1985–86 in English football
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Diary of the season
10 July 1985 - Everton sell striker Andy Gray to Aston Villa for £150,000, six years after he first left Villa Park to sign for Wolves. The departure of Gray from Goodison Park comes, despite calls from fans for manager Howard Kendall to retain the striker, who played a crucial role in Everton winning three major trophies in his two seasons at the club.
17 August 1985 - The Football League season begins. Defending champions Everton suffer a shock 3–1 defeat to Leicester City at Filbert Street. FA Cup holders Manchester United beat Aston Villa 4–0 at Old Trafford. Tottenham Hotspur beat Watford 4–0 at White Hart Lane. Second Division thrillers include Wimbledon's 3–0 home win over Middlesbrough, while a seven-goal clash at Leeds Road sees Huddersfield Town beat Millwall 4-3. The season begins without any live coverage of matches on TV for an indefinite period, after the collapse of talks between ITV and the Football League to show live matches this season. International matches will be the only matches shown on live TV until the dispute in solved.
24 August 1985 - Oxford United achieve their first win in the First Division with a 5–0 victory over Leicester City at the Manor Ground. Watford beat West Bromwich Albion 5–1 at Vicarage Road. Manchester United are the only team in the First Division with a 100% record after three games, having beaten Arsenal 2–1 at Highbury. Sheffield Wednesday go second with a 3–1 win over Manchester City at Maine Road.
26 August 1985 - Liverpool beat Ipswich Town 5–0 at Anfield in the First Division. Newcastle United go third with a 2–1 away win over Coventry City. Leeds United, one of the Second Division promotion favourites, lose 6–2 at Stoke and are fourth from bottom in the table.
31 August 1985 – The first month of the season ends with Manchester United as leaders after five straight wins. Sheffield Wednesday's strong form continues as they retain second place, while Chelsea and Newcastle United fill the next two places, under their respective new managers John Hollins and Willie McFaul. After a slow start to the league campaign, Everton climb to fifth as Gary Lineker scores a hat-trick in a 4–1 win over Birmingham City at Goodison Park. In the Second Division, Portsmouth head the promotion race, joined in the top three by Blackburn Rovers and Oldham Athletic. Pre-season promotion favourites Sunderland prop up the table after losing their first five matches of the season without scoring, while Leeds United occupy 20th place with two draws and three defeats so far.
4 September 1985 - Midweek clashes in the First Division see Manchester United take their 100% start to six matches with a 3–0 home win over Newcastle United, a London derby at White Hart Lane where Tottenham beat Chelsea 4-1, a 2–2 draw between Leicester and Watford at Filbert Street, and a 3–0 away win for Aston Villa over local rivals West Bromwich Albion.
7 September 1985 - Manchester United take their 100% start to seven matches by beating Oxford United 3–0 at Old Trafford. Liverpool go second with a 3–1 home win over Watford. Everton suffer another major shock by losing 3–0 to QPR at Loftus Road. Tottenham beat Newcastle 5–1 at White Hart Lane. Down in the Second Division, bottom club Sunderland gain their first point and goals of the season by drawing 3–3 with Grimsby Town at Roker Park.
10 September 1985 - British sport mourns the death of Scotland manager Jock Stein, 62, who collapses and dies at the end of a 1–1 draw between Scotland and Wales in the last game of the World Cup qualifying campaign at Ninian Park. Stein's only employment in English football came in 1978, when he had a short spell as manager of Leeds United. Scotland go into the World Cup qualifying playoffs, while Wales miss out on qualification.
14 September 1985 - The Manchester derby sees Manchester United make it eight wins in a row from the start of the season as they triumph 3–0 at Maine Road. They are eight points ahead of their nearest rivals Everton, who beat Ipswich Town 2–0 at Goodison Park. Liverpool are held to a 2–2 draw by Oxford United at the Manor Ground. Arsenal go third win a 1–0 home win over Sheffield Wednesday. West Bromwich Albion still have just one point from their first eight league games after crashing 4–1 to Newcastle United on Tyneside.
21 September 1985 - Manchester United stretch their winning start to the season to nine games by beating bottom club West Bromwich Albion 5–1 at The Hawthorns in the First Division. Tottenham's scoring spree continues as they beat Sheffield Wednesday 5-1 by the same scoreline at home and move up to fifth place. Liverpool go second by winning the Merseyside derby 3–2 at Goodison Park.
28 September 1985 – Charlton Athletic depart from their Valley stadium following a damning inspection report by safety officials, and begin a groundshare with Crystal Palace. Manchester United make it 10 wins from their opening 10 games with a 1–0 home win over Southampton at Old Trafford. Liverpool keep up the pressure by beating Tottenham 4–1 at Anfield, but are nine points behind the leaders. Third-placed Chelsea lose 3–1 at Watford.
29 September 1985 - West Bromwich Albion, bottom of the First Division with one point from their opening 10 games, sack manager Johnny Giles, and place his assistant Nobby Stiles in charge.
30 September 1985 – The month ends with Manchester United already nine points clear of second-placed Liverpool. Chelsea and Newcastle United are a further three points adrift. In the Second Division, Portsmouth lead the way with 23 points from their opening 10 games, with Oldham Athletic and Blackburn Rovers once again completing the top three. Sunderland improve to 20th in the division, with eight points.
1 October 1985 - Ipswich Town, UEFA Cup winners in 1981 and league runners-up as recently as 1982, are now second from bottom in the First Division after a 1–0 defeat at Luton means they have gained just two wins and seven points from their first 10 games.
