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The Longest Winning Streaks in Football History

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I have written on this site before about the rise of Salisbury City football club.

As well as the remarkable achievements of the first team in the Blue Square Premier League, the City reserve team are quietly achieving a season which has the potential to be record breaking. They play in the Suburban League, a league for reserve teams of the Nationwide Football Conference, Ryman (Isthmian) Football League, British Gas Southern Football League, Combined Counties League, Spartan South Midlands, Hellenic Football League and the Wessex League.

Their record in league and cup games this season reads Played 26, Won 26. This may not be big news in the football world but it got me thinking. Has a team ever won every match in a season? What is the longest winning streak in professional or semi-professional football? Do Salisbury City reserves have a chance of getting in the Guinness Book of World Records?

There are some notable winning streaks in the history of other sports, The UCLA Bruins won 88 basketball games in a row back in the 1970s. The Cincinnati Independence High school in North Carolina had a winning American Football streak of 109 games over seven years, only ended last year. In baseball the record is held by the New York Giants with 26 consecutive wins back in 1916.

In football there have been teams who have gone a whole season unbeaten. Amongst the most famous of those was Arsenal in the 2003-04 English Premier League season and AC Milan in Serie A in 1992-93. Inter are getting close to achieving the same feat this season in Serie A.


hosp champions The Longest Winning Streaks in Football History
Arsenal 03/04

But has a team ever won every game in a season?

The answer to that question is yes. But not many, and not for a long time. In fact you have to go back 65 years to the 1942-43 season in Germany when Dresdner SC won all 23 of their games. The year before that, National in Uruguay won all 20 of their games. The only other perfect seasons on record belong to Hamburg winning all 11 games in 1927-28 and Ferencsvaros in Hungary winning all 22 in 1931-32.

In international football the record for consecutive wins is held by France whose run of 14 wins was ended in April 2004. The only team to ever win all World cup qualifying matches and finals tournament matches is the great Brazil side in 1970 who won all 13 games in the competition.


brasil70 The Longest Winning Streaks in Football History
Brazil 1970

In English football four teams share the record of 14 consecutive wins:

- Manchester United 1904-05 – Second division
- Bristol City 1905-06 – Second division
- Preston North End 1950-51 – Second division
- Arsenal 2001-02/2002-03 – Premier league

Across the rest of Europe the longest record of consecutive wins on record belongs to Benfica in Portugal, including the legend that is Eusebio, who between 1971-72 and 1972-73 recorded 29 successful results in a row.


eusebi3s The Longest Winning Streaks in Football History
Eusebio

Other notable runs have been achieved by:

- 28 games – Dinamo Zagreb – 2007-08
- 25 games – Celtic – 2003-04
- 22 games – PSV Eindhoven – 1987-88
- 17 games – Inter – 2006-07
- 15 games – Real Madrid – 1960-61
- 15 games – Bayern Munich – 2005-06

The actual world record for winning games in a row would seem to belong to Sparta Prague who reportedly won at least 51 consecutive games between 1920 and 1923. The records for the game in Czechoslovakia at that time are not conclusive however.

In recent times in South America the best winning streak belongs to San Lorenzo in Argentina who won 13 games in 2001. Around the rest of the world statistics are not always reliable. DC United started the North American season with 14 straight wins in 1997.


mlscup97 The Longest Winning Streaks in Football History
John Harkes – DC United captain (1997)

Non-league records are few and far between, but as far as I can see, Salisbury City reserve side could be on the verge of an historic season. As I see the current position, the top ten recorded winning runs in professional or semi-professional football are as follows:

1. 29 Benfica
2. 28 Dinamo Zagreb
3. 25 Celtic
4. 22 PSV Eindhoven
5. 17 Inter
6. 15 Real Madrid
6. 15 Bayern Munich
7. 14 Arsenal
7. 14 Bristol City
7. 14 Preston North End
7. 14 Manchester United
7. 14 DC United
8. 13 San Lorenzo
8. 13 Reading
9. 12 Barcelona
10. 11 Roma

All you ‘anoraks’ out there must know if my research is correct, and must know if your local team has a higher number of consecutive wins. If nobody comes forward then if Salisbury reserves should win another four games, I’ll approach Guinness to see if the run of 30 wins in a row would count as an official world record.

