What Is The Worst Football Match You’ve Ever Been To?

Chris Wright

30th, October 2012


By Chris Wright

From Hell’s heart I stab at thee Gerald!

Inspired by East Lower’s gloriously distracted ‘highlights’ of Arsenal’s dismal showing against Schalke last week, we at Pies kind of got to thinking about all the times we’d been stupefied into mulling over the inherent beauty of the moon/cranes, etc, by a football match and what, if it could be pinpointed, is the worst professional football match we’ve ever endured live.

Here are our picks…

Chris – Nott’m Forest 0-1 Sheffield Wednesday, Wed 21st February, 2001: This was a match that ran the emotional gamut; from dismayed tedium right the way through to catatonic apathy.

David Platt’s rudderless side had been the square root of awful at home all season, losing seven times in 15 outings at the City Ground and regularly being turned over by inferior sides. This was no exception, Wednesday were in wallowing in the relegation zone at the time and had just sacked their manager, Paul Jewell.

Wednesday (who counted bona fide Forest legend Des Walker among their number if memory serves) played with a flat-back nine and Forest something similar. The middle third of the pitch was a vast swathe of immaculately turfed no-man’s land.

The match took place at a pace that most glaciers would probably consider ‘a bit lethargic’. You must believe me when I say nothing happened. Nothing.

Me and my fellow season ticket-holding mate spent the entire game with our heads in our hands in suppressed silence. At one point, I could’ve sworn I heard the sound of gentle sobbing muffled through Thinsulate gloves to my immediate right, but I didn’t want to look round. He was entitled to his moment of private grief. Football was dying before our eyes and there wasn’t a thing we could do about it.

Through the monotonous fug, Forest’s Chris Bart-Williams expertly played Wednesday striker Gerald Sibon clean through on goal to score the only goal of the game with 15 minutes of dross left.

Safe to say, when Gerald Sibon is responsible for the game’s only moment of note, you know you’re f**ked.

* * * * *

Alan – Arsenal 1-3 Manchester United, Tues 5th May 2009: Having watched many an Arsenal game game, both in the flesh and on TV, since the 1970s, Arsenal’s Champions League semi-final capitulation somehow still hurts the most.

Why? Well, the Gunners were within touching distance of the Big Cup final, despite a 1-0 deficit courtesy of John O’Shea’s first-leg goal at Old Trafford. Still, there was hope despite the weaknesses of the Arsenal squad – hope that we could pull it off.

However, within 11 minutes, our hope had suffered a right kicking in the downstairs vegetables. From Kieran Gibb’s Bambi-like slip which let in Ji-Sung Park to Cristiano Ronaldo’s free-kick which Manuel Almunia flapped at, the hope deflated and Gooners were left to endure another 79 minutes of pointless action at the Emirates.

Oh, Ronaldo did bag another one after the break, while for Arsenal’s forlorn following, an RVP spot-kick and the sending off of Darren Fletcher (meaning he’d miss the final), were mere crumbs of consolation. Painful.

* * * * *

So we open up the floor to the Pies faithful. What, pray tell, is the worst football match (either live or on television if you’d prefer) that you’ve ever had the misfortune of having to sit through?

Let’s hear ’em…

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  1. Chris says:

    The world cup 98 game between south korea and belgium, such was the state of affairs it put the heads of the uefa and the african football federacions to sleep. One of the great moments in world cup history as martin tyler claimed ‘i think that mans had a very good lunch’.

  2. AJ Pitts says:

    Bolton vs Fulham. January 2003. Bradford City fan, bored, looked in the paper on the Saturday morning for something to do with my 12 year old daughter. We decided to take in the nearest premier league fixture. There followed the most brain-numbingly turgid 90 minutes of my life. A neutral, just wanting to see some good football, i honestly couldn’t recall one instance when my excitement levels reached even mildly aroused. Next time I took her swimming. Much better.

  3. von worstenbrauer says:

    Well, not one match exactly but my team was bottom of the league after the first half of the competition, and I saw about all matches we played at home.

    Then I moved to some exotic country with not much TV or opportunities to follow a small team – and indeed, they won bloody all of them and qualified for the UEFA cup.

