We’ve become used to the idea of City gaining promotions over the last few years, so lets have a look at the heroes of the other successful seasons.
1958-59 – Bob Brocklebank
The years after Carter’s departure in 1952 were tough for City, the club rarely being seen above halfway in the table and 1956 saw City drop back to the Northern section of the 3rd division, coincidentally as Carter led his Leeds team to the 1st division after beating City at Boothferry Park. I doubt it gave Raich much pleasure to achieve it at his former club. His successor at City, Bob Jackson, had failed dismally and so the directors turned to Brocklebank in 1956. He had his problems throughout that time, even during the promotion season, with 3 players, Bradbury, Bulless and Cripsey asking for transfers with the season just a few weeks old…
City had a fairly poor start to the season, with the club only picking up 5 points from the first 7 games. The players were struggling to make any headway and after a heavy 6-1 thrashing at Southampton, matters were coming to a head. What was said at this point can only be guessed at but it was certainly effective as City then went on a 4 game winning streak, starting with a 5-0 win over Notts County. Thanks to this amazing turnround in form City were now in a stronger position to start October.
The team now looked like they were just that, a team. 3 wins and 2 defeats during October kept them moving up the table, and after the player unrest at the start, some were even considering City’s chances of the promotion, but in reality, it still didn’t appear likely.
November was all City, 100% in the league, included a 5-3 defeat of Bournemouth and a hat-trick by Colin Smith, City’s leading forward, signalled that this team had now to be taken seriously. The only blip was a 1-0 loss to Stockport in the Cup, which made it certain they could ‘concentrate on the league’.
December and the Christmas holidays weren’t that successful as the team picked up only 6 points of the 10 on offer, but they had now reached 2nd in the league, chasing Plymouth hard. Thankfully, they didn’t lose points in the fixture between the teams, sharing a 1-1 draw.
January kept City in the hunt after the Pilgrims again taking 6 from 10, and the highlight was a comfortable 4-0 win over Bradford City, Bill Bradbury hitting his second hat-trick of the season.
City were on a roll now, and February was much the same as November, City applying real pressure on the Pilgrims after 4 wins from 4. By now it was a 4 horse race between City, Plymouth, Brentford and Norwich and any slip would make it hard to recover from.
City’s winning run came to an end at Tranmere in March, but it was nothing compared to the following day’s top of the table clash with Norwich at BP. It was a game neither could afford to lose, and the seasons highest attendance of 24,000 made their way along Boothferry Road to see if City could make it theirs. In the end, the game ended 3-3, which didn’t really help at all.
However, they entered the final month of the season with a chance to at least win promotion, at times it seemed like they were suddenly nervous. The first half of April brought City just 4 from 8 points, and suddenly promotion was slipping away if they were not careful. But a win over Doncaster with 2 matches left took City to the brink of promotion, leaving them 2 points to get from those last 2 matches.
Bury were the visitors and City knew what they had to do. In the end it turned out to be a formality, Bill Bradbury and Brian Bulless clinching it. But the season wasn’t over yet.
Plymouth and City went into the last game of the season level on points, 61 points each with City having the better goal average. Basically if City won at Wrexham, Plymouth couldn’t touch them. Even a point would do, as Bradford were a good mid-table team and wouldn’t be likely to roll over.
As it turned out, the worst happened, City collapsed to a 5-1 defeat, leaving them waiting on the Plymouth game. As it turned out the Pilgrims had held on a draw and took the title to the south-west… Where have we heard this one before?
Final 1958/1959 English Division 3 (old) Table
1 Plymouth P46; W23; D16; L 7; F89; A59 Pts 62; Gl av 0.5084
2 Hull City P46; W26; D 9; L11; F90; A55 Pts 61; Gl av 0.6363
3 Brentford P46; W21; D15; L10; F76; A40 Pts 57; Gl av 0.5510
Goalscorers (all competitions)
Bradbury 30 (46 games), Smith 26 (46), Clarke 12 (46), Coates 9 (42), Bowering 6 (44), Bulless 2 (30), Davidson 1 (26 games), Garvey 1 (30), OG 1.