5 October 1985 – Manchester United's 100% start to the season ends as they draw 1–1 at Luton Town, leaving them one game short of the record 11-match winning start set by Tottenham Hotspur 25 years ago. However, they extend their lead at the top of the table to ten points as Liverpool lose 2–1 at Queens Park Rangers. Chelsea are now level on points with Liverpool after winning 1–0 against Manchester City at Maine Road. West Bromwich Albion scrape their second point of the season with a 1–1 draw at home to Tottenham. Second Division promotion hopefuls Brighton beat Carlisle United 6–1 at the Goldstone Ground.
6 October 1985 - Coventry City beat locals rivals Leicester City 3–0 in the First Division at Highfield Road, moving up two places to 15th and leaving the visitors fourth from bottom.
8 October 1985 - A Football League Cup second round second leg scoring spree at Villa Park sees Aston Villa beat Exeter City 8–1 to make the aggregate score 12–2 over two legs. Liverpool manage a 5–2 win over Oldham Athletic in their second leg visit to Boundary Park, making it 8–2 over the two legs.
11 October 1985 - Leeds United sack manager Eddie Gray after three years in charge and replace him with former club captain Billy Bremner, who was recruited from Third Division side Doncaster Rovers.
12 October 1985 - Reading set a Football League record of winning their first 12 league games of the season, beating Newport County 2–0 at Somerton Park in the Third Division. On the First Division scene, the gap between the leaders and their nearest two rivals remains at 10 points after Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea all win today. Arsenal move up to fourth place with a goalless draw at West Ham, while Sheffield Wednesday go fifth after a 2–2 draw at home to Coventry City, while Everton's 2–1 defeat at Chelsea pushes them down to sixth. West Bromwich Albion are still looking for their first win of the season after being held to a 2–2 draw at Leicester.
19 October 1985 - Reading's record-breaking winning start to the season extends to 13 matches with a 1–0 win over Lincoln City at Sincil Bank. The First Division scene produces a string of thrilling matches. Leaders Manchester United and second-placed Liverpool draw 1–1 at Old Trafford, keeping the gap at the top to 10 points. Chelsea miss the chance to take advantage as they lose 2–1 at Oxford. A five-goal thriller at Filbert Street sees Sheffield Wednesday beat Leicester City 3-2. Luton Town demolish Southampton 7–0 at Kenilworth Road to increase the relegation worries of a side which finished fifth last season and second the season before. West Ham's climb up the table continues with a 4–1 home win over Aston Villa. West Bromwich Albion finally win a league game at the 13th attempt by beating their local rivals Birmingham City 2–1 at The Hawthorns. The pick of the action in the Second Division comes at the Goldstone Ground, where visitors Charlton beat Brighton 5–3 to move into the top three and boost their chances of ending their 29-year exile from the First Division.
22 October 1985 - A North East derby clash in the Second Division sees Sunderland beat Middlesbrough 1–0 at Roker Park, moving three places up to 16th and leaving the visitors stuck in the bottom three.
23 October 1985 – After starting the season with a record 13 successive league wins, Third Division leaders Reading finally drop points with a 2–2 home draw against Wolverhampton Wanderers, who are struggling in the Third Division after two consecutive relegations.
26 October 1985 - Manchester United remain 10 points ahead of the First Division after a 2–1 away win over Chelsea, with Liverpool still second after beating Luton Town 3–2 at Anfield. Sheffield Wednesday go third win a 1–0 home win over West Bromwich Albion. Everton go fourth despite being held to a 1–1 draw by Manchester City at Maine Road, as a result of Chelsea and Arsenal both losing. Tottenham's erratic form continues as they lose 3–1 at home to Leicester City. Portsmouth are now eight points ahead at the top of the Second Division after a 4–0 win at Millwall. Sheffield United keep up their promotion push with a 4–1 away win over Bradford City. Oldham Athletic climb up three places into second with a 4–0 home win over Brighton. Norwich boost their hopes of an immediate return to the First Division by winning 2–0 at Sunderland.
31 October 1985 – Manchester United are still top of the First Division as October ends, with twelve wins and two draws from their opening fourteen games, and a ten-point lead over Liverpool. West Bromwich Albion, Ipswich Town and Manchester City lie in the relegation zone. Portsmouth now lead the Second Division with a seven-point advantage over second placed Blackburn Rovers, while Charlton Athletic have crept into third place, forcing Oldham Athletic out of the top three on goal difference. If the current top three clubs are promoted this season, it will mark the end of their First Division absences which have lasted for between 20 and 30 years. Wimbledon, in only their ninth season as a Football League team and their second in this division, are emerging as surprise contenders for promotion.
2 November 1985 - The gap at the top remains at 10 points as Manchester United beat Coventry City 2–0 at Old Trafford and Liverpool beat Leicester City 1–0 at Anfield. Everton drop down to seventh after losing 2–1 at West Ham, who move up to sixth place. Charlton Athletic keep up their Second Division promotion push with a 4–1 home win over Shrewsbury Town lifting them into second place. Grimsby Town beat Millwall 5–1 at Blundell Park. Sheffield United are now on the brink of the promotion places after beating Hull City 3–1 at Bramall Lane.
3 November 1985 - West Bromwich Albion's woeful form continues as a 2–1 defeat to Nottingham Forest at the City Ground leaves them rooted to the bottom of the First Division with one win and six points from their opening 15 games, while Brian Clough's team move up to seventh place.
