One of the most prominent clues as to the identity of the Secret Footballer is the claim that TSF was relegated on the final day of the season. We know that it is possible a red herring, but most take it as truth. TSF did face heartache on the last day of a season, and that narrows it down.

To be frank, final days are usually dull in the Premier League – unremarkable. We all remember Martin Tyler’s “Agueroooo” moment. While it might not be enough to put Tyler in the company of the most iconic sports commentators of all time, it certainly one of the most iconic moments in sports.

Nevertheless, Man City’s last gasp title win was a rare example of drama at the top of the table on the final day. It’s the bottom end of the table – where TSF seemed to be most at home – that has provided the most emotion. Sky calls it “Survival Sunday” when relegation is on the line.

Great drama on final day of 2007/08 season

Most hunters for the identity of the TSF look to Survival Sunday of the 2007/08 season as fulfilling the main clues. It fulfils the main clue of a team being relegated on the last day (only six final day relegation battles have occurred since the 2003/04 season), and it arguably fulfils a minor clue on the checklist – a goal going in at the other end of the country to seal that relegation.

Four teams were in jeopardy that day – Fulham, Birmingham, Bolton and Reading. Of the quartet, it was Birmingham and Reading that went down, joining Derby County who had set the lowest points record and were doomed long before the final day.

Both Birmingham and Reading won on that final day, with the Blues hammering Blackburn 4-1 and Reading gunning down Derby 4-0 at Pride Park. By default, that fulfils the minor clue – being relegated by a goal going in “at the other end of the country”.

Last-minute equalizer for Bolton

Fulham beat Portsmouth 1-0 at Fratton Park to stay up, whereas Bolton got a last-minute equalizer at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea. Given West London’s more central proximity, it is the Fulham game at Portsmouth on the south coast that is more indicative of being “at the other end of the country”. Of course, the TSF could be speaking very loosely.

Nonetheless, it suggests – if this is the final day relegation TSF is talking about – that TSF was either a Birmingham or Reading player on Sunday 11th May 2008. Of the eight leading candidates for the TSF’s identity, two got relegated on that Survival Sunday, both of whom played for Reading.

We are, of course, talking about Dave Kitson – who scored against Derby in the 4-0 win – and Nicky Shorey. Both players also fulfil another couple of clues related to the final day relegation. First, that this would be the final game for the club in question (Reading) and that they would play Premier League football again.

Kitson and Shorey match the criteria

Kitson signed for Stoke after Reading got relegated, and he played two more seasons in the Premier League for the Potters. Shorey went to Aston Villa, and he would later see Premier League action for Fulham, West Brom and when briefly returning to Reading. Both candidates, then, fulfil those clues.

As for matching up other clues, you can make decent arguments for both Kitson and Shorey, but the information is a little more speculative. In 2012, TSF claimed that he was “not getting very far in football” at this time.

Back then, Shorey was playing for West Brom in the Premier League (the Baggies finished a respectable 10th, with Shorey making 25 appearances). Kitson was playing for Portsmouth in the Championship. He only managed four goals in 33 appearances, and Portsmouth were subsequently relegated to League One. It seems like it was Kitson, then, who was “not getting very far in football”.

Does that mean Dave Kitson is TSF? We will leave that up to you. There are many, many other intriguing clues, and you also have to factor in that there can be some red herrings. Moreover, it’s not guaranteed that TSF was speaking of the final day of the 2007/08 season. But you have to admit, the facts we have laid out do match up with Kitson on Survival Sunday, 11th May 2008.