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the home of cult football






More Happy Shopper than Harrods. More Cleethorpes than Cannes. More Bella Emberg than Uma Thurman. These are the teams who have made it to the pinnacle then promptly slid down the other side. This is a tribute, not a p*ss take. We salute you all.

No Team When Summary
1 Glossop NE 1899-1900 The smallest town ever to host top level football, Glossop nestles in the Derbyshire hills, east of Manchester. The towns other claim to fame being that neighbouring Hadfield was the location for The League of Gentlemen. North End currently resides in the North West Counties First Division. The origins of the club give it a connection with Arsenal. Until the 1980s the Gunners were owned by the Hill-Wood family. The Hill-Wood family were originally industrialists from Glossop, who made their money in cotton and bankrolled the club in its formative years.
2 Darwen 1893-94 Darwen, deep within the Lancashire hills and overshadowed by neighbours Blackburn, managed one season in the top flight back in the late 19th century. They got promotion from Division 2 only after a series of `test matches' against Notts County. These were a form of 1890s play offs. The decider was won 3-2, and was regarded as the most valuable club match in football, worth dozens of pounds to the winner. Darwen currently play in the North West Counties Second Division, which should make them less glamorous than Glossop. But doesn't.
3 Northampton 1965-66 The year of 1966 is even more firmly in the memories of football fans in this corner of the south Midlands than the rest of us. It was the year that Northampton were relegated from Division 1. Yes, the old Division 1, not the one they are currently in. The one with Arsenal, Liverpool and Watford in it. The Cobblers had been in Division 4 as recently as 1961 but had climbed the ladder by 1965. Northampton didn't disgrace themselves either, finishing just two points adrift of safety. Unfortunately their descent was even more rapid. They were relegated again in 1967, and plopped unglamorously back into the bottom tier in 1969.
4 Carlisle 1974-75 Carlisle United is the most north westerly outpost of the professional game in England. Like most smaller clubs it only occasionally jabs the national consciousness in the ribs. However, it certainly did so in the mid 1970s as Alan Ashman's team scraped into the top flight for the only time in its history by one point from the almost as unfashionable Leyton Orient. They scraped back out again a year later and though they finished bottom they did win 12 games, including the first three, which makes them arguably the most unlikely league leaders in Championship history.
5 Bury 1895-1912, 1924-29 For as long as most people can remember Bury have been a club associated with the bottom two divisions. However, back at the turn of the century Bury were a serious force in league football, spending 17 successive seasons in Division 1. This was their greatest era when they also snaffled a couple of FA Cups, famously beating Derby 6-0 in the 1903 final. This stands today as the heaviest victory in Cup Final history, a record unlikely ever to be broken. They reappeared for five further years with the cream of English football in the 1920s, but unlike larger, grander rivals in Lancashire, were unable to keep their status at such an exalted level after that. Still with Neville Neville (down spellchecker!) involved who knows? Maybe Gary and Phil will form a management dream team when they tire of Premiership megabucks.
6 Oldham 1910-23, 1991-94 In 1991, after a gap of 68 years, First Division football returned to Boundary Park, thanks to Joe Royle's exciting team and a perhaps little help from a plastic pitch. Oldham had thrilled the nation the previous year by reaching the League Cup final where they lost to Cloughie's Forest, and an FA Cup semi final, taking Man Utd to a replay. In 1991 all that mattered was league success. They dramatically snatched the championship after coming from behind to beat Sheffield Wednesday (who were also promoted) thus pipping West Ham to the title. The Latics lasted three years in the top flight and were founder members of the Premier League. Oldham were relegated in 1994, and so began a number of years in decline. Only recently has new investment in the club stopped the rot.
7 Oxford Utd 1985-88 For a club who sank to the non league nether regions in 2006, it must be easy for their fans to get wistful about the glorious era in the mid 1980s. Not only were they promoted as champions to Division 1 but also won the Milk Cup in 1986. The rapid rise of the U's was overseen on the pitch by the bald eagle, Jim Smith, and off it by Robert Maxwell, the late tycoon. Maxwell would have been a dream owner if it weren't for the fact that he knew nothing about football, was a complete egomaniac and didn't have any of his own money. Apart from that, great. Strangely, Smith left after promotion to manage QPR, who were comfortably beaten by Oxford in the Milk Cup final, 3-0. Milk of course, having beaten off gravy, snow and lava to sponsor the tournament. Oxford were relegated in 1988 and sank to the depths rather more slowly than their erstwhile owner, Maxwell.
8 Wimbledon 1986-2000 So unfashionable they almost became fashionable. Wimbledon, the proper club not the Franchise FC debacle, provided one of the most amazing stories of English football history. Their meteoric rise under Dave Bassett from non-league to football's summit showed that in football, almost anything could happen. The fact that they stayed there for 14 years and won the FA Cup in 1988 under Bobby Gould against mighty Liverpool just added to the legend. Vinny Jones, Dennis Wise, John Fashanu et al were not liked by the footballing establishment but provided a tonic for unglamorous clubs everywhere. Existing on a hardcore support of about 6,000 they slapped the big boys on both cheeks with regularity. Owned by the Lebanese businessman Sam Hamman, they developed a siege mentality against, well pretty much every one else. Managed with resourcefulness by likes of Bassett, Gould and Kinnear, it was only when Hamann left that the wheels fell off. Big time. The club was disgracefully allowed to move to Milton Keynes in 2003 and their loyal fans started AFC Wimbledon at the bottom of the football pyramid. Let's hope they pass MK on their way up football's hierarchy.
9 Swindon 1993-94 When Swindon were promoted after an epic 1993 play off final against Leicester, they had actually acquired a touch of glamour in the shape of former Top of the Pops heartthrob Glenn Hoddle. Hoddle player-managed a fluent but cheaply assembled side at the County Ground. However, after a couple of sessions with renowned soothsayer Eileen Drewery, he decided that Swindon were destined for a swift return to the Football League. Hoddle upped sticks for Stamford Bridge and so enabled Swindon to enter this list with total justification. Former Tiswas funnyman, John Gorman, took over as boss (ask your dad) and it was rapidly obvious they were doomed when they went 16 games before recording a victory. By 1995 they were back in the third tier and have never threatened to resurface in the nation's radar.
10 Barnsley 1997-98 It's easy to be cliched and patronising about Barnsley, but that's the name of our game so here goes. In terms of fashionability they rank between demob suits and Jah Jah Binks. They also appeared, for generations, to be a Division 2 side never going up and never, ever threatening the great gods of the top flight (such as Coventry and Wimbledon). However, in 1997 under the astute management of Danny Wilson they were promoted to the Premiership to great celebrations in the Yorkshire town. The delirium ran so high that Michael Parkinson even suggested he might pop back to visit for an afternoon. Though never without hope, they never really threatened to stay up despite 10 wins (including one at Anfield) and a cup run that saw off Manchester Utd. "It's just like watching Brazil" sang the Tykes, and they weren't far wrong.