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Orange's football trivia expert answers your best questions

Ask The Gaffer



Ask The Gaffer
Ask The Gaffer

Cymru_lad, Croesyceiliog – 21 October 2014

Why did the old Division One have an odd number of teams in the league in the late 80s? How did this work and why did this happen!?

The Gaffer says:

You're right, the top flight of English football did have 21 clubs in 1987/88. It's still the only year in history that the top flight has had an odd number of teams. The reason was that the Football League were coming under pressure to reduce the amount of games per season in order to benefit the international side. In 1986/87 the First Division consisted of 22 teams and it was proposed that it was whittled down to 20 over the course of two seasons. In the first of those two seasons, Division One was slimmed to 21 clubs and Division Two had 23. At the end of 1987/88, four teams went down from the top flight and only three came up (including Middlesbrough in a relegation/promotion play-off against First Division Chelsea), thus evening things out again.

Martin Burns, Glasgow – 14 October 2014

Hi Gaff, I saw last week that John Terry had played 100 games in the Champions League, all for Chelsea. Have many other players played 100 or more games in the Champions League all for just one club? I guess Ryan Giggs would be one, and Xavi.

The Gaffer says:

Not including qualifying games, Terry is the 13th player to join the 100 club following Giggs (145 games for Manchester United), Xavi (143 for Barcelona)*, Iker Casillas (142 for Real Madrid)*, Paolo Maldini (135 for AC Milan), Raul (130 for Real Madrid), Paul Scholes (124 for Manchester United), Carles Puyol (115 for Barcelona), Gary Neville (109 for Manchester United), Roberto Carlos (107 for Real Madrid), Victor Valdes (106 for Barcelona), Oliver Kahn (103 for Bayern Munich) and Frank Lampard (102 for Chelsea). If you did count qualifiers, then Roar Strand (Rosenborg), Oleksandr Shovkovskiy (Dynamo Kiev)* and Javier Zanetti (Inter Milan) would also make the cut. *Active player at that club.

Sam Jennings, Bolton – 13 October 2014

Hello Mr Gaffer! Can you tell me what the heaviest defeat San Marino have suffered in a competitive game?

The Gaffer says:

It came back in 2006 when San Marino lost 13-0 to Germany in their opening qualifying game for Euro 2008. Unsurprisingly, they finished bottom of the group, scoring just twice and conceded a whopping 57 goals in 12 games.

Stuart, Aberdeen – 13 October 2014

Alright Gaffer, I know Ashley Cole made 107 appearances and scored zero goals for England but is this a world record for an outfield player?

The Gaffer says:

Nordqvist PA

No it's not, Stuart. One player has managed to go one 'better', well, eight games better and that man is...Sweden's Bjorn Nordqvist. The centre-back made 115 appearances for the Swedes without scoring a goal and his last appearance came in 1978.

Barry, Australia – 14 October 2014

Alright Gaffer. Having a dispute with a mate of mine. I reckon out of the 92 current League teams, the majority have a higher 'record transfer fee received' than 'record transfer fee spent' on an individual player. He thinks it's vice-versa. Hope this makes sense and you can clear it up.

The Gaffer says:

I've got good news, Barry. Only 10 teams out of the 92 have a higher transfer record fee paid than received - Arsenal (Mesut Ozil £42.5m); Manchester City (Sergio Aguero, £38m); Everton (Romelu Lukaku, £28m); Middlesbrough (Afonso Alves, £12.8m); QPR (Christopher Samba, £12.5m); Stoke (Peter Crouch, £10m); West Brom (Brown Ideye, £10m); Norwich (Ricky van Wolfswinkel, £8.5m); Sheffield Wednesday (Paolo Di Canio, £4.5m); Bradford (David Hopkin, £2.5m). Nb: There are conflicting reports about how much Cardiff paid to make Gary Medel their record signing, ranging from £9-11m. They sold him for £10m which is their record sale so you could include the Bluebirds to boost the total to 11 teams. Chelsea's record fees match - they paid £50m to sign Fernando Torres and reportedly sold David Luiz for the same amount to PSG. Thanks to Bentley from Birmingham and Tubs from London for their help.

Cymru_lad, Croesyceiliog – 21 October 2014

Why did the old Division One have an odd number of teams in the league in the late 80s? How did this work and why did this happen!?

The Gaffer says:

You're right, the top flight of English football did have 21 clubs in 1987/88. It's still the only year in history that the top flight has had an odd number of teams. The reason was that the Football League were coming under pressure to reduce the amount of games per season in order to benefit the international side. In 1986/87 the First Division consisted of 22 teams and it was proposed that it was whittled down to 20 over the course of two seasons. In the first of those two seasons, Division One was slimmed to 21 clubs and Division Two had 23. At the end of 1987/88, four teams went down from the top flight and only three came up (including Middlesbrough in a relegation/promotion play-off against First Division Chelsea), thus evening things out again.

