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Has a mole ever popped up live in a football match? | Football


“Walking through the local park I noticed that the football pitch had suffered a lot of mole-related damage. Have molehills ever resulted in a match being called off?” asks Paul Vickers. “And has a mole ever popped up live, during a match?”

There are no instances of Caddyshack-style in-play encroachments that we can find Paul, but Shakhtar Donetsk did have some trouble with a subterranean visitor before their Champions League game against Hoffenheim in 2018. Let’s hope the Shakhtar mole was dealt with humanely.

AFC Darwen had a “mole in the goal” before a North West Counties game against Runcorn Town and and to call in “Traditional Mole Catcher” Craig Parkinson to solve the problem. “The groundsman feared permanent damage to their pitch,” wrote Craig on his blog.

In Italy, Bologna manager Sinisa Mihajlović has been driven to potty-mouthed distraction by a mole that has caused havoc with his team selection, but in his case it is a human one so doesn’t count. He’s even set his own trap to catch it.

“Moles are inconsequential,” writes Dan Levy. “Try badgers. I have also refrained from pointing out that, at Stockport’s Edgeley Park, our pitch used to be dug up by Sharks.”

Richard Duerden points us to an example of fierce rivals being forced to play on enemy territory due to earthworms: “In 1996 we wanted to attend a match in Madrid. We ended up seeing Atlético playing their first home match of the season at the Bernabéu due to the Vincente Calderon’s pitch having been “eaten” by worms. Atlético won 2-0 against Celta Vigo. The highlight of the game other than the stadium itself was the abuse given to the chap who brought out the Real Madrid-badged corner flags.”

Winning the same league with multiple clubs

“José Mourinho could become just the fifth manager to win a top-flight English title with two different clubs. Nobody has won it with three,” tweets Jerry Higgins. “Which manager holds the record for leading the most clubs to the same top-flight title in Europe?”

Let’s start by clarifying who the four managers are who have achieved the feat Mourinho is trying to match: Tom Watson (Sunderland and Liverpool), Herbert Chapman (Huddersfield and Arsenal), Brian Clough (Derby and Nottingham Forest) and Kenny Dalglish (Liverpool and Blackburn).

Kenny Dalglish won three league titles with Liverpool and one with Blackburn in 1995.
Kenny Dalglish won three league titles with Liverpool and one with Blackburn in 1995. Photograph: Action Images

“A couple of managers have led three different teams to the same title over the years,” offers Cameron Barker. “Hans Pesser won the Austrian league seven times across 20 years: four with Rapid Vienna (1945-46, 1947-48, 1950-51, 1951-52), two with Wiener Sportklub (1957-58, 1958-59) and once with Admira (1965-66). Mustafa Denizli won the Turkish Süper Lig with Galatasaray (1987-88), Fenerbahce (2000-01) and Besiktas (2008-09). At the time of Pesser’s victory, Admira were based in Vienna, so interestingly both of these managers led three teams from the same city.

“The Turkish top flight is no stranger to managers winning with multiple clubs, and I also came across a couple who led two different teams to victory in two countries. Branko Stankovic, who won the Yugoslav First League with FK Vojvodina and Red Star Belgrade, as well as winning with Fenerbahce and Besiktas. Mircea Lucescu, who led two teams from Bucharest (Dinamo Bucuresti and Rapid Bucuresti) to the Romanian League, in addition to winning the with Galatasaray and Besiktas.”

Is Marine v Spurs a record-breaking FA Cup tie?

“After Marine’s dream FA Cup draw against Spurs, what is the greatest number of places in the football pyramid separating two sides that have been drawn against each other in the competition?” tweets Matt Handley.

When the third-round draw was made Marine were 167 places below Spurs, a record for the third round. But Steve Hallmark reckons he may be able to find a first-round tie with an even greater number of places between competing teams. “Lincoln United were in the Central Midlands League which was [I think] step 11 when they got to the first round proper in 1991-92. They were soundly beaten by Third Division Huddersfield Town. If my maths is correct that’s one step beyond Marine v Spurs.” It is indeed – and our back-of-a-cigarette-packet workings have come to the conclusion that it would have been around 174 places, plus Lincoln United’s league position at the time. So, yes, It looks like the Lincoln United are the team to beat.

Knowledge archive

“Which English top-flight match holds the record for having the most footballers/coaches/managers who went on to become regular pundits/commentators on TV involved?” asked Patrick McGorman in August 2005.

Well Patrick, you’ll do well to find more than the 16 media “authorities” who featured in Arsenal’s famous last-minute, 2-0 title-winning triumph at Liverpool on 26 May 1989. While the Reds boasted seven players (Ronnie Whelan, Alan Hansen, Ray Houghton, John Aldridge, Ian Rush, John Barnes and Steve McMahon), manager Kenny Dalglish and coach Roy Evans, who have all honed their TV/radio/newspaper skills in later years, Arsenal had six (Tony Adams, Lee Dixon, Paul Merson, David O’Leary, Alan Smith and Nigel Winterburn), plus boss George Graham. Can you top that?

Liverpool v Arsenal
Absolutely busting with late drama and future pundits. Photograph: Colorsport/Shutterstock

Can you help?

“I will go out on a limb and say that Marine are the only football club that is an anagram of an Alfred Hitchcock film. But I wonder if Marine are the also only team whose nickname is an extension of their name: Marine > Mariners?” wonders Andrew Goudie.

“Has there ever been a player whose name is an anagram of a club for whom they’ve played?” enquires Rich Booth.

“Not one for the search engine gurus, so we will need to rely on anecdotal ‘evidence’, but where can I stand on public land in England and see the most football grounds from the league’s 92 with the naked eye?” wonders Keith Moss. “Can’t imagine it’s anywhere else than London, and one of Hampstead Heath or Crystal Palace would probably be strong contenders.” And how about further afield?

“Beerschot stand at the top of the table in Belgium with the highest amount of goals conceded after 14 games,” notes Vincent Bellinkx. “Is there any club that became champion while also being top of the goals conceded standing? They also have a staggering 71 goals scored in their 14 games.”

“What is the highest number of different teams in the same league played for by one player?” asks Grant Ninnes.

“I’m watching Sheffield United v Leicester and the commentator let us know that Oliver Burke had played 31 games in the Premier League without winning any of them,” reports Martin Janzon. “Someone must have been ‘better’ in this regard?”

Send your questions and answers to knowledge@theguardian.com or tweet @TheKnowledge_GU.





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