4 August 2022

The Football League

By tolgagenc

1888-1890 Season:

The world’s oldest football league organization, The Football League, began on 8 September 1888 with 12 member clubs from England’s East Midlands, West Midlands, and North West Regions: Notts County and Derby County from the East Midlands; Aston Villa, Stoke, West Bromwich Albion, Wolverhampton Wanderers from the West Midlands Region; Accrington, Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, Burnley, Everton, Preston North End from the North West Region. It is seen that there are no teams from many parts of England, especially London.

Kaynak millenium.com

Each club played once at home and once away with their opponents. Two points were awarded for a win and one point for a draw. Until the first day of the season, the committee discussed the issue of a point to a win. In the first league, Preston North End was the champion with 40 points, Aston Villa took second place with 29 points, and Wolverhampton Wanderers took third place with 28 points. The players on Champion Preston’s roster appear to be English, Scottish, Irish and Welsh, which was the case in the 1980s and partly even in the 1990s.

Kaynak: 1888letter.com

In the system where two points were awarded for a win, Preston North End was the champion in the first two seasons and had a clear advantage in the first season. In the second season, they had an intense struggle with Everton and achieved victory by 2 points.

Kaynak: melaman2.com

1890-1891 Season:

The Football League started in September 1888 with 12 member clubs from England’s East Midlands, West Midlands, and North West Regions.

In The Football League, which continues with the same clubs, Stoke was removed in the third season, while Sunderland had included in the league. At the end of this highly contested third season, Everton became the champion with 29 points in 22 matches. Preston North End, the winner of the first two seasons, was second with 27 points, while Notts County with 26 points was third and Wolverhampton Wanderers was fourth.

Kaynak: LiverpoolEcho

While remembering the regions of these first clubs, let’s look at which leagues they are in now.
Notts County (EFL League Two), Derby County (Football League Championship) from East Midlands
Aston Villa (Football League Championship), Stoke (Football League Championship), West Bromwich Albion (Football League Championship), Wolverhampton Wanderers (Premier League) from the West Midlands Region;
From the North West Region, Accrington (EFL League One), Blackburn Rovers (Football League Championship), Bolton Wanderers (Football League Championship), Burnley (Premier League), Everton (Premier League), Preston North End (Football League Championship).
Sunderland from the North East Region (EFL League One)

Kaynak: melaman2.com

In this case, among these clubs, Everton and Burnley are in the top league, while Notts County is the club in the bottom. 7 out of 13 clubs are in the Football League Championship.

Note: Although Stoke was founded in 1863, it first operated as Stoke Ramblers and, in 1878, merged with Stoke Victoria Cricket Club to become Stoke Football Club. When Stoke-on-Trent received city status in 1925, the club changed its name to Stoke City.

1891-1892 Season:

It is the turn of the 1891-92 Season, the fourth season of The Football League, which is the oldest football league organization in the world and started in 1888. Accrington, Aston Villa, Derby County, and West Bromwich Albion, who were in the last four places in the previous season, were re-elected to the league due to voting. Of the six new applicants, Darwen and Stoke had included in the league, and the number of teams increased to 14. (Stoke went to and from the Football Alliance between 1889 and 1892, and I will talk about his story later.)

When we look at the distribution of the league players this season, the information in parentheses shows where they are now.
Notts County (EFL League Two), Derby County (Football League Championship) from East Midlands
From the West Midlands Region, Aston Villa (Football League Championship), Stoke (I have already mentioned its complicated and long story – Stoke City / Football League Championship), West Bromwich Albion (Football League Championship), Wolverhampton Wanderers (Premier League); Accrington (closed in 1896), Blackburn Rovers (Football League Championship), Bolton Wanderers (Football League Championship), Burnley (Premier League), Everton (Premier League), Preston North End (Football League Championship) from the North West District, and Darwen (in the North West Countries League as AFC Darwen). Sunderland (EFL League One) from the North East Region.

The map shows where these regions are. Among the leagues, the Football League Championship is a sub-division of the Premier League, the EFL League One is two sub-divisions, the third division the EFL League Two is three sub-divisions, the fourth division.