Martin Burns, Glasgow – 14 October 2014

Hi Gaff, I saw last week that John Terry had played 100 games in the Champions League, all for Chelsea. Have many other players played 100 or more games in the Champions League all for just one club? I guess Ryan Giggs would be one, and Xavi.

The Gaffer says:

Not including qualifying games, Terry is the 13th player to join the 100 club following Giggs (145 games for Manchester United), Xavi (143 for Barcelona)*, Iker Casillas (142 for Real Madrid)*, Paolo Maldini (135 for AC Milan), Raul (130 for Real Madrid), Paul Scholes (124 for Manchester United), Carles Puyol (115 for Barcelona), Gary Neville (109 for Manchester United), Roberto Carlos (107 for Real Madrid), Victor Valdes (106 for Barcelona), Oliver Kahn (103 for Bayern Munich) and Frank Lampard (102 for Chelsea). If you did count qualifiers, then Roar Strand (Rosenborg), Oleksandr Shovkovskiy (Dynamo Kiev)* and Javier Zanetti (Inter Milan) would also make the cut. *Active player at that club.

Ali Stirling, Prestwick – 4 September 2014

With Rolando Aarons scoring a goal at the weekend, making him top alphabetically of Premier League scorers, can you tell me gaff, who is bottom of this list? My mate Iain says it must be Zola but I'm sure you can prove him wrong?

The Gaffer says:

I certainly can, Ali! Firstly, you're right that Rolando Aarons' recent goal for Newcastle against Crystal Palace does indeed make him the top all-time Premier League goalscorer if you arrange them all in alphabetical order (taking over from previous incumbent Gary Ablett). Your mate is wrong about Gianfranco Zola being last alphabetically though. It's former Coventry forward Ysrael Zuniga, who scored three goals in his two seasons at Highfield Road between 1999 and 2001. Elsad Zverotic is the last on the list of all-time Premier League appearances, but he didn't score a goal in his six games for Fulham last season (2013/14).

Jonathan, Cornwall – 6 August 2014

Gaffer, here's a very interesting one for you - which of the 92 English League clubs broke their transfer record the longest time ago?

The Gaffer says:

Buckley PA

Love the question, Jonathan! After scanning through the record books of all 92 clubs, the longest-standing transfer record belongs to Walsall who paid Birmingham City £175,000 to re-sign Alan Buckley as player-manager in June 1979. It was Buckley's second spell as a player at the club and the transfer sum remains a Saddlers record. He's also their all-time leading scorer with over 200 goals.

Steve, Wiral – 30 July 2014

Hello Gaffa. Here`s one for you. Which was the last club to win the FA Cup, knocking out a previous winner of the trophy in every round?

The Gaffer says:

Good one! It was actually Arsenal in 1978/79. They beat Sheffield Wednesday (winners in 1896) in round three, Notts County (1894) in round four, Nottingham Forest (1898) in the fifth round, Southampton (1976) in the quarter-finals, Wolves (1893) in the semis and Manchester United (1909) in the final. Arsenal almost repeated the feat last season, playing previous winners Spurs, Coventry, Liverpool, Everton and Wigan, but their win in the final was against first-time finalists Hull City.

Rob H, Norwich – 14 April 2014

There is only 1 team in the football league without any of the letters from the word mackeral in its full name, which team isit??

The Gaffer says:

You can't claim to know anything about football trivia until you know the answer to this pub classic. It's your 'starter for ten', your passcode at the front door of Gaffer Towers. It's Swindon Town.

Rich and Jon, Sunderland – 10 December 2013

Which player has played in the Old Firm derby, Manchester derby and Merseyside derby?

The Gaffer says:

There are actually three - Andrei Kanchelskis (who is the only player to have scored in all of them), Michael Ball and Craig Bellamy.

Patrick Bescoby, Cheshire – 26 September 2013

There are four players who have played in all four divisions of the English football league, name them.

The Gaffer says:

You need to add on a couple of zeroes because there have been hundreds of players who have appeared in all four divisions. Regular readers will know of two players who managed to do it in the same season - Eric Nixon and Tony Cottee.

Chris, Copenhagen – 27 August 2013

Which player has appeared in the first team of Liverpool, Everton, Man Utd and Man City?

The Gaffer says:

Beardsley PA

Old one! Peter Beardsley started his career at Manchester Utd, making just one League Cup appearance before representing Liverpool and Everton with distinction in the 1980s and 90s. He played six games on loan for Man City in the 1997-98 season.

Popodom, Chesterfield – 6 August 2013

Which goalkeeper has played in all four English leagues in the same season?

The Gaffer says:

Bit of an old chestnut this. Eric Nixon achieved the feat in the 1986-87 season when Manchester City loaned him to Southampton, Bradford, Carlisle and Wolves.

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