Imperfect Season

An imperfect season (more accurately, an anti-perfect season, a winless season or a perfectly bad season) is defined as a team losing all of its games. It is the antithesis of a perfect season, and is often referred to as such in a tongue-in-cheek manner. Excluding seasons of seven or fewer games, this ignominy has been suffered eleven times in professional American football, six times in arena football, thrice in professional Canadian football, once each in American professional lacrosse and box lacrosse, more than twenty-five times in major Australian football leagues, thirteen times in top-level rugby league, at least twice in top-level rugby union, and twice in English county cricket.

Gridiron football

Because of the short schedules of college and professional football seasons, there is a possibility that a very bad team will not manage to win any games. Before overtime was used consistently, teams might tie a game without winning one; these are generally counted in lists of winless seasons. This is because, during eras before overtime was introduced to gridiron, leagues generally ignored tied games when calculating winning percentage.

NFL Teams with no wins in a season (8 or more games)

Season Team Wins Losses Ties Remarks
2008 Detroit Lions 0 16 0 Most losses in a single season. Detroit was the first non-expansion team to lose every game in a full season since World War II.
1982 Baltimore Colts 0 8 1 Strike-shortened season. Afterwards, the Colts drafted future Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway with the first pick in the 1983 NFL Draft, but due to protests from Elway before and after the draft, had his rights traded to the Denver Broncos a week later.
1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 0 14 0 Debut season; went on to lose the first 12 games of the 1977 season as well, to start 0–26 as a franchise.
1960 Dallas Cowboys 0 11 1 Debut season.
1944 Brooklyn Tigers 0 10 0 Suspended operations after the season, and did not return to the league after World War II ended.
1944 Card-Pitt 0 10 0 Merger between Chicago Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Steelers due to player shortages during World War II; the Steelers themselves merged with the Philadelphia Eagles the previous year for the same reasons. The Cardinals (now in the Phoenix area as the Arizona Cardinals) and Steelers eventually played each other in Super Bowl XLIII, 64 seasons later.
1943 Chicago Cardinals 0 10 0 If one includes the 1944 Card-Pitt team (see above), the Cardinals are the only NFL team to have back-to-back full seasons without a victory. (The league, however, considers Card-Pitt and the Cardinals to be separate franchises.)
1942 Detroit Lions 0 11 0 With its 0-16 mark in 2008 (see above), the Lions became only the second NFL franchise with two full winless seasons (and the only one still in existence).
1934 Cincinnati Reds 0 8 0 Folded before the season was over.
1925 Columbus Tigers 0 9 0 First franchise with more than one full winless season (the Tigers folded after the 1926 campaign).
1922 Columbus Panhandles 0 8 0  

The Rochester Jeffersons went a combined 0–21–2 from 1922–25, but played only partial NFL schedules in those years (0–4–1, 0–4, 0–7 and 0–6–1, respectively).

Source: Worst NFL Teams of all time (ESPN) [1]

Arena Football League

The short length of seasons in arena football makes imperfect seasons quite possible. The following teams have gone through an Arena Football League season without winning a game:

Year Team Played Remarks
1989 Maryland Commandos 4 Relocated to Washington, D.C. after season ended
1991 Columbus Thunderbolts 10 Moved to Cleveland the following year.
1992 New Orleans Night 10 Team ceased operations after season.
1994 Milwaukee Mustangs 12 First winless team to remain in same city during following season. Went to 10-4 in 1996
1996 Memphis Pharaohs 14 Relocated twice, firstly as the Portland Forest Dragons from 1997 and then as the Oklahoma Wranglers. Folded in 2001.
2003 Carolina Cobras 16 Went to 6-10 the following season.

