West Brom Albions - season 1985-86

1985-86: The season Albion’s fans would like to forget


In 1985-86 some supporters never saw West Bromwich Albion win a match. Others were so dissatisfied after the first two months of the season that they stayed away for the rest of the campaign, which resulted in Albion having their lowest average League attendance just over 12,000 for more than 70 years.

When the fixture list was produced for this season it gave West Bromwich Albion the chance for the best possible start. At home to newly promoted Oxford United, away at Everton and Watford then home to another newly promoted side Manchester City.

After the third game of that 1985-86 campaign Albion slumped to the foot of the First Division following a 5-1 defeat at Watford. Giles left following a 3-0 defeat at Coventry in September, handing over the reins to his brother in law Nobby Stiles, in fact in September Albion only scored 3 league goals and conceded 18 , relegation, even at this early stage, was staring Albion in the face.

Stiles carried on, but he was fighting a losing battle and he too was replaced by the third manager of the season. Albion needed divine intervention. And the Albion board went for experience and appointed former Villa and Birmingham manager, Ron Saunders, in a last-gasp effort to prevent relegation.

Saunders might have been worshiped as a God at Villa, having guided them to lift the European Cup in the 1981-82 season but at Albion he started by what many saw as getting of on the wrong foot by demanding that the players all lived within 25 miles of the ground or leave as too much time was spent commuting than training.

Albion improved slightly only losing 3 matches from the remaining 8 fixtures but it was too late and Second Division football became inevitable. New signings were made ready for the next season in an attempt to bounce straight back, Paul Dyson from Stoke, Stuart Naylor from Lincoln, Craig Madden from Bury, Darren Bradley from Aston Villa

Since the Football League was formed in 1888, the 1985-86 campaign was to be Albion’s worst-ever in Division One. They started badly, got decidedly worse, and then suffered the inevitable relegation for the sixth time. In fact the only people who the following statistics would bring any enjoyment to would be that lot from down the road.

Some nightmare stats


  • Fewest League wins – 4, previous 9.
  • Record number of defeats – 26, previous 23.
  • Least number of away wins – 1, previous 1
  • Fewest home wins in season – 3, previous 6.
  • Most home defeats in 21-match programme – 10, previous 10.
  • Least number of home points gained in season – 17, previous 22.
  • Fewest home League goals scored – 21, previous 22.
  • Lowest number of points gained in 42-match programme – 24, worst 28.
  • 9 consecutive League games lost, previous record 8.
  • Most players utilised in season League & Cup games – 34, previous 33.
  • Most home goals conceded by a First Division club in 1985-86 – 36.
  • Most away League goals conceded by a First Division club in 1985-86 – 53.
  • Five goalkeepers used during season League and Cup competitions.
  • Nineteen players made their senior debuts for Albion in 1985-86.
  • Albion dropped to the bottom of the First Division table after their third game and stayed there.
  • There were three managers at The Hawthorns during the season – Johnny Giles, Nobby Stiles and Ron Saunders, appointed February 1986.

The relegation


Players in and out, Garth Crooks and Imre Varadi were paired together to replace Garry Thompson; later, George Reilly arrived from Newcastle. None of them performed any better than the players who were already at the club .

The midfield was changed more times than the light bulbs at Walsall illuminations, with Steve Hunt, Mickey Thomas, Tony Grealish, Steve Mackenzie, Martin Dickinson, Andy Thompson and Darren Bradley all having spells in the team.

Paul Dyson was signed from Stoke City to replace Ally Robertson who was shipped off to Wolves in the back-four, Martin Dickinson from Leeds and goalkeeper Stuart Naylor was recruited from Lincoln City to become Ron Saunders’ first signing, all to no avail and for the first time since 1949 Albion were to start the next season in Division 2.

