Worst Teams Ever!

Australian Four Four Two - - CONTENTS -

There are some shock­ing tales of in­ter­na­tional losers out there...

Stoke and West Brom may have had a turgid 2017-18 sea­son, but com­pared to this hap­less bunch of record-break­ing goal ship­pers and fire­work-hurl­ing car torchers, they’re Brazil 1970


Ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the Jasper Car­rott gag about Birm­ing­ham City (“You lose some and you draw some”) as re­al­ity would have been dream­land for Berk­shire berks AFC Al­der­mas­ton in 2010. The un­for­tu­nate Wes­sex League Divi­sion One out­fit couldn’t even man­age a stale­mate over 40 fix­tures be­tween May 2009 and April 2010, un­til they fi­nally scraped a 1-1 with Warmin­ster Town. Dur­ing a sick­en­ing cam­paign, they con­ceded more than 150 goals. While the team claimed morale re­mained pretty high, two key fac­tors had con­spired against the side nick­named The Atom Men: un­able to pay play­ers, they’d lost 10 squad mem­bers to ri­vals Tadley that sum­mer, and over a hor­ri­ble win­ter their train­ing pitch was dec­i­mated. At least gaffer Adie Heath took things with down­beat good grace. “I didn’t know about the record un­til last week,” he said. “I sup­pose it’s given the club a bit of at­ten­tion.”


Twenty years af­ter mov­ing into Old Traf­ford, Manch­ester United’s 1930 vin­tage were merely a mod­er­ately suc­cess­ful north­ern out­fit with two ti­tles and an FA Cup win to their name – as well as two rel­e­ga­tions from (and pro­mo­tions back into) English foot­ball’s top tier. Not the pow­er­house of post-war Eng­land, then, but still – los­ing all of their open­ing 12 games was a spec­tac­u­larly bad show. The slip­shod Red Devils shipped 49 goals dur­ing their dread­ful dozen (start­ing 3-4, 1-3, 2-6, 0-6, 4-7), and fin­ished the sea­son with 115 goals con­ceded, in dead last. The record re­mained the most dis­mal start to a sea­son by a top-flight side in Europe’s big five leagues for nearly nine decades, be­fore fi­nally be­ing bro­ken by Serie A strug­glers Ben­evento in 2017. United’s fi­nal fix­ture – a 4-4 at home to Mid­dles­brough – drew just 3,969 souls. Man­ager Her­bert Bam­lett some­how kept his job, but was axed the fol­low­ing Novem­ber.


“If this club was a horse, we’d have been taken down the knacker’s yard and sold for dog meat by now,” a fan called Bob told FourFourTwo when we paid a vul­ture-like visit to Ewen Fields dur­ing 2013-14, and lit­tle won­der. Through­out their only term in Eng­land’s fifth tier (then the Skrill Premier), the Greater Manch­ester out­fit won just once, drew seven, and lost 38, get­ting rel­e­gated with a mi­nus 81 goal dif­fer­ence. They did so, how­ever, with a mag­nif­i­cent gal­lows sense of hu­mour, with their Twit­ter feed be­came a must-fol­low (“Hyde 2-3 Wrex­ham. Arses”/ “Hyde 2-4 Wrex­ham. Bollocks”/ “Hyde 2-5 Wrex­ham. Can’t win ‘em all”), and they named tri­al­ists af­ter left-wing rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies (“Thewlis, Brizell, Fidel Castro, Vladimir Lenin, Karl Marx, Leon Trot­sky, Hughes, Max­im­i­lien de Robe­spierre, Thurston, Tony Benn, Tames”). The trauma of amass­ing the league’s record point low lin­gered on, though – they got rel­e­gated again the year af­ter.


