EFL 2017-18 Countdown: 10 of the biggest Opening Day Shocks

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The new English Football League campaign begins in earnest this weekend, with the 72 sides from all three divisions set for battle up and down the country.

But the opening weekend doesn’t always go to plan.

Just ask these sides, all of whom have endured opening day capitulations in recent years…

Gillingham 4-0 Sheffield United: 2015-16

Promotion fancies Sheffield United were embarrassed by the Gills in front of a 7,511 crowd at Priestfield. Manager Nigel Adkins would last the season before being replaced by current boss Chris Wilder.

Preston North End 2-4 Colchester United: 2011-12

A first entry for Colchester who feature heavily on this list, thanks to their proficiency for beating freshly relegated sides on the opening day. Preston, in their first season in League One for a decade, would end up finishing 15th.

Norwich City 1-7 Colchester United: 2009-10

The Canaries were humbled on their home patch in their first third-tier game since 1960. A brace apiece from Clive Platt and Kevin Lisbie inflicted City’s heaviest home loss in history.

Walsall 4-1 West Bromwich Albion: 2003-04

Fresh from Premier League relegation, Gary Megson’s West Brom side were brought back down to earth with a bump at the Hawthorns. Paul Merson scored twice as the Saddlers inflicted a shock opening day defeat.

Millwall 0-6 Rotherham United: 2002-03

Darren Byfield hit four to send the Millers atop the fledgling Division One table, as Rotherham clocked up the joint biggest opening day victory away from home in the past 15 years.

Chesterfield 3-6 Colchester United: 2001-02

Not a shock but a crazy scoreline at Saltergate as Division Two got underway. Scott McLeish, Kevin Rapley, Steve Payne and Joe Dunne were among the scorers.

Barnet 4-7 Crewe Alexandra: 1991-92

In the top tier the golden age of the Premier League was just around the corner. In Division Four meanwhile, this monstrosity of a game took place. Barnet would go on to make the play-offs.

Newcastle United 5-2 Leeds United: 1989-90

Leeds got their final season in Division Two off to the worst possible start. A glut of goals from Mick Quinn gave the Magpies an opening day win at a resplendent St. James’ Park. Footage still exists on YouTube.

Everton 1-4 Tottenham Hotspur: 1983-84

The previous season’s FA Cup winners were turned over on their home patch as Bill Nicholson’s Tottenham came to town. A Clive Allen double helped Spurs on their way to a resounding victory over the eventual league winners.

Swansea City 5-1 Leeds United: 1981-82

Not such a shock in today’s football landscape, but back in 1981 the Swans were embarking on their inaugural season in the first division while Leeds were in their 18th year of an unbroken spell. The campaign didn’t finish any better for the Whites who were relegated on 42 points in the first year of three points for a win.

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Nick Murphy

Nick is a graduate of the University of East Anglia where he doubled up as the sports editor of the student newspaper Concrete. He also supports Dagenham & Redbridge and previously edited the matchday programme at Victoria Road. Other passions include darts, cricket, speedway and horse racing.