FA Cup: The War of the Roses (1890)


It’s the FA Cup final this weekend, the traditional showpiece end of the football season – so we’ve been looking at some interesting finals of the past. Today’s final is from 1890, when Blackburn Rovers played Sheffield Wednesday in the first battle of the football War of the Roses…

The 1890 FA Cup final was the first time a team from Yorkshire had faced a team from Lancashire in the competition. If you know your history, you’ll know that this fact was guaranteed to add a little spice to the proceedings!

Held again at the Kennington Oval (which, incidentally, is one of only two venues to have hosted England football and cricket internationals as well as FA Cup finals – the other being Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane ground), this final marked the eighth and last appearance of Major Francis Marindin as referee.

An influential figure in the early development of what we would now see as the modern game during the nineteenth century, Marindin began as a player and was later described as “one of the outstanding referees who really knows the rules”.

On the day, poor old Wednesday were absolutely thrashed 6-1, which, I believe, is still a Cup final record score. Another record was set that day, when William Townley (who was later to go on to great success as a coach on the Continent) scored the first ever Cup final hat-trick, which helped send Blackburn home to Lancashire with the FA Cup trophy for the fourth time.


FA Cup: Working Class Heroes (1883)


It’s the FA Cup final this weekend, the traditional showpiece end of the football season – so we’ve been looking at some interesting finals of the past. Today’s match is from 1883, when Blackburn Olympic took on Old Etonians at the Kennington Oval in front of 8,000 people.

The FA Cup final of 1883 was a quietly important one, not only for its role in changing the tactics of the game but also its impact on the social standing and wider appeal of football. The public school dominance of the game was beginning to shift.

Blackburn were the eventual winners, beating the Old Etonians 2-1 after extra time and becoming the first working class side to triumph in the competition. Their victory was of  particular interest as they were playing a more modern passing and dribbling style that contrasted strongly with their public school opponents’ long-ball game.

It’s arguable that this final laid the foundations for the modern game, although neither of the teams involved played much of a role in the competition thereafter – Old Etonians never reached another FA Cup final after 1883, and for Blackburn Olympic, it was the pinnacle of their brief existance.

Pick that one out!: the oddity of the goalscoring goalkeeper

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CB writes…

Picture the scene. It’s deep into injury time of a crucial cup match, and you’re desperately in need of a goal to take the game into extra time. The opposition have conceded a corner, and you’re all up in the box to try and scramble a goal – and by all up, that means your goalie too. The corner arcs in and rattles round the box until your keeper leaps high into the air, his head making contact with the ball…. and it’s in the back of the net!

It is often said that goalkeepers are a breed apart, and they certainly seem to be made of different stuff to your average primadonna of a centre forward. For a start, they have to have a thick skin since they will frequently be blamed for losses (as ex-England goalie David ‘Calamity’ James once put it “It’s not nice going into the supermarket and the woman at the till thinking ‘dodgy ‘keeper'”).

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They are often at least mildly eccentric, and always acrobatic (René Higuita (above) and his scorpion kick save, anyone?). These bursts of physicality are very different to the constant movement of the rest of the team, which may be why their playing careers are often much longer than your average striker or midfielder.

Aloof, solitary, impassive, the crack goalie is followed in the streets by entranced small boys. He vies with the matador and the flying aces, an object of thrilled adulation. He is the lone eagle, the man of mystery, the last defender – Vladimir Nabokov, Russian novelist and goalkeeper.

They don’t always necessarily make good managers (coaching outfield players is a completely different skillset and attitude, really, but there are exceptions like Nuno Espirito Santo at Wolves) – they can, however, be excellent captains (most of the time), and at the very heart and soul of their team.

And sometimes they even score goals too…

Jennings, Stepney, and the pre-Premier League era

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Almost as far back as football records go, goalkeepers have been hitting the back of the opposition’s net. It is said that Manchester City’s Charlie Williams was the first, thumping a long clearance down the pitch and into the Sunderland goal during a match in April 1900.

