“What is the shortest time it’s taken a team to get a two-goal lead from the start of a game?” writes Paul Landsberg. “Has anyone managed to get 2-0 up by the second minute?”

“Yes they have,” yelps Robin Tucker. “England’s Women beat Turkey 8-0 in 2013. Not only did they go 2-0 up in the second minute, but Toni Duggan got both goals too. You can read all about it here.”

And here’s Glynn Marshall, using the Knowledge as an excuse to score points over a local rival. “As a Leicester City fan, I am delighted to be able to point Paul towards our game against Derby at Pride Park in 1999. Muzzy Izzet added to Emile Heskey’s first-minute opener in … the second minute. How we laughed. Another from Heskey in the eighth, and a fourth from Ian Marshall on the quarter hour, had us consulting the record books. However the rout was completed with 75 minutes to play, so we had to make do with 4-0. I am equally delighted to point out that this was played in the prime-time Sunday TV slot, so I daresay it didn’t go unnoticed outside the east Midlands.” It remains the quickest any Premier League club has taken a 4-0 lead.

“Unfortunately I clearly remember my team, PSV, going 3-0 down to St Etienne in 1979 after five minutes,” sighs Willem Verhagen. “It was not 2-0 after two minutes but equally distressing.”

We think we may have found the quickest team out of the blocks to take a 2-0 lead, however. “On Wednesday 9 April 2008, Newcastle Blue Star scored two goals in the first 47 seconds of their 3–0 win over Bamber Bridge,” writes Martyn Amos. Blue Star’s club secretary, Jim Anderson told the BBC: “It’s caused a lot of interest. We’re just waiting for confirmation from the FA and the Guinness Book of Records. It took place in the Unibond First Division North which is a nationally recognised competition.”

The FA said there was no category for such a record so, 12 years after the feat, Blue Star fans will have to take pride in the acclaim of being mentioned in this Knowledge segment instead.

Goal-averse well-capped international forwards

“I stumbled upon Mbo Mpenza’s Wikipedia page and despite a consistent scoring record at club level, he only scored three times for Belgium in 56 games. Has any striker got a worse record after playing 50 games or more?” asks Rob Davies.

“Look no further than Europe‘s weakest teams, some of whom hardly ever score a goal in games,” writes Ásgeir H Ingólfsson. “San Marino’s current strikeforce includes Matteo Vitaioli (one goal in 58 games) and Danilo Rinaldi (one in 40). In fact, only one Sammarinese footballer has scored more than two goals for the national team (Andy Selva, with eight). Andorra’s Juli Sánchez has scored a single goal in 73 games, while André Schembre has three in 94 for Malta and Nicolas Hassler has three in 67 for Liechtenstein. If you narrow it down to teams who actually qualify for finals, Iceland‘s Jon Dadi Bödvarsson is approaching Mpenza’s achievements, with three goals in 48.” Let’s see if he keeps that run going.



Iceland’s goal-averse forward, Jon Dadi Bödvarsson, shrugs off a routine Pepe challenge. Photograph: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

And Stijn chips in with an example of a forward with exceptional timing. “Despite scoring a fairly decent 86 goals in 362 club appearances [none in 14 for Portsmouth, mind – Knowledge Ed], Mladen Rudonja netted only once in 65 caps for Slovenia. That one goal came in his 53rd game, the return leg of a play-off against Romania, and sent Slovenia to their first ever World Cup.”

Almost perfect mid-table mediocrity

“On the last day of the 1993-94 season, I watched Buckingham Town draw 0-0 at Tonbridge, to finish our campaign with a record of P42 W14 D14 L14 F43 A42 Pts 56,” writes Philip Cornwall. “If it had still been two points for a win we would have had 42 points. Buckingham already had 43 goals so the perfect mid-table season of 42-14-14-14-42-42 was beyond us at kick-off. But has anyone actually achieved it?”

Alas, we could not find an example of a team achieving perfect mid-table mediocrity, but Andy Grace has written in with another mighty close contender. “In the 1922-23 season, Southampton finished 11th in their first season in the old Division Two with a record of P42 W14 D14 L14 F40 A40 Pts 42. I’d be surprised if you find anyone closer to the ‘perfect’ mediocre season than that.”

Knowledge archive

“Does the Knowledge know of any players who became grandfathers while still active in the game?” asked Michael in November 2014.

The Knowledge was aware of a few confirmed candidates for the grandparent club. Well, more specifically some of the Knowledge’s readership were. “Arnor Gudjohnsen (father of Eidur) fits the bill,” noted Malcolm Warburton. “He retired in 2001, Eidur’s eldest son (Sveinn Aron – then playing in the Icelandic League) was born in 1998.”

Claudio Kristeller wrote: “The 1994 World Cup champion Raí became a grandfather in January 1999, at the age of 33. He would go on playing of the Brazilian first division for another year and a half.” And … “If I’m not mistaken,” Chris Willis began, tentatively, “former Gillingham (and everyone else) goalkeeper Simon Royce became a grandfather while playing for Gillingham. Or it could just be terrace talk.”

Update: since then there has been the story of Eez Eldin Bahder, the 75-year-old grandfather of six, who scored on his debut in the Egyptian third division. It was an obvious – and successful – attempt to get a bit of publicity, mind.

Knowledge archive

Can you help?

“My hometown club, Southend United, used to play a very large number of home games on a Friday night. The reason, I was told, is that attendance really suffered on Saturdays when West Ham (an hour’s train to Upton Park, back in the day) were also playing at home. This got me wondering, which team in the top four divisions of English football has played most games on a Friday night?” asks Dean Collins.

Jack Tanner
(@mrjacktanner)

Which club has appeared in most finals (inc playoffs but not super cups) without wining any?


June 2, 2020

Alex Avram
(@alexxx_avr)

Is there any knowledge of who invented the term box-to-box midfielder, who used it for the first time, or the first player described this way?


June 2, 2020

“Who was the first player (excluding the Home Nations) to receive a cap for his country while playing in the Football League?” wonders Mukhtar Khan.

𝕋𝕠𝕓𝕪
(@TobScy)

Which player has played alongside the most Ballon D’or winners at the time they won? For example Pirlo played alongside Shevchenko, Kaka and internationally Cannavaro.


June 2, 2020

Send your questions and answers to [email protected] or tweet @TheKnowledge_GU.

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