“During the match Red Star v Maccabi Haifa, Milan Pavkov entered the field in the 78th minute and scored an own goal in the 90th minute. Surely we have never seen a more disastrous substitution before?” tweets @Terunoumi89.
Pavkov’s solitary goal set up a superb replay for the Champions League, who headed into extra time with the aggregate score at 4-4.
Of course, sports disaster awaits the beholder, so we’ll leave it up to you to decide whether the following examples are better or worse.
“Imagine it doesn’t get much worse than what happened to Marco Etcheverry,” wrote Jörg Michner. “Imagine the situation: your own country, Bolivia, is playing its first World Cup since 1950, facing Germany in the opening match of USA 94. Despite being the star player of your country, you are starting on the bench after after injuring your knees months before. Finally, in the 79th minute, you are cheered on with your team 1-0 down. Four minutes and two touches later, the ever-loving Lothar Matthäus brings you down with a flailing arm and, when play is stopped, you give him a harmless, arguably deserved but unnecessary kick. The referee is having none of it and it pisses you off … Bolivia eventually lost, Etcheverry was suspended for their final group game and never played in the World Cup again. But.”
Fast forward to 2013, and St Johnstone’s Rory Fallon was sent off 35 seconds after coming on, for an elbow on Aberdeen’s Michael Hector. Rewind to 2002 and ‘ouch’ was the operative word at the Battle of Bramall Lane in 2002, when a few substitutes played memorable part roles.
Next, we have the curious case of the ineligible player. “Manny Omoyinmi came on as a substitute for West Ham for the last eight minutes of extra time in the Worthington Cup quarter-final against Aston Villa in the 1999-2000 season,” began Alun Thomas. “West Ham won on penalties after a 2-2 draw. However, the game was ordered replayed as Omoyinmi had played in the competition for Gillingham earlier in the season and was therefore ineligible. West Ham lost the replay 3-1.”
Earlier this year, Didier Deschamps threw on Jonathan Clauss in the 79th minute to try and get France over the line in their Nations League game against Croatia. Four minutes later, defender Andrej Kramaric was clumsily brought down in the area, and the forward converted the penalty to give Croatia the lead.
In September 1992, Andy Comyn made an even quicker impact at the Baseball Ground:
And finally, Jim Hearson has a new take on an old favorite.
The team’s top-scoring players over a season
“After six games, Erling Haaland single-handedly leads 14 Premier League teams in goals scored,” writes Shaun Forster. “When was the last time a player finished the season with more goals than a whole team?”
It has happened in seven Premier League seasons, the most recent in 2020-21. The most notable was probably 2017-18, when Mohamed Salah peaked through teams in his first season at Liverpool.
2002-03 Ruud van Nistelrooy 25, Thierry Henry 24, James Beattie 23, Sunderland 21
2005-06 Thierry Henry 27, Sunderland 26
2007-08 Cristiano Ronaldo 31, Fernando Torres 24, Emmanuel Adebayor 24, Derby County 20
2013-14 Luis Suarez 31, Norwich City 28
2016-17 Harry Kane 29, Middlesbrough 27
2017-18 Mo Salah 32, West Bromwich Albion 31, Harry Kane 30, Swansea City 28, Huddersfield Town 28
2020-21 Harry Kane 23, Mo Salah 22, Sheffield United 20
We’ll level with you, we don’t have the will or the time to go through the entire history of English top-flight football, hence the convenient end of 1992. But it would be remiss not to mention Everton legend Dixie Dean, who scored 60 goals a surpassed all time in the 1927-28 league season. Goals were easier to come by in those days, so he didn’t beat any team – Blackburn and Portsmouth were the lowest scorers with 66.
“What is the first reference to a football club making the ‘great escape’ by avoiding relegation from a seemingly doomed place?” asks Ralph Burns. “This expression was probably first used after the film of the same name was released in June 1963.”
We don’t know if it’s the first time, but Stewart Beard has found a reference from May 1965. “In the Essex & Thurrock Gazette, the headline ‘The Season of the Great Escape’ was announced,” he writes. “Grays Athletic came out of the Athenian League Premier Division on the final day, with a 5-2 win over Walton & Hersham, having ‘lived from September to April with the threat of relegation hanging over them’. “
“I was watching the third Test between India and the West Indies recently,” written by Manas Phadke in 2011. “I was very surprised to see Billy Doctrove (who is a referee) sitting in a stand named after him wearing a Liverpool jersey and kissing the badge for the cameras. Are there any other umpires in international cricket (present or past) who have publicly pledged their allegiance to a football club?”
Roy Proctor was on hand with a few answers. “The most obvious cricket referee with a publicly recognized football affiliation is the incomparable Harold ‘Dickie’ Bird, who declared in an article for the Guardian in 2008: ‘I have supported Barnsley for 70 years and so no any chance i will lose this. evening.’ The evening in question was the FA Cup quarter-final between the Tykes and Chelsea, which Barnsley won. Another referee was Ian Gould, a keeper who played in goal for Slough Town and Arsenal, earning the nickname ‘Gunner’. In July 2009, Gould became chairman of Burnham FC of the Southern Football League. And although I’m not sure which team he supports, the great West Indian umpire Steve Bucknor, like Gould, was a goalkeeper, playing for Jamaica at schoolboy level. He later became a referee and was in charge of a World Cup qualifier.”
Can you help?
“Bournemouth beat Scott Parker after four games of the Premier League season. Is that the quickest sacking of a manager who was promoted in the previous campaign?” asks Michael Booth.
“What is the first instance of surname+ball to describe a manager’s football philosophy?” said Daniel Marcus. “I thought it was ‘Sarriball’ but a friend pointed out that Stoke played ‘Pulisball’ for a while. Are there any earlier examples?”
“Although we, rightly, like to call our American cousins the word ‘soccer’, we all know that it is our nation’s greatest shame that it is actually a British word,” begins Ethan Mackintosh. “To that end, I wonder if there have ever been any clubs in the UK that have officially called themselves soccer clubs at any time in their history? Typing ‘soccer clubs’ is a criminal offence, sorry.”
“Have two club managers ever been swapped?” asks Tom Solan.