1979–80 in English football
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Diary of the season
18 August 1979: Arsenal move straight to the top of the First Division table with a 4–0 away win against newly promoted Brighton & Hove Albion on the first day of the League season. The first round of fixtures in the inaugural season of the Alliance Premier League, now the National League, takes place.
31 August 1979: The first month of the season ends with Norwich City, who have never even finished in the top five of the First Division, leading the League alongside 1978 champions Nottingham Forest, after both teams win their first three matches. Middlesbrough are one point behind the leaders. At the bottom, Tottenham Hotspur and Brighton & Hove Albion have yet to gain a point.
5 September 1979: Manchester City sign midfielder Steve Daley from Wolverhampton Wanderers for a national record fee of £1,437,500. In the League Cup second round, braces for Ian Bowyer and John Robertson contribute to Nottingham Forest firing six past Blackburn Rovers.
30 September 1979: September ends with newly promoted Crystal Palace, unbeaten after eight games, topping the First Division on goal difference from Manchester United and Nottingham Forest. After losing twice this month, Liverpool occupy ninth place. Derby County, champions in 1972 and 1975, are bottom of the table, joined in the relegation zone by Stoke City and Tottenham Hotspur.
13 October 1979: Kazimierz Deyna scores the only goal as Manchester City beat Nottingham Forest, knocking the Midlands club into second place, behind Manchester United. Crystal Palace's unbeaten start to the season ends with a 3–1 defeat to Everton at Goodison Park.
31 October 1979: Manchester United end October as First Division leaders, one point ahead of Nottingham Forest, with Liverpool, Norwich City, Crystal Palace, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Tottenham Hotspur a further two points adrift. Brighton & Hove Albion now occupy bottom place behind Derby County, while Bolton Wanderers have dropped into the relegation zone.
24 November 1979: Joe Jordan's brace helps Manchester United put five past Norwich without reply, struggling Ipswich Town turn over Southampton while Derby are the victors in the East Midlands derby, beating Forest 4–1.
30 November 1979: November ends with Manchester United still top of the First Division, one point ahead of Liverpool. Crystal Palace remain in contention, two points behind the leaders, and Middlesbrough have joined the chasing pack. Bolton Wanderers, Brighton & Hove Albion and Ipswich Town occupy the relegation zone.
31 December 1979: The decade ends with Liverpool narrowly ahead of Manchester United at the top of the First Division, having won the clash between the two on Boxing Day. Southampton and Arsenal lead the chasing group, but are eight points behind the leaders. Crystal Palace have fallen to ninth place. Bristol City have joined Derby County and Bolton Wanderers in the relegation zone.
31 January 1980: Liverpool hold a two-point lead over Manchester United at the end of January. Arsenal are third, five points behind the leaders having played two games more.
29 February 1980: With the season approaching its final quarter, Manchester United have moved level on points at the top of the First Division with Liverpool, who have a game in hand. Unbeaten since the beginning of December, Ipswich Town have moved from third-bottom to third-top in less than three months, and are five points behind the leaders in third place. Arsenal and Southampton complete the top five. Bolton Wanderers remain bottom, with just one League win from their first 27 matches, and Derby County and Bristol City also remain in the relegation zone, with Everton occupying the last safe spot.
1 March 1980: Everton lose 2–1 at home to Liverpool in the First Division Merseyside derby, and during the game their legendary former striker Dixie Dean dies from a heart attack in the stands, aged 72. Manchester United's title hopes are dashed by a 6–0 thrashing at Ipswich Town.
22 March 1980: United win the Manchester derby: Mickey Thomas scores the only goal of the game. Elsewhere in the top-flight, Derby and Bristol City share six, Liverpool beat Brighton and Nottingham Forest win at home to UEFA Cup hopefuls Southampton. The day's high scorers in the Football League are Third Division club Colchester United, who smash six past Brentford.
31 March 1980: Liverpool now have a four-point lead over Manchester United at the top of the First Division. Ipswich Town and Arsenal are the nearest challengers to the top two, and Southampton complete the top five. At the bottom of the table, Bolton Wanderers managed three League wins in March, but are still in bottom place, eight points adrift of safety. Derby County and Bristol City remain with them in the drop zone.
