BY STEVE MITCHELL

The winter weather all but wiped out the entire football programme in the UK this afternoon with only four matches in total deemed fit to start at three o’clock. Two of those matches took place in the First Division and featured two of the title chasing sides as Bolton Wanderers hosted Everton at Burnden Park and West Bromwich Albion took on Bristol City at The Hawthorns.

MATCH ABANDONED AT BURNDEN PARK & REID SUFFERS TERRIBLE KNEE INJURY:

Unfortunately, only one of them was played to a finish with the referee having to abandon the match at Bolton at half -time due to heavy snow with the score at 1-1. Despite the treacherous conditions, over 33,000 were left disappointed after witnessing goals from Frank Worthington for the hosts and Trevor Ross for the visitors in the opening 45 minutes. There was more bad news for the home side after midfielder Peter Reid suffered a terrible knee ligament injury in a challenge with Everton goalkeeper George Wood.

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ALBION GO JOINT TOP AFTER HOME WIN OVER BRISTOL CITY:

The 32,000 who turned up at The Hawthorns fared better and the vast majority went home happy after the home side ran out 3-1 winners. After Saturday’s magnificent 5-3 win at Old Trafford, Ron Atkinson’s vibrant young side were simply too good for the visitors who are the only team to have played all of their opening 24 league fixtures.

Two goals from Ally Brown and another from skipper John Wile saw The Baggies go joint top of the table with both Liverpool and Everton in what looks set to be an enthralling second-half of the season. The mid-term report for Bristol City makes for great reading despite today’s defeat with The Robins sitting comfortably in seventh position; Peter Cormack got their consolation goal in the Black Country today.

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The First Division programme now takes a break as we look ahead to this weekend’s third round of the FA Cup although there are concerns that one of the biggest Saturday’s in the football calendar could fall victim to the weather.

FIRST DIVISION RESULTS – MONDAY JANUARY 1:

Bolton Wanderers 1-1 Everton (Worthington; Ross: match abandoned at half-time)

W.B.A 3-1 Bristol City (Brown A 2, Wile; Cormack)

All other matches postponed

League Division One table after close of play on 01 January 1979

Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
1 Liverpool 21 15 3 3 47 9 38 33
2 West Bromwich Albion 21 14 5 2 46 19 27 33
3 Everton 22 12 9 1 32 16 16 33
4 Arsenal 22 11 7 4 39 20 19 29
5 Nottingham Forest 20 8 11 1 21 12 9 27
6 Leeds United 23 9 8 6 44 30 14 26
7 Bristol City 24 9 7 8 30 26 4 25
8 Coventry City 22 9 7 6 29 35 -6 25
9 Manchester United 22 9 6 7 32 39 -7 24
10 Tottenham Hotspur 22 8 8 6 25 36 -11 24
11 Aston Villa 21 7 9 5 26 19 7 23
12 Southampton 21 6 8 7 25 28 -3 20
13 Ipswich Town 22 8 3 11 29 30 -1 19
14 Derby County 22 7 5 10 26 40 -14 19
15 Manchester City 21 5 8 8 27 26 1 18
16 Norwich City 19 4 10 5 30 30 0 18
17 Bolton Wanderers 22 6 5 11 29 41 -12 17
18 Middlesbrough 21 6 4 11 30 31 -1 16
19 Queens Park Rangers 21 4 7 10 18 30 -12 15
20 Wolverhampton Wanderers 21 5 2 14 17 40 -23 12
21 Chelsea 22 2 6 14 22 48 -26 10
22 Birmingham City 22 2 4 16 20 39 -19 8

UPCOMING FIXTURES – SATURDAY JANUARY 13:

Arsenal v Nottingham Forest

Aston Villa v Ipswich Town

Bristol City v Tottenham Hotspur

Chelsea v Coventry City

Derby County v Bolton Wanderers

Leeds United v Manchester City

Liverpool v Birmingham City

Manchester United v Q.P.R

Middlesbrough v Everton

Norwich City v W.B.A

Wolves v Southampton

 

NEXT SATURDAY, LOOK OUT FOR OUR FA CUP THIRD-ROUND SPECIAL FEATURING THE START OF AN EPIC ENCOUNTER BETWEEN SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY AND ARSENAL

GORDON HILL SHOOT! INTERVIEW: “1978 – A VERY BAD YEAR FOR ME”

He started 1978 as an integral part of a Manchester United side that had league title aspirations and ended it playing for his former United boss Tommy Docherty at Derby County. The last 12 months is one that mercurial winger Gordon Hill wants to forget. The chirpy cockney was a terrace legend at Old Trafford and fans on the Stretford End were left shocked when he bid farewell to the Red Devils in April.

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Speaking to the Shoot! Magazine, Hill explained the moment he knew the writing was on the wall at one of the world’s biggest football clubs; “Dave Sexton left me out of the side to play Carlisle United in the FA Cup third round and I knew then that my future would lie away from Old Trafford”.

He continued; “Queens Park Rangers were interested in me but I didn’t want to leave United at the time, I thought me and Sexton could sort out our differences. Don’t get me wrong, I like him as a bloke and away from football we get along fine but were the game is concerned, we are on different wavelengths”.

Hill explained that; “He was too deep for me, too much of a theorist. It soon became apparent he didn’t like my style and I couldn’t adapt to become the player he wanted. Also, certain players at United wanted to see the back of me”.

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Hill was also concerned for his England place and told Shoot! that; “I was sick at being left out of the full squad to play West Germany back in February, having to settle for a place in the “B” team that played the night before”.

Then on April 1, Hill pulled on a United shirt for the last time, explaining that; “It was my birthday and we were away to Arsenal, we lost 3-1 and I was substituted in the second-half. I knew then that I’d played my last game for the club”.

“The following week I played in the reserves at Preston and one of their players told me that Derby County had made a bid for me. Can you believe that I had to hear that from an opposition player! I went straight back to Old Trafford but the club denied any contact. A few days later however, my old boss Tommy Docherty had made a £250,000 offer and I signed for the Rams on April 13”.

Hill was then made to sit out the next few weeks of the season as Derby battled against relegation; the terms of his contract stating that he was not allowed to play until the relegation issues had been settled. He finally made his debut on May 9 at the Baseball Ground against Arsenal.

As the new campaign started, Hill was raring to go for his new club after a successful summer tour with the England “B” team in Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia were he ended up as the top goalscorer. Three matches in to the new season however, Hill picked up an injury which would keep him sidelined for ten weeks.

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He explained that; “I’d say that period was the worst of my career. I became difficult to live with and I had doubts as to whether I would ever play at the top level again. During this time, there were also rumours that I wanted to move back to London but now I’m just focusing on getting Derby back up the table”.

He finished off by declaring; “Thankfully, 1978 is at an end, I’m now looking forward to 1979 with renewed ambition and enthusiasm”.

FOLLOW THE WHOLE 1978-79 SEASON IN THE ENGLISH FIRST DIVISION WITH STEVE MITCHELL HERE ON THE FOOTBALL PINK. FOLLOW HIM ON TWITTER @barafundler

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