Drunken Aviator Lands in City Centre, 1956

In perhaps the greatest ‘hold my beer’ escapade to date, Thomas Fitzpatrick stole a plane to prove he could fly from Jersey to New York in just 15 minutes. Read about how he won his crazy bet.

Bulky sedans rumbled sedately along the right-angled streets, and haggard creatures of the night here and there passed under the patchy street lighting past rows of rectilinear brownstone tenements.

It was the witching hour on St Nics Avenue in New York City’s heart. Of course in the city that never sleeps life still stirred, and it was about to get a serious wake up call.

Jimmy was wiping down the bar waiting for the last of his patrons to stumble out after a long night. The edge of his lips curled up with a wry smile; earlier that night one of his favourite patrons, a gung-ho flyboy named Thomas ‘Fitz’ Fitzpatrick made a bet that he could fly from New Jersey to New York City in 15 minutes. ‘I’ll land out there to prove it, how ‘bout that?’ slurred Fitz. ‘OK ya crazy, drunken Irishman’ laughed Jimmy ‘Hold my beer, will ya?.’ And, with a leery grin, Fitzpatrick plodded out the door.

Good laughs, thought Jimmy.

That was almost an hour ago. A barking dog out the window broke his reverie and Jimmy looked up to see a late night walker and his dog facing opposite directions; the man was pulled back by his leashed dog.

The mut was staring back up the street and whined, its head tilted with that gaze of rapt concentration only a dog can do. “Come on!” the guy bawled, looking bewildered.

Then Jim detected the sound of an engine, but it was no automobile; it was more of a deep buzz, and it quickly got louder.

That sound was one of a small plane approaching and, crazy as it sounds, Fitzpatrick was making his approach to land the thing on the Avenue.

One or two cars screeched to a halt as the small aircraft buzzed overhead. Bedroom lights flicked on and anyone quick enough caught a fleeting glimpse of Fitzpatrick as he zipped by.

Jimmy slammed the door open in time to witness, mouth agape, the plane touchdown and whizz past his bar before coming to a stop.

So Fitz won the bet after all!

The stolen plane on St Nics Avenue, complete with chalk outline (cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com)

After leaving the bar, Fitzpatrick had hightailed it 15 miles across the state line to Teterboro Airport and there, stole an aircraft.

What the wager was is unknown but he won his bet and his antics made newspaper headlines. The New York Times called the flight a “feat of aeronautics” and a “fine landing”, and a plane parked in the middle of the street made for quite a sight in the morning.

For his illegal flight, he was fined $100 after the plane’s owner refused to press charges.

Incredibly Fitzpatrick performed the same stunt again in 1958 because in another bar someone questioned the story. For that, he was sentenced to 6 months incarceration, blaming his antics on the “lousy drink

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Train Crash for Publicity, 1896

What’s the best way to promote train travel to Texas? Stage a train crash for people to come and see there, of course! Read about what happened on the big day when the guy in charge of health and safety took the day off.

We know that one to two hundred years back, people’s faith in God and hardy living standards made them much more immune to the seductions of health and safety; they could be pretty casual about accidents occurring and should someone get killed in an construction project, for example, then that was what your faith was for.

It was 1896 USA and a marketing guru was tasked with promoting train ticket sales to Texas. What genius idea did he pull out of the bag? To stage a train crash, of course!

Sounding like a scene that should’ve made it into ‘A Million Ways to Die in the West’, the stunt was be held in the specially built town of Crush and the idea was to sell tickets so that people could visit the state and make a jamboree of it, with amusements and sideshows to the main event – 50,000 people attended.

The organisers weren’t dismissive of health and safety however, they took it seriously big time. Spectators to the crash rail track had to stay a whole 180m (200yards) back and reporters half that – I bet they couldn’t even make out the names on the drivers’ name badges they were so safely far away.

A specially built track was laid and the stage was set; two 32 tonne steam locomotives would be driven at each other, with time given for the crews to jump off before collision.

A local newspaper report described the scene: “The rumble of the two trains, faint and far off at first, was like the gathering force of a cyclone…They rolled down at a frightful rate of speed… Nearer and nearer as they approached the fatal meeting place the rumbling increased, the roaring grew louder

Then the trains impacted: “…a crash, a sound of timbers rent and torn, and then a shower of splinters… There was just a swift instance of silence and then, as if controlled by a single impulse, both boilers exploded simultaneously and the air was filled with flying missiles of iron and steel varying in size from a postage stamp to half of a driving wheel…

Debris was blown hundreds of metres into the air and panic quickly broke out as the crowd turned and ran. Some of the debris came down among the spectators, killing three people and injuring dozens.

Crowds clamber around the train wreck of America’s deadliest ever stunt (southernmysteries.com)

In the aftermath the train company involved had to pay out tens of thousands of dollars in compensation to the crash victims as headlines of the spectacular event flashed across the country.

Ultimately, the company profited enormously from the botched stunt, however, which goes to show that infamy is often as good as publicity.

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Scotland’s Most Successful Football Clubs, Ranked (May, 2022)

ARL Football Success Ranking System

Whilst any club which remotely thinks it deserves the label ‘big’ should be playing in the top league of its association, buying the best players and, ideally, holding down a global brand presence, it is its trophy cabinet which really sorts the economy class clubs from the private jet ones.

The ARL Football Success Ranking System for men’s European club football establishes for certain which clubs are the most successful of each nation and in the whole of Europe.

It is a system of scoring points to clubs based on what trophies and how many have been won.

Different trophies score different points and are based on a ‘glory’ criteria.

Only ‘competitive football’ trophies are considered.

Competition KeyPoints
UEFA SC: UEFA Super Cup2
LC: League Cup (Scottish League Cup)2
FIFA CWC: Intercontinental Cup / FIFA Club World Cup3
AC: Association Cup (Scottish FA Cup)3
UEFA ECL: UEFA Europa Conference League4
UEFA EL: UEFA Cup / Europa League6
UEFA CWC: UEFA Cup Winners Cup6.5
UEFA CL: UEFA European Cup / Champions League8
T: Top Tier League Title (Division 1 / Scottish Premiership)7

Scotland, its Premiership and ‘Old Firm’

As one of football’s ‘Home Nations’, Scotland’s football spans three centuries. The Scottish Cup is the 2nd oldest in the world and its clubs have been fighting it out for National Championships since 1890.

A number of countries have stand-out giants of the game which dominate their leagues. Scotland is famous for two of these giants and their ferocious, all consuming rivalry is known as the ‘Old Firm’. It has been ever-present and completely overshadows the Premiership. Both clubs subsequently have ginormous Success Point hauls leaving scraps for the rest. Just these two clubs make it into the ‘Big 100+’ yet have almost 1100 Success points between them! – As good a testament to Glasgow’s age old dominance over Scottish league football as any.

