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A 'League Table' for 1885

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Imagine the speculation over the relative merits of various clubs before the existence of leagues.
Cricket had come to terms (to some extent) of deciding which was Champion County, but in football the only honours available were cups decided on the knock out basis. (The challenge aspect of the Football Association Challenge Cup was short lived- Wanderers received a bye to the 1873 final).
On March 7th  1885The Preston Chronicle  published a League table.
The selection is broad:  There are 34 teams: 8 of the original 12 League clubs (no West Bromwich Albion, Stoke, Everton, Derby County); The Universities; 6 Scottish clubs; 4 'Old Boys' clubs. 13 of the teams came from Lancashire.

Ingeniously the compiler devised a system ('average to 1') of goal ratio by which to rate the teams. So a stingy defence was rewarded.


P

W

D

L

F

A

ave

Cambridge University

20

18

1

1

93

15

6.20

Wolverhampton Wanderers

25

17

6

2

103

18

5.72

Walsall

24

16

2

6

110

23

4.78

Preston North End

37

25

7

5

137

40

3.42

Hibernians

25

20

1

4

119

37

3.21

Oxford University

18

12

1

5

58

19

3.05

Bolton Wanderers

41

31

2

8

165

55

3.00

Great Lever

34

24

3

6

135

45

3.00

Queen’s Park

25

18

5

2

80

29

2.75

Blackburn Olympic

32

19

5

8

142

52

2.73

Notts Club (County)

29

20

4

5

90

34

2.61

Accrington

28

23

1

4

82

33

2.48

Blackburn Rovers

37

23

7

7

128

55

2.32

Upton Park

21

12

4

5

65

29

2.27

Vale of Leven

23

13

5

5

61

28

2.17

Glasgow Rangers

26

16

3

7

90

44

2.05

Church

27

16

4

7

80

45

1.97

Burnley

44

25

6

13

105

62

1.89

Walsall Swifts

29

14

7

8

70

44

1.89

Nottingham Forest

23

16

2

5

63

40

1.57

Old Foresters

25

13

3

9

66

42

1.57

Aston Villa

32

17

6

9

87

60

1.45

Darwen

30

10

7

13

68

48

1.41

Wednesbury Old Athletic

24

13

3

8

71

51

1.39

Halliwell

31

14

3

14

87

65

1.33

Pollockshields Athletic

20

14

0

6

45

34

1.32

Padiham

29

17

4

8

74

53

1.32

Old Carthusians

12

8

0

4

33

28

1.21

Old Westminsters

23

11

4

8

51

53

1.0

Wednesday

28

12

5

11

55

59

0.93

Blackburn Park Road

23

7

7

9

44

50

0.88

Witton

28

12

1

15

51

59

0.86

3rd Lanark RV

24

9

5

10

37

48

0.77

Old Etonians

17

5

3

9

36

51

0.70


One big name from this era not included was Corinthian FC. Granted, Corinth was still a relatively new outfit. I looked at their fixtures from September 1884 to March 1885. The figures were not impressive:

Corinthian FC
10
3
1
6
24
34
0.70


I have redone the table using a points system (3 for a win and 1 for a draw) and determined what percentage of the points available each team obtained. Cambridge still come out clear winners, but there are significant differences in the placements of some of the other teams.

%


91.66

Cambridge University

83.33

Accrington

81.33

Hibernians

78.66

Queen’s Park

77.23

Bolton Wanderers

76

Wolverhampton Wanderers

73.87

Preston North End

73.56

Notts Club (County)

73.52

Great Lever

71.66

Upton Park

70

Pollockshields Athletic

69.44

Walsall

68.51

Oxford University

68.46

Blackburn Rovers

66.66

Old Carthusians

65.38

Glasgow Rangers

64.58

Blackburn Olympic

64.19

Church

63.76

Vale of Leven

63.76

Nottingham Forest

63.21

Padiham

61.36

Burnley

59.37

Aston Villa

58.33

Wednesbury Old Athletic

56.32

Walsall Swifts

56

Old Foresters

53.62

Old Westminsters

48.80

Wednesday

48.38

Halliwell

44.44

3rd Lanark RV

44.04

Witton

41.11

Darwen

40.57

Blackburn Park Road

35.29

Old Etonians










































The success of the team had an impact on the sporting culture of the Universities.  On 5.3.85 at the Cambridge Union Society's Debate it was agreed to promote Football to a 'full blue' (elevating the  game to the same exalted level as athletics, cricket and rowing).
This is the Cambridge team for the 1885 Varsity Match:


GK
M.J Rendall


FB
A.M Walters

9 England appearances (1885-90)


FB
H. Buckley


HB
A. Amos

2 England appearances (1885-86)


HB
T.W Blenkiron


HB
F.E Saunders

1 England cap (1888) when playing for Swifts


F
B.W Spilsbury

3 England caps, 5 goals (1885-86)


F
T.H Marsh


F
T.Lindley

Later played for Nottingham Forest and won 13 England caps (1886-91) scoring 14 goals. England’s top scorer before Bloomer.


F
W.N Cobbold

Also of Old Carthusians- 9 England caps (1883-87) scoring 6 goals.


F
F Marchant






































I've scoured the newspaper archives in order to try and identify the 20 matches that the compiler had drawn Cambridge's record from ('up to the end of February 1885').
I could only find the following :

01.11.84 
Cambridge University
13
0
Swifts
??.11.84
Cambridge University
2
0
Old Foresters
15.11.84
Cambridge University
6
2
Sussex
19.11.84
Cambridge University
5
0
Corinthian FC
22.11.84
Brentwood 
0
2
Cambridge University
29.11.84
Cambridge University
12
1
Carthusians
11.12.84
Cambridge University
4
0
Middlesex
13.12.84
Aston Villa
3
1
Cambridge University
??.12.84
Cambridge University
5
2
Nottingham
04.01.85
Stoke
1
2
Cambridge University
08.01.85
Liverpool Ramblers
2
2
Cambridge University
12.02.85
Cambridge University
9
0
Brentwood
14.02.85
London 
0
4
Cambridge University
16.02.85
Cambridge University
1
1
Aston Villa
21.02.85
Cambridge University
4
0
Clapham Rovers
25.02.85
Cambridge University
1
0
Oxford University

These results compute as:

P
W
D
L
F
A
ave
Points %
16
13
2
1
72
13
5.53
85.41


Which would still place Cambridge at the top of the table.


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