“Has a player ever won his league’s player of the season award when playing for a relegated club?” tweeted Lucy Keating.
Jim McEleny was on hand to answer this with a fine example from Scotland. “It was 1985 when, if I remember correctly, Jim Duffy, then playing sweeper for Greenock Morton, won the SPFA players’ player of the year award while being at the heart of a badly relegated defence. As a lifelong Morton fan I still hate to think how bad that season would have been without his regular and reliable man-of-the-match performances with last-ditch tackles behind the back four week after week. Amazingly, when Duffy won this in 1984-85, Morton came bottom of the Scottish Premier Division with 12 points from 36 games and a goal difference of -71.”
Russell Connor writes: “This is probably stretching the intention of the question but Fabio Cannavaro was Italian player of the year for 2006, the same year Juventus were relegated to Serie B by the FA for their part in the Calciopoli scandal.”
“Andreas Köpke won German Footballer of the Year in 1993. Nürnberg were relegated that season (1993-94),” tweets Kevin Dennehy. “He still holds the record for most relegations in the Bundesliga (five), even though he is considered to be one of Germany’s best ever goalkeepers.”
And Juninho, who was relegated with Middlesbrough in 1996-97, was narrowly pipped to the PFA award by Alan Shearer and was the runner-up in the Football Writers’ award to Gianfranco Zola. He did win the Premier League Player of the Season award, not that anyone takes much notice of that.
Which teams ‘won’ the 20th century in their respective leagues?
“I have a strong, but fading, memory that Leeds were top of the Premier League on 31 December 1999. Can anyone confirm that Leeds ‘won’ the English 20th century” asks Sarn Warbis. “And can anyone chip in with the ‘winners of the 20th century’ in other nations?”
First of all, we should clarify that by “winning the 20th century” Sarn means being top of the league at the turn of the century, not winning the most titles in said century. And unfortunately, as has been pointed out by many readers, Leeds did not “win” the 20th century because the 20th century did not officially end until midnight on 31 December 2000, when Leeds were limping along in 14th. Furthermore, Leeds were not even top on 31 December 1999, Manchester United were. So, sorry Leeds fans, there’ll be no partying like it’s 1999, or Y2K for that matter.
So, here’s our list of “winners of the 20th century” from the league tables on the 31 December 2000 that we were able to rustle up.
Premier League: Manchester United
English Division One/Championship: Fulham
Scottish Premier League: Celtic
French Division 1/Ligue 1: Nantes
Serie A: Roma
La Liga: Real Madrid
Primeira Liga: Porto
Danish Superliga: Brondby
Belgian First Division: Club Brugge
Swedish Allsvenskan: Halmstads BK
And because Sean Atkins put the hard yards in to work out who topped their respective leagues as we entered the new millennium on 31 December 1999, here’s that list too.
Players presenting non-football shows on TV (2)
We have had a few more examples sent our way. “Ian Wright had a long TV career in the late 90s and into the 00s,” remembers Simon Tyers, “firstly fronting two series of late night ITV chat show Friday Night’s All Wright, then a series of BBC1 prime-time game shows – Friends Like These, I’d Do Anything, What Kids Really Think, The National Lottery Wright Ticket. Then he left the BBC complaining they weren’t taking him seriously as a football pundit, only to turn up co-hosting Sky One’s shortlived Gladiators revival and then a morning celebrity magazine show for Channel 5, Live From Studio Five, before being fired for refusing to promote another show on the channel, which appears to have been the end of his non-footballing aspirations.”
“Also, while Dion Dublin on Homes Under The Hammer was mentioned, his co-host Lucy Alexander’s husband Stewart Castledine played 28 games for Wimbledon and 25 for Wycombe before presenting daytime home renovation series Big Strong Boys and Houses Behaving Badly.”
And let’s not forget John Fashanu presenting Gladiators. Awooga!
“Is Verein für Leibesübungen Borussia Mönchengladbach the longest team name in football?” asked Robert Bashford and Justin Walker in December 2005.
Far from it chaps: Anglesey League team Clwb Pêl-droed Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch came pretty close to landing the prize with a weighty 70 letters, but Stuart Orford can do even better. “My favourite is Dutch Eredivisie side NAC Breda,” he begins somewhat unconvincingly. “It expands to Nooit Opgeven Altijd Doorzetten Aangenaam Door Vermaak En Nuttig Door Ontspanning Combinatie Breda.” At a mere 86 characters, it’s the best we’ve found so far.
Can you help?
?”Anderlecht are in very real danger of missing out on European football for the first time since 1963-64. Can any clubs match or beat their streak of 55 seasons in European competition?” – asks Stijn.
“Atalanta had 47 shots without scoring in the 0-0 draw with Empoli. That’s just over one every two minutes. Has any team ever had more in a game with or without scoring a goal?” asks George Jones.
“Has a professional team ever played for a season, or a significant chunk of one, without any kind of manager? If so, what happened?” asks Ravi Somaiya.
“The Estadio Azteca celebrated the 10,000th goal scored in its confines in official top-level games (Milton Caraglio for Cruz Azul, if you must know). They claim this is the first time a stadium has seen so many goals. I’m a bit surprised that this landmark number of goals was first reached by a stadium that was only built in 1966, but I guess having multiple club tenants and hosting almost all national team games since then helps! Which stadia is the closest to this landmark number of goals and are there perhaps stadia that can claim to have already reached this landmark?” – asks Alexander Lyon.
“Sunderland have just been beaten by Coventry City, at home 4-5. There were nine goals and nine different scorers. What’s the biggest scoreline where each goal was scored by a different player?” asks Larry Johnson.
“In the semi-final of the Scottish Cup Heart of Midlothian played Inverness Caledonian Thistle. That’s six words across both teams. This is matched by the Championship game of West Bromwich Albion against Preston North End. Are there any other longer-winded fixtures out there? Have Swaziland’s ‘Eleven Men in Flight’ ever played against ‘Hampton and Richmond Borough’?” asks Jeremy Orbell.