The Premiership prospered after WW2 but it just couldn’t keep up with the sort of money neighbouring England’s Premier League could attract. 21st Century Scottish football is comparatively poor as a result. Clubs between leagues 6-10 of the UEFA Coefficient score -2 points per domestic trophy. The SP is 9th in the Coefficient as of 2022.

Scottish clubs have had some success in Europe, winning 3 major trophies between them including the first UEFA trophy in the whole of Britain. They have 23 Success Points from UEFA competitions.

Scroll to the bottom to view the full table of Scotland’s Most Successful clubs


Below are Scotland’s 2 Most Successful clubs ever:

2. Celtic FC

Points: 521

Earliest Trophy Won: Scottish Cup, 1892

Latest Trophies Won: Scottish Premiership and League Cup, 2022

Most Successful Manager: Willie Maley – 154 Success points (1897-1940)

Most Successful Decade: 2010s, 91 points.

This Glaswegian club was founded by a Catholic priest as a means of raising money to alleviate poverty in the slums. 5 years later they would beat Rangers in their first ever game 5-2, then described as a ‘friendly encounter’.

Few clubs reach the stratospheric 500+ Success Point mark. To do this, Celtic have been filling their boots with silverware almost non-stop. This includes winning over a quarter of all Scottish Cups. They’ve won Titles every decade except the 1940s. The ‘50s was a lean decade, as other clubs such as Hibernian FC enjoyed success, so too were the ‘90s which betrayed the fact Celtic’s stewards had failed to keep abreast of rising commercial revenue streams which had begun to infuse football across Europe.

The Bhoys managed 6 Titles in a row from 1905-1910; 9 from 1966-74 plus 9 consecutively from 2012-2020. These are not the sorts of winning streaks seen at all often with other giant clubs!

Under club manager legend, Jock Stein, The Celts would claim their first quadruple in 1967 managing to grab Scotland’s first and only European Cup as well. It was a feat that’s never been matched south of the border; an ‘annus mirabilis‘ for Celtic. Celtic took full advantage of Rangers’ exile from the top flight to achieve an ‘invincible’ season – and sixth treble – under Brenden Rogers in 2017.

1. Rangers FC

Points: 554.5

Earliest Trophy Won: Scottish Division 1, 1891

Latest Trophy Won: Scottish Cup, 2022

Most Successful Manager: Bill Struth – 160 Success points (1920-1954)

Most Successful Decade: 1990s, 93 points

Rangers FC were founded all the way back in 1872. Those first 19 years before its first major trophy was a rare period when Scottish football was free of the Old Firm’s vice like grip; when only the Scottish Cup was to play for at national level, before the first National Championship in 1890. Rangers would win the 2nd edition in 1891.

Like its Glaswegian rival Celtic, Rangers’ trophy cabinet is absolutely festooned with shiny metal, including a UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup (CWC) won in 1972. Rangers have won at least 50% of Titles in 4 out of the 13 decades Scottish Championships have run, and 42% of Scottish Titles total and in every decade since the 1890s.

After ‘The Gers’ latest League/LC double in 2011 something unfathomable happened; Rangers went into administration due to financial mismanagement and re-emerged in the Scottish 4th tier. They returned stronger 5 seasons later, however, to win their 55th Title in 2021.

Rangers FC is Scotland’s most successful club and the 2nd most successful in all of Europe!

Best of the Rest

As Scotland’s 3rd most successful club, outside the Old Firm’s heady heights, ‘The Dons’ of Aberdeen have done well for themselves, clinching major trophies in every decade since the 1940’s except the 2000s. Aberdeen FC won its first Title in 1955. It then revelled in a glory period under a manager who would go on to become one of the greatest managers in modern history. Under Alex Ferguson’s guidance, the club won three Titles, four Scottish Cups and a League Cup. He also lead them to a UEFA CWC, beating mighty Real Madrid in the final, plus Scotland’s first UEFA Super Cup – all this in the space of seven years.

5th placed Hibernian FC enjoyed their time in the sun from 1948-52 with what was regarded as the finest forward line ever in Scottish football – Hibs’ ‘Famous Five’. They won 3 Titles in that time.

Let’s not forget one of Scottish football’s founding fathers, Queen’s Park FC which comes in at 6th. The club actually pioneered passing in football and had a lot of success before the Old Firm’s rise, winning 10 Scottish Cups and 30 Success Points. It has always rejected professional football status, however, believing it spoils the spirit of competitiveness. Subsequently ‘The Spiders’ last trophy was won in 1893.

Competition Key
Points
UEFA SC: UEFA Super Cup
2
LC: League Cup (Scottish League Cup)
2
FIFA CWC: Intercontinental Cup / FIFA Club World Cup
3
AC: Association Cup (Scottish FA Cup)
3
UEFA ECL: UEFA Europa Conference League
4
UEFA EL: UEFA Cup / Europa League
6
UEFA CWC: UEFA Cup Winners Cup
6.5
UEFA CL: UEFA European Cup / Champions League
8
T: Top Tier League Title (Division 1 / Scottish Premiership)
7

Success Point Ranking Table

PositionClubSub-point TotalsSuccess Point Total
1Rangers FCLC: 27 x 2 = 54
AC: 34 x 3 = 102
UEFA CWC: 1 x 6.5 = 6.5
T: 55 x 7 = 385
+7 (Trebles)
554.5
2Celtic FCLC: 20 x 2 = 40
AC: 34 x 3 = 102
CL: 1 x 8 = 8
T: 52 x 7 = 364
+7 (Trebles)
521
3Aberdeen FCUEFA SC: 1 x 2 = 2
LC: 6 x 2 = 12
AC: 7 x 3 = 21
UEFA CWC: 1 x 6.5 = 6.5
T: 4 x 7 = 28
69.5
4Heart of Midlothian FCLC: 4 x 2 = 8
AC: 8 x 3 = 24
T: 4 x 7 = 28
60
5Hibernian FCLC: 3 x 2 = 6
AC: 3 x 3 = 9
T: 4 x 7 = 28
43
6Queen’s Park FCAC: 10 x 3 = 3030
7Kilmarnock FCLC: 1 x 2 = 2
AC: 3 x 3 = 9
T: 1 x 7 = 7
18
8Dundee United FCLC: 2 x 2 = 4
AC: 2 x 3 = 6
T: 1 x 7 = 7
17
9Dumbarton FCAC: 1 x 3 = 3
T: 2 x 7 = 14
17
10Dundee FCLC: 3 x 2 = 6
AC: 1 x 3 = 3
T: 1 x 7 = 7
16
11Third Lanark A.C.AC: 2 x 3 = 6
T: 1 x 7 = 7
13
12St Johnstone FCLC: 1 x 2 = 2
AC: 2 x 3 = 6
8
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Dog Fall Kills Three Passers-by, 1988

When a poodle fell off a high rise balcony in Buenos Aires, it is hard to understand how it could result in the deaths of three pedestrians below. Read here to find out how it happened.

