What are the most calamitous substitutions in football history? | Soccer
“In the Red Star v Maccabi Haifa game, Milan Pavkov entered the pitch in the 78th minute and scored an own goal in the 90th minute. Surely we have never seen a more catastrophic substitution before? tweets @Terunoumi89.
Pavkov’s miserable own goal settled the Champions League qualifier, which was heading into extra time with an aggregate score of 4-4.
Of course, sports disaster is in the eye of the beholder, so we’ll let you decide whether the following examples are better or worse.
“I imagine it can’t be much worse than what happened to Marco Etcheverry,” writes Jörg Michner. “Imagine the situation: your country, Bolivia, is playing its first World Cup since 1950, facing Germany in the opening game of USA 94. Despite being the star player of your country, you start on the bench after suffering a knee injury months before. Finally, in the 79th minute, you are substituted with your team 1-0. Four minutes and two touches later, the always adorable Lothar Matthäus knocks you off the bench. a flailing arm and, after play is stopped, you kick him harmlessly, no doubt deserved but unnecessarily petulant.The referee doesn’t give a fuck and sends you off…Bolivia ended up losing, Etcheverry was suspended for his last two group matches and never played in the World Cup again. Ouch.”
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. Go back to 2002 and ‘ouch’ was the key word in the battle of Bramall Lane in 2002, when a few substitutes played unforgettable roles.
Then we have the curious case of the ineligible player. “Manny Omoyinmi came on for West Ham in the last eight minutes of extra time in the Worthington Cup quarter-final against Aston Villa in the 1999-2000 season,” begins Alun Thomas. “West Ham won on penalties after a 2-2 draw. However, the match was 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 kicked on Jonathan Clauss in the 79th minute to try to get France across the line in their Nations League draw against Croatia. Four minutes later, the defender awkwardly knocked down Andrej Kramaric in the box, and the striker converted the penalty to give Croatia a draw.
In September 1992, Andy Comyn made an even faster impact at the Baseball Ground:
And finally, Jim Hearson has a new take on an old favorite.
Players outclassing teams over a season
“After six games, Erling Haaland is single-handedly ahead of 14 Premier League sides on goals scored,” writes Shaun Forster. “When was the last time a player finished the season with more goals than an entire team?
It has happened across seven Premier League seasons, the most recent in 2020-21. The most notable is probably 2017-18, when Mohamed Salah outclassed Three 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 be at your level, we don’t have the will or the time to go through the whole history of top-flight English football, hence the 1992 practice. But it would be remiss not to mention the Everton legend Dixie Dean, who scored a record 60 goals in the 1927-28 league season. Goals were easier to come by in those days so he didn’t beat either team – the worst scorers were Blackburn and Portsmouth with 66.
“What is the earliest reference to a football club achieving ‘the great escape’ by avoiding relegation from a seemingly doomed position?” Ralph Burns asks. “Presumably, this expression was first used after the release of the film of the same name in June 1963.”
We don’t know if this is the first time, but Stewart Beard found a reference from May 1965. “In the Essex & Thurrock Gazette the headline proclaimed ‘The Season of the Great Escape’,” he wrote. “Grays Athletic of the Athens League Premier Division had survived the final day, winning 5-2 at Walton & Hersham, having ‘from September to April lived with the threat of relegation hanging over them’.”
“I was recently watching the third test between India and the West Indies,” wrote Manas Phadke in 2011. “I was quite surprised to see Billy Doctrove (who is an umpire) sitting in a stand bearing his name wearing a Liverpool shirt and kissing the badge for the cameras. Are there any other international cricket umpires ( present or past) who have publicly pledged allegiance to a football club?
Roy Proctor was on hand with some answers. “The most obvious cricket umpire with a publicly recognized football affiliation is the incomparable Harold ‘Dickie’ Bird, who in a 2008 Guardian article proclaimed: ‘I have supported Barnsley for 70 years, so there’s no way I’m missing this afternoon.’ The afternoon in question was an FA Cup quarter-final between the Tykes and Chelsea, a match won by Barnsley. Another referee was Ian Gould, a wicketkeeper who played in goal for Slough Town and Arsenal, earning him the nickname “Gunner”. In July 2009, Gould became chairman of Burnham FC of the Southern Football League. And while I’m not sure which team he supports, legendary West Indian referee Steve Bucknor, like Gould, was a goalkeeper, playing for Jamaica at schoolboy level. He then served as a referee and took charge of a World Cup qualifying match.
Can you help ?
“Bournemouth have sacked Scott Parker after four games in the Premier League season. Is this the quickest dismissal of a manager who gained promotion in the previous campaign?” asks Michael Booth.
“What is the first example of surname + ball to describe a manager’s football philosophy?” thinks Daniel Marcus. “I thought it was ‘Sarriball’ but a friend pointed out to me that for a while Stoke had been playing ‘Pulisball’. Are there any earlier examples?
“Although we rightly love to chide our American cousins about the word ‘soccer’, we all know that our nation’s greatest shame is that it’s actually a British word,” begins Ethan Mackintosh. “To that end, I wondered if there had ever been any clubs in the UK that officially called themselves football clubs at some point in their history? Just typing in ‘football clubs’ looks like a criminal offence, I’m so sorry.
“Have two managers ever swapped clubs? asks Tom Solan.