“Hallelujah FC, who were the first professional club in South Korea, won the inaugural K-League in 1983,” writes Kári Tulinius. “Two years later they had ceased to be professional, and continued as an amateur club until 1998, when they were dissolved. Despite the name, they were never resurrected. Has any professional club been permanently dissolved so soon after being champion?”
It turns out there are plenty of examples of champions who have tumbled into oblivion in double-quick time. “There are quite a few in Eastern Europe and the Baltic states,” writes Jack Mey. “Unirea Urziceni won the league title in Romania in 2009. By the end of the 2010-11 season, they had been relegated and were subsequently wound up. In Estonia, Lantana Tallinn won the league title twice, in 1996 and 1997. The club was disbanded in 1999. Over the border in Latvia, FK Vindava from the city of Ventspils, won the Latvian Championship in 2007 before being dissolved in 2009. FK Ekranas were one of Lithuania’s most successful clubs, they won the last of seven titles in 2012 and were wound up in 2014.”
John Morrow takes us to the Emerald Isle. “It has been a regular occurrence in the volatile League of Ireland, especially in Cork, where the predominance of Dublin clubs in the league meant crippling travel expenses. Cork United emerged in 1940 after the dissolution of Cork City (a separate entity to the current League of Ireland members) and took the league by storm, winning three consecutive titles and adding two more in 1945 and 1946. A mere two years later, however, and they too were gone. Dolphin were a Dublin club who won the title in 1935 but resigned in 1937, unable to compete with the more established city clubs.”
Dean Whearty has another League of Ireland example. “Sporting Fingal – founded in 2007 and dissolved in 2011 – had 965 days between their first and last match. In that time, they won the domestic cup, won promotion to the top division (finishing fourth in their one and only season) and lost a dramatic Europa League tie 6-4 to Maritimo.”
It would appear the US is also a hotbed for champions who fell hard and fast. “Kansas City Spurs, founding members of the NASL, won the championship in 1969, having the best record in the second part of the season. They folded in 1970,” recalls Stephen Moffit. “In 1983, Tulsa Roughnecks were 2-0 winners of the Soccer Bowl against the Toronto Blizzard. The NASL, of course, folded in 1984. The Roughnecks played friendlies for one more season before ceasing to exist.”
But Dave Mellinger can offer us two champion clubs who disappeared so quickly their crowning wins were mere whispers in the wind. “In 2009 in the top tier of US WPS, the Los Angeles Sol won the regular season, which ended on 9 August. This being the States, there was also a playoff winner, but we’ll ignore them for now. Before the next season started, the team was dissolved – on 28 January 2010, only 172 days later. The Sol were tortoises, however, compared to what happened next. The following season, FC Gold Pride won the playoff championship on 26 September 2010 – they had won the regular season shortly before – and folded, never to be resurrected, on 16 November of the same year. That’s a hare-like 51 days between the championship and dissolution.”
Mind the gap
“Edwin van der Sar won the Champions League with Ajax in 1995 and Manchester United in 2008. Has any other player had a longer gap between winning the same major trophy?” asks Todd Bonzalez.
Geoff Edwards has found another former Manchester United goalkeeper who can pip Van der Sar: “Jimmy Rimmer was (an admittedly unused) substitute to Alex Stepney in 1968 and Aston Villa’s No 1 in their 1982 European Cup victory, so a gap of 14 years.”
Jonathan Churchill offers up an FA Cup winner, pointing out that David O’Leary won it with Arsenal in 1979 and again in 1993, but Dirk Maas has found a winner in longevity’s Paolo Mandini. The Milan legend won the Intercontinental Cup in 1989 and 1990, then waited 17 years to win it again, when called the Fifa Club World Cup.
Which footballers have had dramatic ups and downs?
“After he was mentioned last week, I looked up Hans Segers and was interested to see that he had played Premier League football with Wimbledon, Conference football with Woking, then Premier League football again with Tottenham,” notes Ricardo Sentulio. “Can any other player claim to have dipped even lower to play a competitive match between spells in a top flight?”
“Not quite what you are looking for, but Demeaco Duhaney made his professional debut in the Premier League for Huddersfield in a 1-0 win against Wolves in 2019,” begins Richard Askham. “He was substituted at half-time with an injury that kept him out until this season. His second professional appearance was on loan for Boston United in National League North, five down from the top flight (four from where Town are now). He’s played once in the Championship (against Leeds) for Town since returning from Boston. If he isn’t selected again in 2019-20 and Town are relegated, his first appearance in League One would be a proper (albeit unwanted) record. Surely a record of sorts and a question in its own right, perhaps? Please ask if anyone can ‘beat’ Demeaco’s ups and downs, (with respect to Boston, who were in the same division as Town in 2003-04).”
“After an obscure discussion I ended up on the Wikipedia page of former Liverpool and Leicester goalkeeper Pegguy Arphexad who, it says, made 39 appearances in a 16-year career,” begins Neal Robb. “I thought this must be a record and checked back to see if this had been a topic and I see from this Knowledge article on the fewest appearances in a professional career that Stuart Taylor’s 86 was the lowest found.”
It would appear you do indeed have a new leading leisurely pro, Neal. Transfermarkt has Arphexad’s career appearances at 46 and Soccerbase at 49. He “played” for 16 years so either of those figures make Taylor look like an overworked stopper. Despite Arphexad’s aversion to actually starting games, he can still boast these medals:
1 x FA Cup
3 x League Cup
1 x Uefa Cup
1 x Super Cup
1 x Charity Shield
Can you help?
“Steven Gerrard famously kissed a mobile camera after scoring at Old Trafford but has anyone else done this before him?” asks Tim Underwood.
“At Porto, Paulo Ferreira won the Uefa Cup in 2003 and the Champions League in 2004. Later, at Chelsea, he won the Champions League in 2012 and the Europa League (aka the Uefa Cup) in 2013. Are there any other cases of players winning these two trophies in successive years, twice?” wonders Benjamin Dom.
“Which two clubs have done the most transfer business with each other?” enquires John Ruddock.
“Has a player has ever featured in all their team’s wins in a season, but none of the losses? Or vice versa?” asks Eric Bader.