A hat-trick is one of football's most prized possessions, with sportsmen and women lauding the act of scoring three times in sport since the 1850s. Friday 28 November 2014 marks a notable milestone in that long history, as it is half a century since officially the fastest treble was ever scored, by Scotsman Tommy Ross in just 90 seconds – though he has held that title for a lot less than 50 years.
When he was at last given the certificate from Guinness World Records for his unbelievable feat against Nairn County, while aged just 17, Ross said he could finally have the last laugh after decades of disbelief. “I scored seven that afternoon in our 8-1 victory against Nairn but the hat-trick has never been recognised until now,” he said back in 2004. “Now the certificate has arrived I can put to rest all those 'Doubting Thomases' who said it was all in my mind.”
It ironically took testimony from the opposing goalkeeper, as well as the referee for the game, to see him recognised – with evidence needed to be submitted to Guinness World Records for it to be investigated and ratified. Ross believes now that beating the record is almost impossible, because today the cartwheels and choreographed celebrations just take too long.
“In those days there was no kissing and cuddling when you scored a goal. You just ran back to the halfway line and got on with the game. If you were lucky, the most you got was a pat on the head from your team captain.”
With a hat-trick reportedly being scored in just 70 seconds in an English amateur game in 2013, his time at the top may be numbered. Though, Swede Magnus Arvidsson likely also feels he has a shout at the record though, having clocked in unofficially at 89 seconds for his treble back in 1995, when he saved Hassleholm from relegation during a 5-3 win over second division rivals Landskrona. “You don't forget that sort of thing in a hurry,” he said. “There was hardly time to kick off between the goals!" But for now at least, the Scotsman remains atop the standings.
A mention for Maglioni
For many a year it was believed that Eduardo Maglioni had the fastest hat-trick of all, after the Independiente striker netted three times in 111 seconds against Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata back in March 1973.
It is a moment that the Argentine is still revered for today, but at the time he did not even realise he had done anything special. “When I was in the dressing rooms, a journalist came up to me and told me 'you are always causing trouble'. I thought I scored in 15 minutes but he explained to me: I did it in less than two minutes! I couldn't believe it.”
He still gets calls on 18 March asking him about that game, but this piece of Argentinian folklore almost did not happen though, as the first goal came about more by luck than judgement according to Maglioni. “I was lucky for the first one, since I tried to place it in at the near post, but I mistimed my shot and the ball went in at the far post instead!"
This particular tally was never given the accolade of the fastest ever officially, but another, albeit slower, effort was briefly given its place in the record books after unearthing some incredible raw footage of the game itself from 1967. With matches so rarely captured at this point in time, it was an spectacular stroke of luck that the cameras were in attendance when Shelbourne and Bohemians met in a League of Ireland clash to capture Jimmy O'Connor's three strikes in just 133 seconds during a 3-2 win.
When the club was asked if the referee could also verify the claim 30 years later, he amazingly produced the original notebook he used for the game, with a special mention for O'Connor's sharpshooting. “It's only when I look at the video that it brings me back,” O'Connor recalled. “I remember going in after the match and the manager at the time said 'there's a record broken here'. I wouldn't believe him.”
While most hat-trick heroes tend to be of the prolific kind in front of goal, Abdul Hamid Bassiouny managed to net all three of his goals for Egypt within 117 seconds of each other. He may have turned out 14 times for the Pharaohs, but his appearance against Namibia will be the one that sticks in the mind, as his treble in their 8-2 win stands as the quickest ever in a FIFA World Cup™ match, coming as part of African qualifying. Laszlo Kiss languishes behind on seven minutes for his three against El Salvador in 1982 for the fastest at the finals, while he is also the only substitute to get one at the tournament.
Thompson well off the pace!
Australia's Archie Thompson would arguably be a much more likely candidate to challenge such a record than Bassiouny, seeing as he currently stands as the man to have scored the most goals in a qualifier for the World Cup, with 13 in the 31-0 win over American Samoa in 2001. Despite his baker's dozen that day, the shortest time between any three was five minutes. But 11 years later he proved that rate of fire was no fluke in an EAFF East Asian Cup qualifier against Guam, again making it three goals in five minutes after coming on as a sub in a 9-0 thumping.
This is hardly a feat consigned to the men's game though, as German legend Inka Grings stands right alongside Thompson in these stakes. After contributing five in an 11-0 win over Portugal – with three again taking five minutes – during a UEFA Women's EURO qualifier in 2004, she matched it almost exactly a year later in the Frauen Bundesliga for FCR 2001 Duisburg as part of six against SC 07 Bad Neuenahr.
That tally sits ahead of anything the men's game in Germany has to offer, but Michael Tonnies' three in five minutes, which coincidentally also came for Duisburg, against Karlsruher in a 6-2 win in 1991 holds a significant place in Bundesliga folklore, partly because of who he scored them past. “That memory is not only so special for scoring three goals in five minutes," said Tonnies, "but also because I put a total of five past Oliver Kahn.”
When it comes to special though, Joel Pohjanpalo takes some beating. Making only his second appearance in the Finnish top flight on the opening day of the 2012 season, the 17-year-old struck a perfect hat-trick (scoring with his head, left foot and right foot) in 162 seconds - becoming an overnight internet sensation. You will struggle to find a player who has made a better first impression.
And while maybe not a first impression, in England, James Hayter set a national record rolling with his first touch after arriving from the bench for Bournemouth against Wrexham in 2004. From nodding home in the 85th minute to slotting away his third, just 140 seconds had expired – beating a 61-year English record and sitting well ahead of Robbie Fowler's four minutes 33 second treble against Arsenal, which was the quickest top flight hat-trick before Mane's – but unluckily his onlooking family had left just minutes earlier.
“My parents still shake their heads about it. They came to the game, but because I was sub and hadn't got on they left early, they thought they'd get an earlier ferry,” he recalled ten years on. "I think I came on just after they left, and they were listening in the car to the radio as the goals went in. I spoke to them afterwards and they were pleased, but also very disappointed.”