Ranked! The 30 most hated ever teams in British football: 10-1
10. Wolves, 1937/38
Following a meeting with chemist Menzies Sharp, Buckley allowed his players to undergo a four-month course of 12 injections taken from monkey glands
“If you didn’t like his style you’d very soon be on your bicycle to another club,” future Wolves manager Stan Cullis later said of Molineux supremo Major Frank Buckley. The Somme veteran, who didn’t suffer fools gladly, ensured that Wolves adopted a far more direct and aggressive approach to games - so much so that they were banned from a 1937 pre-season tour due to their ‘over-vigorous’ play the previous season.
Buckley also enjoyed garnering attention in the press and, following a meeting with chemist Menzies Sharp, allowed his players to undergo a four-month course of 12 injections taken from monkey glands.
Despite rumours persisting that it was simply a placebo, Wolves emerged as a rising force in the game during the late 1930s, by fair means or foul.
Chief villain: Buckley offered his crestfallen players a stinging rebuke after they narrowly missed out on the title in 1938. “The Major told us only conscientious objectors and men of poor character cried,” striker Dicky Dorsett later said. “He told us to sit in silence for a while and pull ourselves together.”
9. Stoke 2009/10
Delap’s throws should have been a one-season novelty in the Premier League, but no-one could figure out how to stop them
This was Stoke’s second season in the Premier League, and probably marked peak Pulis – before he got delusions of grandeur and started mixing football in with the Potters’ unadulterated violence. Their most potent weapon was Rory Delap’s long throw, hated not only because the goals it created were so ugly they’re worth a specialty Twitter account, but also because of the rigmarole before each one. Thinking about the elaborate ball towelling process still makes us shudder.
Delap’s throws should have been a one-season novelty in the Premier League, but nobody could figure out how to stop them. Stoke finished 11th that year, and the effectiveness of their rugged approach won them few admirers – especially after Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey had his leg broken in three places by a robust tackle from Ryan Shawcross who is, of course, not that kind of player.
At Stoke, they were all that kind of player, which was kind of the point.
Chief villain: Rory Delap, for basically breaking football with a bit of upper-body strength and a small hand towel.
8. Preston 1888/89
In 1894, Sudell was jailed after embezzling £5,325 (over half a million quid in today’s money) to give to players
The Lilywhites were a great team – they won the league in 1888/89 undefeated – but their greatness was tarnished by corruption. Ten of that side were Scots, lured south by promises of money – and jobs at a cotton mill managed by Preston’s secretary/manager William Sudell.
Four years earlier, when football was still officially an amateur game, the FA had kicked Preston out of the FA Cup for paying players. When they, Aston Villa and Sunderland threatened a breakaway league over the issue, a compromise was struck, allowing clubs to employ professional footballers who were born – or lived – locally.
Despite this partial victory, bad old habits died hard: in 1894, Sudell was jailed after embezzling £5,325 (over half a million quid in today’s money) to give to players.
Chief villain: William Sudell. A pioneer of commercialism in football – he once suggested that clubs should not share gate receipts equally – Sudell used his wealth to make Preston invincible (for one season).