9 November 1985 - Manchester United suffer their first defeat of the league season after 16 games, going down 1–0 to Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough. Liverpool cut the gap between first and second place to seven points with a 3–0 win at Coventry City. Gary Lineker scores his second league hat-trick of the season as Everton beat Arsenal 6–1 at Goodison Park. West Ham climb into the top five with a 2–1 away win over Oxford. Chelsea hold onto fourth place with a 4–2 home win over Nottingham Forest. Tottenham's latest setback sees them lose 3–1 at home to Luton Town. Sheffield United climb into the top three of the Second Division by beating Oldham Athletic 5–1 at Boundary Park. Hull City increase Fulham's relegation worries by beating them 5–0 at Boothferry Park. Bottom club Carlisle United boost their survival hopes with a 3–0 home win over Stoke City giving them only their second league win of the season.
13 November 1985 - England complete their successful World Cup qualifying campaign with a goalless draw at home to Northern Ireland at Wembley, with 40-year-old goalkeeper Pat Jennings pulling off a series of spectacular saves from the England attack.
16 November 1985 - Liverpool cut Manchester United's lead of the First Division to five points with a 4–1 home win over West Bromwich Albion, while United are held to a goalless draw at home to Tottenham. A seven-goal thriller at Portman Road sees Everton beat Ipswich Town 4-3, leaving the hosts six points adrift of safety. Manchester City climb out of the bottom three at the expense of Leicester City by beating Nottingham Forest 2–0 at the City Ground. Key action in the Second Division includes Brighton's 4–3 home win over Huddersfield, Middlesbrough beating Oldham 3–2 in a clash at Ayresome Park, and a 3–3 draw between Sheffield United and Blackburn Rovers at Bramall Lane.
23 November 1985 - Manchester United's loss of form continues when they crash 3–0 to Leicester City at Filbert Street, a result which lifts the hosts out of the bottom three. Liverpool cut the gap at the top to two points with a 2–0 away win over Birmingham City. Ipswich Town are now nine points adrift of safety after a 4–3 defeat at Oxford. In the Second Division, Oldham's promotion hopes take another blow when they lose 4–2 at home to Stoke.
26 November 1985 - League Cup fourth round action sees Ipswich Town beat Fourth Division pace-setters Swindon Town 6–1 at Portman Road, Chelsea draw 2–2 with Everton at Stamford Bridge and Liverpool beat Manchester United 2–1 at Anfield. Replayed matches sees Portsmouth force a second replay against Tottenham after a goalless draw at Fratton Park, Arsenal win 3–1 at Southampton and Aston Villa win 2–1 away to local rivals West Bromwich Albion.
29 November 1985 - Manchester United sign Aston Villa midfielder Colin Gibson for £275,000.
30 November 1985 – The month ends with the gap at the top of the First Division after home draws for both Manchester United and Liverpool. West Ham's surge has taken them to third place in the league and they are now just five points off the top of the table after beating West Bromwich Albion 4-0, a result which leaves the visitors 11 points adrift to safety with just one win and seven points from their first 19 games. Ipswich Town boost their survival chances with a 2–1 home win over Sheffield Wednesday. A five-goal thriller at The Dell sees Everton beat Southampton 3-2.
7 December 1985 - Manchester United maintain a two-point lead over Liverpool at the top of the First Division, beating Ipswich Town at Old Trafford while Kenny Dalglish's team beat Aston Villa 3–0 at Anfield. Everton keep up the pressure on the top five with a 3–0 away win over West Bromwich Albion.
14 December 1985 – Manchester United move five points ahead at the top of the First Division with a 3–1 win at struggling Aston Villa, who are in danger of relegation four seasons after winning the European Cup and five years after being league champions. Liverpool's title hopes are hit by a 2–0 away defeat against Arsenal, whose 19-year-old Irish striker Niall Quinn scores on his debut. West Ham United are level on points with second-placed Liverpool, after a 2–0 win over relegation-threatened Birmingham City. Everton suffer a setback when Leicester City beat them 2–1 at Goodison Park. West Bromwich Albion scrape their eighth point of the season by holding Oxford to a 2–2 draw at the Manor Ground, but are still 11 points adrift of safety. Norwich City's surge in form takes them to the top of the Second Division with a 3–1 win at Oldham, putting them ahead of Portsmouth, who have a game in hand, on goals scored.
20 December 1985 - The Football League accepts a £1.3million offer to show nine First Division and League Cup games this season. The first match to be shown will be the FA Cup third round clash between Charlton Athletic and West Ham on 5 January.
21 December 1985 - Arsenal defeat Manchester United 1–0 at Old Trafford in the First Division, while a 1–1 draw for Liverpool at home to Newcastle United narrows the gap between first and second place to two points. Third placed West Ham are held to a goalless draw Luton. Chelsea are now four points off the top of the league after winning 2–1 at Birmingham City. Norwich City retain their lead of the Second Division and give their goal difference a major boost by beating Millwall 6–1 at Carrow Road. Wimbledon, who were only elected to the Football League in 1977 and were still in the Fourth Division three seasons ago, boost their promotion bid with a 5–0 home win over Sheffield United. A relegation crunch game at Craven Cottage sees Middlesbrough beat Fulham 3-0, lifting the visitors out of the bottom three at the expense of the hosts.
22 December 1985 – Division One strugglers West Bromwich Albion pick up a rare victory, winning 3–1 against Watford. In the Second Division, a 1–0 win for Portsmouth (over Carlisle United) is enough for them to go level on points with Norwich at the top of the table, while victories for Derby and Blackpool put them into second and third respectively in the Third Division. In the Fourth Division, Halifax score three inside 37 minutes against Scunthorpe United, only for Iron forward John Hawley to bag a hat-trick and win his side a point.
26 December 1985 - Boxing Day drama in the First Division sees Everton beat Manchester United 3–1 at Goodison Park, placing Howard Kendall's fifth-placed six points behind Ron Atkinson's leaders. Liverpool miss the chance to cut the gap at the top to a single point, with their 1–0 defeat to Manchester City at Maine Road keeping the gap at four points, as do a West Ham side who lose 1–0 at Tottenham.