United Football League

The United Football League has had, to date, one winless season. In their inaugural season, the 2009 New York Sentinels lost all six of their games. The team, which was a traveling team that played games in Hartford, Long Island and New Jersey (and had intended to play a game in New York City but backed out), fired its head coach and settled permanently in Hartford to become the Hartford Colonials. Under the UFL’s double round robin format, only one team can finish any particular season entirely with losses, since every team plays each other at least twice. The 2009 California Redwoods lost all their games except their two games against the Sentinels; they relocated from San Francisco to Sacramento (as the Sacramento Mountain Lions) for 2010. Both the Colonials and Mountain Lions made improvements on their records the following season.

Other American football leagues

Since non-professional, semi-professional and minor league teams are inherently unstable in their membership, it is far easier for seasons in which a teams wins no games to occur. In the case of non-professional teams, neither mechanisms to force a team to shut down against its will, nor effective drafts or revenue sharing mechanisms to distribute talent evenly among teams typically exist, leading to poor teams accumulating multiple winless seasons. Four teams in football history have both lost all their games and failed to score a single point in an entire season; all played eight games or less. The 1938 Clintonville Four Wheel Drive Truckers failed to score a point in a nine-game season, but managed two 0–0 ties.[2] There are at least twelve teams who have accumulated losing streaks of 20 games or more; there are also four teams who have accumulated seasons of all losses with at least 13 games.[3] In the case of minor professional football, particularly in indoor football leagues, winless seasons often result from an owner’s abandonment or other financial hardship. The American Indoor Football Association had at least one winless team in five out of six seasons; it also had at least one team with one win or less in all six seasons, including one team (the Ghostriders/Ghostchasers) that, despite two reorganizations, lost every game in their two-year existence. The National Indoor Football League went its first three seasons without a winless season, but beginning in 2004, at least one team went winless every year until the league’s collapse in 2007. Though the Spring Football League had two teams with winless seasons (the Los Angeles Dragons and the Miami Tropics), and the Stars Football League had one such team (the traveling 2011 Michigan Coyotes), they are almost never mentioned in discussions of perfect and perfectly bad seasons, since those teams only played two games each before the seasons were cut short.

The Lingerie Football League, whose seasons are only three to four games long for each team, has had eight teams with perfectly bad seasons in three years of play. One such team, the Toronto Triumph, has yet to win a game in its two-year existence.

Canadian Football League

The Canadian Football League currently has a regular season of eighteen games; from 1952 to 1985 it was generally sixteen games as with the current NFL season, though those teams in the Eastern Division played only fourteen as late as 1973.[4] Consequently, especially given the much smaller number of teams playing, there have been fewer imperfect or nearly imperfect seasons than in the National Football League, with the exception of the first decade or so when fewer games were played.

CFL teams with one or no wins in a season (based on official CFL site)

Season Team Games Wins Losses Ties Comments
2003 Hamilton Tiger-Cats 18 1 17 0 Most losses in a CFL season
1964 Winnipeg Blue Bombers 16 1 14 1
1959 Saskatchewan Roughriders 16 1 15 0
1954 British Columbia Lions 16 1 15 0 Expansion team: most recent of present-day CFL teams
1949 Hamilton Wildcats 12 0 12 0 Merged with the Hamilton Tigers for 1950 season
1948 Hamilton Wildcats 12 1 10 1
1946 Hamilton Wildcats 12 0 10 2
1941 Montreal Royals 6 0 6 0 Did not resume when Canadian football recommenced after World War II.
1941 Vancouver Grizzlies 8 1 7 0 Did not resume when Canadian football recommenced after World War II.
1940 Montreal Royals 6 1 5 0
1939 Montreal Royals 6 0 5 1
1938 Edmonton Eskimos 8 0 8 0
1938 Montreal Royals 6 0 6 0


National Lacrosse League

Seasons in the National Lacrosse League and its predecessors Major Indoor Lacrosse League and Eagle Pro Box Lacrosse League have varied from eight games in the first years of competition to sixteen games today, with the extension having been gradual.

The Charlotte Cobras, who played only one season before folding, are the only team in the history of the NLL to have not won a game in a season. In their sole 1996 season they played twelve games and lost them all, before folding. The Syracuse Smash in 2000 finished 1–11 and the relocated Ottawa Rebel finished 1–13 the following year.