West Brom Albion’s all games in 1985-1986


DateEventHomeScoreAway
17-08-1985West Brom1-1Oxford
20-08-1985Everton2-0West Brom
24-08-1985Watford5-1West Brom
26-08-1985West Brom2-3Man City
31-08-1985Chelsea3-0West Brom
04-09-1985West Brom0-3Aston Villa
07-09-1985West Brom1-2Ipswich
14-09-1985Newcastle4-1West Brom
21-09-1985West Brom1-5Man Utd
24-09-1985League Cup 2nd Rd, 1st LegWest Brom1-0Port Vale
28-09-1985Coventry3-0West Brom
05-10-1985West Brom1-1Tottenham
07-10-1985League Cup 2nd Rd, 2nd LegPort Vale2-2West Brom
12-10-1985Leicester2-2West Brom
19-10-1985West Brom2-1Birmingham
26-10-1985Shefield Wed1-0West Brom
29-10-1985League Cup 3rd RdCoventry0-0West Brom
03-11-1985Nottingham Forest2-1West Brom
06-11-1985League Cup 3rd Rd, ReplayWest Brom4-3Coventry
09-11-1985West Brom0-1QPR
16-11-1985Liverpool4-1West Brom
19-11-1985League Cup 4th RdAston Villa2-2West Brom
23-11-1985West Brom0-0Arsenal
26-11-1985League Cup 4th Rd, ReplayWest Brom1-2Aston Villa
30-11-1985West Ham4-0West Brom
07-12-1985West Brom0-3Everton
14-12-1985Oxford2-2West Brom
22-12-1985West Brom3-1Watford
26-12-1985West Brom1-2Luton
28-12-1985Aston Villa 1-1West Brom
01-01-1986Southampton3-1West Brom
11-01-1986West Brom1-1Newcastle
13-01-1986FA Cup 3rd RdShefield Wed2-2West Brom
16-01-1986FA Cup 3rd Rd, ReplayWest Brom2-3Shefield Wed
18-01-1986West Brom0-3Chelsea
01-02-1986Man City2-1West Brom
08-02-1986Birmingham0-1West Brom
22-02-1986Man Utd3-0West Brom
08-03-1986Tottenham5-0West Brom
15-03-1986West Brom2-2Leicester
19-03-1986West Brom0-0Coventry
22-03-1986Ipswich1-0West Brom
29-03-1986West Brom1-0Southampton
01-04-1986Luton3-0West Brom
05-04-1986West Brom1-1Notthingham Forest
12-04-1986QPR1-0West Brom
19-04-1986West Brom1-2Liverpool
22-04-1986West Brom1-1Shefield Wed
26-04-1986Arsenal2-2West Brom
03-05-1986West Brom2-3West Ham

West Brom v West Ham – May 3rd, 1986


The last game of the season

1985-86 Season’s Division 1 table


                              P   W  D  L   F   A   W  D  L   F   A  Pts
 1. LIVERPOOL                42  16  4  1  58  14  10  6  5  31  23   88
 2. Everton                  42  16  3  2  54  18  10  5  6  33  23   86
 3. West Ham United          42  17  2  2  48  16   9  4  8  26  24   84
 4. Manchester United        42  12  5  4  35  12  10  5  6  35  24   76
 5. Sheffield Wednesday      42  13  6  2  36  23   8  4  9  27  31   73
 6. Chelsea                  42  12  4  5  32  27   8  7  6  25  29   71
 7. Arsenal                  42  13  5  3  29  15   7  4 10  20  32   69
 8. Nottingham Forest        42  11  5  5  38  25   8  6  7  31  28   68
 9. Luton Town               42  12  6  3  37  15   6  6  9  24  29   66
10. Tottenham Hotspur        42  12  2  7  47  25   7  6  8  27  27   65
11. Newcastle United         42  12  5  4  46  31   5  7  9  21  41   63
12. Watford                  42  11  6  4  40  22   5  5 11  29  40   59
13. Queen's Park Rangers     42  12  3  6  33  20   3  4 14  20  44   52
14. Southampton              42  10  6  5  32  18   2  4 15  19  44   46
15. Manchester City          42   7  7  7  25  26   4  5 12  18  31   45
16. Aston Villa              42   7  6  8  27  28   3  8 10  24  39   44
17. Coventry City            42   6  5 10  31  35   5  5 11  17  36   43
18. Oxford United            42   7  7  7  34  27   3  5 13  28  53   42
19. Leicester City           42   7  8  6  35  35   3  4 14  19  41   42
20. IPSWICH TOWN             42   8  5  8  20  24   3  3 15  12  31   41
21. BIRMINGHAM CITY          42   5  2 14  13  25   3  3 15  17  48   29
22. WEST BROMWICH ALBION     42   3  8 10  21  36   1  4 16  14  53   24

Source: rsssf.com
Info by Stuart Jackson
Featured image from birminghammail.co.uk

About the author

Top