Football: ...Old boys...

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The Independent Online
Should what Teesside regards as the unthinkable happen - that Middlesbrough are relegated from the Premiership - the Riverside club may enjoy the small consolation of establishing a new line in the history books.

Were they also to win the FA Cup, they would be the only team to have completed such a double. Three teams have reached the final in the same season as going down. None, however, has carried the trophy away to reside in a division lower than the one in which they began their Wembley journey.

Manchester City dropped from Division One to Division Two in 1926, when they lost to Bolton Wanderers in the final. Leicester City made the same journey in 1969 when Manchester City beat them at Wembley, as did Brighton in 1983, when they had the double heartache of losing to Manchester United in a replay.

The 1983 final was the one notable for the famous miss by Brighton's Gordon Smith, seconds from the end of extra time in the first match, when a goal would have given the Seagulls a 3-2 victory. United won the rematch 4-0.

Should Boro go down it will be the ninth time they have suffered relegation since being elected to Division Two in 1899. The unwanted distinction of being the most relegated club resides with a founder member of the League, Notts County, whose drop into Division Three brings their total to 13.

The leading escapologists are undoubtedly Coventry, whose fate has remained undecided until the last day of the season nine times since they joined the top flight in 1967.