“What is the latest that two goals have been scored in a game for a team to come from behind to win?” Andrew Brinkhurst tweeted after Tottenham turned a 95th-minute 2-1 deficit around at Leicester. “Apart from a game with a huge amount of injury time, there can’t be many later?”
“I have a great example from 2002,” writes Alan Gibbs. “At that time I was studying in Nottingham, and so rarely got to see my team, Bristol City, but in November they played at Mansfield, a short trip up the A60. It was 1-1 at half time and then Christian Roberts put City ahead 2-1 before the game lurched in Mansfield’s favour. They soon equalised and then, following the award of a penalty, there was a multi-player fracas which resulted in the sending off of a Mansfield defender. The penalty was saved, but the rebound scored, and they scored again soon after.
“It remained 4-2 until the 87th minute, by which time a good number of City fans had already left – but then we got a penalty. Brian Tinnion scored it, but the score remained 4-3 until the 95th minute, when Leroy Lita flicked in to make it 4-4. We were still celebrating when, now in the 96th minute, Roberts smashed in the winner from just outside the penalty box. I told myself after the match that I’d probably never see a more exciting game, and I haven’t in the nearly 20 years since.”
Also of note is the dramatic contest between Pohang Steelers and Gangwon FC in Korea’s K-League back in 2019. Pohang were 4-0 up after 70 minutes and still 4-2 up going into the 92nd, at which point Gangwon made it 4-3. The equaliser came in the 94th with the winner in the 96th.
The latest comeback we can find, however, doesn’t pass the final clarifier of the question and remains somewhat shrouded in mystery. Here’s Sebastian Hughes, writing to the Knowledge in 2011 …
Who were ‘The South Coast Team’?
“I was unpacking some deliveries at our shop which arrived in an old copy of the Sun sport pages from about 2010,” begins Warwick Bassett. “In the results, there was a team by the name of ‘The South Coast Team’. Does anyone have any idea who they are or were?”
It transpires the mystery team was none other than Southampton. Aaron Grierson takes up the tale. “In 2010, Southampton, then in League One, barred all photographers from newspapers and news agencies from their home games. They instead licensed exclusive rights to a photographer, who would give syndication rights to the Digital South agency. This led to fears that Digital South would avoid taking or publishing images that were negative for Southampton – for instance, a Saints player getting sent off.
“The Sun began referring to the club only as ‘The South Coast Team’ (or ‘Opposition’) in response to the move. The Bournemouth Echo used photos from the 80s to supplement their match reports. Others used cartoons to represent the action, while the Swindon Advertiser used Subbuteo reconstructions. By September 2010 Southampton mostly reneged on their ban and allowed a few more photographers inside, although oddly they still seemed to have a vendetta against the Daily Echo, who were still barred from games as late as November.”
Most Os in a game
“When Morocco played against Comoros, it occurred to me that this might be the highest ever number of Os in a first-class fixture (six, three each),” suggests Daniel Marcus. “Can anyone come up with more?”
Let’s begin with another example from the Africa Cup of Nations, courtesy of Richard Booth. “Afcon also supplies an answer: in 2017, the Democratic Republic of Congo beat Morocco 1-0 (a total of seven Os between them).”
Rob Hamilton offers up a six-O fixture from League One – Fleetwood Town v Northampton Town in League One last January. “Appropriately enough, it finished 0-0.” Philip Platts can go one better with a historical name. “Bournemouth and Boscombe Athletic played Brighton and Hove Albion and Northampton Town in the 1923-24 Third Division South.” That’s seven Os in both fixtures, but here comes Rob again …
“Wootton Bassett Town renamed themselves Royal Wootton Bassett Town in July 2015, to give them five Os in their name. In the level-nine Hellenic Premier Division they played Wokingham & Emmbrook for an eight-O match. They had another in the FA Vase in 2020-21, against Stonehouse Town in the second qualifying round.”
But wait, Philip Platts isn’t finished. “Collingwood Warriors played one season in Australia’s top tier, the now-defunct NSL, in 1996-97 – where they played Wollongong Warriors.” So that’s a top-flight eight-O fixture to go with one in the English ninth tier. Woo hoo!
“What is the coldest recorded temperature that a football match has been played in?” wondered Stephen Robbins in 2010.
We couldn’t find a definitive answer for this one but earlier that month Rosenborg – who play in Trondheim, Norway – hosted Bayer Leverkusen in a Europa League tie. The temperature had plunged below -14C by the time the match had kicked off. We’ll forgive players for wearing mittens on string for that one. Meanwhile former Morton striker Marko Rajamaki criticised the SFA for the rash of postponements during a cold snap in Scotland and said: “There’s a league club, RoPs, in Lapland, where it gets down to -30C. But they have access to a full-sized indoor training pitch so they can still work.”
Finally, Football’s Strangest Matches by Andrew Ward provided this chilly anecdote:
In December 1891 Blackburn travelled to Burnley to take on the Clarets in freezing temperatures and heavy snow. They might have wished they hadn’t bothered – Rovers were 3-0 down inside 25 minutes.
Half-time couldn’t come quickly enough, but after the break the visiting team failed to appear on the field. Blackburn eventually re-emerged, a few fisticuffs followed and soon after all the Blackburn players bar goalkeeper Herby Arthur left the field. Burnley attacked, were, unsurprisingly caught offside and after a lengthy spell of time wasting by Arthur, referee JC Clegg abandoned the game. Rovers late apologised, saying their players had been numb with cold and couldn’t continue.
2022 update! A new contender for the title of “football’s coldest match” came this month when the US welcomed Honduras to Minnesota and -16C temperatures. “It was freezing,” said Christian Pulisic afterwards, not unreasonably.
Can you help?
“The other day, the Wordle answer was MOUNT, which got me thinking – is Mason Mount the only footballer (present or former) whose first and second name are recognised five-letter words in the dictionary and therefore legitimate potential answers in Wordle?” asks Joe Hutton.
“What are the highest-profile examples of players who have failed a medical and then gone on to have long and successful careers?” poses Crispin Leyser.
“Now that some leagues allow five substitutes in a match, has a sub ever come as a sub for a sub for a sub … for a sub?” wonders Terence Fitzgerald.