26 April 1980: Derby County, twice champions in the 1970s, are relegated from the First Division with one match remaining. Liverpool's goalless draw at Crystal Palace puts them on the verge of retaining the title.
29 April 1980: Bristol City lose 5–2 at Southampton to take the final First Division relegation spot.
30 April 1980: Liverpool are level on points with Manchester United at the end of April, with a superior goal difference and with two matches remaining to the Red Devils' one. Ipswich Town are third, five points behind.
1 May 1980: Arsenal finally reach the FA Cup final after beating Liverpool 1-0 in the FA Cup semi-final third replay at Highfield Road. Liverpool agree a fee of £300,000 for Chester striker Ian Rush, 18.
3 May 1980: Liverpool clinch the league title in their penultimate league game of the season by beating Aston Villa 4–1 at Anfield. The result is rendered academic by Manchester United's 2–0 defeat to Leeds United. Ipswich Town lose the unbeaten League run that they have maintained for over five months against Manchester City, but remain third. In the Third Division, Kevin Drinkell fires three of Grimsby Town's four without reply at home to Sheffield United; a result that sees the Mariners crowned third-tier champions.
19 May 1980: More than two weeks after the planned final day of the season, the First Division fixtures are completed when Arsenal lose 5–0 to Middlesbrough. The result leaves Ipswich Town one point ahead of the Gunners in third place.
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12 June 1980: England's first match at the European Championship Finals for twelve years ends in a 1–1 draw against Belgium. The game is marred by hooliganism in the stands that is only calmed by the use of tear gas by the Italian police.
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Brian Clough's Nottingham Forest made up for disappointment in the League by retaining the European Cup and becoming the first team to have won more European Cups than league championships. Arsenal faced Valencia of Spain in the European Cup Winners' Cup final, days after their FA Cup final loss. It finished goalless after extra time, and Arsenal lost the penalty shoot-out after misses from Liam Brady and Graham Rix.
Wolverhampton Wanderers overcame the challenge of European champions Nottingham Forest to lift their second League Cup. The match finished 1–0 with a goal by Andy Gray following a mix-up between goalkeeper Peter Shilton and defender David Needham.
Bob Paisley's Liverpool retained their league championship trophy after fighting off a determined challenge by Dave Sexton's Manchester United. Nottingham Forest failed to make a serious title challenge but compensated for this by retaining the European Cup.
Much of the attention in the early part of the season focused on Manchester City where Malcolm Allison had dismantled the side selling international talents such as Asa Hartford and Peter Barnes and replacing them with unknowns and the uncapped Steve Daley for £1.5 million. City had a mediocre season including an FA Cup defeat by Fourth Division Halifax Town.
|Pos||Team||Pld||W||D||L||GF||GA||GD||Pts||Qualification or relegation|
|1||Liverpool||42||25||10||7||81||30||+51||60||League Champions, qualified for European Cup 1980–81 First round|
|2||Manchester United||42||24||10||8||65||35||+30||58||UEFA Cup 1980–81 First round|
|5||Nottingham Forest||42||20||8||14||63||43||+20||48||European Cup 1980–81 First round[a]|
|6||Wolverhampton Wanderers||42||19||9||14||58||47||+11||47||League Cup winners, qualified for UEFA Cup 1980–81 First round[b]|
|10||West Bromwich Albion||42||11||19||12||54||50||+4||41|
|16||Brighton & Hove Albion||42||11||15||16||47||57||−10||37|
Leicester City, Sunderland and Birmingham City ended their relatively short spells in the Second Division and occupied the division's three promotion places. Going down were Fulham, Burnley and Charlton Athletic.
|Pos||Team||Pld||W||D||L||GF||GA||GD||Pts||Promotion or relegation|
|1||Leicester City||42||21||13||8||58||38||+20||55||Division Champions, promoted|
|5||Queens Park Rangers||42||18||13||11||75||53||+22||49|
|7||West Ham United||42||20||7||15||54||43||+11||47||FA Cup winners, qualified for UEFA Cup Winners' Cup 1980–81 First round|
|10||Preston North End||42||12||19||11||56||52||+4||43|
Grimsby Town, Blackburn Rovers and Sheffield Wednesday all achieved some long-awaited success by gaining promotion from the Third Division. Bury, Southend United, Mansfield Town and Wimbledon occupied the Third Division's relegation places.
