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Where Do McKenna's Town Sit in English Football's All-Time Records?
Monday, 24th Jun 2024 13:08 by Chris Rand

Most Town fans will be aware that the past couple of seasons have seen the highest points totals in the club's history, but where do these totals sit within all-time records in English football? Stats guru Chris Rand investigates.

First of all, let's remind ourselves that Ipswich had only ever broken the 90-point barrier once before, back in the early fifties before ever experiencing football in the top two divisions.

Recalculating the pre-1980 seasons to three points for a win, Sir Alf Ramsey's highest points total was 85 points, Sir Bobby Robson's highest was 83 and George Burley's was 87. Of course, many of the seasons under those managers were in the top division, and with only 42 matches rather than 46, but even so, the last two seasons have seen by far the highest points-per-game totals in the club's history, not just the most points:

Ipswich Town highest points in a season, 1938–2023

2022/233League One246281441013598
1953/543Third Division South14627109825191
1955/563Third Division South346251471066089
1999/002First Division34625129714287
1998/992First Division34626812693286
1960/612Second Division14226791005585
1956/573Third Division South146259121015484
1991/922Second Division146241210705084
1981/821First Division24226511755383
1997/982First Division54623149774383
1967/682Second Division14222155794481
1961/621First Division14224810936780

Note pre-1980 seasons have been scaled up to three points for a win.

So, where do 98 points and 96 points stack up in the entire 126-season history of English football? Surprisingly highly. Lincoln City (1975/76) and Reading (2005/06) hold the all-time record with a massive 106 points.

However, these sorts of totals are very rare: Plymouth's League One win in 2022/23 was only the 25th time that a club had reached the 100-point mark. Only 46 clubs in 126 seasons have reached 98 points; and only 67 have reached 96. Eagle-eyed readers may spot that Ipswich in 2022/23 became the first club in history to get 98 points and not win their division.

Highest points totals in a single season in English football, 1888–2023

1975/764Fourth Division1Lincoln City463210411139106
1946/473Third Division North1Doncaster Rovers42336312340105
1998/992First Division1Sunderland46311239128105
2013/143League One1Wolverhampton Wanderers46311058931103
1919/202Second Division1Tottenham Hotspur42326410232102
1950/513Third Division North1Rotherham United46319610341102
1971/723Third Division1Aston Villa4632688532102
1985/864Fourth Division1Swindon Town4632688243102
2001/024Third Division1Plymouth Argyle4631967128102
2009/102Championship1Newcastle United46301249035102
2013/142Championship1Leicester City4631968343102
1977/784Fourth Division1Watford46301158538101
1983/844Fourth Division1York City4631879639101
1998/993Second Division1Fulham4631877932101
2000/012First Division1Fulham46301159032101
2011/123League One1Charlton Athletic46301158236101
2022/233League One1Plymouth Argyle4631878247101
1950/513Third Division South1Nottingham Forest463010611040100
1954/553Third Division South1Bristol City463010610147100
1965/663Third Division1Hull City46317810962100
2002/033Second Division1Wigan Athletic46291346825100
2016/173League One1Sheffield United46301069247100
2017/181Premier League1Manchester City38324210627100
1951/523Third Division North1Lincoln City4630971215299
1955/563Third Division North1Grimsby Town463169762999
1970/714Fourth Division1Notts County463097893699
1986/874Fourth Division1Northampton Town4630971035399
1988/892Second Division1Chelsea4629125965099
1997/984Third Division1Notts County4629125824399
2001/022First Division1Manchester City4631691085299
2014/153League One1Bristol City4629125963899
2015/164League Two1Northampton Town4629125824699
2017/182Championship1Wolverhampton Wanderers463097823999
2019/201Premier League1Liverpool383233853399
1929/303Third Division South1Plymouth Argyle423084983898
1960/613Third Division1Bury4630881084598
1978/791First Division1Liverpool423084851698
1982/834Fourth Division1Wimbledon4629116964598
1996/972First Division1Bolton Wanderers46281441005398
2002/032First Division1Portsmouth4629116974598
2004/053League One1Luton Town4629116874898
2017/183League One1Wigan Athletic4629116892998
2018/191Premier League1Manchester City383224952398
2022/233League One2Ipswich Town46281441013598
1929/303Third Division North1Port Vale4230751033797
1938/393Third Division North1Barnsley423075943497
1960/611First Division1Tottenham Hotspur4231471155597
1975/764Fourth Division2Northampton Town4629107874097
1980/814Fourth Division1Southend United463079793197
1986/873Third Division1Bournemouth4629107764097
2001/024Third Division2Luton Town463079964897
2007/084League Two1Milton Keynes Dons4629107823797
2018/191Premier League2Liverpool383071892297
2020/212Championship1Norwich City4629107753697
2023/242Championship1Leicester City4631411894197
2023/243League One1Portsmouth4628135784197
1905/062Second Division1Bristol City383062832896
1946/473Third Division South1Cardiff City423066933096
1974/754Fourth Division1Mansfield Town4628126904096
1981/824Fourth Division1Sheffield United4627154944196
1992/932First Division1Newcastle United462998923896
2008/093League One1Leicester City4627154843996
2017/183League One2Blackburn Rovers4628126824096
2022/233League One3Sheffield Wednesday4628126813796
2023/242Championship2Ipswich Town4628126925796

