Do any football clubs have a record signing from more than 30 years ago?

·7 min read

“Bristol Rovers’ record signing (Andy Tilson, £370,000) was made in 1992,” notes Oscar Felix Ramirez. “Do any other league clubs still have a record signing from 30-plus years ago?

We had no idea the early-1990s was such a boom time for record signings, but it seems Bristol Rovers aren’t alone. “Steve Claridge is still Cambridge’s record signing (£252,000),” writes Russell Connor. “They actually have signed him twice, once in 1990 and then again only two years later after interim club Luton didn’t like what they saw. He seems to have been bought in the same summer of 1992 as Tilson, so not sure who came first.”

A couple of you mentioned Tony Agana, who joined Notts County from Sheffield United for £685,000 in 1991. But it’s generally accepted that Kasper Schmeichel, who arrived from Manchester City for an undisclosed fee in 2009, cost more than Agana.

And so to Scotland, where stereotypes about parsimony live on via the medium of 56-year-old transfer records. “You don’t even have to go down the divisions to find an older transfer record than Bristol Rovers’,” explains Joe Murphy. “That’s not surprising, given that the national record is still Tore André Flo in 2000. St Mirren’s record signing, Thomas Stickroth from Bayer Uerdingen for £400,000, was made in 1990. League One side Clyde have them all beaten, though. They signed Harry Hood from Sunderland for £14,000 in 1966 and he remains their record signing.”

And to think some people say 1966 was a terrible year for Scottish football.

Drastic variance in pre-season opposition

“Pre-season friendlies always throw up some bizarre fixtures,” begins Jez Orbell. “Difficult to get a definitive answer but what notable differences have there been between consecutive opponents. For example: has a club played Real Madrid in one match followed by a Guernsey pub team in the next?”

“This question made me think about Norwich City’s haphazard pre-season this year,” writes Jonathan Campion. “On 12 July the Canaries played King’s Lynn Town, winning the Norfolk derby 2-0. Four days later they beat Ligue 1 runners-up Marseille 3-0.”

Jim Hearson interjects. “It would be remiss not to mention Plymouth Argyle in 2006,” he mails. “After Real Madrid claimed their hotel booking at a resort in Austria, the Pilgrims agreed to a friendly by way of compensation. Before the game, Plymouth had faced then-second-tier local side FC Gratkorn and Southern League Premier Division outfit Tiverton Town. You can read more about what went off on the Plymouth Herald’s site.”

Rhuaraidh Fleming is here to “stretch the definition of the question slightly, because the League of Ireland was in full swing in the summer of 2009. However, two days after seeing off Sligo Rovers, Shamrock Rovers then played host to Real Madrid on 20 July (with Cristiano Ronaldo making his debut) in what was a pre-season friendly for them. Madrid won 1-0. Also: Dundee United played host to Barcelona on 25 July 2007 having hosted Forfar Athletic on 23 July. And in Barcelona’s 2008 pre-season tour, they would play a Mission Hills Invitation XI of Hong Kong on 11 August before meeting Bayern Munich on 15 August.”

A tie of two halves

“Bodø/Glimt beat Linfield 8-0 in the second leg of their Champions League qualifier, having lost 1-0 in Belfast. Is this the biggest ever win in European competition by a team who lost one of the legs?” asks Karl Reilly.

Well, it depends whether you are talking the aggregate score (8-1) or the result of the game itself (8-0). “In the second round of the 1979-80 European Cup, Ajax beat Omonia Nicosia 10-0 in the first leg,” writes Dirk Maas. “In the second leg, Ajax took their foot off the pedal, allowing Omonia to win 4-0.”

That means Ajax’s 10-4 aggregate victory is trumped by Bodø/Glimt’s 8-1. Can anyone beat either the 10-0 or the 8-1? If so, drop us a line.

Bodø/Glimt
Bodø/Glimt’s Elias Kristoffersen Hagen takes a shot at goal during their 1-0 win in Belfast. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Knowledge archive

“Down at Dulwich Hamlet’s Champion Hill stadium every match we still sing two terrace chants in celebration of Edgar Kail, the last non-league player to represent England and a one-club man who last played for Hamlet in 1933, 80 years ago,” wrote Robert Molloy-Vaughan in April 2013. “I wonder what clubs can beat us for antiquarian bygone-dom in celebrating old players through song?”

A couple of clubs still laid claim to singing the praises of players even longer departed than the great Kail. “Derby County’s idolising of Steve Bloomer takes some beating,” wrote Matt Lewis. “He played for the Rams from 1892 to 1906, then moved to Middlesbrough, before returning to Derby in 1910. He eventually hung up his boots for good in 1914.

“With 332 goals, he is by far Derby’s all-time top scorer and only Jimmy Greaves has scored more goals in the English top flight. He [now sits joint 11th] on England’s all-time top scorers list, with 28 goals from 23 games, despite playing his last international match more than a century ago. The song Steve Bloomer’s Watchin’ is played before every game at Pride Park.”

And in Scotland those on the terraces at Parkhead also have long memories. “Celtic fans still regularly belt out The Ballad of Willie Maley,” wrote Mark Sheffield. “Maley played for the club from 1888-1897, before taking over as manager, a post he held until 1940. The song also references Jimmy McGrory, another player who would later manage the club and whose last appearance as a player came in 1937; and Charlie Tully, who last turned out in the Hoops in 1959.”

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Can you help?

Is any team more prolific than Torns IF for goals scored from their own half? They have four in 1,583 days.

“I recently learnt to some surprise that the ‘Tower of Pisa’, Lorenzo Lucca, has become the first Italian ever to play for Ajax,” writes Eddie Eyers. “What other examples are there of storied clubs that have never been represented by players from famous footballing nations?”

“Are there many examples of a club winning a major cup competition in their home stadium? Presumably, there would’ve been a few under the old Uefa Cup format,” ponders Jordi Michaël.

“I was at the Spurs v Southampton game and the home team had four subs stripped, on the line, ready to come on in the 79th minute,” begins John Curry. “Play continued for another seven minutes without a stop (no fouls, goals or ball going out of play), before they could be introduced. That got me thinking, what is the longest continuous period of play in a match?”

“The goals in Hajduk’s 3-1 Europa Conference League qualifying win against Vitória were scored with a left foot by four different players out of whom three are right-footed,” notes Luka Barisic. “It got me wondering: what’s the most goals scored in a match by left foot? What’s the highest-scoring match in which all goals were scored by a trusted lefty?”

“Which players have played with the longest hair that wasn’t tied up or banded?” wonders Rob Abushal. “I used to have long hair, and it becomes really annoying, but are there any players that just rock n rolled with it?”

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