The odds were stacked against the Fed­er­ated States of Mi­crone­sia, a coun­try with a tiny pop­u­la­tion dot­ted across 607 is­lands, as they rocked up for the 2015 Pa­cific Games. The play­ers had never been on an 11-a-side pitch be­fore, and many had only been play­ing the game for around 18 months. “Most have never been out their vil­lages, let alone to an­other is­land,” said Aussie coach Stan Foster. “I took them to Guam and it was the first time they’ve been on an el­e­va­tor or es­ca­la­tor. It’s kinder­garten.” At least kinder­garten is fun: Mi­crone­sia en­dured three of the most hu­mil­i­at­ing de­feats in foot­ball his­tory. They opened up with a 30-0 de­feat by Tahiti, whose nine dif­fer­ent goalscor­ers rubbed salt into the wound by per­form­ing a haka af­ter­wards (“They beat us and then they made fun of us,” com­plained player Do­minic Gadad). A 38-0 drub­bing by Fiji fol­lowed, but it was Van­u­atu who would de­liver the killer blow – run­ning out 46-0 win­ners, with 16 goals for Jean Kal­tack. “The mark­ing was a bit slack,” ad­mit­ted the gaffer.


The Cen­tral Amer­i­can min­nows weren’t that bad at Spain 82 – they only lost 1-0 to Bel­gium and 2-0 to Ar­gentina in their other meet­ings – but their open­ing fix­ture, 10-1 against Hun­gary, was a hor­ror show. Cir­cum­stances, alas, had con­spired against them. The Sal­vado­rans were the fi­nal squad to get to Spain, af­ter a three-day odyssey (“Our itinerary seemed as though it was planned by the en­emy,” pon­dered

de­fender Jaime Ro­driguez). Rid­dled by jet­lag, they didn’t even re­ceive any balls to train with un­til 24 hours be­fore the game was due to start. The ex­hausted play­ers were also ham­pered by some un­wise tac­tics. “They weren’t as bad a team as the re­sult sug­gests,” said Hun­gary cap­tain Ti­bor Ny­i­lasi. “They just went for­ward naively.” Luis Ramirez Za­p­ata did score, mak­ing it 5-1 – and go­ing wild – only for Hun­gar­ian sub Las­zlo Kiss to fill his boots. “The poor sods prob­a­bly thought they could beat us,” said Kiss af­ter­wards. It re­mains the worst shel­lack­ing in World Cup his­tory.


You know your sea­son’s s go­ing awry when the team can’t even have a Christ­mas din­ner with­out po­lice be­ing sum­moned to pro­tect play­ers from 100 furious sup­port­ers who spat at them, kicked cars and threw fire­works at the restau­rant. That isn’t the only rea­son Pescara pres­i­dent Daniele Se­bas­tiani will never for­get 2016-17 – fans also set two cars alight on his drive­way and cherry bombed his house. The dis­con­tent was un­der­stand­able: af­ter the first half of the sea­son, the Dol­phins had won one match – Serie A had awarded them a 3-0 vic­tory af­ter Sas­suolo fielded an in­el­i­gi­ble player – and, de­spite the sack­ing of coach Mas­simo Oddo, things didn’t get much bet­ter. Pescara languished at the bot­tom of Serie A for 14 weeks, leaked 81 goals and ac­cu­mu­lated 18 points on their way to Serie B. Their only away win was that 3-0 vic­tory over Sas­suolo, a game they had orig­i­nally lost 2-1.


There are two ways to re­spond to a 10-0 open­ing-day loss. Stiffen your spine. Or, if you’re Long­ford in the 2016-17 Glouces­ter­shire North­ern Se­nior League Divi­sion Two, back it up with a 13-0 re­verse. Things didn’t im­prove for the 13th-tier side. By Christ­mas, Long­ford had lost ev­ery match and racked up 15-0, 16-0 and 17-0 de­feats, so they did what any­one would… re­cruited Stu­art Pearce on a one-game deal, 14 years af­ter his last ap­pear­ance as a player. The pub­lic­ity stunt for an in­sur­ance com­pany was a mi­nor suc­cess, re­sult­ing in just a sin­gle-goal de­feat against Wot­ton Rovers, their best re­sult of a har­row­ing cam­paign: P30; W0, D0, L30; F10, A226. “I’m one of those peo­ple who is never down,” in­sisted 25-year-old in­sur­ance ad­min­is­tra­tor Ir­shad Ba­dat, the keeper. “I think I’ve played all right this sea­son. I’ve cer­tainly had quite a bit to do.”