Major League Lacrosse

In Major League Lacrosse, the season has consisted of either twelve or fourteen games since the league was formed in 2001.

The only winless season in Major League Lacrosse has been by the 2006 Chicago Machine, who went 0–12 and lost an MLL record thirteen consecutive games; the Machine eventually moved to Rochester. The New Jersey Pride in 2004 and the Bridgeport Barrage in the previous year also finished with a 1–11 record.

Other North American leagues

In the other major professional sports leagues of North America - Major League Soccer and its predecessors, the National Basketball Association and the Women’s National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League and Major League Baseball - it is virtually impossible that a team could lose all its games, for the simple reason that there are many more games in the regular season than in football or lacrosse.

Major League Soccer

Since it began in 1996, the Major League Soccer schedule has consisted of between twenty-six and thirty-four games.

No team in Major League Soccer has ever come close to losing all its games: the most losses in a MLS season is 24 from 32 games by the Kansas City Wizards in 1999, the year when the league used shootouts to decide all tied games. Since shootouts were abandoned the following season, the most losses by a Major League Soccer team has been 22 by both Real Salt Lake and Chivas USA in 2005. Chivas also holds the MLS record for fewest wins in a season, winning only four of its thirty-two games, whilst Real Salt Lake in the same year was second worst with only five wins.

National Basketball Association

Since the 1967-68 season, the National Basketball Association’s regular season schedule has been 82 games long. It has been as few as 48 games long, but eventually expanded to an 82-game schedule.

The 2011-12 Charlotte Bobcats hold the record for the lowest winning percentage of any team in an NBA season, winning only 7 out of 66 games in a lockout-shortened season, for a winning percentage of .106. This broke the record held by the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers, who had a winning percentage of .110 in a full 82-game season. The 1947-48 Providence Steamrollers won an all-time NBA low of six games (out of 48).

The 1953-54 Baltimore Bullets went 0-20 on the road. More recently, the 1990-91 Sacramento Kings managed a near-imperfect road season, winning only one of 41 away games.[5] Overall, the Kings lost 43 consecutive road games before beating the Orlando Magic 95-93 on November 23, 1991.

Women’s National Basketball Association

Since its formation in 1997, the WNBA regular season has been gradually increased from 30 to the current 34-game schedule.

No team has gone through a WNBA season without winning a game; the fewest wins in a WNBA season has been three by the 1998 Washington Mystics in their first season, and the 2011 Tulsa Shock. Two other expansion WNBA teams, the 2008 Atlanta Dream at 4-30 and the 2006 Chicago Sky at 5-29 have come closest to this record.

British Basketball League

In 2013, Mersey Tigers became the first top-flight British basketball team to go a whole season winless.

This record of 0-33 in the regular season of the 2012-13 BBL Championship, was completed with a 90-57 loss away to Glasgow Rocks, but can also be extended to include their complete season of 0-35 (defeats in the first round of the BBL Cup and BBL Trophy).

The defeat in the BBL Trophy was also significant because they fell at this stage to EBL Division One side, Worthing Thunder, and in doing so, it was the first time a BBL side had been knocked out from a competition by an EBL team.

They also currently hold the longest losing streak of 34 consecutive defeats in the BBL Championship.

National Hockey League

The National Hockey League’s schedule, like that of the NBA, consists of 82 games. Each game is given two points for a win, one point for a tie, and no points for a regulation loss. Since 1997, one point has also been given for overtime losses; the introduction of a shootout during the 2004-05 lockout eliminated ties. From 1997 to 2004, NHL standings tables had four columns: W-L-T-OTL. From 2005 to 2010, it was reduced to three, W-L-OTL; in 2011, a “regulation/overtime win” column (ROW) was added, which excludes shootout wins; it does not change the point totals, but does serve as the first tiebreaker.

