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What is the longest barren streak a club has endured at a rival's ground?

Guardian sport
·7-min read
<span>Photograph: Colorsport/Shutterstock</span>
Photograph: Colorsport/Shutterstock

“Everton had not won at Anfield since 1999 until their recent 2-0 victory,” begins Tom Solan. “What is the longest a team has gone without winning away to a particular opponent while playing in the same division?”

Everton’s 22-year drought has nothing on some of the barren streaks highlighted by our beloved readers. “This season, Marítimo beat Porto 3-2 away,” writes Alan Gomes. “A shock result, especially as it had never happened before. Madeira’s Marítimo have been in Portugal’s top division continuously since 1982-83; in those 29 seasons, they had never beaten Porto away from home. Until now. Despite this, they’re in jeopardy of ending their three-decade run in the top tier: after 20 games, Marítimo are in last place.”

Boris Cule can see those 29 seasons and raise them. “Borussia Mönchengladbach joined the Bundesliga in 1965, and had to wait a full 30 years until their first win at Bayern Munich, on 14 October 1995)” he writes. “Here’s a full list of games between the two.”

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Andrew Wright’s email is too good to ignore, even though we suspect it’s the answer to a slightly different question. “Ah, one of my favourite stats,” he writes. “Following Spurs’ 2-1 win at Anfield on 16 March 1912, they didn’t win there again in 43 visits until 1985, on the 73rd anniversary of their previous win. I took a German visitor to see the 1982 game (3-0 to the Reds); he was greatly amused when told by a local that Spurs “haven’t won ‘ere for 70 years, before the Titanic set sail”.

“All the league games in that spell were in Division One, but the 43 games include three in the FA Cup, three in the League Cup and one in the Uefa Cup. There were periods when the teams didn’t meet. Between 1928 and 1950, Spurs had only two seasons in Division One, then Liverpool were in Division Two from 1954-62. Apart from that, there were four years without football during the first world war. The full results list is here.”

Here, there and everywhere

“Brentford played Coventry City at St Andrew’s last week. Their previous three away games against Coventry have been at three different stadia (Sixfields, Ricoh Arena and Highfield Road). This must be a record?” tweets Daniel Storey.

“Shamrock Rovers can ‘equal’ Coventry’s itinerant hosting record,” writes Sean DeLoughry. “Between 2003 and 2007 University College Dublin played four successive away games against Shamrock Rovers at Richmond Park, UCD’s own Belfield (when Rovers had effectively been evicted from Richmond), Dalymount Park and Tolka Park.”

The 16-goal swing

“Hull City beat Wigan Athletic 5-0 away from home. Last year, the equivalent fixture ended 8-0 to Wigan. This means this fixture had a 13-goal swing in consecutive seasons. Is this a record?” asks Sean Cavany.

The short answer is no. The slightly longer answer comes from Julian Unkel. “In the 1966-67 season, Mönchengladbach beat Schalke at home 11-0, the second-highest Bundesliga victory to date,” writes Julian. “The following season, the equivalent fixture ended 1-6, resulting in a 16-goal swing.”

Referees with honours

“What is the highest honour bestowed on a referee for being a referee?” wonders Roger Kirkby. “Have any of them been knighted – or better – just for being a ref and not for other reasons?”

Sir Mike Dean has not yet been recognised by Her Majesty, but some other officials have been honoured. “Howard Webb was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2011 New Year Honours for services to football,” writes Michael Haughey, “as were Sian Massey-Ellis in 2017 and Alan Snoddy in 2020.”

Sian Massey-Ellis received an MBE in 2017.
Sian Massey-Ellis received an MBE in 2017. Photograph: Dave Shopland/Shutterstock

Michael isn’t finished there. “Although there are many people with honours for other achievements who happened to be referees at some level of the game – Lord Kinnaird, Shostakovich – I think Clive Thomas fits the bill as he was made the High Sheriff of Mid-Glamorgan for the year 2005. However, there is no citation given as there was for an MBE so we don’t know why he was chosen for this legal ceremonial office, other than his renown for applying the law(s of football).”

Julian Unkel also has an example from Germany: “Markus Merk received the Bundesverdienstkreuz (Cross of Merit) in 2005.”

Supermac’s awesome foursome: a correction

Jeffrey Lloyd (and others): “Having read last week’s Knowledge I was intrigued to see the England v Cyprus game from 1975 and watch “Malcolm Macdonald’s five headed goals” on YouTube. I was therefore very disappointed to see his second a left-footed scuff from a Kevin Keegan cutback.”

Knowledge archive

In light of Shelvey v Evans,” wrote Rod Roberts in 2012, “has there ever been an instance of two players being sent off for the same tackle?”

It happened in August 2011, in a League One match between Hartlepool United and Walsall. Just before half-time, Walsall’s Andy Butler and Hartlepool’s Nathan Luscombe (who had replaced Nobby Solano after 20 minutes) were both sent off for a hard, low 50-50 tackle that left both men smarting but little more.

“I find it hard to see even a yellow card for each player,” said the Hartlepool coach, Mick Wadsworth. “No one goes in two feet, Nath is on the ground, one foot on the side, their guy tumbles over him and falls on top of him.” The then-Walsall manager, one Dean Smith, was also unimpressed. “Butler goes in one leg, wins the ball, their lad comes in for the ball,” said Smith. “Both cautions, if that, and both players were very unlucky.”

Related: The fastest red card in football | The Knowledge

Another story, dug out from the dusty archives of the Sports Argus, concerns a 2004 friendly between Nuneaton Borough and Bognor Regis. Brian McGorry and Guy Rutherford were both sent off over a coming together that the Borough boss Roger Ashby described as “both players [going] for the same ball and [ending] up holding each other down”.

Most other double sendings-off involve some kind of fisticuffs, our favourite being the clash between Joe Baker and Ron Yeats in a 1964 FA Cup match between Arsenal and Liverpool. Yeats ploughed through the back of Baker, causing them both to land on their backsides, and Baker – half Yeats’s size – promptly got up and landed one square on the Liverpool defender’s noggin, before sauntering off down the tunnel without even waiting for the referee to raise his card. Yeats was sent off for the original foul.

Knowledge archive

Can you help?

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“What’s the earliest a team’s season has been ‘over’, whereby they could neither go up nor down?” wonders Nick Jones.

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“Corrie Ndaba and Brett McGavin are both currently on loan from Ipswich to Ayr United in the Scottish Championship,” reports Graham Tait. “On the same day (28 February) Paul Lambert left as manager of Ipswich and Mark Kerr left as manager of Ayr. Are there any other cases of players losing two managers on the same day?”

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“Other than Mario Balotelli against Norwich in 2011, I can’t think of another goal scored deliberately with the shoulder,” writes George Jones. “His was from the goal-line. Has anyone ever lobbed the keeper with some shoulder showboatery or even scored from distance?”

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