Cachi’s beady eyes were locked on to the tennis ball the Montoya family’s youngest boy bounced, so engrossed his head nodded up and down to its rebound.

The ball! The furry, squeezy round thing, fast and agile, and to his prehistoric instincts, his prey. Did he want the ball, his 4ft human friend asked? He certainly did.

The breeze cooled the family lounge that wafted through the open balcony doorway. In the background could be heard a cartoon on the TV and the dull, gentle thud of the ceiling fan.

Cachi’s sinews were trip-wire taut in anticipation. Finally the boy released the ball with a lob and it arched over the white family poodle. Cachi launched himself after his quarry.

The ball bounced too far however, bounding out onto the balcony and through the ornate railings to the street below.

Cachi’s frantic bid to gain traction on the smooth clay red ceramic tiles was in vain. With paws flailing, Cachi sadly dropped off the side after it. It was to his demise the apartment was on the most unlucky floor in the building.

To the agonised, lung-busting screech of his best friend ringing in his ears the red-rimmed hat below rushed up at him before he could eve…

Cachi the poodle’s 13 floor fall (bestoftruecrime.com)

A small, delicate lady named Señorita Espina halted her slow walk along the Buenos Aires pavement in just the wrong spot. She turned to admire a lush carpet in a shop window; she admired it for its vivid colours as much as the fact her fading eyesight made it hard to enjoy the sight of anything much further away.

A sharp canine yelp made her jerk her head up. A heavy thump and moan caused other pedestrians to jerk their heads around in turn.

Catchi left his cherished human boy without a chance for even a farewell head pat. His journey to the next life abruptly commenced, now at the heel of his new grey-haired companion.

A woman named Edith Sola, with streaks of grey coming through her long, glossy dark hair, peered across Rivadavia Avenue. Her mouth hung slack-jawed and her brown eyes twinkled in curiosity at the scene.

She craned her head up to see the source of a child’s loud blubbering on a balcony thirteen stories up. Down at street level a crowd had gathered around directly below the balcony looking at… what, she wondered? Her curiosity took over.

The bus driver was making good time moving up the gears along Rivadavia Avenue, too good.

He had about two seconds to react to a woman stepping out into the road obliviously. In vain he stamped the brake pedal as far down into the footwell as it would go and tugged on the steering wheel. The bus screeched; an ugly thump; a crack of bones and Sola’s body was hurled into the air sideways before slapping to the tarmac, motionless.

Yet the catastrophic ripple effect of that bouncing ball wasn’t over. A gentleman had stepped out of a pharmacy in time to witness the small poodle slam into the elderly woman, killing both instantly.

He gasped in dismay, his feet rooted to the spot. He held his head and a silent prayer streamed from his trembling lips.

To turn to see the bus swerve wildly and another person die in front of his very eyes was too much. He suddenly wished desperately to be away from the lights, the babbling onlookers and oncoming blare of sirens. He started to pant, was then stricken with a sharp pain in the chest and his silent prayers were now audible.

His condition had turned to a full-blown heart attack by the time he was placed in an ambulance, and he too sadly perished.

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Spanish Football’s Most Successful Clubs, Ranked (May, 2022)

ARL Football Success Ranking System

Any club which remotely thinks it deserves the label ‘big’ should be playing in the top league of its association, buying the best players and, ideally, holding down a global brand presence. Yet it is its trophy cabinet which really sorts the economy class clubs from the business class, or even private jet ones.

The ARL Football Success Ranking System for men’s European club football establishes for certain which clubs are the most successful of each nation and in the whole of Europe. It is a system of scoring points to clubs based on what trophies and how many have been won. Different trophies score different points and are based on a ‘glory’ criteria. Only ‘competitive football’ trophies are considered.

Spanish Football and its ‘La Liga’

As the only validative measure of league quality, UEFA’s League Coefficient currently ranks Spanish football as the 2nd best in Europe (2021), having dominated UEFA’s cup contests for much of the 21st Century’s ‘teens’. It’s worth bearing that in mind when understanding why La Liga’s two powerhouses and rivals, Real Madrid and Barcelona, have such global reputations.

Alongside a supporting cast of Spanish football clubs, they have scored a whopping 336.5 Success Points in total from all international competitions.

Its top tier league, ‘La Liga’ was founded in 1929. 5 Clubs are in the ‘Big 100+’ honour roll of clubs with at least 100 Success points to their name and Real Madrid and Barcelona are two of the most successful clubs in Europe.

Spain is a nation which tries to jostle with the English Premier League’s lucrative place in the limelight by offering plenty of glamour ties against Europe’s elite for its biggest clubs, earning them plenty of dosh in the process.

Competition KeyPoints
SC: Domestic ‘Super Cup’ (RFEF Spanish Super Cup)1
UEFA SC: UEFA Super Cup2
FIFA CWC: Intercontinental Cup / FIFA Club World Cup3
LC: League Cup (Copa de la Liga)4
UEFA ECL: UEFA Europa Conference League4
AC: Association Cup (RFEF Copa Del Rey)5
UEFA EL: UEFA Cup / Europa League6
UEFA CWC: UEFA Cup Winners Cup6.5
UEFA CL: UEFA European Cup / Champions League8
T: Top Tier League Title (La Liga)9

Scroll down to the bottom to view the full table of Spain’s Most Successful Clubs!


Here is the ARL countdown of Spain’s 5 most successful clubs

5. Valencia FC

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Points: 109.5

First Trophy Won: RFEF Copa del Rey, 1941

Latest Trophy Won: RFEF Copa del Rey, 2019

Most Successful Manager: Rafa Benitez – 24 points (2001-2004)

Founded in 1919 and only competing for the Copa del Rey for the first time in 1923, Valencia sat in the background of the Spanish football scene until blowing up shortly after the Civil War, winning its first ever trophy in 1941. It followed this up with 3 La Ligas throughout the rest of the 1940s and this set the tone for ambition with mixed results.