No team has ever come close to losing every game in an NHL season; the worst record is by the 1974–75 Washington Capitals who went 8-67-5 (8 wins, 67 losses, 5 ties). The 1974-75 Capitals and 1992–93 Ottawa Senators hold the record for fewest wins on the road with one. The NHL played an 80-game season in 1974–75, whereas in 1992–93 the schedule consisted of 84 games, thus giving the Senators the percentage record for worst road record. The Senators also set a record by losing their first 38 consecutive road games. (The Senators’ road statistics include a neutral-site game played in Hamilton, Ontario, in which the Senators were considered the road team.)

Major League Baseball

Since the early 1960s, the schedule of both leagues of Major League Baseball has been 162 games long; before that, it was 154 games long. With such a schedule it is practically impossible for a team to finish with a winless season.

The closest to a perfectly imperfect season in the National League was the infamous 1899 Cleveland Spiders season, who won only twenty games and lost a record 134 games after its roster was looted by the owners of the team, who stacked the best players onto the St. Louis Perfectos. The Spiders are, to this day, the only major league team to have finished a season below the Mendoza line (.200) in win percentage. Since 1900, four other teams have come closest to imperfection, the 1916 Philadelphia A’s went 36-117, the 1935 Boston Braves went 38-115, the 1962 New York Mets went 40-120 and the 2003 Detroit Tigers went 43-119.

Australian Rules football

Owing to the short schedules and restricted talent pool[6] of Australian rules football leagues, winless seasons (the term “imperfect season” never being used in Australia) are more common and better documented than in any other professional or semi-professional team sport. In the major state leagues of Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia, the home-and-away season was originally between twelve and sixteen games long, and is now between twenty and twenty-two games, so a very poor team could easily fail to win any games.


In the Australian Football League, until 1990 called the Victorian Football League, seasons have ranged from fourteen games per team (in its initial season and the shortened wartime seasons from 1916-18 and 1942-43) up to 22 games since 1970.

As a result of this, exceptionally poor teams were quite capable of not winning a single game in a season during the competition’s early and middle periods up to the extension of the season to twenty games in 1968. Since then, the longer season has prevented any completely winless seasons, though several teams have come distinctly close, either through being lucky to achieve their only win or being on target for a winless season when they won.

VFL/AFL teams with no wins in a season

Season Team Wins Losses Draws Remarks
1897 St Kilda 0 14 0 Lost first 48 games before beating Melbourne on a protest.
1898 St Kilda 0 17 0 Season expanded to seventeen games with addition of sectional matches.
1899 St Kilda 0 17 0 Record low percentage of 23.2 for seventeen games (scored only 323 points and conceded 1,391).
1902 St Kilda 0 17 0 Team had played 99 games at the end of the season for two wins and 97 losses; lost first 53 away games until June 8, 1903 v South Melbourne at the Lake Oval.
Full forward Charlie Baker won Leading Goalkicker Medal with 30 of teams’s 65 goals.
1913 University 0 18 0 Won only one of last 70 games from Round 3, 1911.
Full forward Roy Park won Leading Goalkicker Medal with 53 of team’s 122 goals.
1914 University 0 18 0 Lost their last 51 matches; dropped out of VFL and folded at end of season due to World War I.
Minimum losing margin of 15 points largest for any winless VFL team.
1919 Melbourne 0 16 0 Withdrew from competition during WWI due to opposition to player payments;[7] first season of professionalism at the club.
1926 North Melbourne 0 17 1 Lost four games by less than a goal.
1928 Hawthorn 0 18 0 Lost 43 of 44 games up to Round 6, 1929.
1931 North Melbourne 0 18 0 Lost 33 games in a row to Round 2, 1932
Won only ten and drew one of 108 games between 1926 and 1931.
1934 North Melbourne 0 18 0 Lost 35 games in a row (eight were by less than a goal) before winning against Footscray in Round 16, 1935
1950 Hawthorn 0 18 0 Star players Col Austen and Alec Albiston walked out due to internal dissent.
Lost 22 games in a row to Round 2, 1951, winning against St Kilda in Round 3.
1964 Fitzroy 0 18 0 Lost 27 games in a row before beating Footscray in Round 2, 1965, but lost by one point to Carlton and North Melbourne.
Won only seven of 89 games between Round 9, 1962 and Round 7, 1967.
Was 0-14 in 1966 (with an 18 game fixture) before beating fellow cellar-dweller Footscray.


