City History

City's League Position

Oh Dear

Figures reflect to the end of the 2016/17 season.

Of all the divisions, we've played in Division 4 (now known as Division 2) for the most number of seasons.

We've finished 21st on 8 occasions (2016/7 being the most recent), 5 times in 22nd and 24th. 6 times, just outside relegation in 20th and also 6 times in 17th place. The only other 5+, is the 6 times we've finished 4th.

Read on.... or Download all the numbers here.

Restructuring and Rebranding

The original 12 team Football league was formed in 1888. Division 2 was introduced in 1892. The 12 founder members were all from the north and midlands. Quickly, the bias shifted southwards. By 1905, 40 clubs completed in the 2 divisions and the number expanded to 44 clubs in 1919 on resumption after The Great War. In 1920, The Southern League, en masse, joined as Division 3 and a year later it was re-branded as Division 3 South with a Division 3 North being established. By now there were 88 members. It wasn’t until 1950 that the number increased to 92. To maintain numbers in the regionalised leagues, the north / south split varied depending on the make up of the teams. Teams like Walsall, Mansfield, Port Vale and Coventry flip flopping between North and South.

What were known as Divisions 1 - 4 until the advent of The Premier League have since undergone a couple of re-branding exercises so now we have The Premier League, Championship and Leagues 1 and 2.

For the purposes of this page, we refer to them as Divisions 1 – 4.

The Closed Shop

Until 1987, The Football League operated a near closed shop. The bottom 4 league clubs having to apply for re-election. You had to be a complete basket case to be voted out as the clubs tended to vote their fellow member clubs back into The League.

For example, in 1964, the 4 clubs re-applying were overwhelmingly re-elected. York City (48 votes), Southport (45), Barrow (42) and Hartlepool (36) were all re-elected. Whereas, the non league clubs applying for membership (Wigan Athletic, Gateshead, Romford, Yeovil Town, South Shields, New Brighton, Guildford City, Gloucester City, Morecambe, Weymouth, Bexley United, Poole Town and Scarborough) gained just 26 votes between them. There were 48 votes possible for each club. Division 1 and Division 2 clubs had a vote each (in total 44 votes) and the Division 3 and 4 clubs a further 4 votes between them. So City gained the maximum possible votes. Wigan were the best of the rest with just 5 (out of 48 votes). Scarborough were one of 3 clubs to gain no votes.

City re-applied 7 times. In over 50 years only 13 teams were voted out.

It wasn’t until 1987 that automatic promotion from non league into Division 4 was established when champions Scarborough replaced Lincoln who’d finished bottom of Division 4. In 2003, the play offs were introduced allowing promotion for a second non league side.

City’s League Status

City were elected to The Football League in 1929 as members of Division 3 (North), in the days of regionalised lower league football. City were to remain in that league until 1958 when regionalised football came to an end. In those 22 seasons, we finished bottom half on 14 occasions and maybe just twice were serious promotion contenders. The top 12 teams in each section formed Division 3. With City finishing 13th, we were founder members of Division 4. Promoted a season later, we survived just one season in Division 3 before relegation. 1965 saw us promoted for a second time, a season later saw our second ever relegation.

Tom Johnston was appointed manager in 1968 and oversaw 2 promotion campaigns. In 1971 to Division 3 and 1974 to Division 2 for the only time, to date, in our history. Successive relegations in 1976 and 1977 under Wilf McGuiness saw us plummet back into the basement division.

In 1984, Denis Smith’s side won the Division 4 championship and we then enjoyed 5 seasons in Division 3.

In 1993, Alan Little‘s side won promotion out of the basement division. We enjoyed 6 seasons in Division 3, equalling the 1970s 6 season spell under Johnston / McGuinness, as the longest we’ve played above the basement division.

2004 saw relegation from The Football League and into the non league wilderness where we remained for 8 seasons.

After 4 years back in the league, we started the 2016/7 season back in the National League.

Our Average League Position

In the 22 seasons we spent in Division 3(N), we finished top half just 8 times.

Since then, we've spent 2 seasons in Division 2, 17 in Division 3, 31 in Division 4 and 9 in non league.

Given that record, Division 4 is our natural home. 21st is our natural position.

Looking at our league position. On just 15 occasions we’ve finished in the top 6 (or top quarter of the table), 17 times in the second quarter (positions 7 – 12), 22 times in the 3rd quarter (positions 13 – 18) and 27 times in the bottom quarter (i.e. position 19 or lower).

Put another way, 19 times in positions 21 or lower and 17 times in positions 17 – 20. That is, 36 seasons fighting against relegation compared to just 22 in the top 8.

Put another way, 6 times we’ve finished bottom and just once have we finished top.

So struggling in Division 4 is our natural home.

You could look at it in a different way and I’d suggest 75th in the pyramid (or 7th in Division 4 (basement division)) is our average position, but that position is skewed by the 17 seasons we’ve played higher than that against just 9 we’ve played below it.
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