  4. Jood says:

    Worst as in most frustrating would have to be Ajax – Sparta in 2010. I can’t remember the exact numbers, but I believe Ajax had about 50 shots on target. Game ended 0-0. A year before that I followed Ajax into Rotterdam for Sparta – Ajax. Lost 0-4, turned out to be Van Basten’s last game as manager. Terrible.

  5. drags says:

    Cue comments on just about every single England game these days…

  6. Jon says:

    Man United 0-0 QPR, lunchtime, new years day around 89/90. Terrible game, awful atmosphere (if I recall correctly an attempt at a chant was met with a hungover “shhhhh!” from most of the crowd).

    It didn’t help that I’d started the day in Nottingham after a party and travelled home early just to watch it. Turgid

  7. Emile. H says:

    That Champions League Final between AC & Inter at Old Trafford? Defending masterclass AKA Shirt pulling borefest.

  8. Archbishop Betty Snagcock says:

    Uruguay France WC 2010, a game so dull I nearly lost my excitement at the fact that I was watching a game at the MOTHERFUCKING WORLD CUP!!!!!

  9. Dave says:

    Dundee 0-0 Hamilton, Scottish 1st Division last year

  10. Degs says:

    A Liverpool match away at Sheffield United in the early years of the Premier League.
    It was possibly on Boxing Day or New Years Day – either way I had a nasty hangover.
    For some reason the match kicked off at, I think, 11am.
    We were wearing particularly nasty dull yellow shirts.
    It was very cold.
    It finished 0-0.
    There were no shots.

  11. NathanM says:

    As a Birmingham fan, it’s toss up between two:

    Being beaten 7-0 at home by Liverpool in the FA Cup Quarter Final – we had Marcos Painter at left-back and Olivier Tebily came off the bench to replace Martin Taylor as he was having a nightmare. We were already two down before I got into the ground

    Or losing 2-0 to Portsmouth on the dreariest Saturday imaginable, Steve Bruce had just left us, we had Eric Black in charge and Richard Kingson dropped an absolute clanger on debut.

    They’re the worst two that I can remember.

  12. D Webber says:

    Leyton Orient versus – Hull or Huddersfield i think – about 10 years ago. Truly the worst game of football I’ve ever seen, which is quite something being an Orient supporter. Only chance was Gary Alexander balooning the ball out of the ground, although a wonderful chant of ‘this is the worst game in the world’ was sung by both the home and away end – united in boredom.

  13. One England Captain says:

    Chelsea Vs Villa on either boxing day or New Years day, finished 1 – 1, was freezing cold lunch time kick off. Terrible, everything was terrible.

  14. Stiff says:

    I had the pleasure of going to the world cup in 2006. Unfortunately for us, and Serbia as a whole, we happened to witness a 6-0 demolition by Argentina. I cried.

  15. barf says:

    Charlton V Aston Villa – ‘Turgid dross’ doesn’t even come close to describing the game.

    Can’t remember what year exactly, but was sometime back in the early 00’s. I remember that Di Canio was playing, but he had an off day. I may have fallen asleep, as I blinked at one point and he was no longer on the pitch, nor was any creativity whatsoever.

  16. plops says:

    I saw one once when they let women play

  17. Jock says:

    Hamilton Accies 0-0 Forfar, January 2006

    Classic scottish league game where somehow nothing happened all game. Atmosphere was dead inside 20 minutes.

    Only bonus was at the end of the game, big old guy wearing a tuxedo shouted in a the strongest South England accent “WHAT A GRAND GAME OF FOOTBALL” and walked off by himself to the exit. Everyone stared at each other in disbelief as no-one was sure if it had actually happened.

  18. Alex says:

    Thankfully I haven’t had the pleasure of all that many boring games – probably the most recent would be the end of the 2010/11 season when I travelled all the way down to Oxford from Derbyshire – a 3 hour car journey that necessitated leaving at about 8am – to watch my team, Chesterfield in the game that, if we won, would guarantee promotion. Only the Friday night result went our way and promotion was guaranteed already. And we drew 0-0, with the only real highlight being every time the ball went over the 6ft fence behind one of the nets because the Kassam doesn’t have a stand there. And I got lost in the 25 degree heat on my way to the ground. Fantastic.