From the time of the formation of the Victorian Football League in 1896 until it was disbanded in 1995, the Victorian Football Association (VFA) was the second-tier club competition in Victoria, after which it was replaced by the current Victorian Football League (VFL) which serves as a state league and feeder to the AFL. Its home-and-away season has varied erratically from twelve to twenty games in length. Since the VFA and VFL have never possessed any mechanisms such as zoning or revenue sharing to reduce inequality of the sport’s limited talent pool, it has been quite easy for weak teams in these leagues to have seasons where they failed to win a single game.

Season Team Wins Losses Draws VFA Division Remarks
1886 University 0 14 1 Single Left VFA after season but enetered VFL in 1908
1898 Brunswick 0 15 0 Single
1903 Essendon Association 0 18 0 Single
1904 Preston 0 18 0 Single
1910 Preston 0 18 0 Single Lost 29 games in a row and withdrew from the VFA only to return in 1926.
1912 Melbourne City 0 18 0 Single Formed in 1912.
1913 Melbourne City 0 18 0 Single Disbanded at end of season after two winless seasons with closest loss being eight points.
1941 Sandringham 0 18 0 Single Conceded record score of 44-23 (287)
Lost 44 games in a row (with no matches due to war from 1942 to 1944) up to 1945, then after being 2-18 won premiership in 1946 under Len Toyne.
1951 Box Hill 0 19 1 Single First season in VFA
1961 Brighton 0 18 0 Second Re-formed as Brighton-Caulfield after disbanding following season.
1973 Box Hill 0 18 0 Second Lost 25 games in a row; won only eighteen in nine seasons from 1973 to 1981
1977 Box Hill 0 18 0 Second
1981 Sunshine 0 18 0 Second Lost 65 of 72 games from 1980 to 1983.
1983 Waverley 0 18 0 First Relegated to Second Division.
26 winless games after an opening round draw in 1984.
1986 Camberwell 0 18 0 First Relegated to Second Division, but not successful even there.
1986 Mordialloc 0 18 0 Second Withdrew early in 1988 season.
1989 Camberwell 0 18 0 Single Did beat Sunshine early in season, but win not counted because Sunshine withdrew after eight games.
1990 Camberwell 0 18 0 Single Planned to play in 1991, but withdrew at beginning of season.
1993 Coburg 0 18 0 Single Lost 30 consecutive games; last coaching appointment for Alex Jesaulenko
1995 Williamstown 0 16 0 Single Last season as the “VFA”.
2001 Bendigo Diggers 0 20 0 VFL Went 1-17 in 2000.
2002 Bendigo Diggers 0 19 1 VFL Two successive winless seasons; replaced by Bendigo Bombers for 2003.
2009 Bendigo 0 18 0 VFL


In the South Australian National Football League, which until the 1970s was not that far below the VFL in standard, seasons before the league was reorganised under its present name in 1927 after previously being known as the South Australian Football Association up to 1906 and as the South Australian Football League were from twelve to fourteen games long. Since then they have been between seventeen and twenty-two games long, so that winless seasons have been by no means infrequent.

