Which football teams doctored their playing surface to hinder opponents?
“Pep Guardiola says he didn’t leave the Etihad grass long against Liverpool. But which teams or managers have used this tactic to help their own side or hinder an opponent?” asks George Jones.Let’s start with the Poundland Machiavelli, former Cambridge and Lincoln innovator John Beck. Everyone in football knows about the infamous Beck and the stunts he used to pull at Cambridge. He brought in statisticians to lecture his players about how few passes were needed to score. He had the grass grown several inches long in the corners to hold up the ball when his players knocked it over the top. During the week they would rough up the pitch so anybody who tried to play football against them was at a disadvantage. “We just used to boot it upfield, so it didn’t really matter to us,” Steve Claridge recalls in his autobiography. Pinterest The Knowledge Share on Messenger Twitter Share via Email Has a goalkeeper ever been substituted for playing badly? Share on LinkedIn features Pinterest unrulyupstart (@unrulyupstart)@TheKnowledge_GU Hi! Me again. This weekend Glentoran’s goalkeeper scored his first goal for the club on his 723rd appearance. Has any player scored their first goal after amassing more appearances than 723?January 13, 2019 Top-scoring defenders“Chorley’s top scorer in all competitions is their left-back despite the club being top of the Vanarama National North,” tweets Gaz F. “What is the highest league finish a team has achieved with a defender top-scoring over the season?”Sometimes the best form of attack is a defender. The original slabhead, Steve Bruce, was Manchester United’s top scorer with 19 goals in 1990-91, when they finished sixth in the old Division One and beat Johan Cruyff’s Barcelona Dream Team to win the Cup Winners’ Cup. “While trawling through early Welsh Cup campaigns on Wikipedia, I found that Swansea RFC initially entered the inaugural 1877-78 competition, only to withdraw after realising it was a football tournament,” writes Iain Orkisz. “Aberystwyth were awarded a walkover. Are there other examples of teams from other sports mistakenly entering a football competition?”“Josh Magennis scored a hat-trick for Bolton in the FA Cup third round,” begins Dan Wood. “The last (non-loan) player to score a hat-trick for Bolton was Dean Holdsworth in 2001, also in the FA Cup. Have any clubs out gone longer than 18 years without a hat-trick hero of their own?” Twitter Share on Pinterest “I noticed the xG score for Cardiff v Huddersfield was 0.12 v 0.39. Is it the lowest-xG-scoring game ever?” asks Phil Dodds. “Is 0.12 the lowest individual xG recorded?”Email your questions and answers to email@example.com or tweet @TheKnowledge_GU. Liquid 🏴 (@GTPLiquid)Conference title and FA Trophy double winners:Wealdstone 1984/85Colchester United 1991/92Wycombe Wanderers 1992/93Pre-Conference, both Macclesfield Town (1969/70) and Stafford Rangers (1971/72) did the Northern Premier and FA Trophy double.January 9, 2019 Facebook Share on WhatsApp Brendan Rodgers and Craig Levein had a public spat after last year’s Celtic game at Hearts, and then there’s Trelleborgs FF. “When hosting Hammarby IF during the 2018 season, Trelleborgs decided to not only leave the grass long but also not water it before the game, all to slow down the tempo,” writes Gillis Holgersson. “It didn’t work – Hammarby won 3-1 and Trelleborg ended up relegated. Their stadium is frequently voted the least enjoyable away game in Sweden.” The Fiver: sign up and get our daily football email. Steve Bruce celebrates after scoring against Barcelona. Photograph: Bob Thomas/Getty Images Share on Twitter Football There are a few teams who have won their league with a defender as top scorer. “In the 2001-02 season Plymouth Argyle won Division Three with a then record total of 102 points,” notes Tom Aldous. “Our joint top scorer was current Bristol Rovers manager Graham Coughlin with 11 goals. I imagine that all of them were imperious headers from set pieces.”Alastair Bourne nominates Lincoln centre-half Sam Ellis, who used his loaf to score 15 times when they won the old Division Four in 1974-75.But Bruce, Coughlin, Ellis and the rest must bow down and kiss the left boot of Eric Van Meir. “When Lierse were surprise winners of the Belgian Pro League in 1997, the central defender Van Meir was their highest scorer with 16 goals,” writes Stijn. “He was excellent in the air and had a left foot like a traction engine, scoring headers, free kicks and penalties. Lierse’s attacking duo Dirk Huysmans and Bob Peeters (once of Millwall) only managed 14 goals between them during their fairytale season.”Teams experiencing non-league double delight“Has any team managed to win the non-league double of National League champions and FA Trophy winners?” muses CB Kendall.This is an easy question to answer, especially when a cherished reader does all the work for us. “Wealdstone were the first team to achieve this feat back in 1984-85 when the National League was known as the Gola League,” writes Rob Read. “They followed up winning the league by defeating Boston United 2-1 at the old Wembley. Fun fact – Vinnie Jones was in the Wealdstone squad, but didn’t play at Wembley. Since then Colchester United (1991-92) and Martin O’Neill’s Wycombe Wanderers (1992-93) have managed the non-league double. However no team have won the double since the (Vanarama) National League has been in existence.”A couple of teams did achieve the feat in the pre-Conference days, however. The Bernabéu grass was left long in April 2011, according to Xavi. Photograph: Elisa Estrada/Real Madrid via Getty Images Read more Adam (@adz_365)Which club since the inception of EPPP (2012-13) has had the most academy produced league debuts at other clubs?January 15, 2019 Reuse this content Topics Stuart Smith cites a famous example from the legendary match between Wolves and Honved in 1954. “When Ferenc Puskas and the mighty Honved came to Molineux to play under floodlights, Wolves manager Stan Cullis had the pitch flooded and then rollered to appear playable. Honved took an early 2-0 lead, but the pitch turned into a bog reminiscent of a cattle field and Wolves ran out 3-2 winners, prompting Cullis to declare his side the best in the world.” You can read more about that famous match right here.José Mourinho has a tale or two to tell, too. He was Chelsea manager when, in February 2005, Blackburn saturated the pitch on the afternoon of their Premier League game. Chelsea won 1-0 and Mourinho had plenty to say afterwards. “During the afternoon it rained only in this stadium – our kitman saw it. There must be a microclimate here. The pitch was like a swimming pool.”There was apparently a hosepipe ban within the Bernabéu, and a drastic shortage of lawn mowers across Madrid, when Mourinho’s Real Madrid hosted Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona in April 2011. Xavi accused Madrid of preparing a dry, hard pitch with much longer grass than usual. “It’s deplorable,” said the ambassador for the Qatar World Cup. Facebook Share on Facebook Knowledge archiveYears ago my boyfriend told me that Bob Wilson’s middle name is Primrose,” wrote Sharon Barnes in February 2002. “Is this true or am I a victim of an elaborate hoax?”It’s true Sharon. Bob Wilson’s middle name really is Primrose. If you don’t believe us, log on to the Association of Football Statisticians website. We’d also be interested to know of any other sporting stars with unusual middle names.• For thousands more questions and answers look through our archiveCan you help?“The Premier League reaches viewers in 185 countries,” begins Matthew Atkinson. “The United Nations recognises 193 countries with two observer members. Which of these member states do not receive broadcasts from the Greatest League in the World™️? Do Premier League broadcasts recognise any nations the UN does not?”“My best mate (lifelong Wycombe fan) recently named his cat ‘Bayo’ after Adebayo Akinfenwa,” writes Rich Booth. “Have any professional footballers or famous personalities got pets named after other professional footballers?”“Has anyone ever scored against a team with a stand named after them?” wonders Janne Kippola.