  19. alex says:

    newcastle united 0 partizan belgrade 1

    this is when we were good, in 2005 ish. we went there anticipating a 4 or 5 nil win, the only time the team looked anywhere near enthused was after partizan socred, apart from that, totally outplayed.

    of course this result only took the game to penalties, and to rub it in further, i got to see alan shearer blast his spot kick onto the crowd.

  20. Tom says:

    Cardiff 0-2 Stoke (A.E.T) F.A Cup third-round replay.

    After a dull 1-1 draw at Stoke, I stupidly decided to pay to sit through 90 minutes of the worst clogging known to man. The fact that Jon Parkin ‘led the line’ for Cardiff says it all.

    Extra time was inevitable and I decided to stay solely due to the prospect of a penalty shootout providing some shots on goal. Then, Jon Walters went and ruined it all by scoring almost straight after extra time started. I couldn’t care less that we had conceded, rather that it had come now that we had to sit through another thirty minutes of this dirge. Someone could have had the grace to put the ball in the net within the 90 so we could all go home.

  21. gamblino says:

    Wolves vs Stoke, second half of the season 2009/10. I saw what all the fuss about Stoke meant. Bona fide anti-football. 90 minutes of watching wolves pegged back trying to scramble away Delap’s chuck-ins. Think he had close to 30, you could barely even call it football. I just coudn’t fathom how their fans could tolerate watching that every week. I’d genuinely rather watch my team get thrashed every week and at least see something resembling the sport I paid to watch, which is pretty much what happened for the two following seasons,

    There’s been some shit over the years but that is the one that stuck, at premier league ticket cost.

  22. Nienke says:

    @Jood: I was thinking about my worst match, and that match against Sparta was one of the worst! But, I think I had more bitter feelings about Ajax – Real Madrid, last year. We went to the stadium thinking we would proceed to the next stage of the Chamions League, we went home with Europa League thanks to corrupt Croatians, arrogant French people and a shitty referee/linesman. An absolute disgrace.

    Jood says:
    October 30, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    Worst as in most frustrating would have to be Ajax – Sparta in 2010. I can’t remember the exact numbers, but I believe Ajax had about 50 shots on target. Game ended 0-0.

  23. James says:

    Brentford 0 – 0 Swindon, sometime in late 2005. Both teams played out a draw that was so boring the referee didn’t bother to play any added time. After about 70 minutes it started raining, just to really rub our noses in it. This was my younger brother’s first football team, it’s a wonder he didn’t give up and choose to follow lacrosse for a more interesting viewing experience. One of the Sodjes played.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Barcelona 1-0 Newcastle United sometime in the mid 90s (97 I think)
    A dead rubber in the champions league as both teams had already been eliminated. I think I recall that the game had been rained off the previous night and the weather hadn’t improved much, the Nou Camp was virtually empty due to the lack of a roof. I think it was Giovanni (him of Hull fame) who scored the winner. the game was so dire that it is the only game I have ever fallen asleep during!!!

  25. James says:

    Brentford 0 – 0 Swindon, sometime in late 2005. The two teams played out a draw so boring that the referee didn’t bother to play any added time. After about 70 minutes it started raining, just to rub our noses in it. This match was my younger brother’s first live football match – it’s a wonder he didn’t give up and choose to follow lacrosse for a more entertaining viewing experience. One of the Sodjes played.

  26. Kate says:

    Ugh for me it would have to be back in 2004, when my local team, Carlisle United, were relegated from the football league when we drew with Cheltenham, and we had to win the match to stay up. I was 14, and remember the somber and depressing atmosphere for all us Carlisle fans. Devastating!

  27. James says:

    Going to vetch field to watch Carlisle play Swansea, I decided to go after getting the buzz a week before after Jason koumas smashed in a hatrick for Tranmere against us in the fa cup. (makes no sense), there was about 50 Carlisle fans there it that mind numbingly dull I remember looking at the sign hanging off the stadium thinking that could hurt someone if it fell. The game ended 0-0. Home at 12 midnight wanting to kill myself. Never again!

