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Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Tired Of Hanging Around

With Leeds and Norwich in the Championship, Bournemouth in League One, and League Two Oxford all vying for back-to-back promotions, Nobes looks back on other sides who've done the same in recent years - and what happened next.

Up from League One last year, Leeds and Norwich are fighting for successive promotions

Promotion for one, or both, of Leeds and Norwich at the end of this season would cap an incredible turnaround in fortunes at both Elland and Carrow Roads in the past two years.

The pair both won promotion from League One last term and have continued their momentum this term in challenging at the top end of the Championship. Successive elevations aren't out of the question.

League One Bournemouth, too, are also gunning for successive promotions after their against-all-odds promotion last season. Oxford, after their exile in the Conference, have also returned stronger and are mounting a play off push.

While continued success may sound like a dream scenario though, is there an argument for rising too far too soon? Here's my look at some of the other sides who've won back-to-back promotions and how they fared afterwards.

Watford 1997-1999

Graham Taylor, in his second spell in charge at Vicarage Road, guided the Hornets to the third tier title in 1997/8.

Twelve months later, and they had completed a return to the top flight for the first time in more than a decade - beating Bolton in the play off final.

However, after their quick ascent, they found themselves well short in the Premier League. Watford finished bottom, a full 12 points adrift of safety.

Relegated back down to the Championship, it took them another six years before they returned to the top tier for another single year.

Rotherham United 1999-2001

The Millers made it two promotions on the spin during the first managerial spell of current boss Ronnie Moore.

They finished runners-up in both the basement division and then, to everyone's surprise, in the third tier, too, as they returned to the Championship for the first time in nearly 20 years.

Despite small crowds and limited resources, there they remained for four seasons before tumbling back down the ladder due to financial problems.

Brighton & Hove Albion 2000-2002

Not since the mid-1980s during Oxford's rise up the footballing ladder had a team won successive championships.

That changed at the beginning of the new Millennium when Brighton went from the basement division to the Championship - winning both divisions along the way.

Firstly, Micky Adams took Albion to the 1999/2000 League Two title and then, when he left mid-way through the next campaign to join Leicester, replacement Peter Taylor kept the Seagulls on course for consecutive titles and promotions.

Their sudden rise, allied with cramped facilities at the Withdean, ensured Brighton were instantly relegated - although they did manage to bounce back at the first time of asking under Mark McGhee's stewardship.

Currently top of League One - dreaming of a return to the Championship ready for playing in their brand new ground at Falmer.

Doncaster Rovers 2002-2004

Rovers spent five years in the Conference after falling out of the Football League in 1998.

However, they became the first ever Conference play off winners in 2003.

In unknown waters, people predicted the second team to come up to struggle, but Donny shocked everyone by romping away with the League Two crown.

Dave Penney's side comfortably held their own in the third tier before winning promotion to their current position in the Championship in 2008 under his successor, Sean O'Driscoll.

Hull City 2003-2005

The year Doncaster won the basement division title, many people's favourites had been big spending Hull City.

With the experienced Peter Taylor at the helm, and playing in the brand new KC Stadium, the Tigers had to settle for second spot and promotion though.

Twelve months later, and they had made it successive promotions - as runners-up in League One to Luton. Taylor ensured City stabilised in the second tier before Phil Brown led them into the top flight in 2008 for the first time in their history.

They hung around for a couple of seasons before falling back down last May.

Southend United 2004-2006

After years of mid-table mediocrity in League Two, local lad Steve Tilson engineered a dramatic turnaround in fortunes at Southend.

The Shrimpers were victorious in the 2005 play-off final against Lincoln to gain elevation into League One.

There, they shocked everyone by winning the title - pipping local rivals Colchester to boot - and gain a return to the Championship for the first time in a decade.

They only lasted a year there, and although they went close to returning, off-field financial troubles saw them relegated back down to League Two for this season.

Carlisle United 2004-2006

The masters of avoiding relegation from the Football League finally paid the price for previous close-calls in 2003 when a disastrous start cost the Cumbrians their League Two place.

They bounced back at the first time of asking - Paul Simpson's men beating Stevenage in the play off final.

United then followed in Doncaster's footsteps by winning the League Two title the very next season.

Now firmly consolidated in the third tier of English football - as well as performing their usual JPT heroics.

Peterborough United 2007-2009

Ambitious owner Darragh MacAnthony fuelled back-to-back promotions in the Fens as Posh made it from League Two to the Championship.

Darren Ferguson led the Cambridgeshire side to runners-up positions behind Milton Keynes and then Leicester in successive seasons to return United to the second tier for the first time since 1994.

However, Posh struggled badly last term, culminating in Ferguson getting the boot and three other managers failing to stave off relegation.

Now back in League One and back under Ferguson's control.

Exeter City 2007-2009

The Devon side were the first victims of two-up two-down between the Football League and Conference in 2003.

They remained there for five years, losing out in the 2007 play off final to Morecambe before 12 months later returning to Wembley and beating Cambridge to win promotion.

Paul Tisdale's Grecians then finished as runners-up in League Two behind Brentford as they secured a return to the third tier for the first time in 15 years.

They battled against the drop last term, eventually ensuring survival on the final day to secure another year in League One.

What do we learn from a look in the history books? Certainly for Norwich and Leeds, winning successive promotions into the Premier League is rare. Watford found the step-up too big, but then they are a much smaller club.

They would find it hard, like all promoted sides in the top flight do, but would stand a better chance than most of staying up.

For Bournemouth, clubs of similar stature like Peterborough and Rotherham have found the going tough after their rapid ascent into the Championship. With their financial limitations, the Cherries probably would too.

Oxford have cause to be optimistic though. Plenty of promoted Conference clubs have gone straight through the basement division and none of them have been relegated immediately.

With their resources, they should feel confident that a second successive promotion can be the platform for establishing themselves back in the third tier.

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