World football

Ian Plenderleith discovers a brave new world of websites

If you only buy World Soccer to pore over results and league tables from impossibly distant lands, but despair that the scores are usually two months old, then help is at hand. The website of the Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation is a football statistician’s wet dream of both archived and bang up to date results and standings from anywhere in the world where a football is kicked in earnest.

It’s difficult to do justice here to such a valuable resource for trivia freaks like myself, but in a mere few minutes of scouring I came across the following: the fact that Leicester City are the 488th most successful side in the UEFA Cup, four places behind FC Vaduz of Liechtenstein; the head-to-head stats of all games played between Egypt and Norway; the realisation that Scotland really did once make it to the final of a major international tournament – in 1967 they lost to Austria 2-1 in the final of the European Amateur Championship; Eleven Men In Flight have just been relegated in Swaziland; Lincoln were once national champions five times in a row – in Gibraltar; and Inter Bom-Bom reign supreme in Sao Tome e Principe..

If it were not for this wondrous website, I would know nothing of the dangers of being on the pitch during an Argentine league game, where last season a game between Instituto and Rosario was abandoned just 35 seconds in “after linesman was hit by object”. A clash between Newell’s Old Boys and Boca Juniors lasted quarter of an hour before “two clamour bombs were drop­ped into the playground”.

If you ever make it off here (although many of you will never want to leave), you could follow its link to the Unofficial Football Site of Albanian Football Since 1913. So now we know, Al Gore’s claim to have invented the internet was a lie – it was King Zog, and Enver Hoxha ensured that it stayed a well-kept secret. Anyway, you won’t find much there except some pretty Albanian club badges, which reminded me of my 1972 Esso club badge ­collection. Go one page further and you can view the logos from the ­communist era, including one for Traktori Lushnjë that seems to resemble a giant lunar vehicle, and one or two fine examples of Stalinist-realist club badge artwork.

As we’re on an international theme this month, I couldn’t resist one last visit to the website for the England 2006 World Cup Bid. Alas, it seems that the homepage was abandoned so quickly that no one even hung around to post the news that the self-appointed Home Of Football didn’t make the second round of voting. There’s a certain comic value in reading the gung-ho press releases in retrospect, and a particular poignancy to the last posted “news” bulletin, where Wor Bobby Charlton lauds Oceania fall-guy Charles Dempsey for his “unwavering support” for the English bid. So unwavering that once his favourites got knocked out, poor Mr Dempsey simply couldn’t think who else was ­possibly worth voting for.

From WSC 163 September 2000. What was happening this month