The club has managed to win major trophies in every decade since, except the 80s, including its 3rd La Liga under ex Real Madrid legend Alfredo de Stefano in 1970 and it added another 2 Titles plus 1 UEFA Cup to its trophy cabinet in three years under its most successful manager Rafa Benitez. It won its 8th Copa del Rey as recently as 2019 by beating the league champions Barcelona in the final.

Valencia is the first club to make it into the ‘Big 100+’, coming in at 5th.

4. Atletico Madrid

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Points: 184.5

First Trophy Won: La Liga, 1940

Latest Trophy Won: La Liga, 2021

Most Successful Manager: Diego Simeone – 40 points (2011 – present (2021))

A club founded by three Basque students in 1903, Atletico Madrid (AM) was only intended to be a subsidiary branch of Basque club Athletic Bilbao who the three saw win the Copa del Rey in that year. It became independent in 1921 however and, like Valencia, it would come into its own after the Civil War; it won La Ligas consecutively at the start of the 1940s and again at the start of the ‘50s. The club also won the King’s Cup twice in a row at the start of the ‘60s and again at the start of the ‘90s.

La Liga in the Postmodern era has been characterised by an increasingly stifling dominance by the ‘Real – Barca’ rivalry, hogging financial resources and the talent pool in the process. It’s been refreshing to see a third club find success of their own, largely under the reign of their most successful manager Simeone, grabbing 5 UEFA trophies, another Copa del Rey, then crowning it with another La Liga Title in 2014.

AM were crowned Spanish champions yet again in 2021.

Although AM has established itself as La Liga’s 3rd best club in the 21st Century, its later start in football puts it in as Spain’s 4th Most Successful Club.

3. Athletic Bilbao FC

Points: 190

First Trophy Won: RFEF Copa del Rey, 1903

Latest Trophy Won: RFEF Super Cup, 2021

Most Successful Manager: Fred Pentland – 43 points (1922-1925 and 1929-1933)

A club with the unique distinction of employing the cantera policy, which limits it to recruiting exclusively from the Greater Basque Region, is a founding member of ‘La Liga’. ‘Los Leones’ (The Lions) featured prominently in early Copa del Rey editions prior to La Liga’s inception in 1928, winning 3 in a row, from 1914 – 16, for example.

Athletic has its roots in the late 19th Century with a heavy British influence. Most of its managers were also British up until the early ‘30s, including its most successful manager Fred Pentland. Implementing a pioneering short passing style of play, he led Athletic to 2 League/Cup ‘doubles’ in 1930 and 1931 and under him the club didn’t share the King’s Cup with anyone from 1930 until 1933.

It continued to vie with Barca and Real Madrid (RM) for Spanish dominance until the latter half of the 20th Century which inevitably saw its small recruitment pool handicap them against the rest of Spanish clubs’ ever expanding recruiting networks. Major trophies have come ever harder to come by although, under the stewardship of Javier Clemente, a dour yet effective playing style would see Athletic haul in another 2 La Ligas in the first half of the 1980s.

Athletic Bilbao’s huge Copa del Rey haul helps put it in 3rd place in Spain’s Most Successful Club ranking.

2. Barcelona FC

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Points: 470

First Trophy Won: RFEF Copa del Rey, 1910

Latest Trophy Won: Copa del Rey, 2021

Most Successful Manager: Pepe Guardiola – 66 points (2008-2012)

Standing alone as the only club able to loosen Real Madrid’s stranglehold over La Liga, Catalan top dog Barcelona is its fierce rival and a global giant in its own right. It falls short of the 500 Success points mark but has a record 150 points from the Copa del Rey alone, winning more than 1 in 4 of every trophy won. It clinched the first ever La Liga in 1930 before its founder, Hans Gamper, tragically took his own life a year later.

The 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s were sparse decades for Titles, though it filled its trophy cabinet with Copa del Reys and 4 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cups in the 80s. Its superpower status really took off in the 90s and on into the 21st Century. It managed to win itself 3 Champions’ Leagues (CL) including 3 Titles and 2 CLs, amongst other silverware, under Pepe’s Guardiola’s leadership. He added 66 points to the club in 4 short years from 2008 – 12.

With over 450 points, this puts Barcelona in as just the 2nd Most Successful Club in Spain.

1. Real Madrid FC

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Points: 579

First Trophy Won: RFEF Copa Del Rey, 1905

Latest Trophy Won: La Liga, UEFA CL, 2022

Most Successful Manager: Miguel Munoz – 110 points (1959-1974)

Real Madrid (RM) is arguably the biggest club in the world by virtually every yardstick and it has the success to match, passing the stratospheric 500 point mark. The club has a record 14 Champions’ League trophies, no less than 7 Intercontinental Cups/FIFA Club World Cups, and dozens of Titles.

The club was founded in 1902 and RM won its first Copa del Rey soon after in 1905. Under the ambitious stewardship of Santiago Bernabéu Yeste from 1945 RM embarked on a policy of buying up the cream of European talent and creating teams of ‘Galacticos’. From then on it’s laid down a firm dominance over La Liga, grabbing roughly one in every three Titles ever won.

The first of those Galacticos, Alfredo di Stefano, launched RM into the big time as it jumped into the new big thing – International matchups formally governed by UEFA. When the European Cup was launched in 1955, RM won the first 5 on the trot.

As they say, the rest is history. ‘Royal Madrid’ truly are the kings of football. It is not only the Most Successful Club in Spain, but in the whole of Europe!

The Best of the Rest

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Although it holds just 1 La Liga Title, Sevilla FC’s profile has risen considerably in the 21st Century by winning a record 6 UEFA Europa Leagues, 3 of them won consecutively from 2014-16. That is a wonderful achievement for a club outside of the ‘El Clasico’ cartel! They come in at 6th.

8th placed Real Sociodad managed to break the status quo for a brief window from 1980 – 82, snatching 2 Titles plus a Super Cup under the guidance of ex Socio player Alberto Ormaetxea.

