Last Saturday, 3 October 2020, the 200,000th English league football fixture was played as a notable landmark for the EFL was reached. Before the weekend 199,972 matches had been played since the League’s inception in 1888. Another 34 were completed on 2-4 October so the total now stands at 200,006.
The League has, of course, seen a number of significant changes throughout its 132-year history. In around 60 per cent of the league matches played to date, only two points were offered for a win, while 55 per cent of such games saw clubs separated by goal average instead of goal difference. The 45th anniversary of the latter change is approaching in June 2021, while this December will mark 85 years since the highest-scoring league game, a 13-4 victory for Tranmere Rovers over Oldham Athletic.
Indeed, this year has also seen its share of memorable milestones. Not only was Preston North End’s Sky Bet Championship fixture against Derby County the first league match to be played in July, it also saw the Lilywhites – founding members of the League - become the first club to play 5,000 league games. When it comes to players, legendary goalkeeper Peter Shilton’s tally of 1,005 league appearances is unmatched, while former Grimsby Town man Tony Ford is the outfield player with the most appearances, with 931 to his name. As for goalscorers, Everton icon Dixie Dean found the net 60 times in the 1927/28 campaign, a record which stands to this day.
Commenting on the landmark, EFL Chief Executive, Dave Baldwin, said: “This is a significant milestone for both the League and English football as a whole, as well as an opportunity to celebrate our history as the world’s original league football competition. To reach 200,000 games is a timely reminder of the longevity and importance of the EFL during what remains a challenging period for our member clubs and the communities they represent. While it is disappointing that this landmark won’t be shared with the hundreds of thousands of loyal supporters who pass through the turnstiles at league grounds each week, we are extremely proud of our history and welcome the chance to celebrate moments such as these which have helped shaped our work and values.”
The EFL also shared a number of statistics last week, which can be seen below.