|Second Division||Norwich City|
|Fourth Division||Swindon Town|
|Alliance Premier League||Enfield|
|Associate Members' Cup||Bristol City|
|League Cup||Oxford United|
31 August 1985 - The first month of the season ends with Manchester United as leaders after five straight wins. Sheffield Wednesday's renaissance continues as they occupy second place, while Chelsea and Newcastle United fill the next two places, under their respective new managers John Hollins and Willie McFaul. After a poor start, Everton climb to fifth as Gary Lineker scores a hat-trick in a 4-1 win over Birmingham City at Goodison Park. In the Second Division, Portsmouth head the promotion race, joined in the top three by Blackburn Rovers and Oldham Athletic. Pre-season promotion favourites Sunderland prop up the table after losing their first five matches of the season without scoring, while Leeds United occupy 20th place with two draws and three defeats so far.
30 September 1985 - The month ends with Manchester United already nine points clear of second-placed Liverpool. Chelsea and Newcastle United are a further three points adrift. In the Second Division, Portsmouth lead the way with 23 points from their opening 10 games, with Oldham Athletic and Blackburn Rovers once again completing the top three. Sunderland improve to 20th in the division, with eight points.
5 October 1985 - Manchester United's 100% start to the season ends as they draw 1-1 at Luton Town, leaving them one game short of the record 11-match winning start set by Tottenham Hotspur 25 years ago. However, they extend their lead at the top of the table to ten points as Liverpool lose 2-1 at Queens Park Rangers.
23 October 1985 - After starting the season with a record 13 successive league wins, Third Division leaders Reading finally drop points with a 2-2 home draw against Wolverhampton Wanderers, who are struggling in the Third Division after two consecutive relegations.
31 October 1985 - Manchester United are still top of the First Division as October ends, with twelve wins and two draws from their opening fourteen games, and a ten-point lead over Liverpool. West Bromwich Albion, Ipswich Town and Manchester City lie in the relegation zone. Portsmouth now lead the Second Division with a seven-point advantage over second placed Blackburn Rovers, while Charlton Athletic have crept into third place, forcing Oldham Athletic out of the top three on goal difference. If the current top three clubs are promoted this season, it will mark the end of their First Division absences which have lasted for between 20 and 30 years. Wimbledon, in only their ninth season as a Football League team and their second in this division, are emerging as surprise contenders for promotion.
30 November 1985 - Manchester United are two points ahead of Liverpool, with West Ham United and Sheffield Wednesday following. The Second Division promotion race is wide open, with the top six clubs - Portsmouth, Sheffield United, Charlton Athletic, Norwich City, Wimbledon and Crystal Palace - separated by a margin of just four points.
14 December 1985 - Manchester United move five points ahead at the top of the First Division with a 3-1 win at struggling Aston Villa, who are in danger of relegation four seasons after winning the European Cup and five years after being league champions. Liverpool's title hopes are hit by a 2-0 away defeat against Arsenal, whose 19-year-old Irish striker Niall Quinn scores on his debut. West Ham United are level on points with second-placed Liverpool, after a 2-0 win over relegation-threatened Birmingham City.
22 December 1985 - Division One strugglers West Bromwich Albion pick up a rare victory, winning 3-1 against Watford. In the Second Division, a 1-0 win for Portsmouth (over Carlisle United) is enough for them to go level on points with Norwich at the top of the table, while victories for Derby and Blackpool put them into second and third respectively in Division Three. In the bottom tier, Halifax score three inside 37 minutes against Scunthorpe United, only for Iron forward John Hawley to bag a hat-trick and win his side a point.
31 December 1985 - Manchester United finish the year still top of the league, two points ahead of Chelsea and three clear of Everton and Liverpool. With just two wins so far, West Bromwich Albion remain bottom, and Ipswich Town and Birmingham City also remain in the relegation zone. Norwich City are the Second Division leaders, with Portsmouth and Charlton Athletic completing the top three.
2 January 1986 - Second Division strugglers Middlesbrough are reported to be £1million in debt. Peterborough United fan Barry Fox, 22, is jailed for three years for punching a policeman unconscious in the game against Northampton Town at London Road on 12 October.