Dar­wen FC, based just a cou­ple of miles south of Black­burn, were one of north­ern English foot­ball’s pi­o­neers: they were the first English club to sign pro­fes­sional play­ers, reached the semi-fi­nals of the 1880-81 FA Cup, and were Foot­ball League mem­bers from 1891 to 1899. But that fi­nal term (1898-99) in the Sec­ond Divi­sion was truly calami­tous. Af­ter be­ing sued and fi­nan­cially crip­pled by one of their ex-play­ers, the Sal­moners lost on 18 con­sec­u­tive oc­ca­sions – and de­ployed 63 dif­fer­ent lo­cals (in­clud­ing a writer from the pa­per) across the year in a bid to ter­mi­nate the tor­ture. They suc­cumbed 10-0 three times, and let in a record num­ber of Foot­ball League goals (141 over 34 games). The down­ward spi­ral never re­ally ended, ei­ther: Dar­wen failed to win re-elec­tion and cur­rently play in North West Coun­ties League First Divi­sion North (tier 10).


A 0-0 draw isn’t usu­ally a cue for wild scenes of cel­e­bra­tion. The 71 hardy souls at Bash­ley Road were deliri­ous, how­ever, af­ter ‘The Bash’ picked up their first point in the South­ern League Divi­sion One South & West af­ter 27 games in Fe­bru­ary 2016, against Man­gots­field United. The sea­son hadn’t com­menced well for the fi­nan­cially strug­gling New For­est mob: hav­ing not won any match since Septem­ber 2014, they had sacked boss David Stride dur­ing pre-sea­son, and then axed his suc­ces­sor Steve Ri­ley. “We don’t want to look back in April as this be­ing our only point of the sea­son,” said new Bash­ley boss Tom Prodomo. And in­deed it wasn’t: they man­aged to eke out one more point – thanks to an­other 0-0 against Slim­bridge – fin­ish­ing the year with 40 losses, 201 goals con­ceded, and a goal dif­fer­ence of mi­nus 188. They are now in the Wes­sex League.


The sleepy south­ern Luxembourg town of Dude­lange has al­ways been bee the Grand Duchy’s foot­ball pow­er­house: Stade won the Na­tional Divi­sion 10 times be­tween 1939 and 1965, while its suc­ces­sor club F91 Dude­lange – formed by a merger in ’91 – has won 14 ti­tles since the turn of the mil­len­nium. How­ever, the big fish from the lit­tle pond got them­selves a ter­ri­ble maul­ing from the sharks of two-time Euro­pean Cup win­ners Ben­fica in 1966. At the Stade Emile Mayrisch, they lost 8-0 with Por­tuguese mid­fielder Pe­dras hit­ting a hat-trick. And things were even more trau­ma­tis­ing in the re­turn fix­ture at the Es­ta­dio da Luz: Euse­bio, in his ab­so­lute pomp, scored a hat-trick in­side 32 min­utes, while fel­low Por­tu­gal ledge Jose Au­gusto also helped him­self to three. The match ended 10-0. The 18-0 ag­gre­gate gub­bing re­mains a record in the com­pe­ti­tion.



Ar­broath 36-0 Bon Accord nearly wasn’t a record at all. On Septem­ber 12, 1885, else­where in the open­ing round of the Scot­tish Cup, Dundee Harp beat Aberdeen Rovers 37-0. When Harp’s of­fi­cials said they’d only recorded 35 goals, the ref­eree re­alised his er­ror and amended the fi­nal score ac­cord­ingly. Ar­broath’s win could have been more em­phatic. They had seven goals dis­al­lowed for off­side and, with no nets in the goals, much time was lost re­triev­ing the ball. Ar­broath goal­keeper Jim Milne Sr had so lit­tle to do, he stood un­der a spec­ta­tor’s um­brella to keep dry. Arriving with­out proper kit couldn’t have done much for Bon Accord’s morale and at half-time they were 15-0 down. Teenage Red Lichties winger John Petrie fin­ished the drub­bing with 13 goals – a record that stood for 116 years.


