Burnley FC, Wolves FC, Barnsley FC and Blackpool FC can all boast great football triumphs over the course of their long respective histories. And, while each have endured periods of struggle in the not too dim and distant past, recent seasons can give all four cause for relative optimism.
Burnley FC emerged triumphant in the Championship play-off final in May of this year and claimed a place in the Premier League for the first time, the club and their supporters no doubt felt that they were back were they rightfully belong – the Clarets having been one of the members of the inaugural Football League way back in 1888.
However in spite of such a long and illustrious history – a history which has seen Burnley FC lay claim to one League title and two FA Cups – the play-off final victory represented the end of a long spell outside the top-flight of English football for the Clarets. Indeed Burnley FC only narrowly staved off a drop down to Conference level in the 1980s, before their fortunes turned again and they powered up to the second tier of the Football League ladder in the 1999-2000 season. And in May Wade Elliott’s goal gave Burnley FC the play-off win over Sheffield United that finally granted them entry to the Premiership.
Where Burnley FC will be joined by another of the Football League’s founding clubs; Wolverhampton Wanderers earning their spot back in the Premiership by winning last season’s Championship title. Wolves FC enjoyed great success in the 1950s, when manger Stan Cullis guided them to three League crowns, and the club also achieved League Cup wins in 1974 and 1980, before a run of relegations between 1983 and 1986 left them languishing in the Fourth Division. The goals of Wolves FC hero Steve Bull helped fire the team back up to the second tier where they spent the majority of the next two decades, until manager Mick McCarthy masterminded last season’s all-conquering Championship campaign.
The Football League history of Barnsley FC is almost as lengthy as that of Burnley and Wolves, with the Tykes entering the competition just before the advent of the 20th century. Barnsley FC overcame West Bromwich Albion 1-0 in the 1912 FA Cup Final replay but, following this moment of glory, the club spent long periods in the Second, Third and Fourth Divisions. 1997-98 saw Barnsley FC make an ultimately unsuccessful yet undeniably memorable one-off appearance in the Premier League, as they won against Liverpool at Anfield and knocked Manchester United out of the FA Cup. Memories of this campaign were evoked two years ago, when Barnsley FC overcame Liverpool and Chelsea during a stirring FA Cup run that finally saw the Tykes defeated by Championship contemporaries Cardiff City in a Wembley semi-final.
The FA Cup is, of course, the competition that provided Blackpool FC with their greatest footballing success. The skills of Sir Stanley Matthews and a hat-trick from Stan Mortensen helped the Tangerines come back from 3-1 down to beat Bolton 4-3 in the 1953 FA Cup Final. Blackpool FC have suffered subsequent disappointment though, culminating in the 1982-83 season which saw them finish four spots from the foot of the Football League, and only evade relegation thanks to the re-election system.
However Blackpool FC were soon on the rise again, and by 2007 they had arrived in the Championship, where they presently reside under the guidance of eccentric manager Ian Holloway.