18 January 1986 - Manchester United are still top of the First Division, but now hold just a two-point margin over Everton, Liverpool and Chelsea. Gary Lineker reaches the 20-goal mark in the First Division by scoring twice for Everton in their 2-0 away win over struggling Birmingham City.
28 February 1986 - Leaders Everton are three points ahead of Manchester United, who have a game in hand, at the end of the month. Liverpool are now eight points behind, level with Chelsea, but the London club have played three matches fewer. Aston Villa, just five years after being league champions, have slipped into the relegation zone alongside West Midlands rivals West Bromwich Albion and Birmingham City. Norwich City, Portsmouth and Charlton Athletic head the Second Division promotion race.
4 March 1986 - Everton become the only team not to require a replay to reach the FA Cup sixth round when they win 2-1 away to Tottenham Hotspur.
8 March 1986 - Everton come from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Luton Town in the FA Cup sixth round. In the First Division, the beleaguered bottom two from the West Midlands, Birmingham City and West Bromwich Albion, both concede five away from home, to Sheffield Wednesday and Tottenham respectively.
12 March 1986 - Oxford United reach the League Cup final for the first time after beating Aston Villa 4-3 on aggregate. Manchester United sign striker Peter Davenport from Nottingham Forest for £750,000. The England U21 national side defeats Denmark 1-0 in the European Championship quarter-final first leg in Copenhagen, with the only goal of the game coming from Coventry City midfielder Nick Pickering.
21 March 1986 - Manchester United announce that striker Mark Hughes is to join Barcelona, managed by former QPR and Crystal Palace boss Terry Venables, for a fee of £2million at the end of the season.
23 March 1986 - The first final of the Full Members Cup is played at Wembley Stadium, with Chelsea defeating Manchester City 5-4 with a hat-trick from David Speedie and two goals from Colin Lee. They had been 5-1 up after 85 minutes before three City goals saw their lead cut to a single goal.[deprecated source]
26 March 1986 - The return leg of the under-21 European Championship quarter-final sees England reach the next stage by drawing 1-1 with Denmark at Maine Road, with Aston Villa defender Paul Elliott equalising after the Danes took a 1-0 lead in the first half.
31 March 1986 - After five wins and a draw in March, Liverpool lead the table on goal difference over an Everton side who have a game in hand, while Manchester United are five points off the top in third place. Norwich City are looking all set for an immediate return to the First Division as runaway leaders of the Second Division, joined in the top three by Portsmouth and Wimbledon.
5 April 1986 - Liverpool beat Southampton 2-0 in the FA Cup semi-final at White Hart Lane to keep their double hopes alive, and end Southampton's hopes of gaining silverware in the first season under Chris Nicholl's management. Everton keep their own double bid on track with a 2-1 win over Sheffield Wednesday in the other semi-final at Villa Park.
12 April 1986 - West Bromwich Albion are relegated from the First Division after losing 1-0 at Queens Park Rangers.
19 April 1986 - Birmingham City lose 2-0 at home to Southampton and are relegated from the First Division just one season after promotion.
23 April 1986 - England's under-21 European dream is over as they can only manage a 1-1 draw with Italy at the County Ground in Swindon, with Arsenal midfielder Stewart Robson scoring their only goal.
26 April 1986 - Wolverhampton Wanderers become the third West Midlands club to be relegated this season, and become only the second English league club ever to suffer three successive relegations, after their descent into the Fourth Division is confirmed. Their slump echoes that of Bristol City four years earlier. Liverpool defender Gary Gillespie of Liverpool scores a hat-trick in a 5-0 league win over relegated Birmingham City at Anfield, while Everton are held 0-0 by Nottingham Forest.
30 April 1986 - Everton suffer a shock 1-0 defeat to Oxford United, and control of the title race passes to Liverpool, who beat Leicester City 2-0. Liverpool, with one match remaining, are four points ahead of West Ham United and five ahead of Everton, who both have two games left. After three home wins in April, Aston Villa have improved to 16th position, but Ipswich Town, Coventry City, Leicester City and Oxford United remain in the relegation battle. Norwich City's return to the First Division as Second Division champions.
