Xabi Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen and Dutch side PSV have wowed fans all over Europe with their undefeated starts to the season – but even they haven’t matched the relentless record of one Surrey club.
Unless you follow the Combined Counties Premier Division South, you probably aren’t aware of Farnham Town’s flawless start to the season.
Victory in their next game would mean they have taken a maximum 66 points from their opening 22 matches, eclipsing AFC Wimbledon’s record of 21 successive wins in the same league 20 years ago.
The ninth-tier club have stormed to the top of the league, scoring 84 goals and conceding just 12.
“When you look at it on paper, we go into each game expecting to win,” said top scorer Darryl Sanders, who has 19 goals and 18 assists in 27 matches in all competitions.
“But when you look back on it you then think, ‘what we are doing is pretty special’.
“It crept up on us a little bit, it’s only been in the last month or two we’ve really known how well we’re doing, and I suppose it’s given us more motivation to continue doing it.
“In the last few weeks we’ve found out that the record was 21 [wins] and potentially this Saturday could be the record-breaking game.
“It came as a bit of a surprise because we didn’t realise quite how close we were to doing it.
“Johnno [manager Paul Johnson] has been trying to keep us focused, game by game, week by week, but when you know the record game is coming up it’s hard to keep your eye off that.”
The buzz surrounding Farnham centres around the belief that victory could give the club the honour of the longest winning streak ever from the start of a league season in Britain.
To say definitively is complex due to the huge number of leagues there are, and have been, in the history of football in this country.
However, football historian Phil Annets, writer of the FA Cup and FA Vase Factfiles, and author of FA Cup 150, believes it is likely to be the case.
His database, which holds records of around 36,000 clubs dating back to the creation of most leagues, shows Amersham Town won every game bar one in the Hellenic League in 1962-63, though it is not clear at what point their solitary defeat arrived.
An honourable mention must go to Jersey Bulls, who won their first 27 games of the Combined Counties Division One 2019-20 season before it was abandoned due to the coronavirus pandemic.
And, of course, Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ unforgettably went 49 Premier League games, and the entire 2003-04 season, undefeated.
‘Everyone wants to beat you even more’
Farnham’s success this season has been part of a drive to push the club up the leagues following significant investment in the past 18 months.
Sanders, 27, joined the club from Bracknell in the summer and was one of a few players to take a step down from a higher level.
Harry Cooksley, Jack Dean, Adam Liddle, Dean Rule, Charlie Postance and club captain Ryan Kinnane were all also recruited ahead of the season, so expectations were high.
Manager Johnson had worked with “starboy” Sanders previously at Bedfont and said his goals and creativity had been central to Farnham’s success.
But he is firmly focused on winning promotion rather than breaking records.
“Everyone wants to beat you even more now,” he said.
“In the last couple of weeks the publicity has been building so teams are trying that bit harder just to get a result.
“The objective is to win the league and whatever records come with that, that’s great.”
Farnham ran out 3-0 winners in their previous meeting with Cobham and captain Kinnane, 29, is confident they can do so again and clinch the record in the process.
“Confidence is obviously very high,” Kinnane said. “We’ve adapted to everything we’ve faced this season and I think Saturday’s going to be no different.
“It’s unique,” he said of the winning run. “You try not to think of it too much when you’re in the moment but it’s going to be an incredibly proud thing to look back on if we get it done.”
Farnham went into the season as one of the promotion favourites given the significant investment in players and infrastructure at the club.
Should they achieve promotion they would go up to the Isthmian League South Central Division.
Farnham’s players already have their sights set on securing a further promotion next term, up to the Southern League Premier South – one below the National League South.
But could they go on and win every league game this season?
“It would be a great achievement,” Johnson told BBC Radio Surrey.
“At the start of the season everyone was out to get us, we were a giant scalp but that died down by October – a lot of teams were already beaten before they played us.
“And now with the publicity we’ve got over the last couple of weeks, the tempo of teams has increased again.”
One more win on Saturday would keep them on track to achieve that goal, as well as securing a piece of footballing history at the Surrey club.