Nearly 120 years later, the goalkeepers are still at it (as you will see) – and we still love them for such improbable scoring oddities. Whether they score via a penalty, a free kick or from open play, the sight of the goalkeeper turned goalscorer never gets old. It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does it’s always worth a look…

Probably the most celebrated of such goals in the twentieth century English game came from Northern Ireland’s greatest ever keeper, Pat Jennings (above) – who is also remarkable for being one of very, very few players to be considered a legend on both sides of the North London divide. He famously scored a real cracker of a goal for Spurs in the 1967 Charity Shield match against Manchester United.

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This is a classic goalkeeper’s goal – the ball powerfully punted upfield and past the United keeper Alex Stepney, who clearly doesn’t anticipate it going in. Indeed, you can almost feel Stepney’s dejected bemusement in the wonderful image (above) of him picking the ball out of the net afterwards. Interestingly enough, Stepney himself perhaps went on to redeem himself somewhat by scoring two penalties for Manchester United during the 1970s!

Other pre-Premier League goalscoring goalies in the British game included Peter Shilton, Mark Crossley, Andy Goram, Steve Ogrizovic, Bruce Grobbelaar, and, in other corners of the Football League, Kevin Pressman and Mart Poom.

On the scoresheet elsewhere

Jens Lehmann

A number of goalkeepers familiar to fans of Premier League and Football League clubs have hit the back of the net for teams elsewhere in the world too. Ex-Arsenal keeper Jens Lehmann (above) was the first goalie to score from open play in the Bundesliga – and both Manchester City’s Claudio Bravo and ex-United keeper Massimo Taibi have similarly scored in other European leagues.

More often than not though, goalkeepers are penalty scorers. Former Manchester United and Fulham shot stopper Edwin van der Sar is one such, scoring from the spot for Ajax. He joins a list of keeper spot kick specialists from around the world that includes Mark Bosnich, Artur Boruc, Simon Mignolet, and Nuno Espirito Santo.

Heading back to the English game and outside the top flight, there has to be an honourable mention for Jimmy Glass, whose famous last-minute goal for Carlisle United in 1999 saved the club from relegation out of the Football League and provoked the club’s chairman Michael Knighton to flights of fancy:

I believe in a Methuselah, Frankenstein, alien beings, flying saucers and the hand of God. But most of all, I believe in on-loan goalkeepers from Swindon who score goals in the dying seconds.

Incidentally, almost twenty years later, another temporary goalkeeper scored another crucially important last-gasp goal – this time in Italy’s Serie A. After a number of loan deals elsewhere, journeyman keeper Alberto Brignoli (below) had ended up at Benevento, then in their first (and thus far only) season in Serie A.

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Benevento had had a rough season, their fans suffering through a European record of 14 consecutive defeats. In December 2017, they played the usually all-powerful AC Milan, who might have thought they’d won 1-2 – until Brignoli sprinted up to head in an equaliser in the 95th minute! Brignoli’s goal gave Benevento their first ever Serie A point, but he couldn’t prevent them from being relegated to Serie B at the end of the season, sadly.

Robinson, Schmeichel, and the modern record-breakers

Paul Robinson (above, top) is another keeper well known for having scored twice in his career – once for Leeds United, and once for Spurs. The Leeds goal – an injury time header in a League Cup game against Swindon – is the one described at the beginning of this post (he also saved a penalty in that match). Conversely, his goal for Spurs was from a free kick, lofted high and long to bounce over the head of the Watford keeper Ben Foster, who frankly didn’t stand a chance.

His goalscoring antics still make him a bit of a hero in both West Yorkshire and North London even now. In a recent interview with the official Spurs website, Robinson commented:

My goal for Leeds was probably a better goal because it was intentional. There was a lot of luck involved in my Spurs goal. As much as I would like to say I meant it, I can say that!

Robinson is one of only five goalkeepers to have scored in an English top-flight league game in the twenty-seven years since the Premier League began. The other four are Peter Schmeichel (below, who racked up an astonishing total of thirteen goals over the course of his long career), Brad Friedel, Tim Howard (the two Americans scoring once each, for Blackburn and Everton respectively), and Asimir Begovic (whose record-breaking goal for Stoke hit the back of his opposite number’s net after a mere 13 seconds).