3 May 1986 - Player-manager Kenny Dalglish scores the only goal as Liverpool beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge to win the First Division title. Everton win Southampton 6-1, which was 4-0 after 20 minutes. Ipswich Town lose their last match 1-0 to Sheffield Wednesday, and are two points ahead of 20th-place Oxford United, who still have one match remaining. Coventry City and Leicester City secure survival with home wins. Charlton Athletic seal promotion from the Second Division with a 3-2 win at relegation-threatened Carlisle United, and Wimbledon seal promotion to the First Division just nine years after being elected to the Football League.
5 May 1986 - Oxford United beat Arsenal 3-0 in their final game to avoid relegation, and send Ipswich Town down to the Second Division. Everton clinch the runners-up spot in the First Division after a 3-1 home win over third-placed West Ham United, with two goals from Gary Lineker meaning that he finishes as the First Division's leading scorer on 30 goals. Chelsea end the season with their fourth consecutive defeat, losing 5-1 at home to Watford.
10 May 1986 - Ian Rush scores twice as Liverpool come from behind to beat Everton 3-1 in the first-ever all-Merseyside FA Cup final. Liverpool become the fifth club in history to win the league championship and FA Cup double. Rush, however, could soon be on his way to Italy to sign for Juventus, according to media reports.
6 June 1986 - A goalless draw with Morocco leaves England needing to win their final group game in order to qualify for the second round of the World Cup.
8 June 1986 - Ian Rush agrees to sign for Juventus for a fee of £3million, but could be loaned back to Liverpool for the 1986-87 season.
11 June 1986 - Gary Lineker scores a hat-trick in England's 3-0 victory over Poland which sends them through to the second round of the World Cup.
13 June 1986 - Southampton sign 19-year-old goalkeeper Tim Flowers from Wolverhampton Wanderers for £70,000, while 23-year-old midfielder Ian Crook joins Norwich City from Tottenham Hotspur for £80,000.
22 June 1986 - England's World Cup challenge is ended in the quarter-finals when they lose 2-1 to Argentina. Diego Maradona scores both goals for Argentina, his first goal being the controversial "Hand of God" goal which was allowed despite being an obvious handball.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (November 2018)
England reached the quarter-finals of the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, where they lost 2-1 to eventual champions Argentina. Diego Maradona scored both Argentine goals; the first, scored with his hand, became known as the "Hand of God".
Kenny Dalglish's first season as player-manager of Liverpool saw them narrowly reclaim the league title from neighbours Everton, pipping them to the title on the final day of the season. They would then complete their first (and to date, only) league and cup double by defeating Everton in the FA Cup final.
As a result of the previous year's Heysel stadium disaster, both Liverpool and Everton missed out on the European Cup and European Cup Winners' Cup respectively, while West Ham United (who secured their highest-ever league finish), Manchester United (who had led the league for much of the season before a disastrous late run of form saw them overhauled by the two Merseyside clubs) and Sheffield Wednesday all missed out on the UEFA Cup.
West Bromwich Albion fell back into Division Two after ten seasons, following a campaign in which they only managed to win four games. Local rivals Birmingham City fared almost as poorly, and made an immediate return to Division Two. Ipswich Town were the final relegated side, the culmination of a rapid decline in the four years since Bobby Robson left to become England manager. Coventry City had spent most of the season in the relegation zone, until a late revival after George Curtis and John Sillett took over as co-managers with three games remaining.
|Pos||Team||Pld||W||D||L||GF||GA||GD||Pts||Qualification or relegation|
|1||Liverpool||42||26||10||6||89||37||+52||88||Champions, excluded from European Cup[a]|
|2||Everton||42||26||8||8||87||41||+46||86||FA Cup runners-up, excluded from Cup Winners' Cup[b]|
|3||West Ham United||42||26||6||10||74||40||+34||84||Excluded from UEFA Cup|
|13||Queens Park Rangers||42||15||7||20||53||64||−11||52|
|18||Oxford United||42||10||12||20||62||80||−18||42||League Cup winners, excluded from UEFA Cup[c]|
|22||West Bromwich Albion||42||4||12||26||35||89||−54||24|
Norwich City comfortably won the Second Division title, and with it, promotion back to the First Division at the first time of asking. Charlton Athletic, despite having suffered a financial crisis over the preceding years, surpassed expectations to return to the First Division for the first time since 1957. However, by far the biggest shock of the season was that Wimbledon, who had been in the Fourth Division only three years prior and were in only their second-ever season in the second tier, managed to claim the third and final promotion spot, entering the top-flight for the first time ever.
