Yorkshire Post Power Rankings: Barnsley’s Wembley heroes emerge as pride of Yorkshire

Barnsley fans before the play-off final with Millwall. (Picture: Tony Johnson)
Barnsley fans before the play-off final with Millwall. (Picture: Tony Johnson)
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Yorkshire will have two clubs in the Premier League next season but neither is worthy of top billing in the Broad Acres. Leon Wobschall explains why in his final Yorkshire football Power Rankings of the season.

THREE promotions, a Johnstone’s Paint Trophy win and two other play-off campaigns for good measure – as seasons go, 2015-16 was one of the more eventful ones for Yorkshire clubs.

Middlesbrough Grant Leadbetter lifts the cup with Aitor Karanka as they celebrate returning to the Premier League

Middlesbrough Grant Leadbetter lifts the cup with Aitor Karanka as they celebrate returning to the Premier League

The slings and arrows of outrageous footballing fortune – think the likes of Rotherham United and Barnsley – were chronicled on a weekly basis in The Yorkshire Post’s ‘Power Rankings’.

But just what conclusions can we draw now that the dust has settled on a fluctuating campaign?

It was a season which also saw three sides relegated in Doncaster Rovers, York City and FC Halifax Town and just three teams in Leeds United, Sheffield United and Huddersfield Town have little to truly play for in the final months of the campaign.

Here’s the definitive ‘Power Rankings’ list for 2015-16 and our winners and losers:

Hull City celebrate winning promotion via the play-offs.

Hull City celebrate winning promotion via the play-offs.

1: Barnsley

Embarrassed in the FA Cup at Altrincham, bottom of League One at the end of November, in the relegation zone on Boxing Day...

Then it happened, with Barnsley’s staggering second half of the season culminating in a Wembley double with their JP Trophy triumph followed by play-off final victory.

Paul Heckingbottom sampled defeat just three times in 22 matches after taking over from Lee Johnson – winning 14, with Barnsley having lost just once on the road since November 24.

2: Middlesbrough

Anything but promotion would have been viewed as a failure after reaching the Championship play-off final the previous term.

Steve Gibson rolled the dice in the club’s quest to earn their £200m slice of the Premier League financial pie and Boro got over the line by the skin of their teeth – by just two goals – even accounting for a mad March spell when it looked like Aitor Karanka would be leaving.

3: Hull City

Steve Bruce may have preferred promotion by the conventional route, but a Wembley success is certainly nothing to sniff at. The canny operator masterminded the fourth top-flight promotion of his managerial career, with his latest feat impressive given the ongoing uncertainty regarding the future of the club and discord caused by a proposed new membership system.

4: Sheffield Wednesday

Bitter disappointment against Hull at Wembley, granted. But overall, this was a season of renaissance at Hillsborough, with the Owls, as in the words of “Carlos Had a Dream” ditty, certainly ‘on their way back.’ Back on the map...

5: Bradford City

A season of substance but, in the final analysis, City just lacked that extra bit of quality required to get them over the line and bring an end to their 12-year exile from the second tier.

6: Rotherham United

Towards the end of February, you would have got long odds on the Millers surviving in the Championship, only for the Neil Warnock factor to spectacularly take hold.

A stunning early-Spring return of six wins from eight matches and 20 points from 24 was arguably the most head-turning run of any side in the division last season, with Warnock promptly afforded Messiah status.

7: Huddersfield Town

A 19th-placed finish was by no means spectacular, but Huddersfield claimed marks for artistic merit. Town fans are enthused by what they have seen in the David Wagner era, with full throttle ‘gegenpressing’ football capturing the imagination of fans who have been quick to snap up cut-price season-tickets.

8: Leeds United

Consistently inconsistent with a familiar backdrop of some chaotic events off the field. Welcome to the world of Leeds United. The departing Steve Evans, by common consent, did a decent job after negiotiating choppy autumnal waters. Over to you Garry Monk.

9: Guiseley

At the season’s outset, National League safety would have represented another season of considerable progress and so it proved even though it was only sealed on the final day.

10: FC Halifax Town

Bittersweet is the phrase for the Shaymen, who were relegated from the National League on the final day of the season, but who then lifted the FA Trophy at Wembley.

11: Sheffield United

Yorkshire’s great under-achievers during a wholly forgettable 2015-16 when they flattered to deceive, with their status of pre-season promotion favourites proving a millstone around their necks. A write-off of a campaign saw manager Nigel Adkins pay the price.

12: Doncaster Rovers

Doncaster’s season descended into freefall. They went 16 league matches without a win from January 2 to April 16, and took four points from a possible 48. It all ended in a painful relegation.

13: York City

A horror campaign almost from the off, with the Minstermen afforded little respite in a season which saw them use 42 players in the league and fail on all counts. A haul of two home league wins by late January was one particularly damning statistic.

But there were plenty more besides, sadly.