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But these Premier League goal tallies are as nothing compared to those of some modern keepers elsewhere in the world. The all-time record is held by the Brazilian São Paulo FC stalwart Rogério Ceni (below), who eventually scored a jawdropping 131 goals over the course of a 25 year career, including 14 in the prestigious Copa Libertadores. That’s more than some strikers manage!

A long way behind Ceni, with a mere 67 goals, is José Luis Chilavert of Paraguay.  However, he is also the only professional goalkeeper who is known to have scored a hat-trick, which is a pretty impressive feat in its own right. René Higuita is another keeper to have scored an impressive number of goals, with a final tally of 41 for an equally impressive number of teams.

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Then there’s Hans-Jörg Butt, third choice Germany keeper at the turn of the millennium, who scored 32 goals in total during his career, and who holds the unusual record of being the only goalkeeper to score three times from the spot against Juventus – for three different teams. To make this record even odder, one of these penalties was against his fellow goalscoring goalie, Edwin van der Sar!

There are many more keepers who have hit the back of the net, but this blog post is long enough already. However, taking the subject to its logical conclusion, what about goalkeeper assists? There are plenty of those too – a few choice examples can be found here. In the Premier League, the ‘keeper who has been of most help to his goalscorers is…. oh look, it’s that Paul Robinson again, with five…

Many thanks to Sid, who not only suggested the topic of this post but also dug out some very useful source material for it!

Mascot Monday: Boilerman (West Brom)

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Welcome to a new series of posts designed to brighten up your Mondays! First off, we’re heading to West Brom to meet Boilerman, the hot water hero we didn’t know we needed. As aficionados of bonkers football mascots (and there are many out there), we here at ASRV absolutely love Boilerman – although we’re still trying to work out how he actually sees anything at all out of that suit…

Name: Boilerman

Club: West Bromwich Albion

Mascot since: 2018

Species: Er… a combi boiler. On legs. Wearing a cap.

Friends & Family: Baggie Bird (see photo below)

Social Media: Twitter, Facebook.

Notes: A promotional mascot for WBA sponsors Ideal Boilers, Boilerman was introduced to the fans at the Hawthorns in August 2018. He was an instant social media hit, discussed on both local and national news websites – and has even released his own clothing line (a first for a football mascot?).

Boilerman and Baggie Bird
Boilerman hanging out with his mate Baggie Bird.

If you’ve got any suggestions for future Mascot Mondays, let us know!


(George) Best of Both Worlds?

George Best - Pinterest screenshot

Algorithms. Dontcha just love them? Sometimes they do amazing things (like imaging black holes), and sometimes…. well, sometimes they get a little ahead of themselves (no, Twitter, we really don’t want to follow Piers Morgan).

We particularly liked this amusing instance of what can only be called algorithm confusion (above), found while we were updating the ASRV Pinterest recently (our Pinterest is definitely worth a look, btw. Lots and lots of amazing images from over a century of football).

Like many social media-type sites, Pinterest will suggest what it decides is the most relevant of your subject boards for each picture you save, but sometimes it gets it just a little bit wrong…

For example, you might assume that it would recommend filing a pic of the legendary footballing genius, bad boy and inveterate ladies man George Best on, say, the Football or Northern Ireland boards. We certainly did.

But if you look at the top right hand corner of the screenshot above, you’ll see that, according to the Pinterest algorithm, the most appropriate board for George is actually… guess what?

That’s right. Women’s Football.

Well, yes. And no. We’re still giggling.

We suspect Georgie Boy would definitely approve though…

ASRV on Pinterest

ASRV on Twitter

CB on Instagram


The Three v. The Six: A European Football Story

'The Three v The Six' programme front cover
‘The Three v The Six’ programme front cover

Long ago, way back even before the ASRV Editor was born, Britain joined the Common Market (the precursor to the European Union). To commemorate this momentous step forward in post-war international relations, how did we celebrate? That’s right, we arranged a football match…

With Brexit looming ever closer (or not, as the case may be), we thought it might be interesting to revisit this game forty-six years on – and maybe see how the football world reacted to our entry into Europe.

