“Copenhagen and Malmö face each other in the Europa League this season,” tweets David Thompson. “The two cities are 26 miles apart and joined by the Öresund Bridge. What is the shortest distance between two teams from two separate countries to have met in a European tie?”
It will be a new record, David. Google Maps flags it up as a trip of 37.6km (23.4 miles) from Telia Parken in Copenhagen over to the Swedbank Stadion. “The current record was set last season when Slovan Bratislava and Rapid Vienna locked horns in the Europa League,” notes Sean DeLoughry.
“From ground to ground, Bratislava to Vienna is about 85km/53m by road. For many a year the record had been Linfield’s spin down the road to play Dundalk in the 1979-80 European Cup. The return leg involved a bit more travel.”
Adam Rodriques can’t officially beat the record, but can offer this: “If we expand the definition a bit, then I can go one better. In 2010, Lille won the Trophée Boudewijn-Braem, a pre-season friendly, against Belgian club KV Kortrijk, whose ground is only 32.5km (20.2m) from the Stade Pierre Mauroy.”
Happy birthday to you … and you … and you
“Manchester City’s Phil Foden, John Stones and Kyle Walker were all born on 28 May. Does any other team boast a greater number of players that share a birthday?” wonders Michael Daunt.
It’s hard to beat City at anything these days, but John Bleasdale can at least hold them to a 3-3 draw. “The Wales squad of the 1990s frequently contained three players sharing the same birthday of 29 November: Andy Melville, Mark Pembridge and Ryan Giggs. I only happen to remember as a watching Welshman who shares the same birthday (and year of birth in the case of Pembridge).”
Which club has most players with first names for surnames?
“Last season, Luton fielded full-backs (both now sold) named James Justin and Jack Stacey,” emails Jake Kaminsky. “Both of these men have first names as surnames. Have there been other occurrences of teams having multiple players following this naming convention?”
Aaron Battistini starts us off: “Bournemouth, Jack Stacey’s new club, can offer a huge advance on this. In addition to Stacey, there are no fewer than eight other players with first names as surnames: Simon Francis, Lloyd Kelly, Ryan Fraser, Harry Wilson, Callum Wilson, Diego Rico, Junior Stanislas and Kyle Taylor.”
Manchester United, meanwhile, have 10: Luke Shaw, Lee Grant, Eric Bailly, Alexis Sánchez, Daniel James, Tahith Chong, Andreas Pereira, Joel Pereira, Phil Jones and Ashley Young.
Now, for a bit of nostalgia: let’s enjoy Arsenal’s 1946-47 squad which, as Andy Kelly reminds us, boasted Wally Barnes, George Curtis, Cyril Grant, Bernard Joy, Reg Lewis, Stan Morgan, David Nelson and Laurie Scott.
Finally on this, here’s Keith Guthrie: “Dundee FC in 1973-74 often included Thomson Allan, Bobby Wilson, George Stewart, Ian Phillip, Jimmy Wilson, John Duncan, Gordon Wallace, Jocky Scott and Ian Scott in the 13 allowed at the time. Bobby Ford (Prefect or Wilson), Bobby Robinson (Crusoe) and Ian Anderson (Cooper) were also available!”
“Was Steve Archibald the first man to appear on Top Of The Pops twice on the same night with two different groups (Spurs and Scotland) in 1982?” asked someone whose name we have misplaced way back in December 2003.
No he wasn’t. With eagle-eyed chart knowledge, Knowledge reader Brian Spurrell flamboyantly trumps Steve Archibald with, wait for it, session singer Tony Burrows. Burrows, Spurrell remembers, once appeared on TOTP three times with three separate bands. “That was in early 1970 when his session career was at its peak and records by the Brotherhood of Man – United We Stand, White Plains – My Baby Loves Loving, Edison Lighthouse – Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes, and The Pipkins – Gimme Dat Ding, were all in the charts together. All of them feature him on vocals.”
But it was downhill all the way after that. After the triple-starring show, Burrows was collared by a member of the production staff and told he’d been unofficially blacklisted from the show – apparently it was starting to look like a bit of a fix – and Burrows did not appear on TV for another four years despite singing on countless hits. Nor were his own records played on the radio until First Class recorded Beach Baby in 1974 – a record that reached No 4 in the UK charts.
Steve Archibald went on to play for Barcelona.
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Can you help?
“Sid Lowe recently wrote that Jorge Molina had scored 46 of his 51 goals for Athletic Bilbao after turning 30. This got me thinking: who is the most prolific club goalscorer after turning 30?” asks George Jones. “I’m guessing Cristiano Ronaldo would take some beating!”
“My friend was an avid punter until he lost out on a hefty sum having seen Lyon fail to win both halves against Dinamo Zagreb in the 2011-12 Champions League (1-1 HT, 1-7 FT),” notes Luka Barisic. “We were looking elsewhere for teams winning by a six-goal (or more) margin yet not winning both halves.”
“In the A-League, Newcastle Jets have allowed one of their players, Joe Champness, to leave the club in order to pursue a career in music – hip-hop, to be precise,” reports Prashant Mahara. “In doing so, the club and the player have come to an arrangement whereby, should the player fail to make it in the music industry within the next three years, he will return to the club and resume normal duties as a footballer. Are there any other similar examples of mutual agreements between players and their clubs, permitting them to pursue alternative careers, but on the condition they return to the club should they fail in their ambition? If so, how have the players fared?”
“Only five teams have ever won the Portuguese league, all coming from two cities: Porto and Boavista from Porto, and Benfica, Sporting CP and Belenenses from Lisbon,” mails Sean Quirke. “Is this the most extreme case of football being dominated by two cities in a country’s history (a country with a sizeable population and long league history)?”
“I distinctly remember watching some fitba on the telly in the late-1970s/early-1980s and being highly amused when a long ball was played towards Kenny Dalglish, who inexplicably stood perfectly still and caught the ball with both his hands,” writes Frank Hames. “I recall a cacophony of hooting and jeering from the crowd, bewildered expressions being worn by teammates and opponents alike, Kenny looking comically shamefaced as he received admonishment from the referee, and the commentator having a whale of a time. However, a cursory search of the internet has failed to uncover any mention of this episode. Was this some kind of Spangles-and-Findus-Crispy-Pancakes-induced childhood fever dream?”