  28. Dan says:

    Ireland 0-0 Slovakia last year, Ireland 0-0 Switzerland 2005/6 and Benfica 0-1 Spurs two years ago

  29. mitch says:

    Hradec vs. Ceske Budejovice. Second division game in Czech Republic. Absolute tragedy. Players unable to control the ball, no pace, no shots. Few people in stands, almost crying they had to see such an antifootball

  30. Greg Evans says:

    Can we class friendlies in this?

    If so Leicester vs. Sunderland from this pre season. I don’t support either team but the tickets were a tenner and it was a chance to quench my footballing thirst before the season started again. The first 20 mins were OK I suppose as Leicester were attacking the end I was sitting in. Yet after a few chances it was clear they were not going to score any time soon. The rest of the game was a blur as I became distracted by watching what the fans were doing. Yes the antics of the fans was way more interesting than whatever was happening on the pitch. During half time a spider landed on me, which entertained me for about 10 mins. The arachnid was obviously not impressed and jumped onto the back of the man next me. I didn’t tell him. When play resumed I started watching the litter float around the pitch. There was literally nothing happening at all. There was a goal during the match scored by Leicester’s Matty James. I missed this. I was informed that it was a goal line scramble, which just about summed up the quality of the match.

    After the game I met up with a few friends who had also been. They were talking about the performances of certain players, who I can honestly say I had no recollection of seeing on the pitch. It was without a shadow of a doubt the worst game I have ever seen.

  31. Australien says:

    I turned down a free day out pretty much at Wembley for Cardiff/Barnsley in a cup semi a few years ago when I was Uni (stewarded at Ninian Park), so I could go see Everton/Derby (in THAT season) for my only Toffees game of the season.

    Turgid shit game, created nowt against a pap County side, dead atmosphere from a too expectant Evertonia expecting a 7-0 and a pretty much dead Derby crowd who had nothing to cheer for. Only highlights was Savage bouncing the ball off Osman’s face and the fans booing a home win at FT whistle.


  32. Shirag says:

    Lucky for you I witnessed an MLS league cup game that was so dreadful I wish I had never gone. April 7 2009 Colorado Rapids v LA Galaxy at the Home Depot Center in Carson, CA. The only reason I went was because I was a season ticket holder for the galaxy that year and this was a free game to go to. I then realized why it was free. It was a 2nd string side for both teams and they played like shit. The rapids had a red card within about a half hour and the galaxy still couldn’t score for the next 90 minutes. I witnessed some crappy plays including a shot from just near the end of the box taken from Chris Klein that landed about 20 yards to the side of the goal and I also had to endure watching Alan Gordon play 120 minutes. Then it went to penalties and surely the Galaxy only scored 2 while Colorado scored all of theirs and won the match.

  33. Tom says:

    Worst game – AFC Wimbledon Vs the Met Police

    Most painful game – Fulham losing to Athletico in the Europa league final, leaving the stadium whilst ‘we are the champions’ plays.

    Least favourite – new years day, 5 years ago, the day after my 21st birthday. Fulham v palace, early kick off, freezing cold, fog, horrendous hangover and a terrible game epitomised by the battle between routlede (fulham) and butterfield (palace) trying to run past one another. Their control was so poor and their dribbling so inept that it resembled watching the computer play ‘pong’ against itself.

  34. Alonso says:

    Im Sure nothing will beat this:
    2011 Fifa U-17 World Cup
    Rwanda 0 – 0 Canada, final game of the group stage. Nothing at all happened i barely remember 1 or 2 shots on target. two of my friends fell asleep

  35. Ryan Platt says:

    Altrincham 0-2 Stockport, pre season friendly last year. I’m an Alty fan and I was 10 minutes late, when I got to the ground I was informed that we had already shipped two goals. The rest of the match absolutely terrible dross, complete lack of quality from both sides, and both sets of fans sat silent as the grave until the end when we all filed out in silence, bored to tears by the insipid rubbish we had been served up. Luckily it turned out to be quite an exciting season!