When Ori­ent chair­man Tony Wood lost most of his money and busi­ness in­ter­ests in Rwanda in 1994, East Lon­don­ers Ley­ton Ori­ent de­scended into chaos. Youth team boss John Sit­ton and se­nior pro Chris Turner took the reins, also tak­ing part in Chan­nel 4 doc­u­men­tary Ori­ent: Club for a Fiver. The nadir came in Fe­bru­ary with the O’s trail­ing 1-0 at half-time against Black­pool. Sit­ton sacked his cap­tain Terry Howard in the dress­ing room break and, in full view of the cam­eras, un­loaded on his team. “You, you lit­tle c**t,” he be­gan, “and you, you big c**t, when I tell you to do some­thing, do it. We can have a right sort out in here. You can pair up, if you like. And you can bring your f***ing din­ner – by the time I’m fin­ished with you, you’ll f**king need it.” Ori­ent won one of their fol­low­ing 15 matches, Sit­ton and Turner were sacked by in­com­ing chair­man Barry Hearn and the O’s fin­ished bot­tom of Divi­sion Two. Sit­ton is now a Lon­don taxi driver.


Some con­text: Sport­ing were a truly daz­zling team in 1963-64, and de­feated Ata­lanta, Manch­ester United, Lyon and MTK Budapest (in the fi­nal) en route to lift­ing the Euro­pean Cup Win­ners’ Cup. APOEL (short for ath­letic foot­ball club of the Greeks of Ni­cosia), were Cypriot Cup win­ners, beat­ing Anortho­sis Fa­m­a­gusta in the fi­nal. APOEL had handed out a hu­mil­i­a­tion of their own in the first round, tonk­ing Nor­way’s Gjøvik-Lyn 7-0 to be­come the first Hel­lenic team to progress in the com­pe­ti­tion. Their re­ward? Sec­ond round destruc­tion. Sport­ing blitzed them 16-1 in Lis­bon, with Mas­caren­has smash­ing a dou­ble hat-trick: still a record de­feat for any side in Euro­pean ac­tion. Un­able to host the sec­ond leg back at home, APOEL had to play that in Por­tu­gal, too – but kept the score down to 2-0.


In 1965-66, Tas­ma­nia Berlin broke all the wrong Bun­desliga records: they scored the fewest goals (15), con­ceded the most goals (108), suf­fered the worst de­feat (9-0 to Mei­dricher), amassed the fewest points (eight) and recorded the low­est at­ten­dance (856). To be fair, the squad knew they were well out of their depth. Hertha Berlin had been rel­e­gated for fi­nan­cial ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties and, purely for po­lit­i­cal rea­sons, the Ger­man FA handed Tas­ma­nia a pro­mo­tion, to en­sure that Berlin was still rep­re­sented in the top flight. Play­ers scur­ried back from hol­i­days when they heard the news. Seeking a leader on the pitch, Tas­ma­nia re­cruited West Ger­man in­ter­na­tional mid­fielder Horst Szy­ma­niak. Un­for­tu­nately, all of Szy­ma­niak’s brains were in his feet. Af­ter ne­go­ti­at­ing a share of the club’s gate re­ceipts, he boasted to a Tas­ma­nia team-mate: “They tried to fob me off with a third, but I de­manded at least a quar­ter.” Seven years af­ter be­ing com­pre­hen­sively rel­e­gated with two wins from 34 games, Tas­ma­nia Berlin went bank­rupt.



The last of a Foot­ball League record 34 de­feats suf­fered by Don­caster Rovers in this train wreck of a cam­paign – a 1-0 loss to Colch­ester on May 2, 1998 – was ac­com­pa­nied by a mock fu­neral, staged by their protest­ing fans. Fans wept as a sea­son in which Rovers con­ceded 113 goals, scored 34, fielded 46 play­ers and earned 20 points ended their 75-year stint in the Foot­ball League. Chair­man Ken Richard­son was still await­ing trial af­ter pay­ing lo­cal crim­i­nals to burn the Belle Vue sta­dium’s main stand to claim on the in­sur­ance (he was later jailed). While await­ing trial, Richard­son sat on the bench and ‘helped’ to pick the team. Not en­tirely co­in­ci­den­tally, Rovers had four man­agers – Kerry Dixon, Dave Cowl­ing, Danny Ber­gara and Mark Weaver, whose pre­vi­ous man­age­rial ex­pe­ri­ence amounted to run­ning the Stock­port County lottery. De­spised by fans, Weaver com­plained he wasn’t get­ting the same kind of round-the-clock pro­tec­tion as fatwa vic­tim Sal­man Rushdie.


