Still waiting – the clubs that have had little to sing about

EVERTON fans won’t need reminding that they are going through a tough time this season and their recent FA Cup defeat at Manchester United meant the rest of the campaign will be all about preserving their Premier League status.

Everton’s followers have waited 28 years for a glimpse of silverware. It was 1995 when they last won a major prize, beating Manchester United at the old Wembley stadium. Although they have been part of the Premier League since it started, in recent years life has been quite precarious.

For most clubs, winning a trophy is an unlikely event, but success is also measured by promotion to a higher level. Only 43 clubs have won major honours, 49 of the 92 have never won silverware but every single club has, at some stage, won promotion. Of those that have won pieces of objet d’art in the past, Bradford City and Barnsley have been waiting for 112 and 111 years respectively to add to their haul. Sheffield United, Huddersfield Town and Cardiff City will all be celebrating the centenary of their last major triumph.

Everton’s 28-year stretch is the longest in their history without a prize for the cabinet. The previous longest barren spell was 24 years between 1939 and 1963, although the club was promoted in 1954 back to the first division. Everton’s run is notable because, for a long time, they were one of English football’s blue riband clubs.

Ipswich Town are another club who are enduring a long, painful period without some form of success. Now playing in League One, they have not won a trophy since 1981 and last enjoyed promotion in 2000. If they don’t go up this season – they are currently third in the table – it will be 23 years without a glimpse of bunting.

Tottenham’s lack of silverware is well documented and fans from rivals like Arsenal and Chelsea taunt Spurs for their lack of the killer touch.

Their last prize was the EFL Cup in 2008 and if they don’t break their duck this season, it will be 15 years since their last hurrah. Tottenham’s trophies down the years have usually come in clusters: 1961 – 1967, five; 1971 – 1973, three; 1981 – 1984, three. They’ve won just three cups in 30 years, a record that wouldn’t be tolerated at some clubs.

  Last success – years agoSource/CompetitionYear
1Everton28FA Cup1995
2Ipswich Town23Promotion2000
3Carlisle United17Promotion2006
 Colchester United17Promotion2006
5Derby County16Promotion2007
7Tottenham Hotspur15EFL Cup2008
 Stoke City15Promotion2008
9Birmingham City12EFL Cup2011
11West Ham United11Promotion2012
 Sheffield Wednesday11Promotion2012
 Crawley Town11Promotion2012
16Crystal Palace10Promotion2013
 Swansea City10EFL Cup2013
 Bradford City10Promotion2013
 Mansfield Town10Promotion2013

For Everton, Tottenham, Newcastle United (last trophy 1969) and West Ham (1980 FA Cup), desolate periods without success become all the more galling in this age of winner takes all. In fact, of the 60 domestic competitions over the past 20 years, 88% have been won by just six clubs (Manchester City 14, Chelsea 13, Manchester United 12, Arsenal 7, Liverpool 6, Tottenham 1). On top of that, Chelsea (4), Liverpool (2) and Manchester United (2), have won eight European trophies since 2003.

Of the 92 clubs in the EFL and Premier, 53 have experienced some form of success within five years, while another 24 have waited for between six and 10 years. Only two, Everton and Ipswich, have gone beyond 20 years. How long will they have to wait?

Traditionally, Everton have had to wait an average of around eight or nine years between trophies, but the current gap of 28 years has taken that average to around 10 years. Of the current big six clubs, Liverpool and Manchester United have an average of less than four years, Arsenal five years and Chelsea six. Manchester City’s average between trophies is currently nine years, but each season that passes changes that situation.

When and where trophies are won

PRIOR to the 2018-19 season, the most successful Premier League team, in terms of domestic trophies won over the past decade, was Chelsea with eight wins. Just behind the Blues were the Manchester duo, City and United, with seven apiece. City have since drawn level with their League Cup victory earlier this season and in all probability, they will move ahead of Chelsea very soon.

Look at the winners of the three domestic prizes from 2008-09 to 2017-18 and the polarisation of English football becomes very clear – 26 of the 30 trophies were won by the top five of Chelsea (8), City (7), United (7), Arsenal (3) and Liverpool (1). The four “outsiders” were Wigan, Swansea, Birmingham and Leicester, all of whom won one trophy each. A notable absentee in the winners’ enclosure is Tottenham, whose last trophy was the Football League Cup in 2008.

Tottenham’s 10-year barren spell could become 11 in 2018-19 and that would be the worst post-WW2 run by Spurs, although since 1990, picking up major prizes has been a tough call for the north Londoners. Spurs have won 15 trophies since 1946, an average of a tin pot every 4.8 years, underlining the poor current sequence, despite all the plaudits the club receives. Spurs have, traditionally, won honours in clusters: the period between 1960-61 and 1962-63 when they won the Football League, two FA Cups and a European prize; the early 70s flourish of two FL Cups and the inaugural UEFA Cup; and the early 1980s when they won two FA Cups and another UEFA Cup.

