Has the goal of the season ever been scored on the opening day?

Guardian sport on 15 May 2019

“What is the earliest goal scored in a league season that went on to win goal of the season?” wonders Tom Kingsbury. “Similarly for individual club goal of the season winners, has there been a winner from the first goal/match?”

“A quick Wikipedia reveals that Gerry Francis (possibly) used the powers bestowed on him by his glorious mullet to win goal of the season in 1975-76 with an opening-day strike for eventual league runners-up QPR against eventual league winners Liverpool in a 2-0 victory,” writes Mike Coxon.

“In terms of club goals of the season, I’d be amazed if David Beckham didn’t win it for Manchester United in 1996-97 for his opening-day strike against Wimbledon. You might have seen videos of it replayed from time to time …” Trevor Sinclair and his overhead FA Cup madness actually beat him to the Beeb’s prize – and the Premier League didn’t start handing out an award until 20 years later.

Emmanuel Adebayor won the BBC award for his goal for Arsenal against Spurs in September 2007, Chris Soley tells us. “The quality of goals effectively peaked, in that sense, just five games into the season. Tony Yeboah’s thriker against Wimbledon in 1995-96 was also in September of that season but slightly later.”

Further afield, the MLS goal of the year in 2018 was won by a familiar name – Zlatan Ibrahimovic – in the fourth week of the season. What’s more, the Swedish striker’s long-range volley was scored on his LA Galaxy debut, having signed the week before.

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A lot, but not enough

“Liverpool ended the season with a nine-game winning run and didn’t win the Premier League; what are the longest season-ending winning runs by a team that didn’t finish in first place?” asks Derek McHugh.

Dirk Maas brings us an Ajax hard luck story: “In 2011-12 a run of 14 consecutive victories in the last 14 matches took Ajax from sixth place to the title. They did the same two seasons earlier – 14 victories in the last 14 matches – but fell short: 85 points weren’t enough to claim to the title because FC Twente finished on 86 points.” Steve McClaren’s FC Twente, to use their full name.

Late-starting

“Sergio Ramos, Lukas Podolski and Landon Donovan are some of the youngest players to reach 100 caps, but they all started young,” writes Matthew Reid. “Who is the centurion with the latest starting point? For example, is there anyone who made their international debut at 27 and went on to reach triple figures?”

“Devastatingly close was Durrant Brown, who travelled to the 1998 World Cup with Jamaica (but didn’t play once at France ’98),” begins Chris Charlton-Mathews. “Brown was born on 8 July 1964, meaning that when he made his international debut against Puerto Rico on 23 May 1992, he was 27 years and 319 days old. When he retired, just over six years later, he had amassed 102 caps. This record comes with a small caveat; two of those games were against Sint Maarten and one was against Martinique, neither of whom are Fifa members, so if we discount these as full internationals Brown comes up agonisingly short.” Steve Hyde also flagged up Brown and his cap breakdown.

Shannon Boxx (No 7), pictured after Marta scored in the 2007 World Cup semi-final between USA and Brazil.
Shannon Boxx (No 7), pictured after Marta scored in the 2007 World Cup semi-final between USA and Brazil. Photograph: Greg Baker/AP

Ben Cordes has an offering with no caveats. “On the women’s side, I propose Shannon Boxx of the USA,” he writes. “Born on 29 June 1977, she was first capped on 1 September 2003, which puts her at 26 years and 64 days old. She eventually won 195 caps, well ahead of the most-capped male player but not even close to the top of the women’s charts.”

Knowledge archive

“Who is the most capped England player never to have played an international at Wembley?” asked Mark Oliver back in 2009.

Bob Crompton is a Blackburn legend first and foremost – the slug-moustachioed defender played 528 games for the club over a 24-year period in the early 1900s, going on to manage the club twice and dying while still in office in 1941 – but he also made his mark on the international scene, playing 41 times for England between 1902 and 1914. Those 41 caps represent a record: not one of them was awarded for a game at Wembley, the stadium of course not being built until 1923.

Now that, ladies and gentlemen, is some statistic. And not one The Knowledge can take the credit for, either. It comes courtesy of Nick Kaye, who adds: “Of modern players, Danny Mills played 19 times while the new Wembley was being constructed.” The construction of the modern Wembley also meant Sven-Goran Eriksson became the only England manager never to have sent a team out at the famous stadium: each and every one of his 67 games in charge between 2001 to 2006 were played during Wembley’s building-site days.

For thousands more questions and answers look through our archive.

Can you help?

“This season’s Champions League final will be contested by two teams who have gone a combined 87 years without a domestic league trophy,” notes Paul Hawkins. “What’s the longest ever gap between a team winning a domestic and a European title?”

“Zenit St Petersburg recently became the new Russian champions,” mails Sergey Grishechkin. “However, their striker Alexander Kokorin has spent the last six months in custody and now been given an 18-month jail sentence for hooliganism. Will this be the first case of an imprisoned footballer receiving a winner’s medal?”

“I notice Real Madrid have worn Adidas kits since the late 1990s,” writes Rashaad Jorden. “What’s the longest that a major club has continuously worn kits made by the same manufacturer?”

“Ajax were leading Spurs for some 165 minutes out of the 180 minutes in their Champions League semi-final, yet did not go through: has any team ever led a two-legged tie for longer and not won it?” wonders Alan Reid.

“Each of Bayern Munich’s 12 Bundesliga titles in the past 19 years have been decided at away grounds,” explains Florian Kinast, noting that this could change on Saturday. “Has any club had a longer streak?”

“In the 1954-55 season, St Helens Town were promoted from the Lancashire Combination Division Two to Division One despite finishing 18th out of 20 teams, because so many other teams left the league to join the new Northern Premier League,” recalls Declan Howden. “Is a team finishing 18th and still being promoted a record?”

“Following a journey down yet another Wikipedia rabbit hole I ended up on the page for the Forfarshire Cup (as you do) and found a remarkable result from the second ever final in the 1884-85 season,” reports Darren Jalland. “The first match between Dundee Harp and Strathmore ended in a 2-2 draw. The replay was a slightly less tight affair, ending in a 15-1 victory to Dundee Harp. Can anyone else find a replay result with such a large victory?”

• Email your questions and answers to knowledge@theguardian.com or tweet @TheKnowledge_GU.

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