1909-10: We only need one point

Last updated : 18 November 2008 By Historian
In City's case the original 'Five Year' plan was not even heralded as such, but was merely the culmination of the team's efforts to achieve promotion for the first time in their short history thus far. Beginning their League career in 1905, their final League placing for the first four seasons had been: 5th, 9th, 8th and 4th.

Season 1909/10 offered hope that this time promotion would be theirs, and by September that hope was given further substance as a sequence of five wins and one draw saw the Tigers head the Second Division for the first time in nearly two years.

A narrow home defeat by eventual champions Manchester City initiated a run of only two wins in the next 10 games. It did little to diminish the Tigers' promotion aspirations, however. Their defence was considered to be one of the more capable within the division, and their forward power was so great, both in terms of quantity and quality, that they could afford to sell Alf Toward to one of their rivals: Oldham Athletic.

At the time, it seemed good business as the Tigers possessed a string of forwards, all of whom could not be accommodated, and it was often Toward who found himself on the sidelines. History would offer a different perspective on that sale however.

Whilst the promotion aspirations persisted, they were beginning to be bogged down in the no mans land of mid-table until a 7-0 demolition of Birmingham, at the beginning of December, sparked a revival in fortunes and results. The next eight games yielded five wins two draw and one defeat - a Christmas day bashing at Fulham.

That Fulham game saw City start the second half of their League campaign. During this time, they lost only once more - a 0-3 reverse at Manchester City - up until the time the last match of the season arrived. By now they were in second place in the League, a point behind Manchester City but, more importantly, a point ahead of Derby County and two points in front of their final opponents: Oldham Athletic.

All they needed was a point from this last match and promotion would be theirs. It may not have sounded too difficult a task, had it not been for the fact that Oldham were unbeaten in eight matches and their previous match had seen them demolish fellow promotion rivals, Derby County, 4-0. It was the same scoreline by which City had disposed of Oldham in the fixture at Anlaby Road.

In the subsequent 22 games since that defeat, Oldham would only taste defeat on two further occasions and, helped by the goals of former Tiger, Alf Toward, had dragged themselves into the promotion picture. On October 9th Oldham had been bottom of the Division with only two points from 5 games; now they needed to win to stand any chance of going up; all City needed was a point.

The point never came though, and in a comprehensive display Oldham ran out 3-0 winners. The writing was on the wall when Alf Toward opened the scoring for Oldham. Walders, the Oldham centre-half, added the second from a corner and Broad, their outside right, wrapped up the points for the 'Latics' with the third.

At the end of the game both clubs were locked on the same number of points. They were joined by Derby County, whose 0-0 draw at West Brom gave them 53 points as well.

Goal average ('goals for' divided by 'goals against') would decide who would join Manchester City in Division One. Oldham's stood at 2.026, City's at 1.739, and Derby's at 1.532.
You do not need to be a mathematical genius to work out who joined Manchester City in Division One, but it wasn't City.

And all they needed was a point.