There were only two things wrong with Croa­t­ian cham­pi­ons Di­namo Za­greb in the 2016-17 Cham­pi­ons League: they couldn’t at­tack and they couldn’t de­fend. Pre­vi­ous de­fen­sive of­fences to be taken into con­sid­er­a­tion in­cluded a 7-1 group stage home de­feat against Lyon in De­cem­ber 2011 that was so im­prob­a­ble that UEFA were al­most com­pelled to in­ves­ti­gate. In 2016-17, the bare sta­tis­tics – P6, W0, D0, L6, F0, A15 – don’t re­ally do jus­tice to the comic in­ep­ti­tude of their de­fend­ing, the in­con­sis­tency of their choco­late-wristed keeper Anders Sem­per or the point­less­ness

of de­fender Pe­tar Sto­janovic’s red card, for kick­ing Sevilla’s Vi­tolo when his side were only 1-0 down (they even­tu­ally lost 4-0). In six games they hit the bar three times and had three dif­fer­ent man­agers. The rest of the sea­son was al­most as sham­bolic: Di­namo failed to win the Croa­t­ian league or cup for the first time in 11 years.


“This team is not good enough for the Premier League and they know it.” Billy Davies, the man­ager of newly pro­moted Derby, was sacked for say­ing this, but the 2007-08 cam­paign proved his point. The Rams won one just match – a 1-0 vic­tory against New­cas­tle in Septem­ber – drew eight and lost 29, to pick up a pal­try 11 points, the worst tally in Premier League his­tory. Top scorer Kenny Miller man­aged four goals, while the de­fence shipped 89. Book­ies started pay­ing out bets on the club’s rel­e­ga­tion on Septem­ber 1. Paul Jewell, who re­placed Davies in Novem­ber, was so in­fu­ri­ated by a 6-1 de­feat to Chelsea that he la­belled his team a ‘laugh­ing stock’. As, in­deed, was Jewell when the News of the World pub­lished pho­tos from his sex tapes. Rob­bie Sav­age, signed in Jan­uary win­dow, found the cam­paign “soul de­stroy­ing”, ad­mit­ting: “Play­ers hid be­cause the crowd would have a go at them, me in­cluded.”


Some sea­sons are so atro­cious the af­ter­shocks prove fa­tal. Just five years af­ter be­ing rel­e­gated from the Ere­di­visie with an all-time low of nine points, a record that may never be bro­ken, RBC Roosendaal went bank­rupt and had to start over in the Dutch sev­enth tier. Dur­ing a 2005-06 sea­son in which they had more man­agers – Dolf Roks and Robert Maaskant – than wins – just one, a 2-0 win over NEC Ni­jmegen in Fe­bru­ary – RBC scored 22 goals and con­ceded 90. Af­ter beat­ing the drop through the play-offs in 2004-05, re­plen­ish­ing the squad with free trans­fers and loa­nees looked com­pla­cent. And so it proved, as only three play­ers amassed more than one league goal. Gam­bian winger Ebrima Sil­lah top-scored with seven. The best that can be said for RBC’s play­ers is that they didn’t tor­ture their fans with false hope. Af­ter four games, they were 18th – and last – in the Ere­di­visie, and there they re­mained un­til the end of the sea­son.


Man­ager Alan Dicks had guided the Robins to the First Divi­sion in 13 years in the Bris­tol City hot seat, but rel­e­ga­tion and a dis­mal start to life in the sec­ond-tier meant the boot. Worse, how­ever, was just around the cor­ner. Not even the ar­rival of a young Roy Hodg­son – ini­tially as as­sis­tant man­ager, then care­taker in Jan­uary 1982 – could ar­rest the de­cline. By ’82, City had suf­fered three suc­ces­sive rel­e­ga­tions, were in Divi­sion Four and out of money. Bank­rupt at the be­gin­ning of Fe­bru­ary, the board forced eight se­nior play­ers to can­cel their con­tracts and keep the club afloat. The Ash­ton Gate Eight – cap­tain Ge­off Mer­rick, David Rodgers, Peter Aitken, Chris Gar­land, Trevor Tain­ton, Jimmy Mann and Julian Mar­shall – were all hailed as he­roes. “I had a fam­ily, three kids and a mort­gage,” re­called skip­per Mer­rick. “I think I lost about a stone in weight, it was dev­as­tat­ing. None of us wanted to leave, but ev­ery­body wanted Bris­tol City to re­main.”