Success Point Table

PositionFootball ClubSuccess Points SubtotalsSuccess Points Total
1Real Madrid FCSC: 12 x 1 = 12

UEFA SC: 4 x 2 = 8

FIFA CWC: 7 x 3 = 21

LC: 1 x 4 = 4

AC: 19 x 5 = 95

EL: 2 x 6 = 12

CL: 14 x 8 = 112

T: 35 x 9 = 315
579
2Barcelona FCSC: 13 x 1 = 13

UEFA SC: 5 x 2 = 10

FIFA CWC: 3 x 3 = 9

LC: 2 x 4 = 8

AC: 31 x 5 = 155

UEFA CWC: 4 x 6.5 = 26

CL: 5 x 8 = 40

T: 23 x 9 = 207

+2 Trebles
470
3Athletic Bilbao FCSC: 3 x 1 = 3
AC: 23 x 5 = 115
T: 8 x 9 = 72
190
4Atletico Madrid FCSC: 2 x 1 = 2
UEFA SC: 3 x 2 = 6
FIFA CWC: 1 x 3 = 3
AC: 10 x 5 = 50
EL: 3 x 6 = 18
UEFA CWC: 1 x 6.5 = 6.5
T: 11 x 9 = 99
184.5
5Valencia FCSC: 1 x 1 = 1
UEFA SC: 1 x 2 = 2
AC: 8 x 5 = 40
EL: 1 x 6 = 6
UEFA CWC: 1 x 6.5 = 6.5
T: 6 x 9 = 54
109.5
6Sevilla FCSC: 1 x 1 = 1
UEFA SC: 1 x 2 = 2
AC: 5 x 5 = 25
EL: 6 x 6 = 36
T: 1 x 9 = 9
73
7Real Zaragoza FCSC: 1 x 1 = 1
AC: 6 x 5 = 30
UEFA CWC: 1 x 6.5 = 6.5
37.5
8Real Sociedad FCSC: 1 x 1 = 1
AC: 2 x 5 = 10
T: 2 x 9 = 18
29
9Real Betis FCAC: 3 x 5 = 15
T: 1 x 9 = 9
24
10Deportivo de la Coruna FCSC: 3 x 1 = 3
AC: 2 x 5 = 10
T: 1 x 9 = 9
22
=11RCD Espanyol FC
Real Unión Club de Irún
AC: 4 x 5 = 2020
=13RCD Mallorca FCSC: 1 x 1 = 1
AC: 1 x 5 = 5
6
=13Villareal CFEL: 1 x 6 = 66
15Real Valladolid FCLC: 1 x 4 = 44
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England’s 10 Most Successful Football Clubs, Ranked (May, 2022)

ARL Football Success Ranking System

Any club which remotely thinks it deserves the label ‘big’ should be playing in the top league of its association, buying the best players and, ideally, holding down a global brand presence. It is the trophy cabinet, however, which really sorts the economy class clubs from the business class, or even private jet ones.

The ARL Football Success Ranking System for men’s European club football establishes for certain which clubs are the most successful of each nation and in the whole of Europe. It is a system of scoring points to clubs based on what trophies and how many have been won. Different trophies score different points and are based on a ‘glory’ criteria. Only ‘competitive football’ trophies are considered.

English Football and its Premier League

England, alongside it’s northern neighbour, is the cradle of football civilisation. A sport played since medieval times and now played in every corner of the globe, the rules of modern Association Football were written up in the Freemasons’ Tavern, London in 1863 and have changed little since. Club football served to channel the fierce regional identities and rivalries of places like Merseyside, Tyne and Wear, Greater London and Greater Birmingham. The English also became highly consumerised and these and other factors explain the rise in the popularity of the ‘beautiful game’ and why England’s Premier League is rated as the biggest and most competitive league in the world.

English clubs have earned 232.5 points in international competitions.

Competition KeyPoints
SC: Domestic ‘Super Cup’ (FA Charity Shield / Community Shield)1 (0.5 points per ‘shared’ trophy)
UEFA SC: UEFA Super Cup2
FIFA CWC: Intercontinental Cup / FIFA Club World Cup3
LC: League Cup (EFL League Cup)4
UEFA ECL: UEFA Europa Conference League4
AC: Association Cup (FA Cup)5
UEFA EL: UEFA Cup / Europa League6
UEFA CWC: UEFA Cup Winners Cup6.5
UEFA CL: UEFA European Cup / Champions League8
T: Top Tier League Title (Division 1 / Premier League)9

Scroll to the bottom to see the full table of England’s 25 Most Successful Clubs!


Here, is the ARL countdown of the Top 10 Most Successful Football Clubs in England:

10. Sunderland AFC

Sunderland players hold aloft their 1937 FA Cup win

Success Points: 65

Earliest Trophy Won: FL Division 1 Title, 1892

Latest Trophy Won: FA Cup, 1973

Most Successful Manager: Tom Watson – 27 points (Aug 1889 –1896)

Most Successful Decade: 1890-1900 – 27 points

Sunderland AFC enjoyed its main period of glory the decade before its Tyneside rivals, grabbing 3 of its 6 Titles before the 19th Century’s end. During the late 19th Century, it was declared to have the “Team of All Talents” by William McGregor, the founder of the league, after its 3rd Title win in the 1894–95 season – ending the season five points ahead of Everton. Sunderland then went up against Heart of Midlothian, the champions of the Scottish League. Winning that 5–3, they were announced to be “Champions of the World”.

It has only managed to win the second of its 2 FA Cups since WW2’s end. With its vintage years of ruling English football, Sunderland takes the bottom spot of the ten most successful clubs in England.

9. Newcastle United FC

…whilst Newcastle likewise celebrate their FA Cup triumph in 1951

Success Points: 67

First Trophy Won: FL Division 1 Title, 1905

Latest Trophy Won: FA Cup, 1955

Most Successful Manager: Frank Watt – 47 points (1892 – Dec 1929)

Most Successful Decade: 1900-1910 – 33 points

The next place is taken by Sunderland’s fierce Tyne and Wear rival Newcastle, which comes in at 9th – its 4 more FA Cups trumps Sunderland’s 2 extra league Titles.

With a team known for their artistic play, combining team-work and quick, short passing, the club dominated English football in the 20th Century’s first decade when Newcastle won 3 Titles and an FA Cup, and 33 of its 69 points. It bagged a further 3 FA Cups in the 1950s.

8. Tottenham Hotspur

A proud Spurs team pose with their Title/FA Cup ‘double’, 1961

Success Points: 96

First Trophy Won: FA Cup, 1901

Latest trophy Won: FL Cup, 2008

Most Successful Manager: Bill Nicholson – 47 points (1958–1974)

Most Successful Decade: 1960-1970 – 33.5 points

The ‘Lillywhites’ have achieved much for a club with just two Titles to its name. Spurs’ credentials are underlined by the fact they achieved a number of firsts in English football. Tottenham was the first, and likely, only non league club to win an FA Cup, in 1901; the first club in the 20th Century to win the ‘Double’ and in 1963 it was the first English club to win a UEFA trophy (The UEFA CWC). Spurs also won the first ever edition of the UEFA Cup in 1972.

Regular trophy success with attractive, pioneering tactics in the decades after WW2 meant Tottenham was regarded as the 5th biggest club in England by the time the Premier League was launched at the start of the 1990s. The club failed to exploit the commercial value of a league that went on to be the most wealthy in the world however, going on to win just one trophy – an FL Cup – in the 21st Century to date.

