Comments by Joe Cole about Liverpool being the biggest club in England have prompted an article on the Newcastle United Supporters Trust website asking the question What is a big club?
Some geezer from Coventry University called Simon Chadwick was interviewed by Radio 5 and offered some criteria that could be used to determine exactly which clubs are big. One notion he mentioned was that of a sleeping giant and offered the examples of Cardiff City, Leeds United and Southampton. Is he right can any of these three clubs be considered sleeping giants and are there others?
So who are the sleeping giants of English football? First up we have to define what a sleeping giant is. For starters the term suggests the club is currently out of sorts and is not reaching heights it once did. They’re no longer playing at the pinnacle of English football, in the top flight, instead floundering in the Championship or lower.
Next up the club must have an illustrious history and this has got to mean it has something in the trophy cabinet. We’re not talking about a few divisional trophies or minor cups here. For a club to be considered a sleeping giant I would say it’s got to have some major domestic honours and the only two really worth winning are the league title and the FA Cup. Indeed a sleeping giant must have won both these honours at some point in their history.
So for the first part of our analysis we will only look at clubs that are currently outside the Premiership and who have won both the English top flight title and the FA Cup. Here they are ranked by the number of trophies won ..
So on the basis of past glories are these ten clubs the sleeping giants of English football. They’ve all won the league title and the FA Cup. Well we can add an extra level of definition to find just who are the true sleeping giants of the game in England. We’ve already determined that a club must have some major honours under it’s belt but what about crowds and attendances. Ask anyone what constitutes a big club and they’ll always mention those that get the highest crowds.
So it’s fair to have a think about pulling power when considering which clubs are sleeping giants. Only twenty-eight English clubs have ever attracted crowds over fifty thousand. Of the ten clubs above only six have ever attracted crowds in excess of fifty thousand ..
What about consistency when it comes to attracting large numbers through the turnstiles? Which of the six clubs above are amongst the top twenty supported clubs when ranked on historical average attendance? We are left with ..
So then these three Yorkshire clubs by the definitions we have used are the sleeping giants of the English game. All are outside the Premiership, all feature amongst the twenty most succesful clubs in English football and all three are historically amongst the top twenty supported clubs in the land.
Now why don’t we have a look to see just how long it is since each of these three clubs has won anything. So when ranked by years since winning either the league title or the FA cup we are left with ..
Sheffield United - FA Cup in 1925
Sheffield Wednesday - FA Cup in 1935
Leeds United - League title in 1992
There we have it then the Blades are positively catatonic going eighty-five years since winning anything of note. The Owls are comatose with seventy-five years since bagging one of the big two trophies though they did win the League Cup in 1991. Whilst Leeds have been snoozing for quite some time now. Just how much longer will they all remain in slumber?
Who do you think are the sleeping giants of English football? Leave a comment below.
The Damned United was on television last night and it was the first time I’d watched the film. Very good it was too. Michael Sheen played the part of Clough brilliantly. The movie was followed by a programme that asked if Brian Clough was the best manager that England never had. This is the theme of a blog post from Left Back In The Changing Room that is well worth a read.
The film explicity portrayed some of the bitter recriminations between Clough and the Leeds chairman Manny Cussins. It also touched on the barracking that new Leeds players brought in by Clough received from the Elland Road crowd, particularly John McGovern.
I’ve managed to dig out the Leeds United programme from their home game against Sheffield United that was played on 21st September 1974 just nine days after Clough and Leeds parted company. It’s got an article from Manny Cussins giving his version of events as well as an article on John McGovern in which he responds to the stick he’s getting off the home crowd.
Best way to view the document is to click full screen then use the zoom control.
Leeds put their troubles to one side as they ran out healthy 5-1 winners over the Blades however the 74/75 league campaign turned out to be rather frustrating for them as they could only manage a ninth place finish. Their lowest position since winning the 2nd division title in 63/64. They did of course reach the European Cup Final, losing 2-0 to Bayern Munich.
John McGovern had a miserable seven months at Leeds making only four league appearances. He eventually teamed up with Clough at Forest and went on to captain Forest to two European Cup triumphs in 1979 and 1980.
“before playing football he was a tailor’s assistant but decided he looked better in vest and shorts than in one of his own made suits”—
Some quality British Pathe footage from the 1930s showing Sheffield United players in training. Includes great background shots of the John Street Stand which was the first Archibald Leitch stand to be built in England. It held 9000 and was destroyed during the Sheffield Blitz of 1940. Click the link below ..
Hey mate! So I'm new to Tumblr, where can I find a few proper blogs dedicated to footy? Love your site by the way!
Hi getstuckin, thanks for the kind words. I see you’ve already started following some of the more popular football blogs on tumblr. There’s a few more available though. If you scroll down to the bottom of this page you’ll see who I’m following, most of them are footy folk here on tumblr.
To check out what’s available in the wider blogosphere click on the Explore tab in the toolbar at the bottom then select links. My blogroll is down the right hand side. If you can’t see the toolbar try here or here. Have fun mate.
“I’m just another human being, judge me not by the colour of my skin but as a person and a football manager.”—
RIP Keith Alexander, Macclesfield Town manager and the first black professional football manager, died Tuesday 2nd March after Macc’s match against Notts County. A manager renowned for managing teams on a tight budget he turned Lincoln City from League 2 strugglers into playoff contenders in each of the 4 years he was there and received a new 2 year contract at Macclesfield after keeping them in the football league last season. He also had spells at Peterborough and as director of football at Bury.