Imagine picking the ball up from your net once every 4.35 minutes.
This is the horrible and emotional experience of Madron FC when they take to the field of play. They take part in Cornwall’s Mining League and in the previous year, the relatively modest team of Madron FC lost their opening matches by the relatively modest margins of 11-0, 4-1 and 16-0, they slumped to 27-0 and 27-1 defeats before succumbing to a monumental 55-0 thrashing, which yes, is the heaviest defeat recorded in English footballing history.
In 11 matches this season, says stand-in team manager Alan Davenport, Madron have scored two goals and conceded 227. It’s a degree of sporting incompetence that has won the team admiring mentions not just in the national press, but in sporting newspapers as far afield as France, Italy and even Brazil.
But Davenport, who remarkably is the club’s goalkeeper, secretary, treasuerer, chairman and honorary President is not letting the results get the better of him and insists that “morale’s high,” he says. “Heads are up. We’re getting better.”
A dispute over money lies at the root of the club’s problems. At the start of this season, its newly promoted first team walked out en masse when Davenport informed them they had to pay their subs. “Fourteen players – guys who hadn’t lost a single match the whole of last season – just upped and left,” he says. “Their manager had told them that they needn’t pay, but we’re a very small club . . . So I then had to put a scratch team together. For the first division.”
Since that 55-0 drubbing, however, for which the team mustered seven players but no goalie (“One lad did stand between the posts,” says Davenport, “but he spent the game chatting to his mates”), things could be looking up. Last Saturday, Madron lost 22-0 – but they fielded 12 players, and the goalie saved two penalties.
“Today alone, I had calls from three lads who want to play with us,” says Davenport. “22-0 isn’t brilliant. But it’s 33 goals better than last time. This weekend, we might get a point. We’re not giving up.”
Despite this, Mr Davenport still awarded each player a trophy at the end of the season because the team did not have to cancel a single game.
He said: ‘Even after those humiliating defeats, I could still get a team together every week. Other clubs have been unable to get the players but Madron FC always turned up’.