7. Everton FC

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Very pleased: Everton teammates pose with the UEFA CWC, 1985

Success Points: 121

First Trophy Won: FL Division 1 Title, 1891

Latest Trophies Won: FA Cup and Community Shield (CS), 1995

Most Successful Manager: Howard Kendall – 37 points (May 1981 – 87)

Most Successful Decade: 1980-1990 – 37 points

Although Everton’s global profile is overshadowed by that of its city rivals Liverpool, it has an impressive trophy cabinet in its own right and, except the ’50s and ’70s, has managed to win Titles and trophies every decade back from the 1890s up until the 21st Century.

The ’80s was Everton’s best period under manager Howard Kendall. They won 2 Titles, a handful of FA Cups and a UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup (CWC). But the Heysal Stadium Disaster and the ensuing 5 year English club ban from UEFA competitions gave English football a hard jolt, hitting both Everton and Liverpool particularly badly. The Merseyside two lost their ascendancy to Manchester and London clubs in the ’90s, and Everton has since failed to win a Title in the Premier League era.

6. Aston Villa FC

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Joyous Aston Villa holding the UEFA European Cup in 1982

Success Points: 135

Earliest Trophy Won: FL Division 1 Title, 1894

Latest Trophy Won: FL Cup, 1996

Most Successful Manager: George Ramsay – 84 points (Aug 1884 – May 1926)

Most Successful Decade: 1890-1900 – 61 points

Despite struggling in the PL in recent years, the Villans are the original giants of the English game, having won 5 Titles and 3 FA Cups before the the 20th Century even kicked off.

From after WW1, the club found success much harder to come by, although this did include winning its latest Title in ‘81 with its first ever European Cup the following year. It also bagged a number of FL Cups and its latest FA Cup in the 2nd half of the 20th Century.

Aston Villa is the most successful club in the Greater Birmingham area.

5. Chelsea FC

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Chelsea’s CL and FA Cup ‘double’ in 2012

Success Points: 149

Earliest Trophies Won: FL Division 1 Title and FA CS, 1955

Latest Trophy Won: UEFA SC and FIFA WC, 2022

Most Successful Manager: Jose Mourinho – 45 points (2004 – 2007 and 2013 – 2015)

Most Successful Decade: 2000-2010 – 53 points

Chelsea comes in at 4th place. Chelsea had won 32 of its present 136 Success points before Roman Abramovich, Russian multi-billionaire extraordinaire, seized a majority share of Chelsea in 2003 and started pumping tens of millions of pounds into the squad. He appointed the ‘Special One’ Jose Mourinho, who they rode a wave of dominance under, winning two Titles plus other trophies, and 32 success points in three seasons.

This club, with its new money, has bought a place at the top table.

4. Manchester City FC

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2017 English Champions, Man City FC

Success Points: 151.5

First Trophy Won: FA Cup, 1904

Latest Trophies Won: PL, 2022

Most Successful Manager: Pep Guardiola – 54 points (Jul 2016 – Present (May 2021))

Most Successful Decade: 2010-2020 – 69 points

From the ‘Grand Old Ladies’ to upstarts, Manchester’s 2nd club comes in at 5th and has rocketed into the bigtime.

A club sports fans maybe deride even more than Chelsea for its trophy ‘buying’, Manchester’s mega wealthy Adu Dhabi backers took over in 2008, instantly spending a PL record sum on Brazilian striker Robinho. It actually won 69 of its 142.5 total points before its takeover yet, since then, its owners have amassed a squad packed with talent in every position, winning 5 PL Titles and 10 other major trophies under a revolving door of managers.

Its glory days show no sign of stopping so expect it to rise further up the table.

3. Arsenal FC

Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’, 2003-2004

Success Points: 215.5

First Trophy Won: FA Cup, 1930

Latest Trophies Won: FA Cup, 2020

Most Successful Manager: Arsene Wenger – 69 points (Oct 1996 – May 2018)

Most Successful Decade: 1930-1940 – 55 points

Breaking the 200 Success Point mark is Arsenal. Under the leadership of Herbert Chapman, a manager who had already managed to win 3 consecutive Titles with Huddersfield Town FC in the ‘20s, Arsenal won its first ever trophy in 1930. With a new home and First Division football, attendances more than doubled, Arsenal’s budget grew rapidly and Arsenal quickly became known as the ‘Bank of England club’. Record breaking gate receipts meant it was able to lavish its extra income on stars like David Jack and Alex James. It then went on a winning spree throughout the ’30s and picked up from where it left off straight after WW2 and for a few years thereafter, winning Titles every decade except the 1960s and the 2010s.

A second icon of the club’s was Arsene Wenger in the PL era, winning 3 Titles and 7 FA Cups to make it the most successful club in the FA Cup. Although a powerhouse of the domestic game, Arsenal’s prestige is limited by having only a single international trophy – the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, won in 1994.

Arsenal is the most successful club in London.

2. Manchester United FC

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Man United famously achieved the European Treble in 1999

Success Points: 320.5

First Trophy Won: FL Division 1 Title, 1908

Most Recent Trophy Wins: FL Cup and UEFA Europa League, 2017

Most Successful Manager: Sir Alex Ferguson (SAF) – 204 points (Nov 1986 – Jun 2013)

Most Successful Decade: 1990-2000 – 93 points

One of the biggest clubs in England, with its ubiquitous fanbase, it won its lion’s share of trophies in the PL era under the epic stewardship of Sir Alex Ferguson.

Manchester United won 2 Titles before WW1 under manager Earnest Mangnall, but didn’t win its 3rd until 1952 under Matt Busby, with the ’60s and ’70s also a fallow period of no Title wins while Liverpool was dominating English football. Yet, the only decades in its history it hasn’t won a single trophy were the 1920s and ’30s. Man U really ruled football from 1986 – 2013 when the club won 13 of its 20 Titles under SAF.

Despite the Munich Air Disaster of 1958 claiming the lives of 23 staff including 8 players, it rose from the ashes, managing its next major trophy win just 5 years later by winning the FA Cup. It would win its, and English football’s, first European Cup in 1967 and won 2 more under SAF.

1. Liverpool FC

We've been waiting a long time' - Liverpool celebrate Premier League glory  in style
Top of the world: PL champs in 2020, having won the CL and World Cup in the 12 months prior.

