“A few years ago I read about an ill-disciplined team that everybody else in the league refused to play, thus giving them a run of walkover victories. As a result they were promoted and no longer a problem for that division. Any idea who this was?” asks Chris Davis.
The anti-heroes of this stranger-than-fiction story are Canelas 2010, who escaped the Portuguese fourth tier with the help of umpteen forfeits during the 2016-17 season. Canelas won six of their first seven games in their regional league, Porto Divisão de Elite Série 1. Then, after a series of secret meetings, 12 of the other 13 teams said they would no longer play them. “They were reported for intimidating opponents,” writes Nicholas Reid. “Some players in the team were apparently members of an FC Porto ultras group.”
Not just members. The captain, Fernando Madureira, was leader of the Super Dragons – reportedly the most feared of the Porto ultras.
A YouTube video of Canelas’s zealous approach started to do the rounds, and the story even made the New York Times. The exception to the boycott was CD Candal, who were brave enough not only to play Canelas but beat them 2-0. They further confounded expectations by being the only team to have a player sent off in the game.
That was Canelas’s only regular-season defeat. Sixteen of their 24 wins were by walkover, and they finished 25 points ahead of second-placed Rio Tinto. Both went into a six-team mini-league to decide promotion to the third-tier national league.
With promotion at stake, the other teams decided to play Canelas. (The last two games of their regular season had also taken place.) In the third game, against Rio Tinto, Marco Gonçalves was sent off in the second minute for chinning an opponent off the ball and then arrested for breaking the referee’s nose by kneeing him in the face.
Gonçalves took Arsène Wenger’s old excuse to a new level by saying he couldn’t remember the incident. He was sacked by Canelas and banned from football for four and a half years. The official breakdown of the ban was “four years for assaulting a referee, two months for insults and threats, and three months for assaulting an opposition player”. He later received an 11-month jail sentence, suspended for two years.
The match was abandoned, with Rio Tinto given a 3-0 win. They boycotted the return game six weeks later, a decision that ultimately meant Canelas were promoted ahead of them. That, as far as we’re aware, was the last of the walkovers. Canelas only lasted a season in the third tier before being relegated, but they were promoted again in the 2018-19 season and are currently in the third tier, top of Campeonato de Portugal Série D.
“Newport v Brighton ended at 10.30pm on a Sunday recently, surely the latest a match has ever ended on that day,” tweets Steve Williams. “But what’s the latest in the evening a domestic match in the UK has ever finished?”
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.
3️⃣ 3 goals
☄️ Goal direct from a corner
🔴 3 red cards
🌪 Storm Christoph
❌ Floodlight failure
🕰 Final whistle at 11:30pm
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.”
“The record attendance at the old Malmö Stadion was set in the first match it hosted, Argentina v West Germany in the 1958 World Cup,” tweets Adam. “Are there any other grounds that either never bettered their first attendance or set their record in a match between two sides not from their country?”
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.
Post-Lampard sacking – longest serving managers who had a playing career at the club?
“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?”
Jermain Defoe will be a few months shy of 39 years old in May, when Rangers could potentially be crowned Scottish champions. Has a player ever been older when winning their first ever league title?
@TheKnowledge_GU this may have done before but seeing as the Man City game tonight had to be stopped because of fireworks going off next door, what’s the strangest reason for a game being paused/abandoned?
Gareth Bale’s last 6 goals for club and country have come in 6 different competitions. Is this a record?
“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?”
Has any footballer been booked or sent off for a provocative or over-the-top manner of scoring a goal (like stopping the ball on the line and nudging in with their head)?
Federico Valverde was awarded the Supercopa’s man of the match, after being sent off for his mesmerising professional foul. But have any players been sent off, scored own goals or committed other misc calamities AFTER being named man of the match? https://t.co/hHSHqHdG3G