“Udinese have a player named Kevin Lasagna,” notes Yuval Hyman. “Do you know of any other players with a tasty dish as a surname?”
Finding specific delicious meals in a footballer’s surname is no easy feat (or treat) but Tim Postins jumped at the opportunity to combine a few ingredients and serve up some choice dishes on the back of this question. “Adam Curry (currently on loan to Alfreton Town from Hull) would operate well with Declan Rice (West Ham 2016-present). And then there’s Mark Fish (ex-Bolton and Charlton) but only if Worthing’s striker James Lemon is putting the squeeze on. Plus the former Margate defender Paul Lamb who’d go well with a dash of Scott Mint(o). Or maybe you’d prefer a Patrick Berger with a portion of Jonas Fries?”
Milton has written in with a menu that has a distinctly Mediterranean flavour. “The last name of Víctor Espárrago, a winner of Libertadores and Intercontinental Cups, and coach of many teams in Spain, means ‘asparagus’ though it is debatable whether that counts as a tasty dish.” If Yotam Ottolenghi’s cooking, then yes it probably does. “In Spanish there are the last names Zarza (blackberry) and Piña (pineapple) – Barcelona’s Clàudia Pina and former Mexico forward Enrique López Zarza are two examples.”
If Frank Leboeuf was given a roasting he could be served up for Sunday lunch and Real Madrid’s wing-back Nacho would count as a dish if he had former Bristol City forward Paul Cheesley melted down and served up alongside him. And sticking with the cheesy theme, who can forget Massimo Maccarone at Middlesbrough?
The tallest strike partnership ever?
“Football Weekly posited that Erling Haaland and Alexander Sorloth may be the tallest strike partnership ever, both being 6ft 4in,” writes Dylan Kenny. “However, I think Jan Koller and Vratislav Lokvenc could be an even taller ‘big man, big man” duo. Did they ever play together? Is there a taller pair of forwards out there?”
“It seems that Jan Koller (6ft 7 1/2in) and Vratislav Lokvenc (6ft 4in) did play together at least once – during the Czech Republic v France game at Euro 2000,” writes Nicholas Mandalos. “Lokvenc joined the fray just after half-time. I can’t be bothered to work out what overall height this gives them but I’m sure some anorak will [12 ft 11 1/2in – Knowledge Anorak Ed].”
Tom Leonard thinks he can reach higher. “I’m not sure you could ever call them a ‘strike partnership’ but Peter Crouch (6ft 7in) and Nwankwo Kanu (6ft 5in) played more than a few games together at Portsmouth.” Two games together – against Milan and Heerenveen in the 2008-09 Uefa Cup – counts as a strike partnership in our book, Tom. Their combined height is a lofty 13ft. Can anyone take us higher?
Father and son (refs)
“In the Boxing Day match between Dover Athletic and Dagenham & Redbridge, the referee was James Durkin, son of former top-flight referee Paul, who officiated Dover Athletic v Cheltenham Town in the 1998 FA Trophy semi-final,” reports Alex Crane. “Are there any other instances of a father and son refereeing at the same ground at National League level or higher?”
There are hundreds of cases of father and son playing professionally, so it’s only logical that there should be a few refereeing examples. “Scottish referee Andrew Dallas is the son of Hugh,” writes Keith Legg. “Both refereed in the Scottish top flight, so have been at all the current SPFL Premiership grounds, as well as some European and international ones too.”
Chris Matterface also has a cracking tale to tell. “In 2009, Clive Oliver took charge of the League Two play-off final between Gillingham and Shrewsbury at Wembley,” he writes. “The following day his son Michael, then aged just 24, was the man in black for the League One play-off final between Millwall and Scunthorpe on the same ground. The older Oliver was arguably instrumental in Gillingham gaining promotion when he awarded a corner in the last minute from which the only goal was scored; replays showed it should actually have been a goal-kick. Mind you, as a Gills fan I am not complaining!”
A knockout follow-up
“A while back there was a question and answer about who would be Premier League champions if boxing rules were used,” mails Michael Avilés. “Just wanted to share that I did some number-crunching and spreadsheet-reading and came up with a list of champions on a running basis. As a high-school chemistry teacher I tend to be a little familiar with number crunching, and this was a nice little micro-hobby to help pass time over Christmas break. A few things that jumped out at me: Manchester United never actually held the title when they won the Treble; and the game where Steven Gerrard slipped and Chelsea ended up winning also cost Liverpool the title under these rules!”
“Steve Kabba has scored for Crystal Palace, Grimsby Town and Sheffield United this season,” wrote Andy Holt way back in January 2003. “Not counting own goals, what is the largest number of teams any player has scored for in a single season? I can’t imagine it would be many more than Steve’s achievement.”
“Didn’t Tony Cottee score for four teams in four different divisions a couple of seasons ago, those being Leicester, Norwich, Millwall and Barnet,” mused Martin Smith. Although he was on the right track, Martin was wide of the mark. While Cottee played for four different clubs in four different divisions in 2001 (doubling up as Barnet’s hapless gaffer and steering them to relegation into non-league football for good measure), he blew his chance of making history by scoring only for Norwich and Barnet.
Can you help?
“Cameroon international goalkeeper Fabrice Ondoa, 25, has played 44 times for his country since 2014, yet has only made a total of 38 league appearances,” writes Andrew Blackburne. “Is there anyone else who has more international caps for fewer domestic outings?”
“Some years ago I read a newspaper story of an ill-disciplined non-league team the rest of teams in the league refused to play, therefore allowing them to claim all points. As a result they were promoted and no longer a problem for the division. Any thoughts on who this was?” asks Chris Davis.
“With Tom Cairney not getting game time, Joachim Andersen is currently captaining Fulham,” writes Jim Miles. “Has there ever been an occasion where a loanee was the full-time captain?”
“A work colleague alerted me to the fact that Obafemi Martins is still playing, and while verifying this by checking his Wikipedia page, I noticed Martins only played six times for Birmingham and yet scored one cup final winner (the 89th-minute gift in the 2011 League Cup final). He featured in about seven minutes of League Cup action for Birmingham and scored the competition-winning goal. Can anyone boast such an impressive games- or minutes-to-cup-final-winning goal ratios?” wonders Michael Pilcher.