1932-33: The First Time

Last updated : 03 January 2002 By Historian
It took City three seasons to recover from the heartbreak of FA Cup semi-final defeat and relegation - both suffered within the space of a few weeks during season 1929/30. Whilst their relegation partners - Notts County - returned to Division Two - as champions from Division 3S - at the first time of asking, the Tigers needed a little longer to regroup.

Life in Division 3N was a new experience for them; it was not pleasant either as they began it with defeat on the opening day. By the end of that season they had amassed more victories than defeats but it was not enough to see them finish no higher than 6th. Their chance of a quick return was gone, and so was their manager - Bill McCracken - his place being taken by Hayden Green.

With no previous managerial experience in the League, Green could at least call on his knowledge gained as assistant manager at Lincoln, and a short managerial spell with non-League Ebbw Vale. These periods of employment had followed a playing career that took in Nottingham Forest, Manchester United, Aston Villa, Newport County and Reading.

Green's task was to get City back into the Second Division. The Northern Section - as Division 3N tended to be called - was heavily populated by hardened old 'pros' with the odd sprinkling of youthful talent. Green realised he had to fight fire with fire and brought in his own experienced players. They included the likes of John Hill - who would become captain in succession to Matt Bell - in defence and Russell Wainscoat in attack.

His first season in charge was one of consolidation and when at the start of the 1932/33 season his acquisition of Bill McNaughton - and the establishment of 'Geordie' Maddison in goal - suggested that he now had enough 'fire' to set the Division alight. His record at the end of the season confirmed that 'suggestion' had turned into reality.
Yet the start - a 0-1 defeat at Walsall - offered little evidence to support his belief. The next 24 games however turned cynicism amongst Tiger fans to cheering as City only lost three games in that run, and his latest addition to the forward line - Bill McNaughton - had already helped himself to 21 goals - ably supported by Russell Wainscoat with 12.

At home the Tigers were untouchable: undefeated with 18 wins and 3 draws, scoring 69 goals and conceding only 14. Away from home their record was more in line with normality, amassing 20 points out of a possible 42, and a goals record of 31 in both the For and Against column.

In modern day thinking it would be considered promotion form but, as only the top side from Division's Three (North and South) would be promoted, it had to be as Champions that the Tigers would find their way back. Their scrooge hospitality at home ensured that would be the case.

At the heart of their elevation lay the goals of Bill McNaughton. Eleven times he scored more than once in a game, and his final tally of 41 goals in 41 League games remains a Club record to this day. His only absence from the starting line-up came in the away fixture at Crewe. It did not matter; his 'replacement' in the number 9 shirt that day, David Jordan, scored the Tigers goal that earned them a point.

Throughout the season City's battle for promotion had been a triangular affair with Welsh opponents - Chester and Wrexham - trying to knock the Tigers off the top. At times they succeeded but, when it mattered at the end of the season, it was the Tigers who secured the Northern Section championship with a game to spare.
On May 1st mayhem broke out when two goals from Bill McNaughton gave the Tigers a 2-0 victory over local rivals York City, and the necessary points acquired that would leave the Welsh to linger a little while longer in the Northern Section.

To propose, however, that promotion was achieved solely on the back of McNaughton's profligacy in front of goal would have severely undervalued the contribution of others: Wainscoat (21 goals), Sargeant (13) in attack and Maddison, Woodhead and Hill in defence. McNaughton may have scored the lion's share of the Tigers century of goals that season, but analysis of the match reports showed that it was Wainscoat who made many of them.

For the first time in their history, the Tigers were promoted - as champions no less. For the first time in their history, they scored a century of League goals. For the first time in their history, two of their forwards scored more than 50 goals between them. All three feats were matched in the same season some 33 years later, but it's the first time...