Arbroath 36 – 0 Bon Accord – Saturday 12th September 1885
133 Years ago today something very special happened which went on to be part of our club’s rich history.
The result which has never been beaten in association football was equalled on 13th July 2015 when FC Infonet beat amateur side Virtsu Jalgpalliklubi 36–0 in a 2015–16 Estonian Cup match, equalling Arbroath’s 130 year old record for the largest margin of victory.
I wonder what they would all think of the modern game? How would they have got on with today’s athletes? Would they recognise Gayfield?
As we look back and celebrate that day, who better to take us on a trip down memory lane than by journalist and author Fraser Clyne.
The 36-0 Team by Fraser Clyne
Thirteen goal hero John Petrie may be the best remembered player from Arbroath’s famous 36-0 thumping of Aberdeen side Bon Accord in a Scottish Cup tie in 1885, but the other ten members of that legendary Red Lichties team are also worthy of their places in the club’s Hall of Fame. But, how many of them can you name?
The goalkeeper was Jim Milne senior, also known as “auld Milne”, or “the eagle-eyed man between the sticks” as he was once described.
There was so little for Milne to do on that rainy day that he borrowed an umbrella from a friend in the crowd. to keep dry.
Bill Collie and Tom Salmond were the full backs, while Hen Rennie, Jim Milne junior and Dyken Bruce (scorer of the Lichties first ever goal in 1878) made up the half back line.
Young Milne was particularly noted for his heading ability and it was said that “he could at any time head a ball as far as any football players could kick it”.
Petrie, one of many Arbroath players who joined the club from local rivals Strathmore, tormented the Aberdonians down the right wing, while Johnny Tackett, Jim Marshall, David Crawford and Jim Buick were the other forwards.
The result remains a world record score for a senior match, while Petrie’s individual striking feat is also recognised as the highest by one man in a single game.
The final tally could, however, have been much more had referee Dave Stormont taken a harder line with the Aberdeen team. Many years later he revealed that the Lichties could actually have won 43-0.
Stormont said: “My only regret was that I chalked off seven goals, for while they may have looked doubtful from an offside point of view, so quickly did the Maroons carry the ball from midfield, and so close and rapid was their passing, that it was very doubtful whether they could be offside”.
There were no goal nets in these days and some olds diehards claimed Arbroath could have notched up a few more goals had it not been for the time wasted in retrieving the ball after every goal was scored. That would seem a little greedy.
Incredibly, however, on the same day that Arbroath rattled 36 goals past Bon Accord, less than 20 miles away Dundee Harp thrashed Aberdeen Rovers 35-0.
That’s well known. What’s less familiar, however, is that but for a misjudgement by their own officials, the Dundee side could have claimed the world record for themselves. At the end of the game, the referee told Harp’s committee that it had been difficult for him to keep count of the goals, but he thought it was 37.
The Dundee men admitted, however, that they had recorded ‘just’ 35 goals. The referee accepted their version and telegraphed the official result through to the SFA as 35-0.
It was only afterwards, when the Harp officials heard of the Arbroath score, that they regretted their honesty!
Arbroath defeated Forfar 9-0 and Dundee’s East End 7-1 in the following two rounds of the Cup before going down 5-3 to Hibernian in the fourth round. The Lichties played 42 games in all that season, winning 26 and losing 11. They scored an incredible 178 goals and conceded 81.
Article contributed by Fraser Clyne author of The History of Arbroath Football Club