28 December 1985 - Everton's surge towards the top of the First Division continues with a 3–1 home win over Sheffield Wednesday. A local derby at Villa Park sees Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion draw 1-1. Chelsea go second and are just two points off the top of the league with a 2–0 home win over Tottenham. Liverpool drop points again when Nottingham Forest hold them to a 1–1 draw at the City Ground. Millwall climb out of the Second Division's bottom three with a 5–0 home win over Hull City. Brighton keep up their promotion bid by beating Leeds 3–2 at Elland Road. Portsmouth draw level on points at the top of the table with a 4–0 home win over Shrewsbury Town.
31 December 1985 – Manchester United finish the year still top of the league, two points ahead of Chelsea and three clear of Everton and Liverpool. With just two wins so far, West Bromwich Albion remain bottom, and Ipswich Town and Birmingham City also remain in the relegation zone. Norwich City are the Second Division leaders, with Portsmouth and Charlton Athletic completing the top three.
1 January 1986 - The new year kicks off with Manchester United five points ahead at the top of the First Division, beating Birmingham City 1–0 at Old Trafford. Everton's surge is halted when they are held to a 2–2 draw by Newcastle United on Tyneside. Liverpool are held to a 2–2 draw at home to Sheffield Wednesday. The City Ground in the scene of a seven-goal frenzy as Nottingham Forest beat Coventry City 5-2. Hull City move onto the fringes on the Second Division promotion race with a 4–1 win over Barnsley at Oakwell, which dents the home side's hopes of promotion. There are victories for the leading duo of Norwich City and Portsmouth, while Wimbledon remain in the top three despite losing 3–1 at home to Portsmouth. Brighton keep up their promotion push with a 2–0 home win over Crystal Palace.
2 January 1986 – Second Division strugglers Middlesbrough are reported to be £1million in debt. Peterborough United fan Barry Fox, 22, is jailed for three years for punching a policeman unconscious in the game against Northampton Town at London Road on 12 October.
4 January 1986 – In the FA Cup third round, Leicester City are beaten 3–1 by Third Division Bristol Rovers. Liverpool's quest for a third FA Cup triumph begins with a 5–0 home win over Norwich City. Arsenal beat Grimsby Town 4–3 in a seven-goal thriller at Blundell Park. Ipswich Town and Bradford draw 4–4 at Portman Road.
5 January 1986 - West Ham's FA Cup run gets off to a good start with a 1–0 win over Charlton Athletic at Selhurst Park. Everton's quest begins with a 1–0 home win over Exeter City. The FA Cup ties are the first televised domestic matches of the season.
11 January 1986 - Manchester United are still five points ahead at the top of the First Division after beating Oxford United 3–1 at the Manor Ground. Everton keep up the pressure as a 4–3 home win over QPR keeps them in second place. Chelsea go third with a 1–0 home win over Luton Town. Ipswich Town's recent upturn in form has taken them to the brink of climbing out of the bottom three after winning 1–0 at second-from-bottom Birmingham City. Bottom club West Bromwich Albion draw 1–1 at home to Newcastle United. Norwich City remain top of the Second Division with a 2–0 home win over struggling Middlesbrough. Sunderland boost their survival bid with a 4–2 home win at home to Leeds United.
16 January 1986 - Ron Saunders resigns as manager of Birmingham City.
18 January 1986 – Manchester United are still top of the First Division, but now hold just a two-point margin over Everton, Liverpool and Chelsea, after losing 3–2 at home to Nottingham Forest. Gary Lineker reaches the 20-goal mark in the First Division by scoring twice for Everton in their 2–0 away win over struggling Birmingham City.
25 January 1986 - The FA Cup fourth round ties include a 5–1 home win for Arsenal over Rotherham United, a 5–0 home win for Sheffield Wednesday over Orient, and a goalless draw for Manchester United against Sunderland at Roker Park, in which captain Bryan Robson is substituted due to a shoulder injury.
29 January 1986 - Manchester United sign striker Terry Gibson from Coventry City for £600,000. The FA Cup fourth round replays see Tottenham beat Notts County 5-0, Manchester United beat Sunderland 3-0 and Millwall beat Aston Villa 1-0.
1 February 1986 - Everton go top of the First Division with a 1–0 home win over Tottenham, although they are just one point ahead of a Manchester United side who have two games in hand. Liverpool miss the chance go top of the table on goal difference when they suffer a shock 2–1 defeat at Ipswich, who climb out of the bottom three. Nobby Stiles resigns after four months as manager of West Bromwich Albion.
4 February 1986 – Everton sign striker Warren Aspinall from Wigan Athletic for £150,000.
14 February 1986 - One month after leaving Birmingham City, Ron Saunders is named as the new manager of West Bromwich Albion.
22 February 1986 - Manchester United remain firmly in the title hunt when a Jesper Olsen hat-trick gives them a 3–0 home win over bottom-of-the-table West Bromwich Albion, who have so far won just three out of 30 league games and are currently 10 points adrift to safety.
28 February 1986 – Leaders Everton are three points ahead of Manchester United, who have a game in hand, at the end of the month. Liverpool are now eight points behind, level with Chelsea, but the London club have played three matches fewer. Aston Villa, just five years after being league champions, have slipped into the relegation zone alongside West Midlands rivals West Bromwich Albion and Birmingham City. Norwich City, Portsmouth and Charlton Athletic head the Second Division promotion race.
