My least favourite game: our writers pick out their worst football matches

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Hull 0-0 Blackburn, Premier League (December 2009)

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The last train from Hull to London leaves at 6.20 PM. I was unaware of this while sitting in the KC Stadium media lounge on a chilly night. And so, despite walking headlong to the station, I missed. This was an era before hotels were invented, and in any case I was new to this business and unwilling to test a company expense account. So I took a train to Doncaster, got straight to the bus station, and waited. And waited some more. In fact until 4 a.m., when a National Express coach for London finally arrived. I finally reached home at 9 in the morning. Play? Hull 0-0 Blackburn. Phil Brown yelled about the referee. Sam Allardyce chased down one of his players for not going down the field. I wrote 300 words. It’s a ridiculous job, really. Jonathan Lew

Sweden 0-0 Turkey, Euro 2000 (June 2000)


While working at my first UK football journalism job, I managed to convince the editor that I was the right man to send Euro 2000. It was my first (and, as it turned out, last) big tournament and my excitement level was high. One of the games I was given was Sweden vs Turkey in Eindhoven. Both sides had lost their opening games (to Belgium and Italy), so it felt like it should be a win-win game for both – but what followed was no less. I wasn’t the only one saved from the terrible fare on offer. “Sweden vs Turkey ended 0-0 in a game that didn’t even deserve it He,” Lasse Granqvist said on Swedish radio. I apologize for using that word here, because he is misusing the meaning of that word.” Marcus Christensen

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Czech Republic 1-0 Scotland, Euro 2012 Qualifier (October 2010)

Craig Levine persists with his problem stemming from the leaking of team information by disgruntled players. That, in the lead-up to Scotland’s conflict with the Czech Republic, it was unclear whether the manager would deploy the now infamous 4-6-0 formation, the reaction being nowhere near as fierce. Levine has a point – and several major clubs and national sides have played without an out-and-out striker over the years. Nevertheless, it was a demoralizing night for the followers of Scotland. Against an average team, Scotland basically advertised their lack of ambition. The attacking midfielder looked ahead and could see no focal point. It was at a time when qualifying for a major tournament seemed an unattainable dream, but we all wanted Scotland to go down swinging to challenge at least limited opposition. Levine can laugh about the episode now; At that time no one was smiling. Ivan Murray

Czech players celebrate their winner in Prague as fans from Scotland reflect on their decision to travel. Photo: Joe Chalmers/AFP/Getty Images

Argentina 0-1 Portugal Friendly (November 2014)

You want to know why the League of Nations was welcomed? Step back in time on a chilly night at Old Trafford. We arrived in Manchester Piccadilly at lunchtime and were greeted by a man selling a half-and-half scarf to Lionel Messi/Cristiano Ronaldo from a sports bag, which perfectly explained the thunder of the occasion. It was the most meaningless of meaningless friendships that seemed like no team wanted to be. One match that briefly changed the audience was a training session in which the star pair paid people through the nose to see both of them at half-time. Rafael Guerreiro’s last-minute winner was Portugal’s first shot on goal and did little to melt frozen and bored fans. International Friendship mainly sucks, and it was particularly bad, pumped up with spurious connotations. andy brassel

Racing Santander 0-1 Valladolid, La Liga (August 2002)

As a depressed teenage football hipster, I agreed to attend a family vacation in northern Spain on the condition that we went to a match somewhere. It just so happened that we were in town for the season opener of racing in El Sardinero. After a tense taxi ride amidst rush-hours traffic, we settled into our €20 seats just in time to watch the newly-promoted hosts kick the ball around with little aim. Half time has come and gone. The drums of the militants in the house gradually subsided, as if a local man in front of us was whispering his cigar incessantly. To the delight of the 50 away fans in attendance, nothing else happened until the spectators scored with the last kick. Everyone else just shuffled, tossing us comfortably up the taxi rank. It was a 45 minute walk from our hotel. Sorry mom and dad. Niall McVeigh

England 0-0 Argentina, friendly (February 2000)

