Wednesday 31 December 2014

Small beer

Remember rosettes?
As someone who used to set pub quizzes, I stumbled on a lovely question the other day. In what year was the Penalty Shootout first introduced into English football and who scored the first goal?

Anyone who remembers The Watney Cup* would tell you that in 1970, prior to the first Semi-Final between Hull City and Manchester Utd, it had been announced that, in the event of a stalemate, the match would be decided by spot kicks. This, taken from the programme notes:

Drawn games in The Watney Cup will be decided by penalties. Both sides will be given five chances to score. The Watney Cup will be the first tournament to introduce this method of deciding drawn games. EUFA & FIFA have now agreed to use it in forthcoming European and World Cup games. As league secretary Alan Hardaker says: 'It will be good to settle something by pure football.'
 The Scaffold: pretending to like Watneys

Alex Stepney (United's goalkeeper) could be as vital to Manchester United as George Best when it comes to scoring goals. As Alan Hardaker says: 'It will be good to get a few goals from goalkeepers. Gimmicks used to encourage the scoring of goals are good for the game.' 
George Best arriving at Boothferry Park

Not sure about that, even forty five years on. And, a couple of seasons later, this short lived competition introduced another 'gimmick'. A variation to the offside rule which meant you could only be given off side if you were goal-hanging in the 18 yard box.

The programme notes go on to say: That's what the game is all about. Putting the ball in the net. But not many people in soccer with the exception of Watneys, of course, can guarantee goals.

Hull City v Manchester Utd: Wednesday 15 August 1970
1-1 after 90 minutes
Man Utd won 4-3 on penalties
George Best was the first player to score a penalty
Denis Law was the first to miss a penalty
And Ian McKechnie, Hull City's goalie, was the first keeper to save a penalty (though he did miss at the other end, thus gifting the tie to Man. Utd.)

* The Watney Cup was a pre-season tournament played out between eight teams  - the top two scoring clubs from each of the four divisions who had not qualified for Europe or been promoted. Hull City had scored 72 in the Second Division, Man. Utd. 66 in the First. It was also the first sponsored competition of its kind.


  1. Well I'm afraid I only understood one bit of that, which was the part about "putting the ball in the net"...

    But really I just came here to wish you and yours a very happy New Year!

  2. Thank you C. I don't write that many football stories; usually they're not as impenetrable as this one which talks about offside, goal-hanging and Hull City.

    Yes, you have a great New Year celebration too - our friends from next door and over the road will be beating a path to the door of Medd Towers shortly, so I'd best go and find my new Nelson Mandela shirt, blow the cobwebs off the bottles of Moet and dig out some choons. See you in '15.