5 March 1986 - The latest fifth round ties in the FA Cup see Watford draw 1–1 with Bury at Vicarage Road, while Manchester United are held to a 1–1 draw with West Ham at Upton Park. Southampton win 1–0 at Millwall in a replay, while Sheffield Wednesday beat Derby County in their replayed fixture at Hillsborough, and Luton Town beat Arsenal 3–0 in a second replay. On the same day, Liverpool's hopes of a unique domestic treble are ended when they fail to get the better of QPR in their League Cup semi-final second leg at Anfield.
8 March 1986 – A fifth round replay in the FA Cup sees Watford beat Bury 3–0 at Gigg Lane. In the first two quarter-final ties, Everton come from two goals behind at Luton to draw 2-2 and force a replay, while Southampton win 2–0 at Brighton. On the league scene, Aston Villa remain in the relegation zone after losing 4–1 at home to Arsenal, Chelsea are eight points off the top with three games in hand after a 1–0 home win over Manchester City, Ipswich Town remain clear of the bottom three after a 1–0 home win over Nottingham Forest, Liverpool boost their title hopes by beating QPR 4–1 at Anfield, and West Bromwich Albion move closer to inevitable relegation with a 5–0 defeat at Tottenham.
9 March 1986 - Manchester United's double hopes are ended when they lose 2–0 at home to West Ham in the FA Cup fifth round replay. The result also sees the end of the lengthy catalogue of fifth round ties in the competition.
11 March 1986 - Liverpool are held to a goalless draw at home to Watford in the FA Cup quarter-final. Arsenal go fifth with a 2–1 away win over Ipswich Town. A mid-table clash at Loftus Road sees Southampton beat QPR 2-0.
12 March 1986 – Oxford United reach the League Cup final for the first time after beating Aston Villa 4–3 on aggregate. Manchester United sign striker Peter Davenport from Nottingham Forest for £750,000. The England U21 national side defeats Denmark 1–0 in the European Championship quarter-final first leg in Copenhagen, with the only goal of the game coming from Coventry City midfielder Nick Pickering. Manchester United sign England striker Peter Davenport from Nottingham Forest for £750,000. In the FA Cup, West Ham's double hopes are ended by a 2–1 defeat at Sheffield Wednesday in the quarter-final tie at Hillsborough. Everton beat Luton Town 1–0 in the quarter-final replay at Goodison Park. Birmingham City's First Division survival hopes are hit by a 4–2 defeat to Leicester City at Filbert Street. Second Division leaders Norwich City move closer to promotion with a 4–1 home win over Huddersfield Town.
14 March 1986 - Portsmouth boost their Second Division promotion push with a £150,000 move for Oldham Athletic striker Micky Quinn, who has scored 34 goals since joining the Latics in January 1984.
15 March 1986 - Liverpool cut Everton's lead at the top of the First Division to two points by beating Southampton 2–1 at The Dell. Norwich continue to close in on an immediate return to the First Division by beating Carlisle United 2–1 at Carrow Road.
21 March 1986 – Manchester United announce that striker Mark Hughes is to join Barcelona, managed by former QPR and Crystal Palace boss Terry Venables, for a fee of £2million at the end of the season.
22 March 1986 - Don Howe resigns as manager of Arsenal following reports that Terry Venables had been offered his job. His final game in charge was today's 3–0 home win over Coventry, which leaves the Gunners fifth in the table and eight points behind leaders Everton but with two games in charge. Coach Steve Burtenshaw remains in temporary charge at Highbury until a permanent successor to Howe is appointed. Manchester United's title hopes take a fresh blow then they are held to a 2–2 home draw in the Manchester derby. Liverpool draw level on points with Everton, who have a game in hand, by beating Oxford United 6–0 at Anfield. A relegation crunch clash at Villa Park sees Birmingham City boost their own survival hopes and dent those of their local rivals Aston Villa with a 3–0 victory. Norwich City take another step towards promotion from the Second Division with a 5–2 away win over Sheffield United.
23 March 1986 – The first final of the Full Members Cup is played at Wembley Stadium, with Chelsea defeating Manchester City 5–4 with a hat-trick from David Speedie and two goals from Colin Lee. They had been 5–1 up after 85 minutes before three City goals saw their lead cut to a single goal.
25 March 1986 – Steve Perryman, 34, ends his 17-year spell at Tottenham Hotspur and signs for Oxford United on a free transfer.
26 March 1986 – The return leg of the under-21 European Championship quarter-final sees England reach the next stage by drawing 1–1 with Denmark at Maine Road, with Aston Villa defender Paul Elliott equalising after the Danes took a 1–0 lead in the first half. Everton goalkeeper Neville Southall is ruled out for at least the rest of the season with a serious ankle injury suffered on international duty for Wales.
27 March 1986 - On transfer deadline day, Wimbledon pay a club record £125,000 for Millwall striker John Fashanu. Following Neville Southall's injury, Everton boost their goalkeeping options by signing veteran goalkeeper Pat Jennings on a short-term contact.
29 March 1986 - Everton maintain their lead of the First Division with a 1–0 home win over Newcastle United. Liverpool miss the chance to go level with their close neighbours when Sheffield Wednesday hold them to a goalless draw at Hillsborough. Manchester United's title hopes take another blow when they are held to a 1–1 draw at Birmingham, while West Ham's title hopes are boosted and Chelsea are dented when the visitors win 4–0 at Stamford Bridge. Bottom club West Bromwich Albion win for only the fourth time this season, beating Southampton 1–0 at The Hawthorns.
31 March 1986 – Liverpool go top of the First Division on goal difference with a 2–0 home win over Manchester City, although Everton still have a game in hand, having drawn 0-0 today with Manchester United at Old Trafford. Chelsea's title hopes take an even heavier blow when they lose 6–0 to QPR at Loftus Road. West Ham, who are 10 points off the top but have five games in hand, beat Tottenham 2–1 at Upton Park.