Held at Wembley Stadium on January 3rd 1973, this was a match between ‘The Three’, the countries who had just joined the Common Market (the UK, Ireland and Denmark), and ‘The Six’, the countries who were already members (West Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and France).

England 1966: England manager Sir Alf Ramsey
Manager of ‘The Three’, Sir Alf Ramsey

Some seriously famous names took to the Wembley pitch for both sides, including Bobby Charlton, Pat Jennings, Bobby Moore, Johnny Giles, Franz Beckenbauer, Dino Zoff, Berti Vogts, and Gerd Müller to name but a few.

‘The Three’ were managed by Sir Alf Ramsey, and ‘The Six’ by Helmut Schön (Ramsey’s German opposite number in the 1966 World Cup final). Interviewed about the match, Sir Alf refused to be drawn on the political side of things, commenting only that “[a]ll big Wembley occasions should be cherished”.

The players were equally vague about their views on the matter in a way that you’d never see today. Pat Jennings declared himself “really not interested” in the Common Market, and Alan Ball simply had concerns about “whether or not it will make my family’s summer holidays cheaper”.

Johnny Giles was more on message with an Irish viewpoint:

A small country like Ireland needs close business and trade links with other European nations, so I’m certainly in favour.

Their concerns were more with the game itself, obviously. But they needn’t have worried. Poor old Helmut Schön was on the losing side at Wembley again, as ‘The Three’ scored twice with no reply in the second half – the goals coming from Denmark’s Henning Jensen and Scotland’s Colin Stein. Quite a start to this new European adventure…

If you’d like to see those goals, here’s a newsreel snippet from the game:

Many thanks to Sid, who uncovered this unusual (and strangely relevant) match!

The Very Merry Mindstretching ASRV Christmas Football Quiz – The Answers!

Soccer ball

Apologies for the delay in posting these – we’re acutely aware it’s now March, and we should have done this weeks ago! Thank you to everyone who had a go at this quiz and has waited patiently for the results – we hope you enjoyed it and it kept your brains ticking over during the Christmas period…


1) These days, football at Christmas is usually associated with Boxing Day. That hasn’t always been the case though. In which year was a full league programme last played on Christmas Day itself in England?

1957 (a few games were played on Christmas Day of 1958, but not a full programme)

2) Santa is very real. Or, at least, FC Santa Claus is a very real football club with a very festive name. Which country are they from?


3) Which famous Argentinian goalscorer was equally festively nicknamed ‘El Ángel Gabriel’?

Gabriel Batistuta

4) What is another, more seasonal, name for the 4-3-2-1 formation?

The Christmas Tree

5) Historically, they are probably the best known and most successful of all the women’s football teams that came out of the munitions factories of World War One. They played (and won) their first match on Christmas Day 1917 in front of a crowd of ten thousand. Who were they?

The Dick, Kerr Ladies

6) There are numerous English teams that are (or have been) nicknamed ‘The Robins’. Can you name TWO of them?

Any two of these:


Bracknell Town

Bristol City

Carshalton Athletic

Charlton Athletic (no longer used)

Cheltenham Town

Evesham United

Ilkston FC

Swindon Town

7) In Scotland, you’ll find teams playing at grounds with names that sound like the kind of place you’d go to get your Christmas tree (yeah, we’re reaching!), such as Fir Park and Fir Hill. Which two clubs play at these grounds?

Motherwell and Partick Thistle respectively. This one stumped a lot of you!

8) If you need lights for your tree, you might want to head over to Sunderland, where they have a whole stadium of the stuff! However, there’s also another ‘Stadium of Light’, the Estádio da Luz. Where is it, and who plays there?

LisbonBenfica (there have actually been two stadiums known by this name in Lisbon over the decades).

9) Since there’s always a classic musical on the telly over Christmas, which TWO British teams are most closely associated with the song from the film and stage show Carousel, ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’?

Liverpool and Celtic

10) Another Christmas movie TV staple is Mary Poppins. Which legendary striker received this as a (not very flattering) nickname?