Season Team Wins Losses Draws Remarks
1898 West Adelaide 0 14 0
1906[8] West Adelaide 0 12 0 Won the premiership in 1908 with a 12-2 record for the whole season.
1908[9] Sturt 0 12 0
1909[10] South Adelaide 0 12 0 Minimum losing margin was 15 points in extremely low-scoring game even for era.
Went 1-11 in both 1910[11] and 1911[12] for a combined three-season record of 2-34 including losing streaks of 19 and 17 games.
1921[13] Glenelg 0 14 0 First season in SAFL.
Lost first fifty-six matches, and an all-time record losing streak in AFL/VFL/VFA/WAFL/SANFL Australian Rules competitions.
1922[14] Glenelg 0 14 0
1923[15] Glenelg 0 14 0
1924[16] Glenelg 0 14 0 Won first game in Round 1 of 1925 round against 1924 premiers West Torrens.
1926[17] South Adelaide 0 13 1
1933[18] West Adelaide 0 17 0 Lost five games by six points or fewer.
1948[19] South Adelaide 0 17 0 Minimum losing margin was 23 points.
Lost 34 games in a row from Round 4, 1947[20] to Round 3, 1949[21]
1950[22] South Adelaide 0 17 0 Lost 24 games in a row.
Success rate for the five seasons from 1947 to 1951 was 8.14% (seven wins in 86 games).
1964[23] Central District 0 20 0 First senior SANFL season.
1995 Sturt 0 22 0 The first, and to date only, team in the AFL or major state Australian rules football competition to finish with a 0–22 record, and their minimum losing margin of 24 points is also the greatest for a winless AFL/VFL/VFA/WAFL/SANFL team.
Sturt took their seventh consecutive wooden spoon, beating St Kilda’s VFL record from 1897 to 1902.


The West Australian Football League has existed within Western Australia under various monikers since 1885, and until the latter part of the 20th century was of equivalent standard to either the VFL or SANFL. Its season was originally around fourteen games in length, but because the league extended to a twenty-game home-and-away season well before the VFL or SANFL did, winless seasons have been much rarer.[24]

Season Team Wins Losses Draws Remarks
1902 Subiaco 0 15 0 Record losing sequence of 29 straight games.
1905 Subiaco 0 10 0 Played fewer games than rival league clubs due to financial difficulties.
1917 Midland Junction 0 12 0 Disbanded at end of season despite efforts at a revival in 1920s.
1999 Peel 0 20 0 Lost 27 consecutive games.

Rugby league

Great Britain

In the Rugby Football League Championship, teams initially played a variable number of games, with the maximum ranging over time from 26 to 38, and some teams playing as few as fourteen. In more modern times the fixture list has been standardised at 26 games per team.

As a result of this fairly lengthy schedule, it has been almost impossible for British rugby league teams to lose all their games, with the only exception being during World War II’s so-called “Wartime emergency League” when teams were often able to arrange no more than ten games and some as few as five. The only two winless seasons since normal competition resumed after the war have been in the second and third divisions of the Championship.

Season Team Wins Losses Draws Remarks
1991-92 Nottingham City 0 26 0 Third Division
Last season in league
1989-90 Runcorn Highfield 0 28 0 Second Division
Renamed Highfield for following season; still took five successive wooden spoons before disbanding in 1997
1941-1942 Bramley 0 19 0 Left the league until 1945–1946
1940-1941 Broughton Rangers 0 10 0 “Wartime Emergency Season”
Left the league until 1945–1946 as Belle Vue Rangers before disbanding in 1955.
1940-1941 Leigh 0 13 0 “Wartime Emergency Season”
Did not return until 1946–1947
1906-1907 Liverpool City 0 30 0 Scored only 76 points and conceded almost 1,400.


