The penalty shootout: My, hasn’t it served us well over the years?
Older readers may remember Watneys as a particularly pisspoor beer, and possibly also as the sponsors of one of the silliest competitions ever staged in English football.
Indeed, The Watney Cup was the first English football tournament to sell naming rights, although strictly speaking it was a competition invented in order to slap a sponsor’s name on it.
Held before the 1970/71 season started, it was contested by the teams that had scored the most goals in each of the game’s four top divisions the previous season.
You’d have needed to have sunk a few pints of Watney Mann’s finest – and I use the word loosely – to have thought that one up.
The competition only lasted four years, but it left its mark on the game – it was the first tournament in which matches were settled by a penalty shootout if the scores were level after extra time.
On 5th August 1970, the game between Hull City and Manchester United finished all square at Boothferry Park.
The first player to place the ball on the spot and cross his fingers in the new format was George Best, and he stuck his effort firmly in the old onion bag – possibly renamed the cheese ‘n’ onion bag as part of the general pub-themed marketing initiative. Records are unclear.
Denis Law was the first player to miss a kick, his effort saved by Hull keeper Ian McKechnie, but McKechnie went on to ping his own effort off the crossbar, sending Hull out of the cup. United progressed but went on to lose heavily against Derby County (4-1) in the final.
On the up-side, however, England players of the future were all but guaranteed lucrative pizza advertising contracts…