Harry Redknapp and the Horse of the Year Show – 20 things you never knew about the EFL Trophy
Twenty things you never knew about the EFL Trophy (and if you DID know some of them, you’re a real football anorak …!)
1 Harry Redknapp could have been a Wembley-winning boss 24 years before he lead Pompey to FA Cup final success. Redknapp was manager of Bournemouth when they reached the final of the inaugural EFL Trophy - known as the Associate Members Cup for the 1983/84 season only. The final, against Hull, was supposed to have been played at Wembley but it was moved to Hull’s Boothferry Park ground as the hallowed turf had been churned up by the Horse of the Year Show! Redknapp’s Cherries won 2-1 in front of a crowd of 6,544.
2 The first Wembley final was staged the following season when Wigan Athletic defeated Brentford 3-1. The Latics received the trophy from royalty - not ‘proper’ royalty, admittedly, but music royalty - then Watford chairman Elton John doing the honours.
3 This year will be only the second time in the tournament’s history that two former Football League champions have contested the final. Back in 1987/88, Wolves defeated Burnley 2-0. As a result, Wolves are currently the only former Football League champions to have also lifted the EFL Trophy.
4 The crowd of 80,841 for the Wolves v Burnley game is an EFL Trophy record attendance.
5 The record attendance at the new Wembley stadium is 74,434 for the 2017 final between Coventry City and Oxford United. Coventry, who were averaging around 9,000 for home league games that season, took over 40,000 supporters to the final. This Sunday’s final will see a new record crowd of over 80,000 - and potentially a new competition record attendance too.
6 The lowest crowd in the history of the competition was recorded last November when only 202 watched Middlesbrough’s academy team beat Burton 1-0.
7 In 2005/06 non league Woking beat former European Cup winners Nottingham Forest 3-2 in a Southern section tie. That was the sixth, and last, season where a handful of Conference clubs were allowed to enter the EFL Trophy.
8 In 2009 the team that won the EFL Trophy also finished bottom of the entire Football League. Luton Town started the League 2 season on minus-30 points due to various financial irregularities, and (unsurprisingly) never climbed off the bottom of the table. But they did win the EFL Trophy, beating League 1 club Scunthorpe 3-2.
9 Current Pompey loanee Lloyd Isgrove has won the EFL Trophy twice. In 2013/14 he was on loan from Southampton to Peterborough and came on as a sub in their final win over Chesterfield. Two seasons later, in 2015/16, he was again on loan, this time to Barnsley, in a 3-2 win over Oxford United. Isgrove was a Wembley winner for a third time a few weeks later, scoring in the Tykes’ League 1 play-off final victory.
10 The biggest win in EFL Trophy history saw Southend thump Aldershot 10-0 in a Leyland Daf Preliminary Round tie in November 1990.
11 Carlisle United have reached the most finals - six. They have won twice, in 1997 (when ex-Pompey striker Warren Aspinall scored in their penalty shoot-out final win against Colchester) and 2011. It was Aspinall’s second EFL Trophy success – he had come on as a sub when Wigan won the first Wembley final in 1985.
12 Former Pompey boss Steve Claridge was part of the Birmingham side that won the 1995 Auto Windscreens Shield final against Carlisle with an extra time ‘golden goal’ - the only time in Wembley history that has decided a final.
13 Since Premier League academy sides were allowed entry into the EFL Trophy in 2016/17, the nearest any of them has got to the final was in 2017/18 when Chelsea were beaten on penalties in the semi final by eventual winners Lincoln. The Premier League giants had won at Fratton Park in the previous round.
14 Between October 2009 and October 2012 Bradford City were involved in six EFL Trophy penalty shoot-outs - and won them all. (Like penalty shoot-out stats? Here’s another one - en route to the 2010/11 EFL Trophy final Brentford won three successive ties via spot-kicks - Richard Lee the Bees keeper on each occasion)
15 Pompey drew their lowest ever post-war crowd in October 2016 as just 1,355 spectators watched their 2-2 EFL Trophy draw with Reading Under-23s, The following month, a new record was set when just 1,200 watched a 1-0 win over Bristol Rovers in the same competition.
16 The biggest crowd in this season's EFL Trophy was the 16,654 who saw Sunderland beat Newcastle's academy side 4-0 at the Stadium of Light in a Northern section third round tie.
17 Sunderland have reached the EFL Trophy final in only their second ever season in the competition. In their first, 1987/88, they trounced Rotherham 7-1 in their first home tie at Roker Park - in the same month they also won a Third Division game 7-0 against Southend at the same ground. The Black Cats were eventually knocked out by north east rivals Hartlepool.
18 Liverpool and Manchester United are the only two Premier League clubs to have rejected three invites to compete in the EFL Trophy. Arsenal rejected two invites prior to accepting for the current season.
19 Goalkeeper Kevin Poole is the oldest player to appear in an EFL Trophy tie - he was 47 when he played for Burton against Rotherham in 2010.
20 In December 2017 Chelsea's £33m striker Michy Batshuayi played in the Champions League and EFL Trophy on successive night. First, he came on as a sub for the first team against Athletico Madrid at Stamford Bridge, and then 24 hours later, after starting for the Under-23s, scored twice against MK Dons!