“At the Super Bowl, there was a player on the field who was older than both head coaches (Andrew Whitworth, the Rams’ 40-year-old offensive tackle),” tweets Alex G. “Has this ever happened in a professional football match, excluding player-managers?”
Chai from Atlanta starts us off with a popular answer: “Yokohama FC’s Kazuyoshi Miura (born in 1967) is in his 50s and was still going strong in Japan’s J2 League until last season. So it’s no wonder that when he made a brief appearance against Ehime FC on 24 November 2019, he was older than his coach, Takahiro Shimotaira (born in 1971) and the opposition’s Kenta Kawai (born in 1981). In Serie A, when Juventus’ ageless legend Gianluigi Buffon (born in 1978) played against Sassuolo on 12 May 2021, he was also older than both coaches, Andrea Pirlo and Roberto De Zerbi. Both of them were born in 1979.”
Sam Tomlinson goes in deep on Our League, pointing out that nobody in the Premier League this season has qualified, but that in the Championship, Wayne Rooney and Russell Martin – the respective Derby and Swansea managers – and Poya Asbaghi, of Barnsley, are all younger than Rams player Curtis Davies, who has featured against the Swans and Tykes. In League One, Cambridge’s Wes Hoolahan, 40 in May, twice qualified this season, having been younger than Mark Bonner, his manager, and Kieran McKenna of Ipswich and Liam Manning of MK Dons … who is himself eight months younger than Dean Lewington, who has been the oldest participant in three matches. In League Two, Kevin Ellison of Newport, 43 last month, has qualified twice; he’s older than his own manager, James Rowberry, Joey Barton of Bristol Rovers and Ben Garner of Swindon. Ellison has done the same in the Carabao Cup and EFL Trophy, too.
Chris Calladine steps in: “I found several examples from last season’s National League where Nathan Tyson of Chesterfield was the player in question. I also stumbled upon the 1978 Svenska Cupen final, in which Krister Kristensson of Malmö ( born 25 July 1942) was older than both his manager Bob Houghton ( 30 October 1947) and Kalmar’s Bo Johansson ( 28 November 1942).”
David Ekstrand keeps us in Sweden. “One example is the game between Östersund and IFK Gothenburg in Sweden’s Allsvenskan, 15 April 2018,” he begins. “Tobias Hysén (son of former Liverpool player Glenn) started for IFK Gothenburg. Born in 1982, he was older than both the Östersund manager Ian Burchnall (born 1983; now at Notts County) and IFK Gothenburg manager Poya Asbaghi.”
We go on. Here’s Richard Wilson: “The recently retired Martin Kamburov, born 13 October 1980, is the top scorer in the history of the Bulgarian league, having scored his 256th and final goal this season and setting a record that will likely never be broken. Last season, he spent his time at CSKA 1948, who were managed at the start of the season by Yordan Yurukov (born 2 October 1983). During that season, Kamburov would have played against sides managed by Stanislav Genchev (20 March 1981) and Kamburov’s former international teammate Aleksandar Tunchev (10 July 1981).”
Daniel Bickermann wraps things up by informing us that “the only instance I found were the three meetings of Julian Nagelsmann (as Hoffenheim head coach, he was born in July 1987) and Domenico Tedesco (as Schalke coach, born in September 1985) in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 season. They fielded very young and exciting teams, so it’s remarkable that veteran defender Naldo (born 1982) was the only player, who featured in three games, who was older than both the coaches.”
Both sides of the scoring story
“Bristol City’s 2-1 win over Middlesbrough on 19 February 2022 was their 12th consecutive league game in which they have both scored and conceded. What’s the longest such streak any team has managed?” wonders Simon Orriss. Plus …
“What is the longest run a team has had with both teams scoring and over 2.5 goals? Bristol City are currently on a run of 12 league games,” tweets Ashley Gower.
Since the question, we’re up to 13, but Chris Roe has had a spectacular delve. “Not only in this not a record, it is entirely unremarkable as a sequence,” he starts. Ah, OK. “For English teams who have played at least 2,000 league matches, there are only 10 teams in total who have had a longest such sequence that is less than 12 matches (Stoke City, for example, had the joint-shortest longest sequence of 10 matches starting on 1 March 1890). There are many examples of teams having such sequences of longer than 20 matches, with the longest being Arsenal at 31 matches starting on 3 May 1930.
“For the second question, we find that the six longest sequences are as below, with the longest being Bolton Wanderers’ first 19 league fixtures.
“You could restrict things further to only include matches where both teams have scored at least two goals, and then the longest sequences drop to seven.”
On the grid
“Brockenhurst United have a cattle grid on the entrance to their stadium – are they the only ones?” tweets James Westbury.
Paul Baker was quick to steer us in the direction of Cambridge United, whose Abbey Stadium is situated in the northern end of Coldham’s Common. Cattle grids were installed in 1999 and there is a fair chance you will cross them if walking to the ground from the city centre. There’s another nice picture towards the bottom of this BBC article from last year that shows grazing outside the ground.
“Do retired players still buy pubs? Who was the last top-flight player to do so?” asked Matt Braithwaite in 2017.
Modern wages are such that some players could afford to buy the entire Wetherspoon empire if they wanted. That hasn’t happened yet but it seems some players still believe in the old tradition of buying a pub. “Daniel Agger, formerly of Liverpool, bought and still owns the Center Pub in Hvidovre, Copenhagen,” noted Jonas von Freiesleben. Agger has retired now, but bought the pub during his playing days.
Eoin Byrne pointed out that the Northern Ireland international Niall McGinn had done something similar. “He owns not one but two bar/restaurants in Belfast, one called Failte (the Irish for welcome) and one called 26 West,” wrote Eoin.
Can you help?
“Excluding the obvious cases of second-choice goalkeepers, which outfield players have spent the most time on the bench?” asks Frankie Nevin.
“The Carabao Cup final featured 22 penalties in the shootout, of which 21 were scored and one was missed,” notes Athena Blight. “Has there ever been a longer shootout where not a single penalty was saved?”
“Has a goalkeeper ever received a red card for time-wasting?” wonders Bogdan Kotarlic.
“What is the earliest date, or most games remaining, for all the relegated sides in a division to be known?” muses Ian Ferguson.