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Back To The Eighties: 1980/81, Part Seventeen – Derby & Luton Cancel Each Other Out

By the end of January 1981 West Ham United had pulled clear at the top of the Second Division, opening up a near unassailable seven point lead at the top of the table. Below them, however, there was an almighty rush to join them at the top of the table with just four points seperating Notts County in second place in the table from Cambridge United in tenth place. Two of the chasing pack were Derby County and Luton Town, who started the day in sixth and eighth place in the table respectively and they attracted the cameras of the BBC’s Match Of The Day to The Baseball Ground for their match. The division’s leaders, meanwhile, were at home against Preston North End and that’s our second match. Our final match comes from the First Division and features Kevin Keegan starring as Southampton played Birmingham City. You can follow Twohundredpercen on Twitter by clicking...

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It’s Tough At The Bottom: Accrington Stanley Is Still Clinging On

With more than a quarter of the league season now played, the tables are starting to take some sort of shape. Over the rest of this week, we’ll be looking at four clubs who sit at the very foot of their divisions, starting at the bottom of League Two and a club that has rather got used to a life of struggle in recent years, Accrington Stanley. It was, on the surface at least, one of the great romantic football stories of recent times. The story of Accrington Stanley, ‘The Club That wouldn’t Die’, winning its place in the Football League back after almost five decades in the relative wilderness was one that touched a raw nerve amongst football supporters. Many of us have suffered our our own near death experiences over the years and this redemptive tale, of a club cast asunder by the Football League on account of a few weeks of madness buried deep in the mists of time, has one to gladden the hearts. Over the course of the last seven years, however, the fairy tale has come to increasingly resemble a war of attrition, an apparently perpetual battle to keep this football club solvent in an unforgiving era during which money, one of the things that Accrington Stanley FC has less of than everybody around them, has come to dominate everything else. It’s now...

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Back To The Eighties: 1980/81, Part Sixteen – A Merseyside Cup Derby

As mentioned nearer the start of this series, at the start of the 1970s it felt as though, if there was one Merseyside club that might go on to dominate the decade, it may be Everton rather than Liverpool. Everton ended the 1969/70 season as the champions of England, but by the end of the 1970s it felt quite firmly as if they were in the shadow of their neighbours. Perhaps, though, the 1980s would be different. After all, Liverpool had only won the 1979/80 Football League Championship by the skin of their teeth and, as of the 24th January 1981, they were struggling to hold onto the title in the face of prolonged challenges from both Aston Villa and Ipswich Town. The two Merseyside giants were drawn to play each other in the Fourth Round of the FA Cup. For Liverpool, this was perhaps one of the less important legs of the club’s challenges on four different counts – the league title, the European Cup, the FA Cup and the League Cup were all still up for grabs – whilst for Everton this was a golden opportunity to eclipse their local rivals and take a step closer to a first major trophy since that league title eleven years earlier. We have three other matches from this round, as well. The new Manchester City manger John Bond took on...

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Port Vale vs The Stoke Sentinel… And The Club Is In The Wrong

The relationship between football clubs and the local newspapers of the areas that they inhabit has long been assumed to be a mutually beneficial one. On one side of the equation, in an era during which the print media is undergoing a period of trauma that has destabilised the entire industry, one guaranteed source of income is likely to be football supporters who want the level of detail that a local newspaper with a journalist dedicated to covering their club can offer. On the other, meanwhile, the coverage that a local newspaper can offer a football club is difficult to ignore and might well be considered to be something approaching free advertising for what is ultimately a business which, especially below the Premier League, most likely needs all the advertising that it can get. This isn’t, however, to say that the relationship between local newspapers and football clubs can’t be or isn’t often fractious, and in recent years there has been an upward swing in the number of clubs that have, for various reasons, banned their local newspapers from entry into their grounds for reasons that have frequently seemed to be on the whim of whoever is controlling that club at the time. Most notably of all, Newcastle United have come in for considerable criticism for banning their local press from the club, most recently for having the temerity...

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Back To The Eighties, 1980/81 Part Fifteen: The North London Derby

The start of the 1980s had brought differing fortunes for the two giants of North London, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal. Spurs had been largely concerned with rebuilding, both on and off the pitch. Having finished the 1979/80 season in a disappointing fourteenth place, the club had started the new season with a new attack, in the form of Steve Archibald, signed from Aberdeen, and Garth Crooks, brought in from Stoke City, whilst one side of the pitch at White Hart Lane remained a building site as the club spent a fortune building a new West Stand, a project which took fifteen months to complete and severely overran its budget. The club’s moderate improvement on the pitch meant that its biggest hope of success for this season would come in the cups. Arsenal, meanwhile, remained on the fringes of the championship chase in January 1981, though the prevailing opinion was that this was turning into a three-way battle between Liverpool, Aston Villa and Ipswich Town. Having won the FA Cup in 1979, there had been great things predicted for the team that Terry Neill – formerly the manager of Spurs, somewhat ironically – had built, but the team had finished the 1979/80 exhausted by a marathon season which saw it finish the season in fourth place in the First Division whilst losing in the finals of both the FA Cup...

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