  36. Rob says:

    Coventry 0 – 0 Bradford Last day of the 00/01 Prem season and both clubs last matches in the prem. Both teams already relegated, the only thing of any notice was when an elvis impersonator in the bradford end sang blue suede shoes. The entire crowd at highfield road ignored the game and fell silent to enjoy his performance.

  37. Dale says:

    The Huddersfield Town Vs Sheff UTD playoff final last year. I’ve never seen a worse 120 minutes of football. It was so dull that it made the womens FA cup final (which was on just before) look like el classico…the women’s penalties were even of a higher quality

  38. Geraldo says:

    Manchester United 0-0 Rangers, Champions League group stage 2010/11; nothing happened for 90 minutes. NOTHING HAPPENED FOR 90 MINUTES. That is all.

  39. christian says:

    Reading 1-2 Barnsley
    I must say I have endured a lot of boring/torturous Reading matches but this takes the biscuit. Aside from Barnsley scoring the opening goal, nothing happened all match until the 90th minute, when Robert Kozluk scored a dire own goal trying to head it back to keeper, for Reading to then give a penalty away a minute later to allow Barnsley to let us all go home. There must have been about 15 away fans and the atmosphere was utterly non-existent.

    Second Match must be DC Utd 2-3 Torono FC
    This match must seem quite a good match but honestly it was one of the most boring matches I’ve ever been too, whilst there were plenty of goals, none were any special and most of the time the players were simply walking around and did not in any way seem like they wanted to actually win the match. It really gave me a sense of why the MLS is a poor set up without relegation etc in that these players really had no motivation (I think DC utd were actually bottom of their conference at the time). To add to this, it was a famous DC utd player called Jaime Moreno who, whilst having the record for goals and assists, struggled to make it at the giants of MIddlesborough before he was shipped off; thus there was a strange bolivian contingent in the crowd.

  40. Harry says:

    Chelsea vs Man United on sunday. Ref lost control of the match and ruined what could have easily been one of the best premier league games when it was 2-2

  41. adhikapp says:

    England 0-0 Algeria, 2010 World Cup. Probably the worst worldcup game I’ve ever witnessed. Algeria was so bad, but England was just as worse. The only thing I remember was Heskey trying to be Ronaldo. Fell asleep later on.

  42. Boixos says:

    I’m thinking Big Moment(s) here. WC final twice in succession with Argentina-Germany in 1990 and then 4 years on with Brazil-Italia in 1994. Absolute shit matches with no redeeming memories of joy or value in the slightest. I was convinced football was dead after those turd(gid) affairs.

  43. Lukey says:

    Around 2003, I crossed El Salvador in the back of a pick-up truck to support Chalatenango when they visited Atletico Balboa, back when both teams where in El Salvador’s first division (they’re both in the third division now). The only area reserved for away fans was standing room only, in the Central American mid-day sun with no shade at all, about 30 yards behind one goal and also behind a chain link fence. After watching “Chalate” lose 0-6, it was back in the bed of the pick-up truck for the 5-hour journey back home. I looked like a lobster for days.

  44. Jon says:

    Barnet vs Chesterfield on new years day, sometime at the end of the 90’s. Barnet were terrible, Chesterfield played with 9 men behind the ball and a 6″7 guy up front who couldn’t head the ball, and who the phrase “good touch for a big man” will never be uttered about. Freezing cold, nearly got piles from sitting on concrete steps. 5 ‘hot’ chocolate’s (the ASA needed to invetsigate) & a stomach ache later, the game finished 0-0.

  45. Luke says:

    Barnsley-Sheff Utd 2009(I think)
    Finished 0-0, simply awful match with barely anything happening whatsoever.

  46. barrie says:

    may/june 2008 andorra vs azerbaijan friendy, i never felt so confident that i was good enough to play international football having watched the game

  47. human.gps17 says:

    Any MLS match. Enough said

  48. MHopk says:

    @adhikapp I agree with England vs Algeria in 2010 World Cup. I had to travel halfway across the country from a funeral to get home to watch this. I wish I had stayed at the funeral..

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