We all know what happens nowadays in any knockout stage match at the end of normal time. In the event that there is no winner, extra time will be played, and in the event that extra time ends with the score tied, a winner must be decided in a penalty shootout. I’m sure you remember images of cramped players being attended by the physical trainers due to the effort of the 90 + 30 minutes of play. Well, the penalty shoot-out rule wasn’t actually introduced in football until the 1970s.
How were the games played in the past?
Play to win
On 30 March 1946, an event took place that has remained to this day as the longest match in history. It happened in England.
For the second time Stockport County and Doncaster Rovers met for the second time after drawing 2-2 in a North Cup Third Division opener. In those days when a match was tied, a “replay” was scheduled, a repetition of the match to find a winner, but usually there was only one replay, no more.
So when the two teams met again at Engeley Park, it was decided that the rule would be “play to win”, a sort of primitive “Golden Goal”.
The match went on as normal but again, at the end of the 90 minutes it ended 2-2. It was decided to grant an extension of 30 minutes but the two teams were not able to break the tie. The minutes passed until finally in the 173rd minute Stockport got a goal.
The joy of the players and fans was short-lived as the referee disallowed the goal.
Time went by and the daylight finally escaped. Unlike today, in 1946 there were no floodlights in the stadiums so the referee had to suspend the match after 203 minutes played!
As the tie had to be broken, a replay was scheduled and ended with Stockport County winning 4 – 0.
This duel caused a before and after in the world of football and since that date a coin toss has been implemented as a way to break the tie.
Well, in the past that and other rather cruel ways (like pulling out a piece of paper) were used to decide which team won a match.
After several tests by the German Football Association, penalty shootouts were officially implemented in 1976, at the European Championship in Yugoslavia, which was a revolution.
Previously there are records that in 1950 a gaditano had already implemented this method to decide the winner of the Ramón de Carranza Trophy but that’s another story…