For three glo­ri­ous years and 11 months dur­ing the early-1980s, the self-styled ‘worst club in the world’ failed to win a sin­gle game in the bot­tom divi­sion of Brazil’s Per­nam­buco state cham­pi­onship. To say that Ibis Sport rev­elled in their self-ap­pointed moniker would be an un­der­state­ment. “We used to lose matches all the time: 5-0, 6-0 and 7-0,” laughed hair­dresser-cum-Maradona im­per­son­ator Mauro Sham­poo, the club’s No.10 and best player, who scored once in those four years. When Ibis Sport ac­tu­ally started win­ning in Septem­ber last year – pres­i­dent Ozir Ju­nior’s dream is for the club to win pro­mo­tion to the state’s top flight – Sham­poo be­lieved the club’s iden­tity was at stake. “If we keep win­ning,” he said af­ter a third suc­ces­sive vic­tory, “we’re go­ing to lose our brand.” Sup­porter Nilsinho Filho agreed: “Even if we go on to win the Brazil­ian cham­pi­onship one day, no one will ever be able to take our ti­tle as the worst team in the world.” And who wouldn’t want that on their foot­ball CV?


When the fi­nal whis­tle blew on the most one-sided qual­i­fy­ing match in World Cup his­tory, on April 11, 2001, some mem­bers of the los­ing team, Amer­i­can Samoa, were laugh­ing with em­bar­rass­ment. As Aus­tralian for­ward Archie Thomp­son, who scored 13 goals in his side’s 31-0 vic­tory, said: “There wasn’t much else they could do.” To be fair to Amer­i­can Samoa, then ranked the 203rd best team in the world, they were de­prived of 19 first-team play­ers fol­low­ing FIFA’s in­sis­tence that the squad had US pass­ports. Most of their Un­der-20 in­ter­na­tion­als were busy do­ing ex­ams and some of the play­ers who ran onto the pitch in Coffs Har­bour, New South Wales, had never even played a 90-minute match. Rangers’ Dutch man­ager Dick Ad­vo­caat thought the Soc­ceroos had been too hard on their lowly op­po­nents – when Craig Moore and Tony Vid­mar re­turned to Ibrox, he de­cided to drop them for one match for un­sports­man­like be­hav­iour.


Made up from a mix­ture of Dutch oc­cu­piers and In­done­sian lo­cals, the Dutch East Indies spent sev­eral weeks on a boat to France, de­vis­ing strate­gies, train­ing on deck and even play­ing the odd prac­tice match en route and on board. The first Asian coun­try to ap­pear at a World Cup could be for­given for wish­ing they hadn’t both­ered. Four-nil down af­ter half an hour against even­tual run­ners-up Hun­gary, they were stuffed 6-0. The 1938 fi­nals was a straight knock­out event and it re­mains In­done­sia’s only World Cup fix­ture, mak­ing them, sta­tis­ti­cally, the worst team to ever ap­pear at the tour­na­ment (hey, their av­er­age score­line is a 6-0 de­feat). “The team lost, but not be­cause of a lack of skills, en­thu­si­asm or tech­nique,” wrote the news­pa­per Het Vader­land. “The In­dian play­ers, es­pe­cially com­pared to the firm Hun­gar­i­ans, are too small and light.” They also brought with them a con­tender for the most ter­ri­fy­ing mas­cot in foot­ball his­tory. Ac­com­pa­ny­ing the play­ers onto the pitch, the bon­net-wear­ing, wav­ing porce­lain doll is ex­actly the sort of crazy wide-eyed crit­ter that goes on a killing rampage around a hith­erto non­de­script Amer­i­can town in a B-hor­ror movie.