Player manager of Salisbury City reserves Simon Browne told the clubs website, “The league standard is quite varied, there are some not so good sides in it and some that are half decent, although all of them have been full of young exuberant players who will run for 90 minutes. So even if they aren’t the best technically, they are at least giving us a good physical work out each week. There is a lot of potential in the young lads at the club, some of whom have come up through the youth team, and some of them have a chance of making it to the first team if they work hard.”


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Simon Browne

“Myself and John Robson (Joint manager) have told all of the lads, and this includes the new boys who have been released from league clubs – that the club is now at the top tier of non-league football and to break into that standard of football is so much more difficult than it would have been for them say, two years ago. Therefore they will have to work that bit harder if they want to succeed. This is also to help explain the amount of grief we sometimes give them during games!”

Should Salisbury City reserves go through the whole season with a 100% record they would surely have the record for the most number of games played without drawing or losing.

Graham writes at Views Of A Fan.

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Comments (12)

  1. I like this stroy – well put together. I’m just glad it is not so arogant Man Utd “fan” bragging how they will win every game in a season!

  2. Kenyon College’s men’s swim team has won 28 consecutive NCAA national championships (1980 to 2007). It remains to be seen whether they extend the streak in 2008.

  3. Glasgow rangers had a 100% perfect season in 1899 winning 18 league games out of 18.

  4. Independence is in Charlotte, not Cincinnati.

  5. I hope you’re watching Man Utd this season.
    They are on 11 unbeaten right now. That means 10th on your list.

  6. Sean,

    United has a run of 11 unbeaten, not 11 straight wins, which makes your claim of tenth on the list ridiculous.

    If we are talking about unbeaten runs, look no further than the 49 that Arsenal chalked up in the ’03-’04 season. That puts Manchester United way lower than tenth.

    When did you become a United fan by the way? When your boyfriend bought you a Ronaldo 7 jersey last year?

    Even those 16 games unbeaten for your red devils (by the way that’s the nickname of the team you support in case you didnt know that)in ’08-’09, came to a screeching halt when Liverpool made them look ridiculous at old trafford (the home grounds your favorite team plays on, again, in case you didnt know).

    Have you ever heard of any Manchester United players that played before 2007, I would guess you probably havent, so…

    try visiting http://www.manutd.com as it would be a good resource for you, it will have a lot of information about the team you so dearly love and support. Try googling the following also if you need a real reason to support United:

    Bobby Charlton;
    George Best;
    Johnny Carey;
    Duncan Edwards;
    Peter Schmeichel;
    Eric Cantona;
    These dont even include some of the great players in the last 15 years, like Keane, Van Nisterooy, Beckham, Stam, Giggs, Hughes and Coppell.

    I am an Arsenal Fan, died in the wool. Gooner till I die.

    I am also a fan of “fans” who know what the hell they stand for, and know a little bit about the team they think they are a fan of.

    Welcome to the vacuum of CR7 fanboyz, I hope you get sucked out when that toilet flushes.

  7. :)

    Not really, just want a fan to be a fan. It’s hard enough being a football fan in the United States, but now every time I go to the pub for a cup tie, 80% of the people in the room dont know which t.v. to watch because they are wearing last years away jersey. Until they see a close up of Cristiano Ronaldo’s face, they are lost.

    Other than that I’m ok, thanks for asking.

  8. Ben, i’m a manchester united fan who goes to every away game in england and in europe.

    Firstly, what sort of football fan drinks tea down the pub “every time I go to the pub for a cup tie!”. I like real football fans who go down the stadium have a few drinks with there mates and watch the game.

    Secondly, who cares about last seasons shirt? it doesnt matter what year your shirt is from. The new ones do not make you mroe of then fan. In my opinion the older the better.

    Thirdly, ever been to a game?

    Nearly done, why on earth do you support arsenal? probably because you are crazy about 49-0? this why you support them? would surely explain why you are on this website. im on this webiste becase i want to check our champions league run. i got back from portugal last night. yes i go to the games.

    Last but not least. great story.

  9. The first team squad of New Mills AFC of the North West Counties League Premier Division have today (May 2nd 2009) recorded their twenty first consecutive league victory.

  10. Ferencvaros are on a run of 13 games won in a row so far and it is not at all unlikely that they’ll win all their games left in the season.

  11. cheek out la galaxt 25 wins 1997-1998