Note statistics are irrespective of total matches played! Pre-1980 seasons have been scaled up to three points for a win. Of course, teams playing 46-match seasons have a big advantage over those in divisions with fewer teams, but 46-match seasons have taken place in the third and fourth tiers since 1950, and in the second tier since 1988.

It is worth taking a slight detour to account for the number of matches played and investigate the highest points per game records. It turns out that Preston's 58 points in the first season of English football, 1888/89, has never been beaten in terms of points per game, but there were only 12 clubs involved. For Manchester City to have got close to this 129 seasons later is extraordinary. Liverpool's appearances in the table 126 seasons apart is perhaps more remarkable still.

Highest points-per-game in a single season in English football, 1888–2023

1888/891First Division1Preston North End2218407415582.64
2017/181Premier League1Manchester City383242106271002.63
2019/201Premier League1Liverpool3832338533992.61
2018/191Premier League1Manchester City3832249523982.58
1893/942Second Division1Liverpool2822607718722.57
2018/191Premier League2Liverpool3830718922972.55
1905/062Second Division1Bristol City3830628328962.53
1904/052Second Division1Liverpool3427439325852.50
1946/473Third Division North1Doncaster Rovers423363123401052.50
2004/051Premier League1Chelsea3829817215952.50

Note pre-1980 seasons have been scaled up to three points for a win.

Finally, with Ipswich having got themselves onto the all-time highest points leaderboard in consecutive seasons, it's worth investigating how impressive that is. In the table below, I've looked at the highest points totals across two consecutive seasons for all clubs, ever. It turns out that 194 points in two seasons is the fourth-highest in history.

In third place was Sunderland's regrouping to get promotion to the Premiership in 1998/99 with 105 points, after having failed to go up the previous season despite getting 90 points. The top two are even more incredible though, because they were achieved in the modern Premier League in seasons of just 38 matches. They even overlapped! I'm not sure people quite realised at the time what Manchester City and Liverpool were achieving within the context of English football history.

Highest points totals across consecutive seasons in English football, 1888–2023

Total PointsSeasonTier/DivisionPWDLFAPts
198Manchester City2017/181Premier League38324210627100
2018/191Premier League383224952398
196Liverpool2018/191Premier League383071892297
2019/201Premier League383233853399
195Sunderland1997/982First Division4626128865090
1998/992First Division46311239128105
194Ipswich Town2022/233League One46281441013598
189Swindon Town1985/864Fourth Division4632688243102
1986/873Third Division4625129774787
186Notts County1970/714Fourth Division463097893669
1971/723Third Division4625129744462

Note statistics are irrespective of total matches played! Pre-1980 seasons have been scaled up to three points for a win. Of course, teams playing 46-match seasons have a big advantage over those in divisions with fewer teams, but 46-match seasons have taken place in the third and fourth tiers since 1950, and in the second tier since 1988. The first tier had 42 matches until 1988, but only 38 since then, which makes Manchester City and Liverpool's achievements in heading the table even more remarkable.

One final observation about the table above: Ipswich have the highest total ever for a club moving up the divisions. This is noteworthy because getting a huge points total and then doing it again a division higher is arguably harder than doing it in the same division. In many ways, we have not only just experienced the most remarkable two-season performance in the club's history, but one of the most impressive in any club's history.