It takes a truly dread­ful sea­son to chal­lenge Derby County’s 2007-08 Premier League vin­tage – com­plete with as many vic­to­ries (one) as man­age­rial sex tapes – but Lough­bor­ough pulled it off more than 100 years ear­lier in English foot­ball’s de­fin­i­tive an­nus hor­ri­bilis. In fin­ish­ing bot­tom of the Sec­ond Divi­sion, then the low­est tier of pro­fes­sional foot­ball, they con­ceded 100 goals in 34 games, win­ning just once and se­cur­ing eight points from a pos­si­ble 68. The nadir came with a 12-0 de­feat at Wool­wich Arse­nal, who paid Lough­bor­ough’s seven play­ers’ trav­el­ling ex­penses, so cash-strapped were the vis­i­tors. Lough­bor­ough ap­plied for re-elec­tion to the Foot­ball League but it was re­jected, so they at­tempted to re­turn to the Mid­land League for the 1900-01 sea­son. They failed to turn up for a fix­tures meet­ing on June 9 and were de­clared de­funct two weeks later. At least they went out on a high.


Goal dif­fer­ence is im­por­tant when you’re chas­ing pro­mo­tion. Plateau United Feed­ers were 5-0 up at half-time against Akruba, but de­cided they needed a few more goals to help their cause to progress up the Nige­rian foot­ball pyra­mid. And they did just that, scor­ing 72 sec­ond-half goals with­out re­ply to win 77-0. Feed­ers’ only prob­lem was that, on the other side of the coun­try, pro­mo­tion-chas­ing ri­vals Po­lice Ma­chine hit 61 sec­ond-half goals past Baba­yaro in a 67-0 destruc­tion. De­spite hit­ting four goals in one minute, Ma­chine lost out to Feed­ers on goal dif­fer­ence. The Nige­rian FA, smelling the fat­test of rats, de­scribed the events as “a mind-bog­gling show of shame” and launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into “this de­spi­ca­ble mat­ter”. Two weeks later all four clubs, the play­ers and of­fi­cials were handed 10-year bans from foot­ball. Akurba, mainly for be­ing crap any­way.


If win­ning be­comes a habit, los­ing takes root deeper than Ja­panese knotweed. Just ask Brechin City, who went through the en­tire Scot­tish Cham­pi­onship with­out a sin­gle vic­tory last sea­son. Pro­moted the pre­vi­ous cam­paign, Brechin be­gan and ended 2017-18 with 4-1 and 5-1 thump­ings to Queen of the South, 26 points adrift of safety. In be­tween came four draws, 32 de­feats and four points from a pos­si­ble 108, be­com­ing the first Scot­tish club in 126 years to go an en­tire sea­son with­out a win. “I just keep smil­ing,” said 89-year-old fan Mar­garet No­ble. “You’ve got to. I live on my own, my daugh­ter is in Amer­ica and my son is in Dorset. Brechin City is my fam­ily.” Man­ager Dar­ren Dodds has even kept his job. “We’ve never seen the heads go down,” stated chair­man Ken Ferguson. “Dar­ren and his team have done a great job main­tain­ing morale in the dress­ing room.” Or there’s no one else to take on the job, Ken.


Los­ing 10-0 is never pleas­ant. But even so, Grenchen sport­ing di­rec­tor Re­nato Brun’s de­ci­sion to pub­licly fire all 11 play­ers who took part in that match seems ex­ces­sive. For Grenchen, rock bot­tom of the fourth divi­sion of Swiss foot­ball in Novem­ber 2014, that dou­ble-digit loss to Lucerne’s youth team was their ninth suc­ces­sive de­feat in a dis­mal run dur­ing which they leaked a whop­ping 66 goals. Pub­lish­ing a list of 11 play­ers who were, in Brun’s words, “no longer wel­come”, at the club, he ac­cused some of mock­ing coach Pa­trick Bosch in train­ing (some pranksters pre­tended not to recog­nise him). De­fender Dedaj Du­gagjin in­sisted that he and his team-mates were more in­fu­ri­ated by the man­ner of their dis­missal than the de­ci­sion it­self: “This bor­ders on char­ac­ter as­sas­si­na­tion. If you lose 10-0, you can’t just blame the play­ers.” That point was proved as Grenchen came bot­tom of the ta­ble with the as­ton­ish­ing record P26, W1, D2, L23, F16, A147.


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