Fulham were relegated in bottom place, after mounting financial pressures had forced them to sell off most of their squad during the summer. Middlesbrough suffered only their second-ever relegation to the third tier, as their own financial situation grew increasingly desperate, to the point where they were locked out of their Ayresome Park ground and nearly expelled from the Football League between the end of this season and the beginning of the following one. Carlisle United occupied the third and final relegation spot, as a fightback after former manager Bob Stokoe came out of retirement ultimately proved not enough to keep them in Division Two.
|Pos||Team||Pld||W||D||L||GF||GA||GD||Pts||Promotion or relegation|
|1||Norwich City||42||25||9||8||84||37||+47||84||Division Champions, promoted|
|11||Brighton & Hove Albion||42||16||8||18||64||64||0||56|
A run of thirteen successive victories at the start of the season helped propel Reading to the Third Division title, meaning they would be playing in the Second Division for the first time since 1931. Plymouth Argyle took the runners-up spot, continuing the revival in fortunes that began with the appointment of Dave Smith as manager the previous season. Derby County were the third promoted side, ensuring that their first-ever spell in the third tier wouldn't extend to a third season.
The bottom two positions were occupied by two teams who had experienced shocking falls from grace since the start of the decade. Swansea City, who had finished sixth in the First Division only four years prior, suffered their third relegation in four seasons to end up back in the Fourth Division, just a year shy of a decade since John Toshack took them to the first of three promotions. Even more shocking was the decline of Wolverhampton Wanderers, who had finished sixth and been Football League Cup winners in 1980, only to suffer the indignity of a third successive relegation. Cardiff City also completed a decline that, if not as high-profile of those of the two teams below them, was almost as dramatic, as they suffered their second successive relegation, having gone down with Wolves the previous year. Lincoln City filled the final relegation spot, their fortunes having rapidly declined since the resignation of manager Colin Murphy the previous summer.
|Pos||Team||Pld||W||D||L||GF||GA||GD||Pts||Promotion or relegation|
|1||Reading||46||29||7||10||67||51||+16||94||Division Champions, promoted|
Swindon Town won promotion by a record-breaking 18 points, becoming only the second team (after York City two years previously) to exceed 100 points in a season, and also rewarding the board's decision to reinstate manager Lou Macari only days after his controversial sacking at the end of the previous season. Chester City, who had finished bottom of the league just two years prior, enjoyed a rapid turn-around in form following Harry McNally's appointment as manager in the summer, and were promoted as runners-up. Mansfield Town and Port Vale took the two remaining promotion spaces.
The final season prior to the introduction of automatic movement between Division Four and the Alliance Premier League once again saw all the bottom four sides comfortably re-elected, despite Torquay United finishing bottom for the second season in a row. Making bigger headlines were Preston North End, whose first-ever season at this level saw them rooted to the bottom of the table for most of the campaign, only overtaking Torquay thanks to a late run of form. Cambridge United, who had been relegated alongside Preston the previous year, also struggled throughout the season. Exeter City were the final team made to apply for re-election, with Halifax Town avoiding spending a third successive year applying for re-election by virtue of a single goal.
|Pos||Team||Pld||W||D||L||GF||GA||GD||Pts||Promotion or relegation|
|1||Swindon Town||46||32||6||8||82||43||+39||102||Division Champions, promoted|
|13||Wrexham||46||17||9||20||68||80||−12||60||Welsh Cup winners, qualified for the 1986-87 European Cup Winners' Cup First round[a]|
|23||Preston North End||46||11||10||25||54||89||−35||43|
The divisional champions of the major non-League competitions were:
|Alliance Premier League||Enfield|
|Isthmian League||Sutton United|
|Northern Premier League||Gateshead|
|Southern League||Welling United|
|FA Vase||Halesowen Town|
31 August 1985 - Ian Wright, 21-year-old striker, makes his debut for Crystal Palace in 3-2 defeat by Huddersfield Town at Selhurst Park in the Second Division soon after joining the club from non-league Greenwich Borough.