Success Points: 338.5

First Trophy Won: FL Div. 1 Title, 1901

Most Recent Trophy Won: FA and FL Cup, 2022

Most Successful Manager: Bob Paisley – 116.5 points (Aug 1974 – July 1983)

Most Successful Decade: 1980-1990 – 100.5 points

Liverpool won its first trophy whilst Queen Victoria was still on the throne. Its many Titles were won in the ’20s, ’40s and ’60s decades and particularly during the ’70s and ’80s as well when, in the 14 years between 1976 and 1990, it amassed a total of 10 Titles, 4 European Cups and 7 other major trophies.

Iconic managers during the glittering period of the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s were Bill Shankley, Bob Paisley and Joe Fagan.

The Heysel Stadium disaster blighted the glow around the club and its community for a short while as Fagan retired shortly afterwards and the disaster led to a five year ban from European competition. However another club icon, Kenny Dalglish, picked up where his predecessors left off continuing the trail of success at home.

Like Everton, ‘The Reds‘ wilted in the PL era but managed to win other trophies including 2 more Champions’ Leagues (CL). This means Liverpool holds the record for CLs won in England. Liverpool then ended its 30 year wait for its first PL Title by topping the table in 2020. Its impressive trophy haul puts Liverpool on top as England’s most successful club!

Competition KeyPoints
SC: Domestic ‘Super Cup’ (FA Charity Shield / Community Shield)
1 (0.5 points per ‘shared’ trophy)
UEFA SC: UEFA Super Cup
2
FIFA CWC: Intercontinental Cup / FIFA Club World Cup
3
LC: League Cup (EFL League Cup)
4
UEFA ECL: UEFA Europa Conference League
4
AC: Association Cup (FA Cup)
5
UEFA EL: UEFA Cup / Europa League
6
UEFA CWC: UEFA Cup Winners Cup
6.5
UEFA CL: UEFA European Cup / Champions League
8
T: Top Tier League Title (Division 1 / Premier League)
9

Top 25 Most Successful Football Clubs in England

PositionFootball ClubPoints SubtotalsPoints Total
1Liverpool FCSC: 10 + 2.5 (5 shared) x 1 = 12.5

UEFA SC: 4 x 2 = 8

FIFA CWC: 1 x 3 = 3

LC: 9 x 4 = 36

AC: 8 x 5 = 40

EL: 3 x 6 = 18

CL: 6 x 8 = 48

T: 19 x 9 = 171

2 (Treble) 
338.5
2Manchester United FCSC: 17 + 2 (4 shared) x 1 =19

UEFA SC: 1 x 2 =2

FIFA CWC: 2 x 3 =6

LC: 4 x 4 = 16

AC: 12 x 5 = 60

EL: 1 x 6 = 6

UEFA CWC: 1 x 6.5 = 6.5

CL: 3 x 8 = 24

T: 20 x 9 = 180

+1 (Treble)
320.5
3Arsenal FC15 + 0.5 (1 shared) x 1 = 15.5
2 x 4 = 8
14 x 5 = 70
1 x 6.5 = 6.5
13 x 9 = 117
216.5
4Manchester City FC6 x 1 = 6
9 x 4 = 36
6 x 5 = 30
1 x 6.5 = 6.5
8 x 9 = 72
+1 (Treble)
151.5
5Chelsea FC4 x 1 = 4
2 x 2 = 4
1 x 3 = 3
5 x 4 = 20
8 x 5 = 40
2 x 6 = 12
1 x 6.5 = 6.5
2 x 8 = 16
6 x 9 = 54
149
6Aston Villa FC1 x 1 = 1
1 x 2 = 2
5 x 4 = 20
7 x 5 = 35
1 x 8 = 8
7 x 9 = 63
135
7Everton FC8 + 0.5 (1 shared) x 1 = 8.5
5 x 5 = 25
1 x 6.5 = 6.5
9 x 9 = 81
121
8Tottenham Hotspur FC4 + 1.5 (3 shared) x 1 = 5.5
4 x 4 = 16
8 x 5 = 40
2 x 6 = 12
1 x 6.5 = 6.5
2 x 9 = 18
96
9Newcastle United FC1 x 1 = 1
6 x 5 = 30
4 x 9 = 36
67
10Sunderland AFC1 x 1 = 1
2 x 5 = 10
6 x 9 = 54
65
11Blackburn Rovers FC1 x 1 = 1
1 x 4 = 4
6 x 5 = 30
3 x 9 = 27
62
12Wolverhampton Wanderers FC1 + 1.5 x 1 = 2.5
2 x 4 = 8
4 x 5 = 20
3 x 9 = 27
57.5
13Sheffield Wednesday FC1 x 1 = 1
1 x 4 = 4
3 x 5 = 15
4 x 9 = 36
56
14Nottingham Forest FC1 x 1 = 1
1 x 2 = 2
4 x 4 = 16
2 x 5 = 10
2 x 8 =  16
1 x 9 = 9
54
15Birmingham City FC2 x 4 = 8
4 x 9 = 36
44
16West Bromwich Albion FC1 + 0.5 x 1 = 1.5
1 x 4 = 4
5 x 5 = 25
1 x 9 = 9
39.5
17Leeds United FC2 x 1 = 2
1 x 4 = 4
1 x 5 = 5
3 x 9 = 27
38
18Huddersfield Town AFC1 x 1 = 1
1 x 5 = 5
3 x 9 = 27
33
=19Preston North End FC1 x 1 = 1
2  x 5 = 10
2 x 9 = 18
29
=19Sheffield United FC4 x 5 = 20
1 x 9 = 9
29
21Portsmouth FC0.5 x 1 = 0.5
2 x 5  = 10
2 x 9 = 18
28.5
22Leicester City FC2 x 1 = 2
3 x 4 = 12
1 X 5 = 5
1 x 9 = 9
28
23Wanderers FC5 x 5 = 2525
24Burnley FC1 + 0.5 x 1 = 1.5
1 x 5 = 5
2 x 9 = 18
24.5
25Derby County FC1 x 1 = 1
1 x 5 = 5
2 x 9 = 18
24
26West Ham United FC0.5 x 1 = 0.5
3 x 5 = 15
1 x 6.5 = 6.5
22
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Grim Reaper Refuses to Let Death Row Escapee Live, 1980

One man’s fate to die on a date in 1980 was so strong even escaping Death Row could not postpone his mortality. Read here how he met his end.

Such is the antisocial, troublesome character of some people you meet that you just know they’re destined to be dead or in prison before they reach their 40th birthday, and so was the case for Troy Leon Gregg – despite his best efforts otherwise.

Convicted of murdering two men whom he had hitched a ride with in order to rob them, Gregg was clearly a nasty piece of work. For that, he’d become the first man to end a de facto moratorium on the death penalty imposed four years prior.

Four years later on death row and it was 1980 and his long-awaited date with the Grim Reaper was looming imminently, yet Gregg had plans to give him the slip and make a flight for freedom.