Kaynak: melaman2.com

This season, Sunderland was the only club not from the Midlands or North West areas. Sunderland took the place of the hosts with 38 points. Preston North End 37 points and Bolton Wanderers 36 points forced him until the end of the season. The WBA, which finished the league in 12th place, won the FA Cup by beating Aston Villa, who finished in 4th place, 3-0 in the final. This season was also the last season before the minor league was established.

The Football Alliance (1889-1892):

The Football Alliance was a football organization that lasted for three seasons, from 1889-90 to 1891-92, and was founded by 12 clubs not involved in The Football League, which began in 1888. The Alliance also covered a similar area to The Football League, namely the Midlands to North West section; With a minor difference, Sheffield and Sunderland were also within the league’s coverage area.

Clubs in the first season of The Football Alliance:
Birmingham St George’s (dissolved in 1892), Bootle FC (dissolved in 1893), Crewe Alexandra (currently playing in League 2), Darwen FC (dissolved in 2009), Grimsby Town FC (currently playing in League 2), Long Eaton Rangers (played only one season, dissolved), Newton Heath FC (renamed Manchester United in 1902), Nottingham Forest (currently in the Championship), Small Heath (renamed in 1905 as Birmingham and in 1943 as Birmingham City, now in the Championship), Sunderland Albion (dissolved in 1892), The Wednesday (renamed Sheffield Wednesday in 1929 and is now in the Championship), Walsall Town Swifts (renamed Walsall FC in 1896 and currently playing in League 1).
Manchester United is currently living in the top league; Nottingham Forest, Birmingham City, and Sheffield Wednesday were other essential clubs of the future that made their debut in this league.

The Wednesday was the champion in the 1889-90 season, and they played in the final of the FA Cup that season. The club is one of the oldest professional clubs in the world, and the current name is Sheffield Wednesday.

Kaynak: The Sheffield Daily Paragraph

The Football Alliance’s difference from other still-running local leagues, such as the Midland Football League, was that it was an alternative to The Football League. However, they could only continue for three seasons and became the 2nd Division (Division 2) of the league they emerged as an alternative, namely The Football League. This league was the first subdivision.

1892-1893 Season:

We continue the history of British football from where we left off. Starting with 12 member clubs from the East Midlands, West Midlands, and North West Regions of England, which are adjacent, the league reached 16 clubs in its fifth season.

Notts County, Derby County from the East Midlands in the 1892-93 season; Aston Villa, Stoke, West Bromwich Albion, Wolverhampton Wanderers from the West Midlands Region; Accrington of the North West District (closed in 1896, different from current Accrington Stanley), Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, Burnley, Everton, Preston North End; Sunderland from the North East District were clubs from the previous season. These region details are essential information for local competitions.

Kaynak: melaman2.com

New clubs in the league were Nottingham Forest of the East Midlands District, Sheffield Wednesday of the South Yorkshire District, and Newton Heath (now Manchester United) of the North West District. The number of regions with representatives in the league increased to five.

At the end of the season, the champion of the previous season, Sunderland, reached the championship by far, Preston North End, the winner of the first two seasons, took second place, while the winner of the third season, Everton, finished the league in the third place. 1892-93 was also the season when the Second Division started with 12 clubs. At the end of the season, Lincoln City, Crewe Alexandra, Burslem Port Vale, and Walsall Town Swifts were re-elected to Division 1. Accrington is leaving the Football League after losing the Test Match. Bootle also bid farewell to the Second Division. Liverpool, Newcastle United, Rotherham Town, and Woolwich Arsenal were selected for Division2. Middlesbrough Ironopolis was accepted into Division 2, replacing Accrington.

While playing the Scottish Ned Doig (with back row cap), whose story I told before, in the Sunderland castle called “Team of all Talents”, they conceded 36 goals in 30 matches. They scored 100 goals, 30 of which belonged to the top scorer, Scotsman Johnny Campbell (leading ball). Campbell was also the top scorer the previous season. He was one of the first major stars of the 1890s, and indeed football history, sadly only living 36 years. Sunderland, the closest to Scotland, had many Scottish players among the clubs in the league.