|Pos||Team||Pld||W||D||L||GF||GA||GD||Pts||Promotion or relegation|
|1||Grimsby Town||46||26||10||10||73||42||+31||62||Division Champions, promoted|
Huddersfield Town and Portsmouth finally achieved some success by gaining promotion from the Fourth Division. Newport County achieved their first promotion since 1939 and Walsall were also promoted. Rochdale finished bottom but survived re-election by one vote ahead of Altrincham.
|1||Huddersfield Town||46||27||12||7||101||48||+53||66||Division Champions, promoted|
|3||Newport County||46||27||7||12||83||50||+33||61||Welsh Cup winners, qualified for UEFA Cup Winners' Cup 1980–81 First round|
The divisional champions of the major non-League competitions were:
|Alliance Premier League||Altrincham|
|Northern Premier League||Mossley|
|Southern League||Midland Division – Bridgend Town|
Southern Division – Dorchester Town
- Bob Paisley yielded another league title triumph for Liverpool.
- Brian Clough retained the European Cup for Nottingham Forest.
- John Barnwell took Wolverhampton Wanderers to victory in the League Cup.
- John Lyall won the FA Cup for Second Division West Ham United for the second time in five years.
- Dave Sexton came close to ending Manchester United's long wait for a league title.
- Jock Wallace achieved promotion to the First Division with Second Division champions Leicester City.
- Jim Smith's success in the Second Division with promoted Birmingham City ensured that four of the five West Midlands clubs would be playing top-flight football apart from Walsall in 1980–81.
- Bobby Robson took Ipswich Town into the UEFA Cup after they finished third in the league.
- Terry Neill took Arsenal to the runners-up spot in both the European Cup Winners' Cup and the FA Cup.
- Howard Kendall won promotion to the Second Division with Blackburn Rovers.
- Len Ashurst clinched Newport County's first promotion for 41 years.
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18 August 1979: Tommy Caton, 16-year-old defender, makes his debut for First Division side Manchester City on the opening day of the season in a goalless home draw with newly promoted Crystal Palace, just weeks after leaving school. 
- 20 August 1979 - Stan Fox, 73, played 136 league games at half-back and full-back for York City in the 1930s.
- 26 August 1979 – Sam Lawrie, 44, former Middlesbrough and Charlton Athletic winger.
- 11 September 1979 - Laurie Banfield, 89, played 259 league games for Bristol City between 1911 and 1925 as a left-back, his career disrupted by World War I.
- c. 24 January 1980 – Terry Anderson, 35, former Norwich City winger who helped the club reach the First Division for the first time in 1972. He was found drowned on 31 January after going missing a week earlier.
- 1 March 1980 – Dixie Dean, 73, legendary Everton striker who scored 60 league goals in the 1927–28 season; died on 1 March after suffering a heart attack while watching Everton's game against Liverpool at Goodison Park.
- 4 March 1980 - Eric Kerfoot, 55, spent most of his professional career with Leeds United, played 349 games at left-half between 1949 and 1959.
- 24 April 1980 - Johnny McIlwaine, 75, played in defence and attack during the 1920s and 1930s, starting in his native Scotland with Falkirk before moving south of the border to Portsmouth in 1928, later having two spells with Southampton and a spell in Wales with Llanelli. He also served Southampton and Grimsby Town as assistant manager after retiring as a player.
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- "Notts Forest drops from Division I lead". The Gazette. Montreal. Reuters. 15 October 1979. p. 55. Retrieved 12 October 2014.
- "On this day in history ~ Division One, 1979". wsc.co.uk. When Saturday Comes. 24 November 2014. Retrieved 25 November 2014.
- "Top 10 Boxing Day massacres". The Sun. London.
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- "Liverpool holds on to big lead". The Age. Melbourne. 24 March 1980. p. 28. Retrieved 14 May 2016.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-11-22. Retrieved 2011-08-14.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Plenderleith, Ian (3 May 2015). "Get with the programme ~ Grimsby v Sheffield Utd, Division Three, 1980". wsc.co.uk. When Saturday Comes. Retrieved 4 May 2015.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-06-30. Retrieved 2012-09-06.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Payne, Mike (1993). England: The Complete Post-War Record'. Derby: Breedon Books. ISBN 1873626398.
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