Similarly, the past 10 years have not been too kind to Liverpool, although they’ve reached a number of cup finals, including the Champions League and Europa League. Liverpool had a glorious and unprecedented spell of success between 1972-73 and 1989-90 when they finished the season with a trophy in 15 of 18 campaigns. In the period from 1946-47, Liverpool have won 37 major trophies, an average of one every 1.95 years. However, it has been 28 years since the club won the league title and they are currently in their seventh season without a trophy. Their only major honour in the past decade was the Football League Cup, won in 2012.

Liverpool fans claim that the most successful clubs over the past 10 years, Chelsea and Manchester City, have no history, but they’ve been busy creating their heritage, winning 17 cups between them. There’s a certain irony that these two clubs were relative under-achievers before money from Russia and the Middle East was injected into them. Prior to Roman Abramovich arriving at Chelsea, they had won one league title, three FA Cups, two League Cups and the European Cup-Winners’ Cup twice. Chelsea’s overall total of major honours, including Europe, now totals 23 but, importantly, the past 10 years has seen them win 10, including three Premier titles, the Champions League and the Europa League. It’s a remarkable record considering that between 1971 and 1997, Chelsea did not lift a single prize.

Manchester City, prior to their current golden era, which could yet yield an incredible quadruple, was in the late 1960s/early 70s, when they won the Football League (1968), FA Cup (1969), Football League Cup (1970) and European Cup-Winners’ Cup (1970). Since 2010-11, City have won three league titles, four Football League Cups (including this season) and the FA Cup. In post-war football, City’s haul equates to a trophy every 5.53 years, but this figure should start to come down significantly if the club continues its current trajectory.

The rise of Chelsea and Manchester City has aso been resented by their local rivals and notably by clubs that previously formed part of the elite of English football – Arsenal and Manchester United. Chelsea’s rise certainly put Arsenal in the shade and it was no coincidence that as Abramovich’s Chelsea started to win trophies, Arsenal, under Arsene Wenger, discovered that the secret ingredient that had given the Gunners such an advantage was quickly eroded by the financial clout provided by Russian money.

In an eight-year period between 1997-98 and 2004-05, Arsenal won three Premier titles and four FA Cups. They won the “double” twice, in 1998 and 2002. This sequence also included the 2003-04 title win that saw the team go a whole season unbeaten in the league and earn the nickname, “the invincibles”. Since then, Arsenal endured a frustrating period of falling short of major honours, although UEFA Champions League qualification was achieved on a consistent basis. Wenger came under heavy criticism at the back end of his long reign, but Arsenal fans seemingly forgot that the club went through an even more difficult period between 1953 and 1970 when success constantly eluded the Gunners.

Manchester United were equally bent out of shape over the ascendancy of “new money” clubs like Chelsea and City. Their post-war haul of trophies amounts to 39, a prize every 1.85 years. Just as Liverpool dominated the mid-1970s through to 1990, United finally regained their winning ways under Sir Alex Ferguson and won 13 league titles between 1992-93 and 2012-13. But it is now overlooked that the club went from 1967 to 1993 without a league success.

Throughout football history, there have always been teams that have risen to the top and dominated for a given period. In the 1930s, it was Arsenal, in the 1950s, it was Busby’s ill-fated “Babes”, in the mid-1960s it was United and Liverpool and in the 1970s, Leeds United were the team everyone wanted to beat. Liverpool’s reign in the mid-1970s to late-1980s preceded another golden period for United, with interruptions from Arsenal and latterly Chelsea. The next era is, arguably, the time of Manchester City – heavily resourced, wealthy, in possession of top professionals on and off the pitch. If they do win four prizes, they will be the first British side to achieve that feat since Celtic scooped everything in 1967. Don’t bet against it.

Current Premier League 2018-19 and post-war domestic success (up to end of 2017-18)

  Lge titles (last won) FA Cup FL Cup Years since any trophy
Manchester Utd 18 (2013) 11 (2016) 5 (2017) 1
Liverpool 14 (1990) 7 (2006) 8 (2012) 6
Arsenal 8 (2004) 11 (2017) 2 (1993) 1
Chelsea 6 (2017) 8 (2018) 5 (2015) 0
Tottenham H 2 (1961) 6 (1991) 4 (2008) 10
Manchester City 4 (2018) 3 (2011) 5 (2018) 0
Everton 4 (1987) 3 (1995) 0 23
Wolverhampton W 3 (1959) 2 (1960) 2 (1980) 38
Leicester City 1 (2016) 0 3 (2000) 2
West Ham United 0 3 (1980) 0 38
Newcastle United 0 3 (1955) 0 49*
Burnley 1 (1960) 0 0 58
Southampton 0 1 (1976) 0 42
Huddersfield Town 0 0 0 92
Crystal Palace 0 0 0 n/a
Bournemouth 0 0 0 n/a
Brighton 0 0 0 n/a
Cardiff City 0 0 0 91
Fulham 0 0 0 n/a
Watford 0 0 0 n/a

*Newcastle last trophy the Inter-Cities Fairs’ Cup, won in 1968-69

Photo: PA