1893-1894 Season:

We are in the 1893-94 season. First, it would be helpful to look at the Second Division: Liverpool, Newcastle United, Rotherham Town & Woolwich Arsenal (now Arsenal) had been accepted to the league. In the league played in double terms with 15 teams, Liverpool achieved a significant advantage in its first season, won all the matches in its field, and finished the league in the first place without being defeated. Later, he played in the game against Newton Heath (Today’s Manchester United), one of the last three teams in the First Division, and won the right to be promoted to the relegation. Small Heath (today’s Birmingham City) placed second after him, again beating Darwen from the last three in the top league. Third-placed Notts County, , the oldest of the current professional clubs (1862), remained in place after losing to first division champion Preston North End in the jump-off. They could not go to the top league, but they showed the success of reaching the cup by offering excellent performance in the FA Cup.

We looked at those who fell and stayed in the First Division. What happened at the top? Let’s start with third place in the 16-team league: Derby County collected 36 points, ahead of Blackburn Rovers with 34 points, Burnley and Everton with 33 points. The champion of the previous season, Sunderland, was in second place this time with 38 points. On the other hand, Aston Villa reached its first title with 44 points of 60 in the league. Nottingham Forest, WBA, Wolves, Sheffield United, Stoke, The Wednesday found themselves between 7th and 12th place.

Aston Villa, Kaynak: Football History

Interestingly, even then, First Division matches had an average of 7-8 thousand spectators, and the team that gathered the most spectators was Everton, with 14 thousand people. Champion Aston Villa played for 11,000 players and Sunderland for 8,000; Second Division champion Liverpool is 5,000 people.

Kaynak: melaman2.com

At the end of the season in Division 2, Ardwick was re-elected as Manchester City. Burton Wanderers, Bury, and Leicester Fosse were selected to the Second Division. Rotherham was invited to replace Middlesbrough Ironopolis, while Northwich Victoria and Middlesbrough Ironopolis left the league.

1894-1895 Season:

The 1894-95 season was Liverpool’s first Division 1 season. They had won the Division 2 title for the first time in the previous season and came to the side of their future arch-rivals, Everton. Everton has been in the Football League since the beginning of the league. The Liverpool club was formed due to the conflict between John Houlding and Everton. After eight years, Everton moved to Goodison Park in 1892, and Houlding laid the foundations of Liverpool. The club, which started with the name Everton Athletic at first, was renamed Liverpool in March 1892 because the federation did not allow the use of the name Everton and was officially recognized by the association three months after this date.

So what happened in 1894-95? Sunderland, second behind Aston Villa the previous season, has managed to reclaim the title this season. Sunderland had never lost a match in the 16-team league, especially at home, and had only two draws. This superiority brought them their third victory with 47 points. Everton was in second place with 42 points, and the previous champion Aston Villa had 39 points. Preston North End, Blackburn Rovers, Sheffield United, Nottingham Forest, The Wednesday (next Sheffield Wednesday), Burnley, Bolton Wanderers, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Small Heath (next Birmingham City), and West Bromwich Albion had the 4th-13th places.

Kaynak: ryehillfootball.com

In the last three places, Stoke, Derby County, and Liverpool played a jump-off against Bury, Notts County, and Newton Heath (current name Manchester United) from Division 2. As a result, only Stoke remained in the top league, while Derby County and Liverpool said goodbye to the league. Liverpool’s first Division 1 adventure was short-lived. Loughborough would replace the Walsall Town Swifts, while Lincoln City, Burslem Port Vale, and Crewe Alexandra were allowed to play in Division 2 again.

Kaynak: melaman2.com

In the FA Cup, Aston Villa beat West Bromwich Albion 1-0 in the final, reaching the cup for the second time in its history, and when they got the first trophy in 1887, these two teams faced each other again.

The Period Between 1895-1898:

In the 1895-96 season, both Division 1 and Division 2 had 16 teams, and in the case of a tie, they were ranked higher, with a higher ratio of goals scored to goals conceded. Aston Villa achieved the title with 45 points, and 14 wins out of 15. This win rate was another difference as in the victory in the 1893-94 season. Derby County finished second with 41 points and Everton third with 39 points. Small Heath (Birmingham City) and West Bromwich Albion (WBA) took the last two places and played test matches against the top two in Division 2, Liverpool and Manchester City. After league-style rounds, Liverpool and WBA qualified to play in Division 1 the following season. The rules set in 1894 continued in this season and many subsequent seasons. In Division 2, the last three teams, Port Vale, Rotherham Town, and Crewe Alexandra entered “Reselection” but were not selected. The Wednesday also reached the FA Cup despite being in the middle of the league.

