The September issues of BwB saw a different version of events offered regarding the world record football score – Arbroath 36 Bon Accord 0.
This was given in the form of a trilogy by Rob Boag.
Rob certainly didn’t doubt the validity of the long-standing record from 1885, but merely relayed other versions which he came across in various publications and archives.
The great twist in the tale is that Dundee Harp beat Aberdeen Rovers 35-0 on the same day – and they thought they now held the world record.
Rob, from Canada, is not the only one with “alternative information” to share on this famous encounter. Andy Walker has also written to BwB before on this subject, and offers more.
Before reading on and, as a disclaimer, I’m chickening out and have to say what follows is not necessarily something with which I concur.
BwB is a platform for readers’ views, and Andy opened: “The rain had fallen all day on September 12, 1885, and, as the teams ran out, it was still a dreich day.
“Arbroath were in their colours and the recently-renamed Aberdeen Bon Accord (formerly Orion Cricket team) were in their working clothes!
“During the match, women casually strolled over the park pushing prams.
“At decisions such as offside, the officials sometimes found it difficult to identify players from fans.”
Andy, from Lochee, continued: “As was normal around that time, there were no nets in use.
“Also, the strips worn in those days were made of wool, and players wore heavy cotton knickerbockers. Their boots were leather with wooden studs.
“With rain pouring down, and Arbroath’s kit getting heavier and heavier, the first half ended 15-0 to Arbroath and, with these adverse conditions still prevailing, a further 21 goals in the second half sounds feasible.
“Arbroath’s goalkeeper, with nothing much to do, sheltered under an umbrella for long periods.
“Teenage striker John Petrie, in scoring his 13 goals, must have had some congratulations from his team-mates.
“It must have been a relief when referee Dave Stormont, from Keith, chalked off seven goals.”
Andy then dons his mathematics mortarboard to work out the stats.
He continued: “Scoring 36 means the ball would have to be centred 36 times.
“If you allow 30 seconds to do this, that equals 18 minutes. From 90, that leaves 72 minutes. In those days, there was not the outrageous celebrations, your team-mates just ran up and shook your hand.
“With no nets, the time to retrieve the ball would take longer.
“There were no injuries reported and, with the ball going out of play and reported mix-ups with spectators, that, being very generous would mean another six minutes used up. So that takes us down to 66 minutes and, dividing 66 by 36, means a goal would have had to be scored every 1.83 minutes on average. This is the main reason I doubt the score.”
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Andy reckoned matches in those days weren’t covered by sportswriters as such.
He went on: “In those days, second-hand news was the norm and favoured forms of communication used was the telegram or phone.
“The official at the Dundee Harp game (they won 35-0 the same day) sent the score after the game.
“Who was the Arbroath match official entrusted to send his team’s score, and when did he send it?
“Dundee Harp harangued the SFA and local associations.
“The upshot was that, from 1890, all Forfarshire Football and Referees Committee meetings would be held in public.”