“Hoffenheim qualified for Europe after back to back 4-0 wins in their last two games. Are they the first team to qualify for Europe with a goal difference of zero (or less)?” asked Craig last week.
There are, of course, plenty of teams who got into Europe by winning a cup. Jamie Vickery nominates Wigan’s 2013 FA Cup winners, who were relegated with a -26 league goal difference. For now, we’ll stick to league qualifiers.
Over to Alex Robinson: “Norwich finished the 1992-93 Premier League in third place and qualified for the Uefa Cup with a goal difference of -4. Cue iconic memories of that Jeremy Goss volley at Bayern Munich.” The Canaries didn’t let a leaky defence stop them challenging for the title, and were top with six games left (and a +1 goal difference) before winning just two more games, conceding 18 goals in the process.
Gordon Smith nominates Everton, who booked a brief Champions League campaign in 2004-05 with a -1 goal difference. David Moyes’s well-drilled side only scored 45 goals all season – the same as bottom club Southampton. Chris Page, meanwhile, suggests a couple of teams who benefited from off-field decisions.
“In 2011-12, St Johnstone (-7) snuck into Europe as a result of Rangers going into liquidation. In 2005-06, Parma (-14) made it into the Uefa Cup after Juventus were relegated amid the Calciopoli scandal.” Can anyone beat that? Well, yes. Chris and Rui Pereira both suggested Portugal’s Salgueiros, who made it into Europe in 1990-91 with a -16 goal difference.
“With two points per win, Salgueiros achieved a grand total of 36 points from 38 matches (12 wins, 12 draws and 14 losses),” says Rui. “The teams from seventh to 16th finished within a single point, and Salgueiros were only three points ahead of relegated Tirsense. They went out in the first round of the Uefa Cup against fellow European debutants Cannes, who fielded a young Zinedine Zidane.”
It’s a sign
“While perusing the Norwegian Eliteserien standings for this season I noticed that Bodø/Glimt are currently top and that their name contains a forward slash (/). Are there any other examples of teams around the world containing symbols?” asks Chris Whearty.
Starting with slashes, there’s EB/Streymur of the Faroe Islands Premier League, and a whole host of defunct Dutch outfits. Dirk Maas explains: “Some team names came from short-term mergers, like Xerxes/DHC66 (1967-68) and SVV/Dordrecht90 (1991-93). Others included a sponsor’s name, like UDI’19/Beter Bed, who played Ajax in the 1998-99 Dutch Cup) – they’re now called UDI’19/CSU.” Catchy.
Then there’s our old friend the ampersand, which has given us Brighton & Hove Albion, Rushden & Diamonds, Dagenham & Redbridge and more, while the humble hyphen crops up across in clubs like Saint-Étienne, Shimizu S-Pulse and V-Varen Nagasaki, and the less exotic Chester-le-Street Town and Weston-super-Mare.
Staying in non-league, here’s Mike Martin: “A few UK teams have parentheses: Godolphin Atlantic (Newquay) play in the South West Peninsula League; Newport (Isle Of Wight) in the Wessex League. Wellington (Hertfordshire) and (Somerset) are differentiated by their counties in brackets, as are Westfield (Surrey) FC in the Isthmian League from Westfield FC in the Hellenic League.
“Most famous is Bradford (Park Avenue), who were originally Bradford FC and played rugby league but added the name of their ground when they changed to football. The rugby loyalists formed Bradford Northern, now Bradford Bulls, while local rivals Manningham became Bradford City AFC.”
Finally, Ian Burns points out: “Hashtag United FC use a hashtag (#) as their symbol!” They show all their games on YouTube too, for their 150,000 subscribers.“This summer, 2019-20 Champions league knockout ties and 2020-21 qualifying ties have taken place on the same day. Is this the first time this has happened?” wonders Adam Webster.
“For some strange reason, the Inter-City Fairs Cup (now the Europa League) had four competitions (1965-1968) where it held its final at the start of the following season,” writes Garry Brogden. “Leeds United beat Ferencváros in the 1967-68 final, with the second leg played on 11 September 1968. On the same day, the 1968-69 competition kicked off with eventual winners Newcastle thumping Feyenoord 4-0. Leeds began defending their crown exactly one week after winning it, away at Standard Liège.”
If you thought that was confusing, wait until you hear about the Leinster Senior Cup. Here’s Dave Donnelly: “On 11 October 2019, Clontarf beat VEC on penalties in the first round of the 2019-20 edition. At the exact same time, in Clontarf, Sheriff YC met Killester Donnycarney in the quarter-finals of the previous edition.
“That tournament kicked off in September 2018, a day before Dundalk played St Patrick’s Athletic in the 2017-18 semi-final. It finally ended 14 months later, in November 2019, a month after the most recent edition kicked off. World football’s only truly omnipresent competition is currently on hold due to coronavirus.” Dave has delved into the details here. Our heads hurt.
Back in 2006, Tom Haslam posed a crest-related question. “Why do Sampdoria appear to have a werewolf smoking a pipe as their logo?”
As a number of Samp supporters rushed to tell us, the black shape in the middle of the logo is actually supposed to represent a sailor in profile – fitting for a team based in the port city of Genoa. He is known by the old Genoese name of Baciccia, which translates to Baptist in English. According to Andrea Taroni, “fans enjoy making cartoons of him, usually based on Popeye the sailor. Perhaps this is why Attilio ‘Popeye’ Lombardo was so popular when he was at the club.”
The blue, white, red and black colours around him, stem from the club’s origins as a merger of two local teams called Sampierdarenese and Andria Doria, who wore red and black, and white and blue respectively. The two clubs were joined in 1946 to play in the unified national league system. More on the adventures of Baciccia here.
Knowledge archive Can you help?
“Has a club ever built a statue in tribute to a player who has never played for them?” wonders James Preston.
“After a bankruptcy, a Wimbledon-style relocation, and the founding of a fan-owned phoenix club, there will be two CSKA Sofias in the Bulgarian top flight this season,” writes Daniel Koytchev. “Has anything like this happened before in a nation’s top division?”
“Conor Coady played every minute of 57 games for Wolves this season – a total of 5130 mins, plus added time. He’s also now up to 117 successive games for Wolves without being subbed. Are either of these records?” – Andrew Wright.
“Which football match has involved the most number of players who have played for both teams?” asks Geoff Saunders.
“PSG and RB Leipzig have been in existence for a measly 61 years combined. Is this a record for a European knockout match?” – Dion Doherty.
“In his first five seasons at Manchester City, centre-back Gerard Wiekens was either relegated or promoted. Is there any player with a longer run of either being promoted or relegated in consecutive seasons?” – Chris Lewis.