In the 1896-97 season, Aston Villa’s superiority continued and widened the gap (47 points). Sheffield United and Derby County finished second and third with 36 points. Sunderland and Burnley were in the last two places and had to play a Test match. In Division 2, Notts County and Newton Heath (Manchester United) took the top two places. At the same time, Notts County and Sunderland qualified to play in Division 1 the following season because of the test matches. Champion Aston Villa had a great season, capturing the three title Sunderland and winning the FA Cup 3-2 against Everton. Burton Wanderers left the league while Lincoln City was re-elected with Burton Swifts in Division 2.

When it came to the 1897-98 season, Sheffield United, the runner-up of the previous season, reached the championship with 42 points, a first for them. Sunderland was second with 37 points, while Wolverhampton Wanderers was third with 35 points. On the other hand, Aston Villa had a rank of six after two successful seasons. Nottingham Forest won the trophy in the FA Cup by beating their arch-rival Derby County 3-1. Blackburn Rovers and Stoke, the last two places in Division 1, and Burnley and Newcastle United, the first two places in Division 2, played test matches. As a result of these encounters, Newcastle and Burnley qualified for Division 1 the following season. Lincoln City and Loughborough, who were in the last three places in Division 2, were re-elected and had a chance to continue next season. Burslem Port Vale replaced Darwen for the Second Division.

The Football League abolished the Test Match system in the following seasons, with clubs voting. The First Division and the Second Division were extended to 18 clubs. The rise and fall would be two up and two down.

Kaynak: melaman2.com

The Period Between 1898-1900:

In the 1898-99 season, the eleventh season of the Football League, both Division 1 and Division 2 had 18 teams. Aston Villa made a difference with 15 wins, and 2 draws in 17 matches at home and reached its fourth championship with 45 points. Liverpool was in second place with 43 points, Burnley third with 39 points, and Everton fourth with 38 points. Bolton Wanderers and The Wednesday (Sheffield) are relegated to Division 2, taking the last two places. Manchester City and the league’s new team, Glossop, took the top two places and moved to Division 1. In Division 2, the last three teams, Blackpool, Loughborough, and Darwen were re-elected, but only Loughborough had been re-elected. Newton Heath was renamed Manchester United as Chesterfield, and Middlesbrough joined Division 2. Sheffield United, who survived the relegation from Division 1 at the last moment, won the FA Cup for the first time 4-1 over the middle-ranked Derby County.

Aston Villa’s dominance continued in the 1899-1900 season. This time, they collected 50 points and won the fifth championship in the twelfth season of the league. George Ramsay led the team in all five titles. Scottish Ramsay was a former Aston Villa player and would lead the team for 42 years until 1926. The previous season’s FA Cup champions Sheffield United were second with 48 points, Sunderland was third with 41 points, and Wolverhampton Wanderers was fourth with 39 points. Burnley and the league’s new Glossop were in the last two places. In Division 2, The Wednesday and Bolton Wanderers were in the top two, with Barnsley, Luton Town, and Loughborough in the last three. Blackpool and Stockport County were in Division 2 instead of Loughborough. Luton Town did not seek reelection. Burton Wanderers left the league while Lincoln City was re-elected with Burton Swifts in Division 2. Bury won the FA Cup by beating Southampton 4-0.

Aston Villa Between 1890-1900
1891-92 FA Cup Finalist
1893–94 League Champion
1894-95 FA Cup Champion
1895–96 League Champion
1896-97 League Champion & FA Cup Champion
1898–99 League Champion
1899-00 League Champion

Kaynak: melaman2.com

The Period Between 1901-1910:

In the 1900-01 season, Liverpool reached their first championship. Everton, who will be their arch-rival for years to come, had previously won one title, one-second place, and two-third places. Sunderland, which had three titles and two runner-up titles before this season, is second with 43 points. Tom Watson, who won championships for Sunderland, was in Liverpool. Two arch-rivals, Notts County and Nottingham Forest also finished third and fourth. Preston North End and West Bromwich Albion were able to find themselves in the last two places in Division 1. In Division 2, Grimsby Town and Small Heath qualified for the subsequent division. Walsall, Stockport County, and Burton Swifts are in the last three places, while the last two have been re-elected to the league. Tottenham Hotspur and Sheffield United drew 2-2 in the FA Cup final; 110,000 people at Crystal Palace watched. Their rematch at Burnden Park was won by Tottenham Hotspur 3-1. In this period, the average number of spectators in league matches was 10,000, while the highest audience was in the Liverpool-Everton match with 50,000 people. In the 1901-02 season, Sunderland reached their fourth victory in the fifteenth season of the league, while Everton took second place.