In Australian rugby league seasons were initially between eight (in the event of Kangaroo tours) and sixteen games long, so that a very bad team could go through a season with only losses. As a result of the expansion of the NSWRL from 1947 onwards, the season has been lengthened gradually with a few intermissions. The following NSWRL teams up to 1966 did not win a single game:

Season Team Wins Losses Draws Remarks
1966 Easts 0 18 0 Longest winless season in NSWRL/NRL history. Last season with 18 games: in 1967 the season expanded to 22.
Sequence of 29 winless games from Round 13 of 1965.
1946 Souths 0 14 0 Lost 22 successive games after the death of Alf Blair during the 1944/1945 off-season.
1937 University 0 8 0 Team disbanded after season shortened by Kangaroo tour, having won only one game in three years (13-11 against St. George in the last round of 1936).
1935 University 0 16 0 Lost 42 consecutive games after winning 4-3 in opening game of 1934
1921 University 0 8 0 Kangaroo tour shortened season.
Won only one game in initial season of 1920 for a combined 1-20 record.
1920 Annandale 0 13 0 Disbanded at end of season after having won only one game (8-5 against Norths) in three seasons.
1918 Annandale 0 14 0 Sequence of 27 winless games: won only twice in last four seasons

Since 1967, NSWRL and later NRL seasons have been between 22 and 26 games long; thus it is much less likely a very bad team could lose every single one of its games.

Rugby union

Super Rugby, the Southern Hemisphere’s principal club competition, has seen two teams go through an entire season with no wins or draws. Both seasons were in the competition’s past incarnations of Super 12 and Super 14, each name reflecting the number of competing teams.

Under both Super 12 (19962005) and Super 14 (20062010) formats, each team played all other teams once, resulting in seasons of 11 and then 13 games. The competition became Super Rugby with the addition of a 15th team in 2011. The season format was also heavily revamped; the regular season now consists of 16 matches.

The Super 12 and Super 14 eras each saw one team finish a season with only losses; both teams with this dubious distinction are from South Africa. In 2002, the Bulls, based in Pretoria, finished with 11 losses from 11 matches. The other imperfect season was that of the Johannesburg-based Lions in the final season of the Super 14 format in 2010, who lost all 13 of their matches, while ending up with a final points difference of negative 300.


County cricket

In English first-class county cricket, which has a history dating back to the early nineteenth century and was until the middle twentieth century up to the highest standard of the game, seasons have varied in length. Before the 1880s, they were generally less than ten matches in length and some “first-class” counties played only against one or two different opponents, so that a team losing all its games was not uncommon. Between 1887 and 1929, seasons were gradually increased in length to a standard twenty-eight matches for all counties. However, because of the development and popularity of one-day cricket, seasons have been reduced to twenty-four games in 1969 and twenty in 1972, though this was increased by two in 1977 and 1983. With an increase to four days for all games, sixteen or seventeen games have been played since 1993.

Also, because of improvements to pitches via the heavy roller and covering to protect from rain, the proportion of games “drawn” (not finished) has steadily risen since the 1870s.

Only two county teams have ever finished a season with only losses in a program of eight or more games:

English First-Class County Teams Losing Every Game (qualification 8 or more games)
Season Team Wins Losses Draws Remarks
1884 Derbyshire 0 10 0 Won only three games from 1884 to 1887
Lost every game in 1887, but played only six games
1920 Derbyshire 0 17 0 One match, against Nottinghamshire, was abandoned without a ball bowled

Teams losing or drawing every game in a first-class county season have been rather less exceptional, though by no means frequent:[25]

