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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.

Harry, Torpoint – 9 December 2010

What's the most amount of goals scored in an English league match?

The Gaffer says:

Seventeen, set on Boxing Day 1935 when Tranmere spanked Oldham 13-4.

Paul Eastwood, UK – 9 December 2010

Name the footballer who has scored a goal in the top flight in the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s?

The Gaffer says:

Roy Race, from Roy of the Rovers. Next!

Aaron, Leeds – 14 February 2011

Which is the biggest stadium in the world?

The Gaffer says:

May Day Stadium

The Rungrado May Day Stadium in North Korea can seat 150,000, making it the largest non-racing stadium capacity in the world. The Maracana in Rio seats 88,992, but reputedly housed a whopping 199,854 spectators for the 1950 World Cup final.

Taffy, UK – 9 December 2010

Is it true that West Auckland in County Durham won the first World Cup?

The Gaffer says:

West Auckland were the winners of the Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy, one of the first international footballing competitions, in its two initial years (1909 and 1911). It is sometimes referred to as 'The First World Cup' but is predated by the Torneo Internazionale Stampa Sportiva, which was hosted in 1908, as the first international competition.

Nick, Weymouth – 9 December 2010

Can you tell me the players and scorers in the first FA Cup final?

The Gaffer says:

Wanderers beat the Royal Engineers 1-0 in the first FA Cup final at The Oval in 1872. The goal was scored by Betts, who strangely played under the pseudonym 'A H Chequer'. The full Wanderers line-up was: Welch, Alcock, Betts, Bonsor, Bowen, Crake, Hooman, Lubbock, Thompson, Vidal, Wollaston. The Royal Engineers' team was Marindin, Merriman, Addison; Creswell, Mitchell, Renny-Tailyour; Rich, Goodwyn, Muirhead, Cotter, Bogle.

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