When football was a game of three halves

Football is a game of two halves, as the old saying goes, but there has been at least one time when football was a game of three halves,  although it was not recently.

The 1st September 1894 saw the opening day of the 1894-95 season for the English First Division, the top league at the time. Derby County were drawn against Sunderland, and made their way to the North East for their match. The appointed referee, Tom Kirkham, was delayed due to a late running train, so a replacement was found in John Conqueror. When Mr Kirkham arrived, the first half had just finished and Sunderland were 3-0 up.  Mr Kirkham made the quite incredible decision to ask Derby if they wanted to restart the match, which they accepted, wiping out the 3-0 advantage.

However, it did not make that much of a difference, as at the end of the new first half Derby were again 3-0 down, and Sunderland ended up taking the game 8-0.

It may have been the only match of the season to see one team score eight goals but it did set out the year for both teams. Sunderland were crowned champions and Derby finished second from bottom, ending up in the Test Matches, which were like the play offs of their time. Derby managed to stay up, though, with Liverpool relegated, replaced in the First Division by Bury.