Arbroath 36-0 Bon Accord

Arbroath 36-0 Bon Accord is the result of a football match between Arbroath F.C. and Bon Accord F.C. which took place on September 12 1885. To this day it remains the highest scoring match in Scottish senior football.


Arbroath were drawn against Bon Accord in the first round of the Scottish Cup which was played on September 12 1885. Although Arbroath were only founded seven years earlier in 1878 they were already vastly more experienced than Bon Accord who were in fact a cricket team, Orion Cricket Club. They were mistakenly invited to enter the Scottish Cup instead of Orion F.C., an Aberdeen football club. 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 however, 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

With the teams being so mismatched it was likely that Arbroath would win easily, but even in those days when high scoring games were not uncommon 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." [ [ A day when Scottish football scorched the record books] The Scotsman, retrieved July 14, 2007] In fact referee Dave Stormont later claimed that had he taken a harder line with the Aberdeen team, Arbroath could actually 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". [ [ Arbroath FC Official History] Arbroath FC, retrieved July 14, 2007] 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 spectators umbrella. [ [ Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside] Sunday Herald, retrieved July 14, 2007]

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

Unlikely coincidence

On the same day, 18 miles down the road in Dundee, Dundee Harp were also playing in the first round of the Scottish Cup against Aberdeen Rovers. Remarkably Dundee Harp beat Aberdeen Rovers 35-0. The referee had 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 SFA headquarters. [ [ Goals,Goals,Goals], retrieved July 14, 2007]

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 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, and although it isn’t clear what efforts they made to get the result altered, the score was left as it had been recorded on the Saturday.


In the following rounds of the Scottish Cup, Arbroath maintained the rich vein of goal scoring form, beating local rivals Forfar 9-1 in the second round, Dundee East End F.C. 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. [ [ Scottish FA Cup results 1885-86], retrived July 14, 2007]

Two years later on September 3, 1887 Arbroath did actually play against the 'real' Orion F.C. in the Scottish Cup, the score was a slightly more respectable 20-0 to Arbroath.

The team that was so humiliated that day never entered the Scottish Cup again, though another team from Aberdeen sharing the same name entered the cup in 1891 and again in 1903. Bon Accord cricket club is still in existence.

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.

To celebrate the historic achievement of the scoreline, the Angus MSP Andrew Welsh tabled a motion in the Scottish Parliament. [ [ Scottish Parliament business bulletin 8 December 2000] Scottish Parliament, retrieved July 14, 2007]

In December 2000 Romanian side Carpati Mirsa beat Avintul Dirlos 41-0 but the result was not ratified as it was not in a senior competition, so Arbroath maintained their record . [ [ Arbroath retain world record] BBC Sport, retrieved July 14, 2007]

Match details

date= 1885-09-12

team1= Arbroath
score= 36 – 0
team2= Bon Accord

stadium= Arbroath
referee= Dave Stormont

Notes and references

External links

* [ Official Arbroath F.C. website]
* [ Bon Accord Cricket Club]

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