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“In terms of travel , which top-flight teams would fare better by playing in a different nation?” asks Mike Wood. “For example, would Newcastle have a shorter average round trip to most Scottish Premiership teams than they currently do to Premier League teams?”
Well Mike, to answer the question about Newcastle, the answer is most definitely yes. Research by Green Flag worked out that Magpies fans would have to travel 8,724 miles if they were to attend every Premier League away game in the 2021-22 season. With the different mechanics of the Scottish Premiership (the third meeting against a team could be home or away and the league splits after 33 matches to determine European places, the title and which clubs will be relegated) it is impossible to get a definite figure, but even if Newcastle were to join as a 13th member and travelled to all 12 teams twice in a 44-match season, they would still only rack up 8,676 miles. Take away six matches and that’s a decent saving on carbon.
“Zenit St Petersburg would drastically cut their carbon footprint if they played in the Estonian top flight rather than in Russia’s,” offers Tim Dockery. “If they switched leagues, their new furthest competitor (FC Kuressare in Saaremaa) would be 84 miles closer than their current closest competitor (FC Khimki, located just outside of Moscow). Their average round-trip travel distance for an away game would fall by 74%. If that’s not the largest percentage decrease in distance that would be travelled if leagues were switched, I imagine that the 1,119-mile decrease in the average round trip (from 1,507 miles to 388 miles) is the largest absolute decrease.”
Ben Cordes writes: “Several MLS teams would do better travel-wise if they were in Liga MX (the Mexican top flight) instead. To take one example, if FC Dallas played in Mexico, I reckon their longest flight would be to Tijuana at roughly 1,180 miles. Eleven MLS opponents (out of a possible 26) are further away than that.”
Alasdair Brooks takes us south of the equator for a potential winner but, given the team currently play in another nation’s league, we’re not quite sure it fits the criteria. “The answer to distance questions is almost always Wellington Phoenix men’s team, who play in Australia’s A-League despite being based in New Zealand’s capital,” he notes. “Their match against Perth Glory requires a one-way trip of more than 3,200 miles. Even the away trips to Sydney require flights of over 1,300 miles – and over 1,500 miles to Melbourne. In terms of travel, Wellington Phoenix would be much better-off playing in the New Zealand National League.
Wellington Phoenix women’s team have just joined the W-League but would cut down on their travel if they played in the New Zealand Women’s National League. Photograph: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images
“I suppose arguments could also be made for SKA Khabarovsk and FC Luch Vladivostok when they played in the Russian Premier League, since their away trips to Zenit were even further than the Phoenix-Glory fixture. But neither team currently plays in the Russian top flight.”
Long spells in sole possession before scoring (2)
After last week’s question, we’ve had many more contenders sent in …
“This clocks in at about 11 seconds but it deserves a mention because, like the Polish goal you already listed, it’s all inside the box and Jay-Jay Okocha scored it against Oliver Kahn,” writes Christian Ihle. It’s glorious but we need to beat Andros Townsend’s 15 seconds. Nick Brooks nominates Eddie Gray’s second against Burnley in 1970. It’s wonderful and beats Townsend for skill, just not time on the ball (13 seconds for Gray).
Andros Townsend had a knack of doing those types of goals or runs as a youngster. Remember him being the best 18 year old 1v1 full length pitch footballer I’d seen in years down at the Orient.
— Paul Baker (@rekabluap) September 16, 2021
“Serial Southampton disappointer Soufiane Boufal kept the ball for around 14 seconds for his goal against West Brom,” writes Jon Short. But we have a winner here courtesy of Boris Cule. And what makes it so good is how utterly underwhelming it is. “Quillan Roberts, the Canada goalkeeper at the 2011 U-17 World Cup, scored a late equaliser against England, having had possession for at least 15 seconds before scoring (it took another four seconds for the ball to hit the net).” We count 19.51 seconds before it bobbles in. Unlikely to be beaten.
Quillan Roberts celebrates his goal. Photograph: LatinContent/Getty Images
Players who refused to celebrate international goals
“Has a player ever refused to celebrate an international goal?” muses Eddie Eyers.
“I can give you two players and three goals,” begins Daniel Bickermann. “When Lukas Podolski scored both in the 2-0 win for Germany over his country of birth, Poland, he famously did not celebrate. And it wasn’t some friendly either, it was at the team’s opening Euro 2008 match. As you can see here.
“Another example is Mesut Özil after he scored the second in Germany’s 3-0 win over his country of birth, Turkey, during a Euro 2012 qualifier in October 2010 – where Turkish fans made up more than half of the 74,244-capacity Berlin Olympic Stadium crowd. But Özil hardly celebrates any of his goals, so it’s hard to tell. Judge for yourself.”
Mesut Özil meets the Germany chancellor Angela Merkel after the match against Turkey in Berlin in 2010. Photograph: Guido Bergmann/AFP/Getty Images
Ben Marlow has another example of a player for whom heritage is a large part of their identity. “Xherdan Shaqiri was born in Yugoslavia to Albanian parents. He has previously had the Albania and Kosovo flags embroidered on his boots and did so whilst scoring for Switzerland against Albania in a 2014 World Cup qualifier; a goal he did not celebrate.”
Kits inspired by flags
Chris Oakley has written in with a fascinating offering to a question last week about kits inspired by flags. We covered patriotic kits some years ago, but this references another nation’s flag.
“I assumed someone would mention Birmingham City’s third kit, worn between 1972 and 1974, but they didn’t. The shirt is essentially a Germany flag, rotated clockwise 90 degrees, so divided vertically into thirds of yellow, red and black. Legend has it that they wore the kit on a pre-season tour of West Germany in order to gain the support of local football fans, although this is by no means a factual certainty. Anyway, I expected someone to point that out to you. You can see the kit on my website, here.”
“What is the current record crowd for a friendly in Britain?” asked Kris Scrimgeour in August 2009.
Pleasantly straightforward, this one. The record for an international friendly is 125,683 – achieved at Hampden Park for a game between Scotland and France, which the home side won 2-0, all the way back on 27 April 1949. That answer was provided by Sean DeLoughry, and so was the record for a friendly between two club sides – 104,493 for Rangers 1-2 Eintracht Frankfurt, also at Hampden Park, in October 1961.
Can you help?
“Watching Mark Noble miss a penalty with his only touch, I got to wondering: has anyone ever come on and scored with their only touch to win a game?” asks Arron Lynch.
Rangers (Scotland) was named after an English rugby team, Swindon Rangers; and Racing Club (Argentina) was named after a French auto racing magazine.
Which other clubs that were founded specifically as football clubs are named after teams/concepts from other sports?
— Ben Janeson (@BenJaneson) September 21, 2021
“3-0, 2-0, 1-1, 3-0, 3-0. Liverpool and Chelsea have recorded the same scoreline in all five of their Premier League matches so far. Is this a record?” wonders George Jones.
“Serie B side Frosinone were managed last season by Alessandro Nesta,” writes Bogdan Kotarlic. “Their manager this season is Fabio Grosso, another member of Italy’s 2006 World Cup-winning team. Which club has been managed by most World Cup winners?”