A Season’s Past: League Two 2007-08
Two teams dominated League Two in 2007-08 with Milton Keynes and Peterborough battling it out for the title for most of the season. No one can say they were surprised by either side’s eventual promotion, such was their quality but nevertheless they went about their respective campaigns with impressive swagger.
The story of the season, however, has to be the performance of Hereford United who, in finishing third, secured promotion to the third tier for the first time in 30 years! Managed by Graham Turner, the Bulls had only regained their Football League status in 2005-06 when they were promoted via the play-offs. Their first season back was one of consolidation with an eventual 16th place finish yet no one could predict the form that saw them clinch the third automatic promotion spot in a season where they were never out of the top five from November onwards!
Turner had a side made up of experienced campaigners and shrewd loan signing including the likes of Gary Hooper, Lionel Ainsworth and the Bulls top goal scorer Theo Robinson. These three players alone contributed 28 goals to the team’s promotion campaign! Other players of note for Hereford were Ben Smith, contributor of 5 goals from midfield, Trevor Benjamin, veteran striker who netted 10 times and creative midfielder Clint Easton.
Good as Hereford were they were not able to compete with MK Dons or Peterborough. The Posh were under the stewardship of new Chairman Darreh MacAnthony and he was ploughing in funds to match his own ambitions. Managing his new side was Darren Ferguson, son of Sir Alex and eager to carve out his own managerial career. The backbone of the side was strong with Dean Keates running things from midfield the side set a president for signing players from non-league and improving them. During this season the club accumulated the now famous trio, known affectionately as the holy trinity, of George Boyd, Craig Mackail-Smith and Aaron McLean. They combined for a staggering 53 goals during the season with McLean finishing as the division’s top scorer with 29! These three players would also play a key role in Peterborough’s rise to the Championship a season later as Ferguson secured back to back promotions.
The Posh started the season with only 3 wins in their first eight matches but an unbeaten run of 17 games from mid-January until mid-April, including an eight match winning streak, saw them never outside the promotion places from the end of February onwards. In the end they made it look easy and should have ended as champions except for the brilliance of Milton Keynes.
In their first season at Stadium MK, they had a squad full of quality and had lost in the play-offs in their previous season. Managed by the ex-Manchester United and England star Paul Ince, Milton Keynes were solid through-out and had the best defensive record of anyone in League Two, conceding just 37 times all season!
Dean Lewington was a key player at the back, missing only one league game all season. Another key player in the defence was Sean O’Hanlon with the centre back being a key presence throughout. It was in midfield, however, where Milton Keynes were strongest with Lloyd Dyer contributing 11 goals and right winger Mark Wright top scoring with 13 but even their great performances were outshone by Irish midfielder Keith Andrews. The eventual winner of the League Two Player of the Year Award, Andrews showed his quality netting 12 times in 41 league appearances and would eventually reunite with Paul Ince at Premier League Blackburn Rovers at the start of the next season. Aaron Wilbraham was their only forward to reach double figures, scoring 10 times.
Milton Keynes lost their opening match at home to Bury but this was a rare blip in a season where they lost only lost 7 times. An eight game winning streak from early September until late October saw them grab top spot and only relinquish it once until the end of the season. They went on another unbeaten run that lasted 18 games from late January until the end of the season!
Stockport, Rochdale, Darlington and Wycombe all made the play-offs with the Hatters securing promotion by beating Rochdale 3-2 in the final. At the bottom it was a terrible season for Wrexham as the Welsh outfit won just 10 times as they finished bottom. Following them out of the trap door were Mansfield who fared little better only managing 11 wins all season with only Michael Bouldings 22 goals to be positive about.
In a strange twist only one of the clubs that finished in the top seven that season still play their football at this level, being Wycombe, with three of them no longer in the Football League at all!
Hereford and Darlington went bust and have started again as phoenix clubs and Stockport are now in the Conference North. All three of Rochdale, Peterborough and Milton Keynes are now playing in League One.
words James Richards
|1||Milton Keynes Dons (C) (P)||46||29||10||7||82||37||+45||97|
|2||Peterborough United (P)||46||28||8||10||84||43||+41||92|
|3||Hereford United (P)||46||26||10||10||72||41||+31||88|
|4||Stockport County (P)||46||24||10||12||72||54||+18||82|
|20||Dagenham & Redbridge||46||13||10||23||49||70||−21||49|
|23||Mansfield Town (R)||46||11||9||26||48||68||−20||42|