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Fastest ever red cards in English football

The internet basically broke down on Sunday afternoon when Steven Gerrard got sent off for a stamp of Ander Herrera. In Liverpool’s 2-1 defeat to Man United, Gerrard came on at half time, but got sent off for stamping Herrera’s leg just 42 seconds after coming on. Naturally, everyone took to twitter to make jokes, upload pictures, and just revel in the fleeting drama they had just witnessed. But, as quick as Gerrard’s red card was, it’s not the quickest dismissal that has ever occurred in the football league in England. In fact, it’s not even in the top five! The following dismissals really did mean an ‘early bath’ for these players...

8. Steven Gerrard, Liverpool vs Manchester United, 2015 - 40 seconds

Replacing Adam Lallana at half time, Gerrard did not take long to make his presence felt. Only a few seconds after clattering into Juan Mata, Gerrard left his mark on Ander Herrera and Martin Atkinson had no choice but to send him off in what was his last match against United.

7. Jason Crowe, Arsenal vs Birmingham City, 1997 - 33 seconds

Although only 7th on this list, Jason Crowe’s 33 second red card is the fastest debut sending off. Coming on for his Arsenal debut in the League Cup against Birmingham City, Crowe was sent off by Uriah Rennie for a dangerous tackle on Martin O’Connor. Talk about a quick start to his career!

6. Mark Smith, Crewe Alexandra vs Darlington, 1994 - 19 seconds

Crowe was not as quick as Mark Smith for Crewe Alexandra though. The Crewe goalkeeper was dismissed after only 19 seconds against Darlington after a professional foul, meaning Crewe had to play with 10 men for 89 minutes!

5. Kevin Pressman, Sheffield Wednesday vs Wolverhampton Wanderers, 2000 - 13 seconds

It’s an unlucky number as it is, but Kevin Pressman must know better than most how unlucky 13 is after his red card in 2000 against Wolves. A mere 13 seconds after the match kicked off, the Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper was adjudged to have handled the ball outside the area and was sent packing.

4. Keith Gillespie, Sheffield United vs Reading, 2007 - 12 seconds

Though not technically on the field of play at the time, the match was underway for 12 seconds when Gillespie elbowed Stephen Hunt during a row over a throw-in. The Sheffield United hothead, renowned for his aggression, did not even get on the pitch and only lasted 12 seconds before he was dismissed.

3. Preston Edwards, Ebbsfleet United vs Farnborough, 2011 - 12 seconds

Coming in at a very respectable 12 seconds is the dismissal of Ebbsfleet United’s goalkeeper Preston Edwards in a Conference match in 2011. As the last goalkeeper in this list, Preston Edwards faced his worst nightmare against Farnborough only a few seconds after the kick off. With his own defender fluffing a backpass, Edwards had no option other than to try to smother the oncoming ball. Unfortunately for himself and the team, he took down the Farnborough striker and was promptly dismissed.

2. David Pratt, Chippenham Town vs Bashley, 2009 - 3 seconds

The second fastest red card ever in English football came after only 3 seconds in a match between Chippenham Town and Bashley. Even though strikers are not known for their willingness to tackle, David Pratt made a two-footed challenge straight from kick off that was deemed too dangerous by the referee. Pratt made no excuses though, as he later said “He thinks it was a red card so I have to take it”.

1. Lee Todd, Cross Park Farm Celtic vs Taunton East Reach Wanderers, 2000 - 2 seconds

Interestingly, the fastest red card on record was not due to a dangerous tackle or physical aggression. Instead, Lee Todd was famously sent off for swearing straight after hearing the referee’s whistle. Standing next to the referee, Lee Todd reacted to his shock at hearing the starting whistle by shouting “F#*k me, that was loud!”. The referee rather oddly deemed it red card worthy and sent the striker straight back to the changing rooms.