Our recent stint at the top of the Premiership prompted many enquiries as to how often we have held the leading position since last winning the league title in 1961, when our all conquering team led from the front for the whole campaign.
Well, thanks to the statisticians bible that is the Rothmans Football Yearbook, plus a trawl through the tables contained in the club programme and match reports, here are details of our ten previous appearances as league leaders since 1960-61.
Everton were displaced from the top of the table by goal average after we ran out 5-1 winners at Leyton Orient on Saturday, October 27, 1962. Our one and only top flight visit to Brisbane Road saw Les Allen, Terry Medwin, John White, Cliff Jones plus a Sid Bishop own goal, on the scoresheet past O's debutant 'keeper Mike Pinner, before a 30,987 crowd. By the end of November Everton had returned to the top of the table.
We took over during the big freeze when a snowy White Hart Lane played host to a 2-0 win over Blackpool on January 19, 1963. A goal each side of the interval by Jimmy Greaves secured the points that again overtook Everton. We stayed top until early April when Leicester City overtook us.
Another big scoreline the following season saw us go top after a 6-1 midweek home drubbing of Birmingham City on October 2, 1963. A Greaves hat-trick, plus one each from White, Bobby Smith and Terry Dyson saw us go two points clear of previous leaders Manchester United. A home draw with Leicester and defeat at Everton saw us drop to 4th place by the end of October.
A duel of the top two on January 11, 1964 resulted in us overhauling Blackburn Rovers with a 4-1 win, Greaves again notching a hat-trick with Dyson netting the other. We remained top until March when successive home defeats by the other leading contenders - Everton, Manchester United and Liverpool - put paid to our title ambitions.
Alan Gilzean scored both of our goals in a 2-1 win at Manchester City that took us back to the top on October 8, 1966, replacing previous leaders Chelsea. A 1-3 home defeat by Blackpool a week later saw Stoke City take over the leaders' mantle.
We opened season 1967-68 with the same record as this year, three wins and a draw from our first four league outings. Frank Saul scored the only goal in a 1-0 win over Everton at Goodison Park on August 29 to edge us ahead of Nottingham Forest on goal average. Our good fortune only lasted seven days, until a 1-5 reverse by Burnley at Turf Moor which saw us drop to 5th place with Sheffield Wednesday going top.
There was a long wait until our next appearance at the summit - unless you count those early season programme issues that had Spurs at the top of the league with tables full of zero's! In fact, we had only reached second spot in three of the intervening 16 years, in seasons 1970-71, 1972-73 and 1981-82.
John Chiedozie was on target in a 1-0 win at Aston Villa on September 22, 1984 which put us ahead of Arsenal and Nottingham Forest on goal difference. We stayed there for a fortnight until our near neighbours took over.
Three months later, following a 2-1 win at Norwich City on December 22, we displaced Everton as league leaders. Garth Crooks and Tony Galvin notched our goals. We remained there for three weeks until the Merseysiders returned.
Graham Roberts scored the only goal when we grabbed top spot after a 1-0 home win over Manchester City on August 30, 1986. Defeat in midweek at Southampton and a goal-less visit to Highbury saw us plunge to 8th place a week later.
Our first appearance at the top of the Premiership was on Saturday, August 21, 1999. Les Ferdinand and Oyvind Leonhardsen scored in a 2-1 win at Sheffield Wednesay which put us top for all of 25 hours. The following afternoon Manchester United won 2-1 at Arsenal in a Sky fixture to claim top spot.
By Andy Porter, Club Historian