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Football League opening day drama

13 June 2014

Ahead of the first weekend of the 2014/15 Football League season, we look back on some of the most dramatic opening days across the three Football League divisions.

Championship - Saturday 10th August 2012

Not a classic for goalscoring reasons necessarily, the start of the 2012/13 Championship season would spark a 10-month tale of Hollywood-style redemption and retribution.

With seven teams failing to score, there were only 23 goals netted over 11 games, but one fixture in particular stood out.

In his first game in charge of Watford, Gianfranco Zola took the Hornets to Selhurst Park, finding themselves 2-1 down to Crystal Palace at half-time. It stayed that way until Almen Abdi and Matej Vydra netted in the 88th and 90th minutes respectively to secure all three points for the visitors.

Palace would have to wait all season but their revenge was confirmed in May 2013 when they beat Watford 1-0 at Wembley Stadium in the Championship Play-Off Final to earn promotion to the Premier League and reverse their opening-day fortunes.

Three clubs who were unable to turn it around, though, were Bristol City, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Peterborough United. The trio lost their first fixture and would suffer relegation to League 1 - Peterborough with a record-high points total for a relegated team in the Championship.

There were also late goals on the opening day by Nikola Zigic (Birmingham City) and Reda Johnson (Sheffield Wednesday) to rescue a point for their clubs against Charlton Athletic and Derby County respectively.

League 1 - Saturday 8th August 2009

The curtain-raising day in the 2009/10 League 1 season was nothing short of breathtaking, especially at Carrow Road.

Following relegation from the Championship, Norwich City got off to the worst possible start by suffering a humiliating 7-1 home defeat at hands of Paul Lambert's Colchester United. Canaries manager Bryan Gunn lasted just one more match before being replaced by Lambert, who left the U's after less than a year in charge.

The former Scotland international inspired a remarkable upturn in fortunes and guided the Canaries to the League 1 title, losing only eight more times over the following 44 games.

Leeds United edged out Exeter City 2-1 to get their season off to a winning start and they eventually secured the second automatic promotion spot. Millwall, who drew 1-1 with Southampton on the first Saturday, went up via the Play-Offs.

Colchester's victory at Norwich was one of only four away wins on the opening day with Walsall, Leyton Orient and Brentford being the other victors on the road, against Brighton and Hove Albion, Bristol Rovers and Carlisle United respectively.

Bristol Rovers went on to be relegated, alongside Stockport County, Southend United and Gillingham.

On the first day, County drew 0-0 with Oldham Athletic and Southend let a two-goal lead slip to draw 2-2 with Huddersfield Town, while the Gills thumped Swindon Town 5-0 - not an opening-day result you think that will end in relegation at the end of the campaign.

League 2 - Saturday 10th August 2002

The opening day of the 2002/03 League 2 season, then known as the Third Division, was a glorious goal glut.

Only two teams failed to find the back of the net on that Saturday afternoon, with 33 goals scored across 12 fixtures - more than one every three minutes. Those two teams who drew a blank were Leyton Orient and Exeter City.

The season didn't get much better for Exeter after that 1-0 defeat to Shrewsbury Town as the Grecians went on to be relegated from The League when they finished 23rd. A small consolation for Exeter, though - it was Shrewsbury who finished bottom and joined them in non-league for the following season.

Leyton Orient fared slightly better over the other 45 games with an 18th-place finish.

Hartlepool United topped the table on the first Saturday evening of the season following a 3-1 victory at Carlisle United thanks to a Mark Tinkler brace and one from Ritchie Humphreys.

The Pools would end up finishing second and earning automatic promotion alongside Rushden and Diamonds and Wrexham, who both drew away from home in their first matches against Swansea City and Scunthorpe United respectively.

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