Arbroath 36–0 Bon Accord

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Event 1885–86 Scottish Cup
Date 12 September 1885
Venue Arbroath
Referee Dave Stormont

Arbroath 36–0 Bon Accord is the result of a football match between Arbroath and Bon Accord which took place on 12 September 1885. It held the largest margin of victory in professional football until the 31 October 2002 match between AS Adema and SO l'Emyrne, which was a thrown game.


Arbroath were drawn against Bon Accord in the first round of the Scottish Cup which was played on 12 September 1885. Although Arbroath were only founded seven years earlier in 1878 they were already vastly more experienced than Bon Accord who were only a year old. It has been previously stated that Bon Accord were really Orion Cricket Club, who had received the entry confirmation from the Scottish FA instead of Orion FC. However this is a total falsehood. Bon Accord had been formed in 1884 as a bona fide football club, while Orion FC were not formed until October 1885, well after the opening rounds of the Scottish Cup had been played. Another point was that all players taking part in the Scottish Cup had to be registered with the Scottish FA a month before the ties were played.

The name "Bon Accord" was used to commemorate the watchword that initiated the storming of the Castle of Aberdeen during the Wars of Scottish Independence. At the time, any Scottish-based team could enter the Cup without any previous experience. Today the requirements for entering senior competitions such as the Scottish Cup mean that the record is unlikely ever to be beaten.

A record breaking game[edit]

Bon Accord arrived allegedly for the match without any form of standard football kit, a portent of what was to follow. With the teams being so mismatched, it was likely that Arbroath would win easily, but even in those days when high scoring games were common the result was unprecedented.

Arbroath were 15–0 up by half time, and scored another 21 goals in the second half. The Scottish Athletic Journal at the time wrote The leather was landed between the posts 41 times, but five of the times were disallowed. Here and there, enthusiasts would be seen scoring sheet and pencil in hand, taking note of the goals as one would score runs at a cricket match."[1] Referee Dave Stormont later claimed that had he taken a harder line with the Aberdeen team, Arbroath could 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.[2] It was claimed that Arbroath goalkeeper Jim Milne Sr did not touch the ball in the entire game and spent some of the match sheltering from the rain under a spectator's umbrella.[3]

18-year-old John Petrie scored 13 goals, still the record for most goals scored in a senior tournament, although it was equalled by Archie Thompson when Australia beat American Samoa 31–0 on 11 April 2001 in a qualifier for the 2002 World Cup.

The unfortunate Bon Accord goal keeper on the day was Andrew Lornie. Normally he played centre forward position but went in goals when the regular keeper didn't turn up.

Unlikely coincidence[edit]

On the same day, 18 miles (29 kilometres) away in Dundee, Dundee Harp were also playing in the first round of the Scottish Cup against Aberdeen Rovers. Dundee Harp beat Aberdeen Rovers 35–0. The referee noted 37 goals, but Harp’s secretary suggested a miscount must have occurred as he had recorded only 35. The match official, acknowledging it was difficult for him to keep accurate details during such a deluge of goals, accepted the lower tally and wired the official score of 35–0 to the Scottish Football Association headquarters.[4]

Dundee Harp full back Tom O’Kane was an ex-Arbroath player and persuaded the Dundee club’s officials to send a telegram to his former colleagues at Gayfield Park boasting of his team’s record breaking achievement. The Harp players and officials were not to know, however, that Arbroath had, on that same afternoon, actually gone one better against another unfortunate Aberdeen side. On receiving the Harp telegram, Arbroath officials took great delight in sending a reply boasting of the Angus side’s superior achievement. Both parties had a good laugh over the exchange of messages, each believing the other was playing a humorous trick. It was only when O’Kane arrived back in Arbroath on the late Saturday evening train that he discovered the truth. Locals were quick to tell him that the Arbroath result was no joke and Harp’s record-breaking claim was about to be lost. The following morning, O'Kane got up early and jogged the 18 miles (29 kilometres) along the coast to Dundee to alert Harp officials to the situation. The Dundonians now seriously regretted correcting the referee’s account of the goal tally.[citation needed]


In the following rounds of the Scottish Cup, Arbroath beat local rivals Forfar Athletic 9–1 in the second round, Dundee East End 7–1 in the third round before losing 5–3 to Hibernian in the fourth round, scoring a total of 55 goals in that season's Scottish Cup.[5] Two years later, on 3 September 1887, Arbroath played against the 'real' Orion F.C. in the Scottish Cup with a 20–0 win to Arbroath. Bon Accord competed in the Scottish Cup again in 1891 and 1903. In order to prevent such mis-matches occurring the SFA introduced the Scottish Qualifying Cup in 1895, making high scoring matches a rarity in the modern game.[citation needed]

To celebrate the historic achievement of the scoreline, the Angus MSP Andrew Welsh tabled a motion in the Scottish Parliament.[6]

In December 2000 Romanian side Carpati Mirsa beat Avintul Dirlos 41–0 but the result was not ratified as it was not in a professional competition, so Arbroath maintained their record.[7]

The record for highest victory in a senior football competition was set on 31 October 2002 when the Malagasy club AS Adema beat SO l'Emyrne 149-0 in the national championship. SOE scored own goals throughout the match as a protest to a referee decision in a prior match.[8]

Match details[edit]

12 September 1885
Arbroath 36–0 Bon Accord
GK Jim Milne Sr
DF Bill Collie
DF Tom Salmond
DF Hen Rennie
DF Jim Milne Jr
DF Dyken Bruce
MF John Petrie
MF Johnny Tackett
FW Jim Marshall
FW David Crawford
FW Daniel Neil

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ A day when Scottish football scorched the record books The Scotsman, retrieved 14 July 2007
  2. ^ Arbroath FC Official History Arbroath FC, retrieved 14 July 2007
  3. ^ Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside Sunday Herald, retrieved 14 July 2007
  4. ^ Goals,Goals,Goals, retrieved 14 July 2007
  5. ^ Scottish Cup results 1885–86, retrieved 14 July 2007
  6. ^ Scottish Parliament business bulletin 8 December 2000 Scottish Parliament, retrieved 14 July 2007
  7. ^ Arbroath retain world record BBC Sport, retrieved 14 July 2007
  8. ^

External links[edit]