“Bayern Munich have just won their 10th successive Bundesliga,” writes Maggie Phillips. “Is this a European or even a world record?”
Bayern’s 3-1 win over Borussia Dortmund on Saturday sealed their 10th consecutive German title. It was the first time that a team in one of Europe’s big leagues has won 10 in a row – the closest before that was Juventus, who won nine on the bounce before walking into Antonio Conte last season.
We think the world record belongs to Talea FC of the Oceanic island Vanuatu, who won the Port Vila Premier League for 15 consecutive seasons from 1994 to 2008-09. Amicale FC rose to the not inconsiderable challenge and won the title in each of the next six seasons, though Tafea FC eventually clambered back atop their perch in 2018-19.
The European record is shared by Skonto FC of Latvia and Lincoln Red Imps of Gibraltar. Both won 14 titles in a row, Skonto FC between 1991 and 2004 and Lincoln Red Imps from 2003 to 2016.
What happened next? Skonto’s coach Aleksandrs Starkovs, who was in charge for the last 12 of those 14 titles, left for Spartak Moscow and took Skonto’s aura with him. FK Ventspils won the league in each of the next three seasons, and though Skonto were champions again in 2010, the club went bankrupt and was dissolved in 2016. Lincoln Red Imps, meanwhile, finished a point behind Europa FC in a relentless 2016-17 title race. They dropped only nine points all season, and scored 100 goals in 27 games, but it wasn’t enough. They’ve won the title in four of the five subsequent seasons, though.
Al-Faysali (Jordan, 1959-66, 1970-74*), Rosenborg (Norway, 1992-2004) and Bate Borisov (Belarus, 2006-18) all won 13 in a row, and the nouveau riche Bulgarian side Ludogorets have just claimed their 11th on the spin. You can see the rest of the list at RSSSF.
Since you asked, the record for consecutive titles in England is a modest three. Huddersfield Town (1923-26) were the first to achieve that feat, followed by Arsenal (1932-35), Liverpool (1981-84) and Manchester United (1998-2001 and 2006-09).
* There was no competition from 1967-69, presumably because of the impact of the Six-Day War.
Two hat-tricks in one game
This has happened multiple times, too often to cite every instance here, but the question about the match ball is interesting. The consensus among our readership is that it is traditionally given to either the first person to score three goals or the one whose hat-trick made everyone feel the warmest and fuzziest. In reality, there are usually enough balls to go round.
“There is a recent example of this from everyone’s favorite club, PSG,” writes Daniel Herlihy. “A few weeks ago they beat Clermont Foot 6-1, with Kylian Mbappé and Neymar splitting the goals. Shortly after full-time, PSG posted a video on their social media accounts of both players coming down the tunnel with a match ball in their hands.”
“In 1983-84, Southampton beat Coventry 8-2 at the Dell, with hat-tricks from Steve Moran and Danny Wallace,” writes Chris Fowler. “I’m not certain who got the match ball. It may have been Wallace, as it was, I think, his first hat-trick, while Moran already had at least one.” That is indeed what happened, though only after a polite dressing-room intervention.
“There have been two Football League matches where not only two but three different players have scored hat-tricks,” adds Mike Price. “In March 1962, Wrexham beat Hartlepool United 10-1 in the old Fourth Division. Future Newcastle star Wyn Davies, Ron Barnes and Roy Ambler each scored three. In November 1987, in the old Division Two, Manchester City beat Huddersfield Town by the same score. Tony Adcock, Paul Stewart and David White were the treble scorers.” There’s a good yarn here about what happened to the match ball(s) in the Manchester City game.
From Maine Road in the 1980s to Deepdale in the 1990s. “I was there when this happened in Division Three in 1995-96,” says Michael France. “Preston beat Mansfield 6-0 with hat-tricks from Andy Saville and Steve Wilkinson (recently signed from Mansfield). Wilkinson claims he received the actual match ball because he scored his hat-trick first and the chairman found a second one for Saville. This article from the Lancashire Evening Post has more details.”
There are some interesting stories of players on both sides scoring a hat-trick. “In September 1982, Reading lost 7-5 at Doncaster Rovers,” writes Jon Keen. “Reading striker Kerry Dixon got four, but Ian Snodin – who scored just three goals for Doncaster – kept the match ball. Whether it was the home team’s choice who got it, or whether it was because Snodin got his hat-trick first, isn’t recorded. But the sense of injustice remains with me the best part of 40 years later.”
The late show
“Have two teams in the top flight ever played the first of their home and away matches against each other as late as May? Villa and Burnley are yet to play each other in the Premier League this season and are scheduled to play on 7 May and 19 May,” notes David Tanner.
We feared this question would go unanswered, so hats off to Martin Jackson, Aaron Grierson and Steve Williams for remembering an unusual fixture pile-up 34 years ago. “In 1988, Luton v Nottingham Forest was played on Friday 13 May and Forest v Luton was played on Sunday 15 May,” writes Martin. “Both matches ended 1-1. The FA Cup final (Wimbledon 1-0 Liverpool) was played on the Saturday.”
Steve points out that all the other teams in the division had finished their league campaign before the first meeting between Luton and Forest. Look at this peculiar league table. That’s because, unlike Villa v Burnley this season, both fixtures were rearranged. The match at the City Ground, originally scheduled for 28 November, was postponed because of fog. The return game at Kenilworth Road, which should have been played on 23 April, was put back because Luton were playing Arsenal in a classic Littlewoods Cup final the following day.
Luton also reached the Full Members’ Cup final and the FA Cup semi-final, so they had to cram their last seven league games into a 16-day period. In fact, they were one game away from being an answer to last week’s lead question.
“Has a goalkeeper ever been sent off during a penalty shootout?” wondered Olumide Hassan in 2007.
Hats off to Tommy Tucker, who discovered that Botswana goalkeeper and captain Modiri Marumo was sent off during a Castle Cup shootout against Malawi in May 2003. Having been booked for time-wasting before Malawi scored their third spot-kick, Marumo “reacted to a pat on the shoulder from opposite number Philip Nyasulu by punching him in the face and got a red card”. Malawi went on to win 4-1 and reach the semi-finals.
“I overreacted in an exchange of words between myself and my counterpart,” admitted Marumo. It’s also happened since our original story, too.
Can you help
“In the Chelsea v Arsenal game last week, there was mention of Arsenal fielding the most English players in their XI since 2001. That made me wonder: when was the last time a top-flight match started with 22 English players on the field? ” asks Lino Di Lorenzo.
“Newcastle obtained 44 Premier League points in 2017-18, 45, 44 and 45 again last season. So far in 2021-22 they have 43 points from 34 games, but as three of their last four games are against teams in the top four, they could yet end up with 44 or 45 points. Has a club ever shown greater consistency?” ask Steve Gillard.
“Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic has scored against 19 of the 23 Championship clubs this season, and he may make it 20 if he scores against Bournemouth on Saturday. What is the most clubs that a player has scored against in a season? Has anyone scored against them all?” asks Philip Rebbeck.