100 YEARS AGO, top flight football had been suspended due to the First World War but one season had been played whilst the hostilities were taking place just a few miles across the Channel.
The FA and the Football League had consulted with the War Office before making their decision to continue with the 1914-15 season despite war having been declared as football was seen as a useful medium for communicating with working-class men. It was thought to have encouraged half a million to join the armed forces by early 1915, while also providing some relief from the misery of wartime.
Everton finished the season strongly and won the Division 1 title by a point from Oldham Athletic so having the distinction of being champions for the rest of the war, with West Bromwich Albion claiming their first League title when football resumed for the 1919-20 season.
Sheffield United won the FA Cup beating Chelsea 3-0 in what was called the Khaki Cup Final due to the large number of uniformed servicemen at the match.
This season was all about one man – William Ralph Dean, better known as Dixie – who scored an incredible 60 League goals as Everton claimed their third League crown.
The Toffees’ centre-forward needed three goals in the final game of the season at Goodison to beat the 59-goal record set by Middlesbrough’s George Camsell the season before and claimed his hat-trick in a 3-3 draw with Herbert Chapman’s Arsenal.
In the FA Cup, Blackburn Rovers won their sixth FA Cup trophy – and, so far, their last!
Ten years on, Manchester City had the misfortune to become the only team to be relegated the season after winning the league title as well as the only team to ever be demoted from the top flight having scored the most goals in that season. Preston North End collected the FA Cup for the second time.
With military tensions rising, England travelled on a European tour in 1938 with one of the games at the Olympiastadion in Berlin in front of Adolf Hitler and, controversially, the players were ordered to give the Nazi salute before the match. A certain Stanley Matthews was on the scoresheet that day as England hammered their hosts 6-3!
Having won the League title no less than five times in the 1930s under the legendary Herbert Chapman, Arsenal claimed their first League title after the Second World War under new boss, Tom Whittaker.
Elsewhere, following a playing career with both Manchester City and Liverpool, future Manchester United legend Matt Busby had been appointed manager of the club in 1945 while still serving as a football coach in the Army Physical Training Corp and, in 1948, he led United to its first major trophy for 37 years, lifting the FA Cup after beating Blackpool 4-2 in the Final.
Sadly, this season is most remembered for the Munich air disaster involving the Manchester United plane returning from a European Cup quarter-final tie in Yugoslavia in which 23 people died, including 8 players.
United fulfilled their remaining fixtures as best they could, even reaching the FA Cup Final where they fielded four crash survivors, including Bobby Charlton. With Matt Busby still recovering in hospital, his assistant Jimmy Murphy was in charge of the team on the day but United lost 2-0 to Bolton Wanderers.
In the League, Wolverhampton Wanderers finished the season as champions.
A decade after Munich, Manchester United’s rebuilding job was complete, with survivors Matt Busby and Bobby Charlton at the heart of it. Having been crowned League Champions the season before, United became the first English team to win the European Cup in a memorable encounter with Benfica at Wembley Stadium.
Sadly for those of an Evertonian persuasion, West Bromwich Albion won the FA Cup, courtesy of an extra-time goal by Jeff Astle, while the First Division title went to Manchester City.
Elsewhere, Don Revie’s emerging Leeds United team won their first two major trophies, taking the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup (the equivalent of today's Europa League) and the League Cup, beating Arsenal in the Final.
Nottingham Forest took the First Division by storm, winning the title in their first season after promotion back to the top flight as well as the League Cup. With the peerless Brian Clough at the helm, it was the start of the most glorious era in the club’s history, culminating in European Cup successes in both 1979 and 1980.
In the FA Cup, another managerial legend, Bobby Robson, guided small East Anglian outfit Ipswich Town to victory in the FA Cup, winning the final 1–0 against Arsenal with the goalscorer Roger Osborne having to be substituted after being overcome by emotion after his match-winning strike.
In the European Cup, having won the trophy for the first time in 1977, Liverpool retained it when beating Club Brugge at Wembley, with Kenny Dalglish scoring the winner in his first season at the club after having been signed to replace Kevin Keegan.
The mid-1980s were dominated by the two Merseyside giants Everton and Liverpool and in this season the Red half of the city regained the League title which the Toffees had won the year previously.
But Kenny Dalglish’s side were shocked when attempting to complete the Double as huge outsiders Wimbledon – just 11 years after joining the Football League – defeated their illustrious rivals courtesy of a Lawrie Sanchez goal and a Dave Beasant penalty save from John Aldridge.
Advancing another decade, Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal side finished the season strongly to beat Manchester United to the Premier League title, before becoming only the second English club to win the Double twice after victory over Newcastle United in the FA Cup Final.
Dutch forward Dennis Bergkamp’s contribution to the Gunners’ success was reflected in him being voted both PFA Players' Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year.
Ten years ago, English clubs were dominating the later stages of the Champions League (formerly the European Cup) and in this season all four English clubs competing in the competition reached the quarter-finals.
Liverpool beat Arsenal in their last eight tie, but lost out to Chelsea in the semi-final who then met Manchester United in the final in Moscow – the first time two English teams had reached that stage. Sir Alex Ferguson’s United triumphed 6-5 on penalties (1-1 after extra-time) and also pipped Chelsea to the Premier League crown.
On the 17 May 2008, Harry Rednapp’s Portsmouth's ended a 58-year wait for a major trophy when defeating Cardiff City in the FA Cup final, with Nwankwo Kanu grabbing the all-important only goal of the game.
So, in the 90th anniversary season of Dixie Dean’s incredible goalscoring feat and the 60th anniversary of Munich, which teams will be most successful and who will prove to be the best transfer signings?
We’re about to find out and Retrotext will be there every step of the way!