As a Plymouth Argyle supporter, this sounds like a particularly taxing request. There was a 4-1 real low at Macclesfield in April 2000 … the first home game under Peter Shilton in 1994 … every match against Wycombe, ever. But they still pale in comparison to traveling from Leeds to see this tough excuse for an international at Wembley. David Lacey’s account feels far more upbeat, but then his experience may not have been booked by a pre-match pub near Baker Street, which was marred by controversy and ransacked by police, and Wembley. The delay in the journey back from home had resulted in the missing the last train, a slow post-midnight crawl to Peterborough, falling asleep (with one eye open – not fully trusting the other person at 3 a.m.) on a freezing platform. , first jumping on the train north and then crawling into bed for a brief doze before work . James Darte

Kevin Keegan with Dennis Wise
Kevin Keegan with Dennis Wise, who got a nice memento from at least one very dull friendly. Photo: Offside/Getty Images

GB and Ireland 3-1 at Rest of the World, charity match (November 2015)

Yes, this “match for kids” raised money for UNICEF, but if charity records can be slated, so can self-indulgent charity football matches. At Old Trafford, Bax, Giggy, Scolesey, Butty and Phil Neville beat opponents including Ronaldinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjor a match so back-slap This made Soccer Ed look like an old firm title decider. The timing was also unfortunate – the previous night had seen the horrors of the terrorist attack in Paris, and Zinedine Zidane had decided not to play. “Being French, he hit her very hard,” Beckham said. Still, the show should go on, but as Andrea Bocelli and Rita Ora sang, and Brand Beckham was hard-washed, it all felt clearly inappropriate. All players wore tracksuits with Beckham’s name and his number seven motif. Even Brooklyn got a runout for Daddy, who then found himself back in those caverns of sly laughs that were only heard during Wimbledon fortnight. john bruvin

Liverpool 0-1 Leicester, Premier League (April 1999)

Enfield is a special place under the lights, isn’t it? Not on this night. It was a serious spectacle, played almost in silence, while Liverpool fans watched as their team reached a new low. Not only were they outplayed by Martin O’Neill’s Leicester, but nothing remotely positive, and there was no clear sense of where the club was going under Gerard Hallier. Michael Owen and Robbie Fowler were injured and Liverpool’s only hope was Steve McMann, whose head was already in Madrid. It almost sounded comical when Ian Marshall, a former Everton defender in his mid-30s, trampled through a porous defense. Whip the winner home at the last minute, Worst of all, it was also the night Manchester United beat Juventus in Turin to keep their treble hopes alive. Context is everything. Greg Bukowski

Brentford 5-0 Preston, Championship (September 2016)

Much has been talked about Old Griffin Park, given the unique proximity of the fan-friendly watering hole at the site. I was feeling the need for a drink or two after watching then-Preston manager Simon Grayson perform “Kamikaze”. The intense frustration was compounded by missed chances and late injuries, leaving the audience with 10 men. Four goals were scored in the last 15 minutes in a comical defense, including A Goal of Yourself by Chris Humphrey Those who were given their cards by the club within months. When my colleague Barry Glendening texted me, getting back on the Tube wasn’t easy. “You’re going to need a few pins in each corner to forget it.” Ouch. Tony Paley

Preston's Tom Clark called for an answer after Brentford scored his fifth at Griffin Park.
Preston’s Tom Clark called for an answer after Brentford scored his fifth at Griffin Park. Photograph: Dan Istitin/Getty Images

England 1-1 Romania, Friendly (October 1994)

Like everyone who goes into football, I’ve seen something completely gross. But at 43, I can safely conclude that the excitement I feel every time – no matter how bad the match – will never leave me, so my worst has nothing to do with the actual game. Not there. Shortly after the United States World Cup, Romania visits Wembley – I was 15 years old and never went to a match without my dad; Nor have I ever visited England, despite growing up within walking distance of the Twin Towers. It wasn’t by chance: I was a fanatic about Manchester United and being Jewish, the national team didn’t seem to mind me. However, I wanted to enjoy Gheorghe Hagi, Ili Dumitrescu and my cigarette, so a partner and I bought tickets. When God Save the Queen arrived, many of the fans around us gave a Nazi salute and circled heels as if it were the most natural thing to do. We laughed – what else could we do? – but it stuck with me. In the 28 years since, I have seen England twice – both times from the far end. Daniel Harris


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