Other English First-Class County Teams with No Wins in a Season (qualification 8 or more games)
Season Team Wins Losses Draws Remarks
1865 Yorkshire 0 6 2 Were to have an amazing rise due to the discovery of deadly fast bowlers Freeman and Emmett, winning every game in 1867.
1871 Surrey 0 9 4
1877 Sussex 0 7 1
1886 Derbyshire 0 8 1 Was demoted from first-class status between 1888 and 1893
1897 Derbyshire 0 9 7 Lost two games by one wicket to power clubs Lancashire and Yorkshire
1900 Hampshire 0 16 6 Lost star batsman Robert Poore to the Boer War
1901 Derbyshire 0 13 7
1910 Somerset 0 15 3 Lost star bowler Bill Greswell to business in Ceylon.
Two-year record in 1910 and 1911 was one win, 28 losses and five draws
1924 Derbyshire 0 13 11
1928 Worcestershire 0 19 11 Most matches and most losses by any winless county team.
Played 54 county matches without a win between June 1927 and May 1929.
1936 Northamptonshire 0 9 15 Did win one game against Sussex under “one-innings” rules after first two days washed out by rain
1937 Northamptonshire 0 16 8 Lost star batsman Fred Bakewell to a car crash and bowler “Nobby” Clark to loss of form
1938 Northamptonshire 0 17 7 Ninety-nine County Championship matches without a win between 14 May 1935 and 29 May 1939
1967 Nottinghamshire 0 4 24 Only team to be winless without finishing bottom
24 drawn matches is most in county cricket history; four finished games is fewest in a season of more than sixteen games
1979 Glamorgan 0 10 11
1982 Warwickshire 0 8 14 Alvin Kallicharran was leading run-scorer in country, but bowling exceptionally weak with average of over 45 runs per wicket
1996 Durham[26] 0 12 5 Won only one match in any competition (four-day or one) against a first-class opponent
2008 Surrey 0 5 10 First Division[27]
2008 Gloucestershire 0 5 11 Second Division[27]
2009 Worcestershire 0 10 6 First Division[28]

There were no completely winless seasons in the Sunday League limited-overs competition during its history from 1969 to 2009.

International first-class cricket

With the exception of the Sheffield Shield since the 1970s, most first-class cricket competitions outside England have either been knock-outs or of such short length that it becomes an everyday occurrence for a team to lose all its games. Some, such as the Ranji Trophy and most seasons of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, have indeed been knockout competitions, which typically use first innings lead to decide if a match is unfinished.

There have still be some notable winless sequences in non-English first-class cricket:

  • in the 1981-1982 Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, Karachi lost all nine of its matches[29]
  • between 1959-1960 and 1986-1987, Jammu and Kashmir played a total of 115 games without a win[30]

International one-day and Twenty20 cricket

In the 2012-13 season of the Australian Big Bash League, the Sydney Thunder completed an imperfect season where they lost all their eight games despite possessing the likes of Chris Gayle.


In the ANZ Championship, which formed out of the old Commonwealth Bank Trophy in 2008, seasons have been thirteen games. There has so far been one winless season, by the Central Pulse from Wellington (formed as a combination of the Wellington Shakers and Western Flyers)[31] in the opening 2008 season.[32] The Pulse were to win only one game each in 2009 and 2010, thus having a record of 2-36 after three seasons.

Association Football

No team has ever played a whole domestic season losing all of its games, but four teams have however completed their respective domestic seasons without winning a game. In the 2010–11 Serbian SuperLiga, FK Čukarički Stankom played an entire season winless, drawing five matches and losing 25 in a 30 game season, giving them only 5 points and finishing bottom in a field of 16. The team also only scored ten goals whilst conceding 65.

In the Bulgarian A Professional Football Group, which is the top tier of association football in the European country, three teams have all played a season without winning, with those being Torpedo Ruse (four draws out of 22 matches during 1951), Rakovski Ruse (one draw out of 30 matches during 1996/97) and Chernomorets Burgas Sofia (also one draw out of 30 matches during 2006/07). Chernomorets were however the worse performing out of these, conceding 131 goals with only eight in reply (the same number scored as Rakovski Ruse in their winless season), they still however completed the season with a minus 2 points total, because they violated a rule concerning not being able to field enough youth players.

In 2003-04 UAE Division 1, Emirates Club lost all 10 games they played that season. The twelve-team league was split into two groups for that shortened season and each team played only within its group. Emirates Club became the first team in modern football not to record a single point in a full official season, scoring 11 goals and conceding 33.

The open acceptance and high frequency of tie games in association football, coupled with the promotion and relegation system used to automatically purge the lowest performing teams from any given league, discourages imperfect seasons from occurring. In contrast, in Australian Rules and most North American sports a certain perverse benefit can be gained by tanking a season to obtain top-class players in the next season's draft).


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