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Living the Dream: The Minnows who made it to the Premier League

September 08, 2015

- Grant Whittington

When Wimbledon won the FA Cup in 1988, they concluded a momentous journey that had begun in the non-league wilderness of English football. Their ascent from regional leagues to the top-flight was the stuff of fairy tales, although many concluded that such a journey would not be possible in the cash-rich and cut-throat nature of the Premier League. Romance is still alive in the game of football, however, and there remain a number of minnows who have graced the top flight during the last 23 years.

3 Minnows who made the Premier League

So, here are three minnows that made the English Premier League and defied seemingly insurmountable odds: –

Oldham Athletic

The Greater Manchester club was a member of the original, 22-team Premier League, and graced the top-flight for two seasons before their last day relegation in 1994. The Latics even came within 60 seconds of a debut FA Cup Final appearance in 1994, when Mark Hughes’ last gasp, extra-time goal for champions Manchester United denied them. Oldham won many admirers with their attacking philosophy during their two year stay in the EPL, and while the club has never looked like returning they remain famous for a thrilling escape from the threat of relegation in 1992-1993.

Swindon Town

Minnows Swindon joined Oldham in the EPL for a single season in 1993, only to endure a horrific time in the top-flight. They succeeded after a thrilling play-off final win in 1992, when player-manager Glenn Hoddle masterminded a 4-3 victory over Leicester City at Wembley. The departure of Hoddle to Chelsea undermined the Robins’ chances of sustaining their top-flight status, however, and the club was eventually relegated after conceding more than 100 goals (the only EPL side to do) and winning just five out of 42 games.

Barnsley

Although Burnley has since taken the crown, Barnsley was once the smallest ever club to have assumed top-flight status. With a town population of just 90,000, the club managed to achieve promotion in 1997 after finishing second under the guidance of young British manager Danny Wilson. Barnsley struggled to cope with the demands of the EPL, however, after failing to develop or add to its squad during a difficult preseason. Ultimately the team finished five points adrift at the bottom of the league and now plays in the third-tier of English football.

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