We’ve gone over early kick-offs before (Barcelona v Sevilla, 12.05am was late but technically edged it), but several can beat this … albeit not on a Sunday. “I was at West Ham in 2015, for the FA Cup tie that Everton lost after extra-time and 21 penalties,” recalls Martin Doyle. A hunt through the archives has the decisive penalty scored at 10.34pm.
On Twitter, @rezahardy offers “Liverpool’s 4-3 League Cup win at Aston Villa on 18 December 2002, when the usual 7.45pm kick-off was delayed due to crowd congestion until 9.05pm so the match finished at nearly 11pm. Thankfully Danny Murphy scored a 90th-minute goal or it would have gone into extra-time.”
But we can go later, albeit in non-league. “How about 11.16pm, for Leamington’s 3-0 win against eight-man Kettering, er, last Tuesday?” suggests Robin Tucker. “What’s more, the game didn’t even go to extra-time, it was delayed by floodlight failure.” The full-time whistle came at the mentioned time, rather than the later claim in their highlights package.
Worthy of mention too is this from Jason Jandu. “In October 1996, an under-21 international between England and Poland at Molineux was delayed until 10pm after a suspect package was found and neutralised,” he mails, “so the match must have gone on until at least 11.45pm.”
Unbeaten record first-game attendances
There are a few examples, one of them close to home. “The obvious answer is the old Wembley,” writes Paul Quinton (and others). “The first event there was the 1923 FA Cup final between Bolton and West Ham. In their wisdom, the FA reasoned that nothing like the then-official capacity of 127,000 would turn up, so it didn’t make it all-ticket. The official attendance was given as 126,047, but some estimates of how many got in vary between 200,000 and 300,000. It wasn’t long before finals were made all-ticket and the capacity was restricted to 100,000.”
The same goes for Sydney’s Olympic Stadium. “The highest attendance of 104,098 occurred at the first official game, the 2000 final between Cameroon and Spain,” writes Sam Hill. “After the Olympics, the north and south stands were removed and the capacity reduced, so the number can’t be broken.”
And finally to Florida. “Orlando Pride, of the NWSL, set their still-standing record of 23,403 at their first match, in April 2016 at Camping World Stadium,” notes Dave Mellinger. “In fact, that was the league attendance record until it was eclipsed in 2019 by the Portland Thorns in their newly-enlarged stadium.”
“Has there ever been the Saturday night score announcer’s all-time dream result: East Fife 5-4 Forfar?” wrote Hugh McGinley back in 2004.
Nearly but not quite, although we possibly prefer what happened. The Fifers visited Station Park during the 1963-64 campaign in the old Scottish Second Division and scored four. Their hosts still won, the final score being … Forfar 5-4 East Fife. In October 2011, East Fife won a thriller, but only 4-3. Then in July 2018, Forfar won 5-4 again … in a penalty shootout, after a 1-1 draw in the Scottish League Cup.
Can you help?
“When reading about two of my passions, football and heraldry (yes, really), I came across a 2015 article in which the York Herald from the College of Arms encouraged English clubs to register their badges and said some might be acting unlawfully otherwise,” mails Rich Booth. “Has any club since registered a badge as a heraldic device, or been penalised for not doing so?”
“This sounds like boasting from a Rams fan, but Derby’s last three managers (Frank Lampard, Philip Cocu, Wayne Rooney) have a combined total of more than 320 international caps,” boasts Rob James. “Can any other team (club or international) in men’s or women’s football claim to have such a decorated succession of gaffers?”
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