1 April 1986 - West Bromwich Albion move a step closer to relegation when they lose 3–0 at Luton, who climb into sixth place. Arsenal's hopes of making a late run to the title are effectively ended by a 3–0 defeat at Watford.
5 April 1986 – Liverpool beat Southampton 2–0 in the FA Cup semi-final at White Hart Lane to keep their double hopes alive, and end Southampton's hopes of gaining silverware in the first season under Chris Nicholl's management. Everton keep their own double bid on track with a 2–1 win over Sheffield Wednesday in the other semi-final at Villa Park. The league scene sees Manchester United boost their title hopes with a 3–1 away win over Coventry City. Arsenal keep their slim title hopes alive with a 1–0 away win over Manchester City, while Chelsea's are hit by a 1–1 draw at home to Ipswich Town. Fulham's Second Division hopes are left looking slim when they lose 4–2 away to Sunderland, whose own survival hopes are boosted in the process. Norwich move to the brink of promotion with a 3–0 home win over Brighton.
9 April 1986 – England's hopes of European Championship glory at under-21 level are dealt with a huge blow when they lose 2–0 to Italy in Pisa in the semi-final first leg. Manchester United miss the chance to go top of the First Division by losing 2–1 at home to Chelsea, a result which boosts the title hopes of the West London side. Aston Villa's survival bid is boosted when they hold Newcastle United to a 2–2 draw on Tyneside, although they stay in the bottom three after Oxford claim a point at home to Watford. Their local rivals Birmingham City suffer another huge blow in their battle to avoid relegation after losing 4–1 at Newcastle. Liverpool are still top of the league on goal difference after a 5–0 home win over Coventry City, while Everton (who still have a game in hand) win 1–0 at Arsenal. West Ham keep up their bid for a late run to the title by beating Oxford United 3–1 at Upton Park, a result which sends the visitors into the relegation zone, while Aston Villa climb out of the bottom three with a 4–1 home win over Watford. Chelsea's title hopes suffer a fresh blow when they are held to a goalless draw at Nottingham Forest. Norwich City's immediate return to the First Division is now a near certainty after their 2–0 away win over Bradford City. The once unthinkable scenario of Wimbledon being in the First Division and Sunderland being in the Third Division is now looking more likely as the South West Londoners go third with a 3–0 win at Plough Lane at the expense of the Rokermen, who fall into the bottom three. Fulham's failure to win at home to Hull City leaves them on the brink of the Third Division for the first time since 1971, while Carlisle's recent upturn has seen them gain ground in what had once seemed like an almost impossible task to avoid relegation.
14 April 1986 – Tottenham Hotspur agree a £50,000 fee with Millwall for 18-year-old defender Neil Ruddock. QPR beat Leicester City 4–1 in the First Division at Filbert Street.
16 April 1986 - Liverpool return to the top of the First Division on goal difference (although Everton still have a game in hand) after beating Luton Town 1–0 at Kenilworth Road. In a scrap to stay clear of the relegation zone at Villa Park, Aston Villa beat Ipswich Town 1-0. Manchester United keep their fading title hopes alive with a 4–2 away win over Newcastle United. Birmingham City lose 2–0 at Tottenham and now need to win all three of their remaining games to stand any chance of avoiding relegation.
19 April 1986 – Birmingham City lose 2–0 at home to Southampton and are relegated from the First Division just one season after promotion. Manchester United's title challenge is over after they are held to a goalless draw by Tottenham at White Hart Lane. Everton beat Ipswich Town 1–0 to draw level on points with Liverpool, who beat doomed West Bromwich Albion 2–1 at the Hawthorns. Norwich City draw 1–1 at home to Stoke City and seal their immediate return to the First Division.
20 April 1986 – Oxford United beat QPR 3–0 in the League Cup final at Wembley, to win the first major piece of silverware in their history.
21 April 1986 – West Ham United beat Newcastle United 8–1 in the league at Upton Park, with defender Alvin Martin scoring a hat-trick.
22 April 1986 -
23 April 1986 – England's under-21 European dream is over as they can only manage a 1–1 draw with Italy at the County Ground in Swindon, with Arsenal midfielder Stewart Robson scoring their only goal.
26 April 1986 – Wolverhampton Wanderers become the third West Midlands club to be relegated this season, and become only the second English league club ever to suffer three successive relegations, after their descent into the Fourth Division is confirmed. Their slump echoes that of Bristol City four years earlier. Liverpool defender Gary Gillespie scores a hat-trick in a 5–0 league win over relegated Birmingham City at Anfield, while Everton are held 0-0 by Nottingham Forest to keep the red half of Merseyside on top. West Ham keep their title hopes alive with a 1–0 home win over Coventry City, while Manchester United beat Leicester City 4–0 at Old Trafford. Chelsea's title challenge is over after they lose 3–1 at Aston Villa, whose victory takes them closer to survival. The First Division relegation battle takes a dramatic turn when Ipswich Town climb three places clear of the drop zone with a 3–2 win over Oxford United, who are still in the bottom three. Fulham are relegated from the Second Division despite a 2–1 home win over Huddersfield Town, while Middlesbrough beat Millwall 3–0 to climb out of the bottom three at the expense of Sunderland, who lose 3–1 at Brighton.
28 April 1986 - The heat remains on in the First Division title race when a Ray Stewart penalty give West Ham a 1–0 home win over Manchester City.
