene Park. The clubs main rivals were county neighbours Kettering Town, Rushden and Diamonds was formed on 21 April 1992 by a merger of Rushden Town and Irthlingborough Diamonds. The move was the brainchild of Max Griggs, on 22 August 1992, Ollie Kearns scored the first league goal in the clubs history, against Bilston Town in the Southern League Midland Division. The clubs first few seasons were remarkable for the success the team enjoyed, the following year they won the division, winning promotion to the Southern League Premier Division, and two years later the Diamonds were again promoted as champions. The team had gained promotion to the Football Conference after just four years as a club and it was within this period that the club had achieved their best success in the FA Cup, getting to the 3rd Round twice. In 1998–99, the Diamonds held Leeds United to a famous 0–0 draw at Nene Park, after taking a shock early lead at Elland Road in the replay, they went on to lose 3–1. In the following campaign, the club were rewarded with a 3rd Round draw away to Sheffield United, the Diamonds secured a 1–1 draw at Bramall Lane, to force a replay. In the return fixture, the match went to penalties following a 1–1 deadlock after extra-time, in the shootout however, it was the Blades who finally edged the Diamonds out 6–5 to go through. In their first season in new surroundings, the Diamonds reached the Division Three Play-Off Final, after overcoming Rochdale 4–3 on aggregate over the two-legged Semi-Final, the club lost to Cheltenham Town in the final, 3–1 at the Millennium Stadium. In 2003, they won the division, pipping Hartlepool United to the Division Three championship on the last day of the season – their third title in eight seasons. The 2003–04 season in Division Two proved to be one of difficulty for Rushden & Diamonds. Despite a promising start, a run of bad results over the winter period saw the club slip down the table. Barry Hunter took over as caretaker player-manager but they were relegated in 22nd place after losing their last three games of the season, ernie Tippett was confirmed as permanent manager for the start of the 2004–05 season. Hunters contract was not renewed over the summer, the seasons following the Diamonds return to the Football Conference were marred by instability on and off the pitch. Keith Cousins took over the club in November 2006 and resigned in 2011 and he was replaced by Liam Beasant and Gary Calder, the latter of whom himself quit the club just weeks after taking over. Meanwhile, five managers took control of the team at different times, during their first three seasons back in Englands fifth division the Diamonds failed to finish in the top ten
Rochdale Association Football Club is a professional association football club based in the town of Rochdale, Greater Manchester, England. The team compete in League One, the tier in the English football league system. The clubs colours are black and blue and they play their games at Spotland Stadium. Formed in 1907 and nicknamed the Dale, they were accepted into the Football League in 1921, since then, the club has remained in the bottom two professional divisions of English Football. The team has achieved promotion three times – in 1969,2010 and 2014. Rochdale attract a small, but loyal fanbase, with a hardcore following of around 3000 home fans on average per match. Local fixtures however attract a higher turnout. The club reached the League Cup Final in 1962 and this was the first time a club from the bottom league division had reached the final of a major competition – where they lost to Norwich City. During its history, the club has had three promotions and three relegations, with coming in 1969 and 2010 and 2014 and relegation in 1959,1974 and 2012. The 1959 relegation followed the 1958 restructuring which saw the combination of the two Third Division sections into the Third Division and Fourth Division. In the restructuring, Rochdale managed to secure a spot in the Third Division, Rochdale A. F. C. was formed in 1907. After World War I the Football League was expanded and the club applied to join. In 1921 Rochdale was recommended to be included in the new Third Division North, however, this first season ended with the club at the bottom of the League, having to reapply for membership. In the early stages of the 1969–70 season, Rochdale topped the Division Three table, the teams form significantly declined around Christmas 1969, however, and a failure to halt the teams decline led to the dismissal of Richley. He was succeeded by Dick Conner, who stabilised the clubs form, the following three seasons saw the club finish in the lower reaches of the Division Three table, narrowly avoiding relegation each time. The board viewed merely surviving in Division Three as unacceptable and replaced Conner with Walter Joyce for the 1973–74 season and this move failed to pay off, and Rochdale was relegated after a campaign in which they won only 2 of 46 league games. The club finished bottom of the league in 1977–78, but was successful in their bid for re-election, southport, which had finished one place above Rochdale, was demoted instead and replaced by Wigan Athletic. Rochdale finished bottom for a time in 1979–80, but was again re-elected – by one vote over Altrincham