10 Goalden Moments in Space and Time and on the Pitch

By Cameron K McEwan

You might have noticed that Euro 2016 has started in France (unless you’re from Scotland) and that got us thinking here at Doctor Who.TV about all the times football came within striking distance of our favourite Time Lord.

Exactly two weeks after First Doctor classic The War Machines ended, England lifted the World Cup in 1966 but it would be some time before the sport featured in the world’s greatest television show.

Doctor Who pretty much ignored football for many years and it wasn’t until the Fourth Doctor unleashed a football rattle (ask your grandad what that is, kind of like a vuvuzela for old people) in The Masque of Mandragora (1976) that the sport was officially acknowledged.

The actual first use of the word “football” in Doctor Who, somewhat incredibly, didn’t come until the 1982 Fifth Doctor story, Time Flight. More famous for its use of aircraft Concorde, it was Flight Engineer Scobie who uttered the immortal line, “I've heard of a football team getting into a telephone kiosk, but this was ridiculous,“ in reference to the TARDIS.

Dribbling ahead to the Seventh Doctor era and we get a glimpse of boys playing football outside Coal Hill School (and not for the last time) in Remembrance of the Daleks.

Ace comes to the rescue for footy fans with her love of the team Charlton Athletic. Not only does she sport the club’s insignia on one of her many badges, the Nitro-9 loving companion asks the Doctor in Silver Nemesis, “Have you seen this? Charlton picked up three points!” upon reading the result in tabloid newspaper, the Daily Mirror.


1996 was a big year for England with the Euros coming “home”, as made popular by the multi-smash hit single, Three Lions co-written and performed by none other than Doctor Who fan and guest star, Frank Skinner (Perkins in Mummy On the Orient Express).

Fast forward to the Noughties and right in the series’ first episode back on television, 2005’s Rose, and we discover that Mickey would rather spend time watching the football in a pub than care for his distressed girlfriend. No wonder she left him!

Smith’s obsession with watching football also raised its head a few episodes later in Aliens Of London when the Ninth Doctor revealed that the TARDIS scanner did indeed “get” the football.

Just as the next Doctor’s first series was airing and Doctor Who Magazine featured the Gallifreyan indulging in a spot of footy with Mickey. You’ll find the pair exchanging techniques in a comic strip titled The Lodger in DWM 268 written by Gareth Roberts. The author would go on to adapt the same story for another Doctor - more on that later.

DWM Comic

Back to the playground for more footy action with the Tenth Doctor adventure, School Reunion when a game was interrupted by the mean machinations of the Krillitane. Later that same series and Elton Pope admitted that, along with Spain and ELO, he liked football when chatting to camera in Love & Monsters. And in just the following episode, a young boy in goals, in his Dame Kelly Holmes garden, came to face the wrath of Chloe Webber in Fear Her.

The 2006 finale Doomsday is probably best remembered for the heart-breaking goodbye between the Tenth Doctor and Rose Tyler but it also bore witness to the first battle between the Daleks and the Cybermen. This was celebrated by UK television listings magazine, Radio Times, which featured the two races on special covers that also celebrated the World Cup final (it aired the day after Series 2 ended).


Donna Noble, who admitted to being a fan of West Ham United in Planet of the Odd, also remembered her father Geoff coming home from a football match saying the phrase, “Veni, vidi, vici" (The Fires of Pompeii). Chiswick’s finest temp also walked past a kid playing football in the street when she returned home in The Sontaran Stratagem.

In the computer-animated story Dreamland, football team Manchester United got a namecheck when the Tenth Doctor was in the USA and mistook the use of the word “Reds” (when it was actually the Russians being referred to). Ninth Doctor actor Christopher Eccleston is a self-confessed fan of Manchester United, but don’t hold that against him.

Like the Fourth Doctor, David Tennant’s Time Lord also brandished a football rattle (we hope you’ve looked up what that is by now) - during The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith, from spin-off The Sarah Jane Adventures.

We mentioned The Lodger earlier and who can forget the Eleventh Doctor’s ball skills as he outdid his new buddy and flatmate, Craig Owens, scoring numerous times.

In his younger years, actor Matt Smith had dreams of being a professional footballer and even played in the youth team of Leicester City, amongst others. Luckily, for the acting world, a back injury put an end to his footballing aspirations. James Corden, who played Craig, also has huge connections with the sport. The funnyman has appeared in Comic Relief and Sport Relief sketches giving motivational talks to the England football team whilst he also performed on Shout, the unofficial anthem of the England football team for the 2010 FIFA World Cup with Dizzee Rascal. Fact fans will note that the Eleventh Doctor helped out on a recording session with Mr Rascal in the Series 7 prequel, Pond Life.

For each year of Matt’s time in the TARDIS, football would be represented: 2011’s The Rebel Flesh saw Cleaves suggest that the Doctor should make a “football team” with the Gangers; 2012’s The Power of Three saw the Time Lord’s impressive ball skills once more; and 2013’s The Rings of Akhaten featured a young Clara Oswald kicking a ball straight at his face!


A new Doctor with number Twelve, but there’s no let-up in goal-based shenanigans. It’s back to school yet again for The Caretaker where Clara’s pupil Tobias asks to leave early as he’s in the football team (you can also spot some young Coal Hill School kids kicking balls at giant chess pieces). Due to the unexpected global epidemic during In the Forest of the Night, the Africa Cup of Nations was disrupted as you can see below.

And finally, for absolute completists, you’ll be fascinated to learn that Steven Moffat referred to the noise of the crowd at a football match in the script for the Series 9 opener, The Magician’s Apprentice (when the Doctor was hanging out in the 12th century). Download it here.

So there you go! Love it or hate it, football is here to stay. But, we hope you’ll agree, it does have a fascinating history with Doctor Who,

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