29 April 1986 - Charlton Athletic now need just a point from their final two games of the season to seal a return to the First Division after 29 years away, after beating doomed London rivals Fulham 2–0 at home. Carlisle remain well-placed for a miracle escape from relegation after beating Brighton 2–0 at Brunton Park. Sunderland boost their survival bid with a 2–0 home win over Shrewsbury Town.
30 April 1986 – The First Division title race takes an unexpected turn when Everton are beaten 1–0 at Oxford and Liverpool win 2–0 at Leicester, while West Ham keep their title hopes alive with a 2–1 home win over an Ipswich side who would have ensured survival had they won the game. Oxford's shock win over Everton lifts them out of the bottom three at the expense of Leicester.
3 May 1986 – Player-manager Kenny Dalglish scores the only goal as Liverpool beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge to win the First Division title. Everton win Southampton 6-1, which was 4-0 after 20 minutes. Ipswich Town lose their last match 1–0 to Sheffield Wednesday, and are two points ahead of 20th-placed Oxford United, who still have one match remaining and need to win to survive. Coventry City and Leicester City secure survival with home wins. Charlton Athletic seal promotion from the Second Division with a 3–2 win at relegation-threatened Carlisle United. Wimbledon reach the First Division after just nine years in the Football League by winning 1–0 at Huddersfield.
5 May 1986 – Bank Holiday Monday sees the First Division campaign draw to a close with four matches producing a total of 21 goals. Oxford United beat Arsenal 3–0 to achieve survival and send Ipswich down after 18 years in the First Division. Chelsea finish sixth after a 5–1 home defeat to Watford. In the battle for second place, Everton triumph 3–1 over West Ham at Goodison Park. Tottenham complete an erratic league campaign awash with 126 goals by beating Southampton 5-3. The Second Division campaign is concluded by Blackburn ensuring survival with a 3–1 win over Grimsby Town at Ewood Park, while Carlisle's hopes of a great escape are ended when they go down 2–1 to Oldham at Boundary Park. Reading finish their Third Division campaign as champions with a 2–0 home win over Doncaster Rovers and are back in the Second Division for the first time since 1931. Lincoln City's relegation is confirmed after they lose 3–2 at home to Wolves. Fourth Division champions Swindon Town finish the season with a Football League record of 102 points.
6 May 1986 – Everton manager Howard Kendall dismisses speculation that top scorer Gary Lineker will sign for Barcelona.
7 May 1986 - At the end of a fiercely competitive Fourth Division campaign, Rochdale draw 1–1 with Peterborough United at London Road and finish 18th to avoid having to apply for re-election to the Football League.
9 May 1986 - Derby County seal promotion from the Third Division with a 2–1 win over Rotherham United at the Baseball Ground.
10 May 1986 – Ian Rush scores twice as Liverpool come from behind to beat Everton 3–1 in the first-ever all-Merseyside FA Cup final. Liverpool become the fifth club in history to win the league championship and FA Cup double. Rush, however, could soon be on his way to Italy to sign for Juventus, according to media reports.
13 May 1986 - Tottenham Hotspur sack manager Peter Shreeves after two seasons in charge. Shreeves turned Tottenham into title contenders and guided them to a third-placed finish in his first season as manager, but erratic form during his second campaign saw the North London side finish 10th in the First Division.
14 May 1986 - Millwall manager George Graham, who was a midfield star in Arsenal's double winning team 15 years ago, returns to Highbury as the club's new manager.Aberdeen manager Alex Ferguson, who is also interim manager of the Scotland national team, had been linked with the manager's job at Arsenal, and now among the names being linked with the latest First Division managerial vacancy, at Arsenal's local rivals Tottenham.
16 May 1986 - David Pleat calls time on eight years as manager of Luton Town to become the new Tottenham manager.
22 May 1986 – 20-year-old defender Denis Irwin joins Oldham Athletic on a free transfer from Leeds United.
5 June 1986 – Coventry City sign winger David Phillips from Manchester City for £150,000.
6 June 1986 – A goalless draw with Morocco leaves England needing to win their final group game in order to qualify for the second round of the World Cup.
11 June 1986 – Gary Lineker scores a hat-trick in England's 3–0 victory over Poland which sends them through to the second round of the World Cup.
13 June 1986 – Southampton sign 19-year-old goalkeeper Tim Flowers from Wolverhampton Wanderers for £70,000, while 23-year-old midfielder Ian Crook joins Norwich City from Tottenham Hotspur for £80,000.
22 June 1986 – England's World Cup challenge is ended in the quarter-finals when they lose 2–1 to Argentina. Diego Maradona scores both goals for Argentina, his first goal being the controversial "Hand of god" goal which was allowed despite being an obvious handball.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (November 2018)
England reached the quarter-finals of the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, where they lost 2–1 to eventual champions Argentina. Diego Maradona scored both Argentine goals; the first, scored with his hand, became known as the "Hand of god".
Kenny Dalglish's first season as player-manager of Liverpool saw them narrowly reclaim the league title from neighbours Everton, pipping them to the title on the final day of the season. They would then complete their first (and to date, only) league and cup double by defeating Everton in the FA Cup final.
As a result of the previous year's Heysel stadium disaster, both Liverpool and Everton missed out on the European Cup and European Cup Winners' Cup respectively, while West Ham United (who secured their highest-ever league finish), Manchester United (who had led the league for much of the season before a disastrous late run of form saw them fall down the table) and Sheffield Wednesday (earning their highest league finish since 1960) all missed out on the UEFA Cup, as did Oxford United, who not only survived in their first-ever top-flight season, but won the League Cup.