Clubs in Division 1 in all ten seasons 1901-1910 were listed as Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Bury, Everton, Newcastle United, Notts County, Sheffield United, The (Sheffield) Wednesday, and Sunderland. Including Aston Villa, Everton, Newcastle. and The Wednesday was more at the forefront of success. Liverpool, Nottingham Forest played in the top league for nine seasons, Manchester City and Middlesbrough for eight seasons. The league’s team number was 18 teams since the 1898-99 season, and the number of teams increased to 20 in the 1905-06 season. Until 1905, 28 different clubs in Division 1 and 38 in Division 2 took part in the league.

In the 1902-03 and 1903-04 seasons, Sheffield Wednesday won the league, their first title. The following season, another first champion emerged: Newcastle United. These ten years were very successful for Newcastle United, which was at the top in previous seasons, and achieved victory in the 1906-07 and 1908-09 seasons. In the 1905–06 season, Liverpool won their second title after five seasons. Another new champion emerged in the 1907-08 season: Manchester United. In the last season of the ten years, Aston Villa again reached the sixth championship after a break of 10 years and in total.

The Period Between 1911-1918:

In the post-1910 period, the league was active until 1915 with the effect of the First World War. In all seasons, the bottom two teams from Division 1 moved to the lower division, and the top two teams from Division 2 moved up to the upper division. In these five seasons, there were 20 teams in both leagues, 26 different clubs competed in Division 1 and 27 in Division 2.

Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Bradford City, Everton, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Middlesbrough, Newcastle United, Oldham Athletic, Sheffield United, Sheffield Wednesday, Sunderland, Tottenham Hotspur have all been in Division 1 for these five seasons. Blackburn Rovers performed well in these five seasons and won two championships. Everton, Manchester United, and Sunderland won other titles. Even though Aston Villa did not win the title, it always took part in the struggle for the top. Looking at the 27 seasons since the beginning of the league, Aston Villa showed outstanding performance with six titles and six-second places. Apart from that, they won the FA Cup five times. While Sunderland has been very successful by winning five titles since the beginning of the league, the expected championship in the FA Cup never came. Liverpool, which had a fluctuating graphic in the previous period, was always in the top league between 1910-15 but could not move up from the lower ranks. During this period, Oldham Athletic improved with each passing season and found itself 4th in the 1913-14 season and 2nd in the 1914-15 season. Newcastle United, which had a very bright period between 1900-1910, experienced a continuous decline between 1910-15 and tried not to be relegated. It was among the exciting events of the period that Preston North End was relegated twice and emerged in the following season. Derby County also placed 7th in the league in its debut season and was relegated the next season. They also experienced relegation immediately the next season.

League Analysis for the Period 1888-1918:

The Football League continued uninterrupted from 1888 to 1915 and was interrupted in three years until 1918 due to World War I. Three clubs have always been involved in these 27 seasons: Aston Villa, Everton, and Blackburn Rovers. Aston Villa achieved an average of 1.19 points and was the most successful club of this period with six titles and six-second places. Everton also won two titles, six-second places, and four-third places. Blackburn Rovers won two titles. Sunderland, who struggled for 25 seasons in total, was in second place with an average of 1.17 points. Sunderland won five titles, three-second places, and four-third places in this period and showed a relative performance compared to Aston Villa.

The 2 Sheffield teams, United and Wednesday, played in the league for 22 seasons, with three titles and two runner-ups. Preston North End, one of the clubs that played for 22 seasons, achieved great success and won two titles and four-second places. Championships came in the first two seasons.

Liverpool and Newcastle United were the two clubs that played in fewer seasons and achieved significant success from time to time. Liverpool two titles and two-second places in 19 seasons; Newcastle won three titles and two runner-ups in 17 seasons.

Division 1 – Club Statistics

Division 1 – Championship Numbers

Division 2 – Club Statistics