Alan Shearer


11) In January 2018, football lost the trailblazing West Brom legend Cyrille Regis, who sadly died aged only 59. At WBA in the late 1970s, Regis was known as one of the club’s ‘Three Degrees’. Who were the other two?

Laurie Cunningham and Brendon Batson

12) What was unusual about the FA Cup third round tie between Brighton & Hove Albion and Crystal Palace in January 2018?

The first competitive match in England to have VAR technology available. In the end, it wasn’t used.

13) By the end of the 2017-18 campaign, Manchester City had become the first club to score 100 points in a top flight season. Ten years earlier, Derby County set a more unwanted record for the fewest points scored in a season. How many points did Derby get in 2007-08?

Eleven points. That’s a whole 89 points fewer than City a decade later!

14) In the group stages of the 2017-18 UEFA Champions League, five cities had two clubs each in the draw. Which cities? (Bonus Point for the clubs too!)

The five cities were:

Lisbon (Benfica/Sporting CP)

London (Chelsea/Spurs)

Madrid (Atletico/Real)

Manchester (City/United)

Moscow (CSKA/Spartak)

15) Which legendary football commentator retired from the BBC in May 2018?

John Motson – the man who gave us our name. We love you, Motty!

16) In the 2018 World Cup, the fabulous Harry Kane scored a hat-trick in England’s 6-1 drubbing of Panama. Only one other hat-trick was scored at this World Cup. Who scored it?

Cristiano Ronaldo, in the 3-3 group stage draw between Portugal and Spain.

17) Who set (another) unwanted record, this time at the World Cup, for being the first player to score an own goal in the Final?

Croatia’s Mario Mandzukic.

18) In fact, a record number of own goals were scored in the tournament as a whole. How many?


19) If you follow us on Twitter, you’ll have seen us enthusing about the very excellent Homeless World Cup project back in November. In which city did it take place?

Mexico City

20) At the end of November 2018, Robbie Keane announced his retirement from football. After a long career going back to the late 1990s, he ends it as the Republic of Ireland’s all-time top scorer, and is still very much loved at numerous clubs. Including loan deals, how many different club sides did he play for at senior level?

Eleven in total.


Coventry City

Inter Milan

Leeds United (he also had a separate loan period here)


Celtic (loan)

West Ham (loan)

LA Galaxy

Aston Villa (loan)




21) You might be surprised to know that the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup (basically the American version of the FA Cup) is one of the oldest football cup competitions in the world. In which year did it begin?


22) Since the Premier League was founded in 1992, 49 different clubs have played in it. Which SIX of those clubs have, to date, never been relegated from the EPL?

The six clubs are:





Manchester United


(Aston Villa were also on this list until they were relegated to the Championship at the end of the 2015-16 season).

23) Of all the clubs who won the old First Division title in the pre-EPL era, only one has never played in the Premier League. Who are they?

Preston North End

24) During the 1997-98 Bundesliga season, which player became the first goalkeeper to score a goal from open play in that league?

Jens Lehmann

25) Which English Championship side was once famous for having a pub at every corner of their ground? (Bonus Point for the name of the ground too)

Brentford – Griffin Park

26) To date, only one non-English club has ever won the FA Cup. Who are they, and in which year did they win?

Cardiff City won in 1927, beating Arsenal in the final

27) One of the greatest of all the football legends, this player has been showered with accolades and awards for many years – including an honorary British knighthood. Who is he?

He is the revered Brazilian forward and sometime politician Pele. He received the honour from the Queen in 1997.

28) Who is (probably) the only footballer to have won an Oscar?

Neil Paterson (1915-1995). He played for Leith Athletic and Dundee United before becoming a writer and journalist. Won the Best Adapted Screenplay award at the 1959 Oscars for ‘Room At The Top’ (1958), which was taken from the novel of the same name by John Braine.

29) There is only one footballer on the famous Peter Blake-designed cover of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. Who was he?

Albert Stubbins, who played for Liverpool between 1946 and 1953.

30) The Italian Serie A side Juventus have long been famous for their distinctive black and white striped shirts, but which British club did they ‘borrow’ these colours from?

Notts County

So, how did you do…?