West Bromwich Albion fell back into Division Two after ten seasons, following a campaign in which they only managed to win four games. Local rivals Birmingham City fared almost as poorly, and made an immediate return to Division Two. Ipswich Town were the final relegated side, the culmination of a rapid decline in the four years since Bobby Robson left to become England manager. Coventry City had spent most of the season in the relegation zone, until a late revival after George Curtis and John Sillett took over as co-managers with three games remaining.
|Pos||Team||Pld||W||D||L||GF||GA||GD||Pts||Qualification or relegation|
|1||Liverpool||42||26||10||6||89||37||+52||88||Champions, excluded from European Cup|
|2||Everton||42||26||8||8||87||41||+46||86||FA Cup runners-up, excluded from Cup Winners' Cup|
|3||West Ham United||42||26||6||10||74||40||+34||84||Excluded from UEFA Cup|
|13||Queens Park Rangers||42||15||7||20||53||64||−11||52|
|18||Oxford United||42||10||12||20||62||80||−18||42||League Cup winners, excluded from UEFA Cup|
|22||West Bromwich Albion||42||4||12||26||35||89||−54||24|
Norwich City comfortably won the Second Division title, and with it, promotion back to the First Division at the first time of asking. Charlton Athletic, despite having suffered a financial crisis over the preceding years and leaving their home ground The Valley to groundshare with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, surpassed expectations to return to the First Division for the first time since 1957. However, by far the biggest shock of the season was that Wimbledon, who had been in the Fourth Division only three years prior and were in only their second-ever season in the second tier, managed to claim the third and final promotion spot, entering the top-flight for the first time ever.
Fulham were relegated in bottom place, after mounting financial pressures had forced them to sell off most of their squad during the summer. Middlesbrough suffered only their second-ever relegation to the third tier, as their own financial situation grew increasingly desperate, to the point where they were locked out of their Ayresome Park ground and nearly expelled from the Football League between the end of this season and the beginning of the following one. Carlisle United occupied the third and final relegation spot, as a fightback after former manager Bob Stokoe came out of retirement ultimately proved not enough to keep them in Division Two.
|Pos||Team||Pld||W||D||L||GF||GA||GD||Pts||Promotion or relegation|
|1||Norwich City||42||25||9||8||84||37||+47||84||Division Champions, promoted|
|11||Brighton & Hove Albion||42||16||8||18||64||64||0||56|
A run of thirteen successive victories at the start of the season helped propel Reading to the Third Division title, meaning they would be playing in the Second Division for the first time since 1931. Plymouth Argyle took the runners-up spot, continuing the revival in fortunes that began with the appointment of Dave Smith as manager the previous season. Derby County was the third promoted side, ensuring that their first-ever spell in the third tier wouldn't extend to a third season.
The bottom two positions were occupied by two teams who had experienced shocking falls from grace since the start of the decade. Swansea City, who had finished sixth in the First Division only four years prior, suffered their third relegation in four seasons to end up back in the Fourth Division, just eight years after John Toshack took them to the first of three promotions. Even more shocking was the decline of Wolverhampton Wanderers, who had finished sixth and had been Football League Cup winners in 1980, only to suffer the indignity of a third successive relegation. Cardiff City also completed a decline that, if not as high-profile as the two teams below them, was almost as dramatic, as they suffered their second successive relegation, having gone down with Wolves the previous year. Lincoln City filled the final relegation spot, their fortunes having rapidly declined since the resignation of manager Colin Murphy the previous summer.
|Pos||Team||Pld||W||D||L||GF||GA||GD||Pts||Promotion or relegation|
|1||Reading||46||29||7||10||67||51||+16||94||Division Champions, promoted|
Swindon Town won promotion by a record-breaking 18 points, becoming only the second team (after York City two years previously) to exceed 100 points in a season, and also rewarding the board's decision to reinstate manager Lou Macari only days after his controversial sacking at the end of the previous season. Chester City, who had finished bottom of the league just two years prior, enjoyed a rapid turn-around in form following Harry McNally's appointment as manager in the summer, and were promoted as runners-up. Mansfield Town and Port Vale took the two remaining promotion spaces.
The final season prior to the introduction of automatic movement between Division Four and the Alliance Premier League once again saw all the bottom four sides comfortably re-elected, despite Torquay United finishing bottom for the second season in a row. Making bigger headlines were Preston North End, whose first-ever season at this level saw them rooted to the bottom of the table for most of the campaign, only overtaking Torquay thanks to a late run of form. Cambridge United, who had been relegated alongside Preston the previous year, also struggled throughout the season. Exeter City were the final team made to apply for re-election, with Halifax Town avoiding spending a third successive year applying for re-election by virtue of a single goal.
|Pos||Team||Pld||W||D||L||GF||GA||GD||Pts||Promotion or relegation|
|1||Swindon Town||46||32||6||8||82||43||+39||102||Division Champions, promoted|
|13||Wrexham||46||17||9||20||68||80||−12||60||Welsh Cup winners, qualified for the 1986–87 European Cup Winners' Cup First round|
|23||Preston North End||46||11||10||25||54||89||−35||43|
- Gary Lineker (Everton) – 30 goals
- Kevin Drinkell (Norwich City) – 22 goals
- Trevor Senior (Reading) – 27 goals
- Richard Cadette (Southend United) – 25 goals
The divisional champions of the major non-League competitions were:
|Alliance Premier League||Enfield|
|Isthmian League||Sutton United|
|Northern Premier League||Gateshead|
|Southern League||Welling United|
|FA Vase||Halesowen Town|
31 August 1985 – Ian Wright, 21-year-old striker, makes his debut for Crystal Palace in 3–2 defeat by Huddersfield Town at Selhurst Park in the Second Division soon after joining the club from non-league Greenwich Borough.
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