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Tommy_ITFC added 13:26 - Jun 24
Considering the financial aspect of the game now , and the powerhouses we have competed against , I'd say very very highly

chilli added 13:50 - Jun 24
Fascinating. So that 53/54 season was on the old 2 points for a win system?

NthQldITFC added 14:10 - Jun 24
Funny, I was thinking about this (sort of) earlier and I decided that Leicester's PL win was the most extraordinary achievement I can think of in domestic football (and by some way), but our last two seasons must be close to the next best?

Of teams to do back to back promotions to Tier3 to Tier1:

Watford--(1997-1999) 88+77 = 165 points
Man City-(1998-2000) 82+89 = 171 points
N*rwich--(2009-2011) 95+84 = 179 points
Saints-----(2010-2012) 92+88 = 180 points
Towen----(2022-2024) 98+96 = 190 points

That step up in points total for us, along with the widely recognised advantages of Leicester, Leeds and Southampton last season make that 96 points a truly extraordinary achievement.

62WasBest added 14:52 - Jun 24
NthQldITFC - Leicester, most extraordinary achievment? I think not. Ipswich's rise from amateur football in 1936 through to winning the First Division in 1961-2 means that they went from amateur to Champions in 26 years through non-league and three league divisions from 1938 onwards. After absorbing those facts, the league was suspended from 1939-40 until 1945-46 meaning 6 years have to be deducted so Ipswich went from Amateur, to non-league and through three divisions to champions of England in 19 years. Leicester had been trying to win the competition since being elected to the Football League in 1894 and didn't win it until 2015-6. No comparison!
I believe also that Ipswich are one of only a handful that went from Div 2 to winning the First Division in successive seasons and the first to win it at their very first attempt barring the initial champions, Preston North End - but of course, whoever won in the inaugural season would have been first to win at the first attempt. I'm open to challenge on this last paragraph though if anyone knows better.

62WasBest added 14:53 - Jun 24
*Correction. In 20 years.

Crawfordsboot added 14:55 - Jun 24
Great analysis thanks.

It’s interesting to note that on a 3 points for a win and one for a draw basis Gareth Southgates record as England manager is very close to our record over the last two seasons - it appears that not a lot of people appreciate that!

PhilTWTD added 15:31 - Jun 24

Yes, but all seasons converted to three for a win in order to compare.

WeWereZombies added 15:32 - Jun 24
Must be something wrong with those tables, I can't see Leeds United anywhere...

MedwayTractor added 17:41 - Jun 24
62WasBest: Your comments are spot on. Only two other teams have won the title immediately after promotion - Spurs in 1950/51 (with Alf at right back) and Forest in 1977/78, but both had a long history of being in the top flight. In addition, our title winning team had 5 players (possibly more, but not in the regular side) who had been in the 1956/57 title winning Third Division side and we had just one international player (Dermot Curtis, who played just 4 league games in 1961/62) at the club.

As far as I am concerned, to win the title in those circumstances must rank as the greatest achievement in the whole of football history.

62WasBest added 22:40 - Jun 24
Thanks Medway, but I fear a lot of folk think football only began with the launch of the Premier League.

Chickenstochurchmans added 09:18 - Jun 25
Must concur with 62WasBest. Town's 61-62 triumph was far more impressive than Leicester's recent league win. If Town were to win the top division in season 2027-28 with 5-6 players who had played in the old 3rd Division in 2022-23 that would be comparable with Ramsey's side. Although Ramsey did of course win both 2nd & 3rd Divisions whereas we only came second this time round. I can only assume NthQldITFC that you are of the Premier League generation for which I have the greatest sympathy.

ElephantintheRoom added 17:05 - Jun 26
It’s a bit suspect to scale up ye olde wins to 3 and quietly ignore the draw at half a win was much more valuable and used to be the target away from home. Nowadays even most football managers have worked out that one 3 is a bigger number than 2 ones and act accordingly. I suspect football finances in the nether regions got completely blasted by Covid - which was a happy coincidence for Town money doping their way out of division 3. Most championship clubs nowadays are utterly skint due to being in the Prem so that division isn’t as competitive as it was either. And they play more games nowadays - but yes a lot of points to win precisely nothing. Fun to watch though.

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