“It’s quite common in the modern game to hear that a game is a ‘six pointer’, but I don’t ever remember a game being a ‘four pointer’ when it was only two points to win. Does anyone have any examples of pre-1981 games called four-way?” asks Ed Butler.
The Guardian and Observer archive is our friend here. A quick search for “four pointers” brings up plenty of answers, including an 1836 classified ad for auction, with items for sale including “about 18 dozen of excellent old port, 15 dozen of sherry, to be sold in enough to accommodate buyers; one garden cylinder, two iron garden seats; four pointer dogs and various other valuable effects”.
We digress, but frankly why wouldn’t you have something like that? Anyway, the first reference to football in the Guardian archives comes from Ronald Atkin’s report on West Ham 3-1 Leicester in February 1980. “This was very much what the watchers call four points,” he said, ” and the points. firmly and fairly claimed by West Ham.” In the end, both teams ended the season happily – Leicester won the Second Division title, and although the Hammers’ league form ended, they stunned Arsenal in the FA Cup final – the last second tier side to win the trophy.
The earliest reference we can find anywhere else is from 1970-71, when Tranmere manager Jackie Wright spoke of his team’s relegation battle. His run in was full of games against the teams around them and Wright said every game was a “four pointer”. They won enough to finish 18th and avoid relegation to Old Division Four.
John Spooner can go further back doing more of our work for us. “A quick scan of the British Newspaper Archive reveals that ‘four pointers’ were first used in the early 1950s,” he writes. “From the Yorkshire Evening Post Thursday 13th December 1951: ‘Leeds United and Brentford both hope to be in the limelight for Saturday’s game at Griffith Park, a match both clubs regard as a “four pointer” in the promotion race . .’ Not many cases in the 1950s and 1960s, but use declined in the 1970s and 1980s.”
But James Morgan can go even further back. “The oldest reference I can find is from 20 February 1939 in the Birmingham Evening Despatch, about Wolves and Everton fighting for the title: ‘Although Everton have to play eight of their remaining 14 games on their opponents’ grounds , Wolves have just seven such games. . That game on Wednesday is ‘four points’, of course, in that a win for Wolves would leave them just two points behind the leaders, but a win would put them six points behind.'” In the end, the Wolves won Toffees the heads. title by – you guessed it! – four points.
One-club national teams
“With another Danish signing, Brentford continue their evolution into Denmark’s next national team. It got me thinking, has a national XI ever fielded entirely from one club before?” asks Robin Hine.
“The oldest trick in the international football book is to have an XI from one club at the national football team’s field,” notes Chai from Atlanta. “In the first ever international match against England in 1872, all Scotland players were selected from their parent club, Queen’s Park.
“The early Olympic football competitions were usually the clubs representing the national team. At the 1900 Games in France, Club Français represented the host nation, Upton Park FC represented Great Britain and players from the Free University of Brussels represented Belgium. At the 1904 Games in the USA, the hosts were represented by two teams, the College of the Christian Brothers and the Parish of St. Rose, while Canada was represented by Galt FC. At the 1913 Far Eastern Championship Games, South China AA and the Bohemian Club represented the national teams of the Republic of China and the Philippines respectively.”
Elsewhere … “England twice fielded an XI composed entirely of players from one club, once in 1894 and again in 1895,” writes Em Kent. “They played both times against Wales, and Corinthians FC provided the full squad.” Jarek Zaba provides some additional background information: “Corinthians were founded by Nicholas ‘Pa’ Lane Jackson in 1882, hoping to improve England’s fortunes by ensuring that the best players had an understanding by playing at the same club.”
“The full Italian XI for their match against Hungary in 1947 were Torino players,” writes Jon Cullen. “Torino had an impact on the Italian national team and league, winning five league titles before the Superga air disaster.” Martin van Neck has two more. “On 30 September 1964, Belgium played a friendly against the Netherlands at home,” it begins. “Belgium started with 10 players from Anderlecht as well as a goalkeeper from Liège. He was injured and replaced by the Anderlecht keeper at half time, so Belgium played with 11 Anderlecht players in the second half. Belgium won 1-0.
“In 1975, Valeriy Lobanovskyi was the manager of Dynamo Kyiv and the Soviet national team,” says Martin. “In the USSR Euro qualifier against Ireland, the entire starting XI consisted of Dynamo Kyiv players (along with one of the two substitutes) – and the game was played at Dynamo’s home ground, the Olimpiyskiy.”
“In their FA Cup fourth round win over Port Vale, Brighton won 3-1 and all three goals were in the final. the scorer’s first goal for the club,” noted Karl Stringer back in 2014. “Can this be beaten?”
“Maybe not beaten, but matched,” said Kevin, from Sydney via Glasgow. “Chelsea v West Ham, in the first game of the Premier League season in 2000, had four goals from the starting players: Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Frédéric Kanouté and two from Mario Stanic.”
Tim Dockery added: “In the first few weeks of the first MLS season, almost every goal scored was the first for his club. On May 5, 1996, the Colorado Rapids beat the Kansas City Wiz 4-0. All of Colorado’s goals came from players who had never scored before: Scott Benedetti, Steve Trittschuh, Sean Henderson and Richard Sharpe. Three days earlier, Kansas City defeated the Columbus Crew 6-4 with six of the eight scorers getting their first goal for the club. KC’s scorers were Preki (two), Mo Johnston (two), Mike Sorber and Mark Chung. Newcomers Michael Clark and Todd Yeagley each scored for Columbus.
Can you help?
“What is the longest league name in the UK, at any level, including the name of the sponsor? Or further?” asks Roger Kirkby. “I qualify the question by saying they have to have a website so it can be checked.”
“Stoke City currently have three players whose fathers – and in one case, their grandfathers – played in the top flight,” says Robin Wiles. “Tyrese Campbell (son of Kevin), D’Margio Wright-Phillips (son of Shaun, grandson of Ian) and Liam Delap (son of Rory). Are there any examples of teams where former top flight players have even more kids?”
“In the summer of 2003, Chelsea signed three goalkeepers (Neil Sullivan, Jürgen Macho and Marco Ambrosio),” noted Tom Solan. Is this a record? Has a team ever signed four keepers in one window?”
“Olimpija Ljubljana have started their league season with six wins in a row, and they are yet to concede a goal,” writes Richard Wilson. “So far, I have found Chelsea (2005-06) and Dinamo Zagreb (2011-12) whose perfect streak ended with a goal in the 44th minute of their seventh game. Has anyone ever won their first seven games (or more) without conceding once?”
“After this weekend, Brighton will have their last seven Premier League games against United (Manchester, Leeds, West Ham last season; Manchester, Newcastle, West Ham and Leeds this term),” said Jim Carrey. “Is this a record?”
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