The Premier League is the most popular league in the world but lurking just below is a hugely impressive division. Pep Guardiola was recently heard singing the praises of The EFL Championship. Who are we to argue?
The English First Division was rebranded in 2004 to become The English Football League Championship.
The Championship is the most competitive 2nd division in the world. The parachute payments given to relegated Premier League clubs make this the 6th richest league on the planet after the English, Spanish, Italian, German and French top divisions.
Many big clubs have consistently spent years trapped in the 2nd tier so large attendances and media interest are not surprising.
What does surprise us is how little is remembered about the short history of the competition.
Let’s dig a little deeper and celebrate the gateway to untold riches, The English Football League Championship.
EFL Championship Previous Winners
A decent 33 goals from strikers Marcus Stewart (17) and Stephen Elliot (16) secured the first ever EFL Championship title for The Mackems with 94 points.
Sunderland were not the most convincing Championship winners ever. They failed to finish in the top 3 for goals scored or goals against but knew how to secure a result with 29 wins from 46 games.
Defenders more than chipped in with the goals scoring 16, largely due to Julio Arcas marauding runs down the left, he finished the season on 9.
The first side in our report to really make a mark on promotion to The Premier League. Reading were a class above in this league.
They finished the season with a record 106 points, only losing twice and scoring 99 goals in the process. A quartet of players hit double figures with Kevin Doyle and Dave Kitson scoring 18 league goals each.
An unbelievable 17 different players scored in the league helping Reading to a record run of 33 games unbeaten from the start of the season.
They were promoted to the top flight for the first time in their history and more than held their own.
Sunderland yo-yo back into our report courtesy of relegation for the Premier League the previous season. Sunderland’s short stay in The Premiership led to a short stay in The Championship, it was nearly very different. Just 4 points separated the top 3 come May, The Mackems scraped up as Champions.
The yoyoing was temporally halted by Roy Keane, who after securing promotion, kept them up the season after.
West Bromwich Albion
West Brom almost made it to the F.A. Cup Final in 2008 but lost out to eventual winners Portsmouth in the first semi-final to be held at the newly opened Wembley Stadium
They capped an impressive season with the EFL Championship title and gained plaudits from fans and media for a fast attacking style that yielded 88 goals but just 81 points.
This would have meant finishing 3rd or worse in 11 of the 13 Championship seasons to date.
The speed of Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and the power and presence of Chris Iwelumo caused havoc for defences in 2008/09. Ebanks-Blake finished top scorer in the division for the second year running finding the net 25 times.
Wolves started the season on fire winning 8 from their first 9 games and scoring 23 goals, their best start for 50 years.
A goal difference of +55, 102 points and 90 goals scored tells us it was a good season for The Magpies.
Chris Hughton got the job done easily, helped by healthy goal hauls from Kevin Nolan, Andy Carrol and Shola Ameobi.
During the summer, Bobby Robson had sadly passed away, he would have been pleased to see them return to where they belong at the first time of asking.
Queens Park Rangers
Neil Warnock did what he does best this year, annoyed everyone while getting promoted.
Like all Warnock teams, Q.P.R. were solid but uninspiring. Paddy Kenny kept 24 clean sheets while Adel Taarabt tormented defenders at the other end, just before he declared himself good enough for Real Madrid.
Reading again but the 2011/12 Royals would have been no match for the team of 2005/06.
Adam Le Fondre was top scorer with a paltry 12 league goals, the rest of the team chipped in but Ipswich Town who finished 15th, scored the same amount of times.
Reading were promoted with 1 game remaining, not a vintage renewal of the competition.