Video of The Day: Bristol City vs Chelsea, January 1990
It was one of the most precipitous nosedives that any English football club has ever seen. Bristol City were a First Division club in May 1980, before relegation after four years in the top flight. After a two further successive drops through the trapdoor, by May 1982 the club was looking at starting the following season in the Football League’s basement division, as well as staring bankruptcy in the face. Slowly but surely, however, the club regained its poise and by the end of the 1980s the club was pushing for promotion back to the second tier of the English game.
Whilst Chelsea might not have suffered such a dizzying drop, this was another club that was probable glad to see the back of the 1980s. The club had started the decade in the Second Division and didn’t get promoted back until 1984. Even this, however, turned out to be a brief stay and in 1988 the club was relegated again, this time through a play-off system that is no longer in use, although on this occasion the club’s stay at a slightly lower level was somewhat briefer that its previous one had been, and the club bounced back as Second Division champions t the end of the 1988/89 season.
When the two clubs were drawn to play each other in the Fourth Round of the FA Cup in January 1990, both were having encouraging seasons. Chelsea were in sixth place in the First Division in their first season – the club would go on to finish the season in fifth place in the table – whilst Bristol City went into the match sitting at the top of the Third Division table. They would end the season promoted as runners-up, with only the slight tarnishing of their season coming in the fact that they ended in second place behind local rivals Bristol Rovers. The BBC took their cameras to Ashton Gate for this match, and commentary comes from the late Tony Gubba.
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