On the eve of his execution date Gregg, with three other condemned murderers, sawed through their cell bars, walked along a ledge to a fire escape and, after altering their prison clothing to resemble correctional officer uniforms, left in a car parked in the visitors’ parking lot by one of their aunts.

Success! Gregg and his companions pulled off the first death row breakout in Georgia’s history.

Yet Gregg just couldn’t keep his nose out of trouble. He wound up that night roughhousing it at some biker bar and getting hammered. He started harassing a waitress and hit her when she turned down his advances.

One biker didn’t like what he saw and this guy was the kind of bad-ass, greasy biker who didn’t screw around; Gregg was beaten to death. A number of patrons then helped dump his body in the lake round back.

So, the grim reaper caught up with Gregg regardless. The other escapees were recaptured three days later.

Troy Leon Gregg may have escaped the electric chair, but he didn’t escape his death sentence (thecrimemag.com)
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Andorra’s 44 Years of World War finally Ended, 1958

The time one disregarded European state forgot to end the ‘Great War’

For its main belligerents, World-War-I lasted from 1914 until 1918, yet bizarrely Germany remained at war, technically, with one country for another 40 years.

Andorra is a European minnow state of 468 km (181 sq mi) and just 76,000 call it home.

It was also one of the first nations to declare war on the Germans and Austro-Hungarians yet, after the unfettered hurly-burly of mass war, the fact it didn’t possess an army meant Andorra’s govt. weren’t exactly central players in the peace talks of WWI’s end.

For this mountain enclave, ‘The Great War’ continued unabated until 1958, according to this report in the New York Times on September the 24th: 

World War I is over for this 191 square mile Pyrenees Republic. Andorra, a participant, was not invited to the Versailles Peace Conference ending World War I. The decree, ending the state of war was signed yesterday.”

Finally, these great nations could breathe a sigh of relief and begin to look to the future once again.

For Andorra, WW1 lasted 44 years! (du.edu)
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The 14 Year-Old Cop, 2009

The embarrassing episode for the Chicago Police Dept. when they discovered a teenager had managed to get hold of a uniform and go under cover as a cop. Find out what duties he performed during his ‘shift’ and try to figure out how he slipped through the net.

It was just past lunchtime and a young lad named Vincent Richardson, who stood at 5ft 3in (1.6m) tall, felt a tingle in his belly which he could not decide was down to nerves or excitement; it was his first day on the job. He did not let his nerves show though as he walked up to the rear entrance of a Chicago P.D. Grand Crossing District station.

He told an officer smoking by the entrance that it was his first day and could he enter the security code on the lock? The officer obliged and he slid in.

He approached the Sergeant’s Office to report for duty. The sergeant glanced up at the small-statured officer before him and noted his watchful brown eyes and coat collar turned up against the January cold.

Officer Richardson signed out a ticket book and radio, was assigned a partner, and began his first day on the beat.

For six hours that afternoon Richardson attended five traffic accidents and used the squad car’s computer to check license plates. It’s alleged he also took the wheel of the police car and may have helped handcuff a suspect.

His ruse was discovered by a supervisor who noticed Richardson was missing his badge, gun and a newspaper in place of a ballistic vest in his vest carrier.

To their great consternation Richardson was discovered to be just a 14-year-old high school kid. For the stunt, Richardson was placed on juvenile probation.

But he clearly got a taste for the uniform; amazingly he was caught impersonating a police officer again in 2013 and 2015. For the most recent felony he was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

Vincent Richardson aged 17 (chicago.cbslocal.com)
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French Sink Greenpeace Ship, 1985

How on earth did Greenpeace get mixed up in the seedy world of covert operations to result in one of its ships getting mined? Read about how the world-renowned conservation group annoyed the French so much they launched ‘Operation Satanique’ against them.

Sticking to the shadows, sheathed in black and deadly with any weapon, the men and women who staff the world’s most active covert action agencies are experts in surveillance, subterfuge and sabotage; they’re the guys that governments turn to when they tire of fighting fair, and no blow is too low.

Little else than the noise of sloshing water gently slapping the bow of a small ship intruded on the peace of approaching midnight that set the scene in Auckland Port, New Zealand. The silhouette of the ship was barely perceptible against the faint rays of harbour lights in the distant background and it barely revealed the superstructure of the Rainbow Warrior.

This 418 tonne converted trawler with a thick brushstroke of rainbow down its otherwise black hull was serving as Greenpeace’s flagship in their dogged, decades-old campaigns to resist whaling, seal hunting and nuclear testing in the southern Pacific’s seas and atolls.

Previously the ship had set sail to the Mururoa Atoll, where the French Government were drenching the region in radioactivity in its pursuit to develop its arsenal of nuclear weapons. The Greenpeace crew had become old hands at monitoring and obstructing the French and making thorough nuisances of themselves.

Yet be careful what you wish for; Rainbow Warrior was about to become a victim of her own success. She’d become such a thorn in the French Republic’s side, its government’s patience had run out and the order was given to teach the eco-warriors a lesson they wouldn’t forget.

Unseen, an unnatural burble of bubbles reaching the water’s surface betrayed a sinister presence; two divers had left the cover of shadows to enter the jet black water.

Their tools, limpet mines, and they were about to perform the coupe-de-grace to ‘Operation Satanique’; a mission to sink the Rainbow Warrior. The two divers, operatives of none other than the Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure (DGSE) — France’s highly covert spy agency — so formidable its name is spoken only in hushed tones among her enemies.

The clock was ticking. The two frogmen dived to place a mine each on the starboard hull, setting them to detonate 10 mins apart.

The doomed ship’s crew were thrown violently awake at the violent jolt of the 1st explosion. They clamoured to clamber off the ship and onto the cold jetty with whatever belongings they could snatch.

The operation was going to plan like a well-conducted theatre piece until one actor veered from the script; photographer Fernando Pereira felt safe enough to reboard the vessel to retrieve his precious camera equipment when the 2nd mine detonated. It delivered the ship its death blow and Periera, trapped below, joined her.

He was the operation’s sole fatality. The ship slipped under the harbour’s murky waters as the two men in black slipped away. DGSE’s mission was reported successful.

The DGSE sank the ex trawler with two limpet mines (earthisland.org)

In the aftermath, however, the French suffered a PR disaster; the two frogmen were caught after New Zealand’s police launched their biggest ever manhunt to discover the two saboteurs were in fact a man and a woman. They’d posed as a married couple in the run-up to the operation.

Although initially trying to deny involvement, France apologised and paid millions of francs in compensation to both Greenpeace and Fernando Periera’s family.

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