"Has a league's lowest scoring team ever won the title?" wonders Sophie Midwood.
As far as we can ascertain it's happened not once, but twice. The first occasion came in 1998 when AIK won the Swedish title, despite scoring only 25 goals in 26 games.
And more recently Aduana Stars romped to the Ghanese championship in 2009-10, despite scoring a faintly ludirous 19 goals in their 30 games – winning the title thanks to their head-to-head record against Ashanti Gold (rather predictably the Stars won one of their meetings 1-0, while the other was a 0-0 draw)
And thanks to the wonder that is the RSSSF, we can present the Stars' full fixture list in all its binary glory:
Arsenal 1-1 Aduana Stars; Aduana Stars 0-0 Liberty; RTU 1-0 Aduana Stars; Aduana Stars 1-0 Heart of Lions; King Faisal 0-0 Aduana Stars; Aduana Stars 1-0 Hearts of Oak; Hasaacas 1-0 Aduana Stars; Aduana Stars 1-0 New Edubiase; Aduana Stars 1-0 Kessben; Chelsea 0-0 Aduana Stars; Aduana Stars 1-0 All Stars; Kotoko 1-0 Aduana Stars; Aduana Stars 1-0 Olympics; Eleven Wise 1-2 Aduana Stars; Aduana Stars 1-0 AshGold; AshGold 0-0 Aduana Stars; Aduana Stars 1-0 Eleven Wise; Olympics 1-0 Aduana Stars; Aduana Stars 1-0 Kotoko; All Stars 0-0 Aduana Stars; Aduana Stars 0-0 Chelsea; Kessben 1-0 Aduana Stars; New Edubiase 1-0 Aduana Stars; Aduana Stars 1-0 Hasaacas; Hearts of Oak 1-0 Aduana Stars; Aduana Stars 1-0 King Faisal; Heart of Lions 1-1 Aduana Stars; Aduana Stars 2-0 RTU; Liberty 0-1 Aduana Stars; Aduana Stars 1-0 Arsenal
Final standings: P30 W15 D8 L7 F19 A10 Pts53 Pos 1st
OFF, OFF, OFF, OFF!
"Has anyone ever been yellow carded for being offside too many times in a match, or been caught so far offside it's deemed cautionable?" wondered Iain Laurie a few weeks ago.
If use the definition of 'anyone' as being, well, anyone then we can go even better than a yellow card, with one individual who was given his marching orders for giving a linesman RSI. "Oldham's mascot Chaddy the Owl was sent off during a game against Peterborough in 2000, after the linesman kept mistaking him for a player and flagging him offside," writes Ed Rostron. "As Chaddy himself [aka Kevin Williams] said: 'Fair enough, I did have a replica shirt on ... but I also have a big furry head.'"
"The Scottish Cup semis both finished with high scorelines: 4-3 after extra-time," noted James Smart. "Has this sort of thing ever happened before?"
Sometimes emails land in the Knowledge inbox that are so thorough that they deserve to be read in their entirety. Vincent Lacey has sent such an email:
With regard to the question posed by James Smart two weeks ago on the subject of high-scoring semi-finals with the same result, I haven't exactly found what he's looking for (equal results after extra time), I have dug up some examples of competitions where both semi-finals had the same high-scoring results.
Of course, the key question is "What is a high scoring game?" I've set a minimum of five goals in one match, mainly to include results from within the last 50 years from my search that is, admittedly, far from exhaustive.
Since James' question referred to the Scottish Cup, I'll start with Scotland where, exactly fifty years before this year's semi-finals, Celtic and Dundee United were also involved in high-scoring matches, albeit in different ties: Celtic beat Raith Rovers 5-2 at Ibrox, while at the same time, Rangers were enjoying a 5-2 win over the Terrors at Hampden Park. Twelve years earlier, in 1951, Celtic had also beaten Raith Rovers, this time 3-2, with Motherwell beating Hibernian by the same score.
In the 1918-19 French Cup, CA Société Génerale won 4-3 against Stade Rennais, with Olympique de Paris getting the same result against the snappily-named Vie au Grand Air du Medoc.
The 1944 Soviet Union Cup had two 3-2 semi-finals: CDKA (now CSKA) Moscow beat Torpedo Moscow, and Zenit Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) defeated Spartak Moscow.
The 1975-76 Greek Cup semis also finished 3-2, with AS Iraklis disposing of Panathinaikos and Olympiakos knocking out AEK Athens.
More recently, the 2008-09 Liechtenstein Cup threw up two 5-0 semi-finals: USV Eschen/Mauren beating FC Schan and FC Vaduz, on their way to a twelfth successive Liechtenstein Cup win, eliminating FC Balzers.
Internationally, the inaugural World Cup saw Argentina hammer the United States 6-1, a day before hosts and eventual winners Uruguay thrashed Yugoslavia by the same score.
Finally, though failing my criteria of at least five goals in one match, a nod to the 1974-75 UEFA Cup semi-finals, the only example I've found of two-legged ties having the same scorelines overall, individually in each leg, and in the same order. Both ties finished 4-1, with the first legs ending 3-1 and the second legs 1-0: FC Twente overcoming Juventus and Borussia Monchengladbach beating FC Koln.
"I was quite surprised to attend a match at my local club, Wisla Krakow, who were playing PKS Slask (from Wroclaw) in the Polish first division," wrote Roger Mackin back in the sepia-tinged days of 2010. "I was a bit worried about dangerous hooligan action but I was told beforehand that the hooligans of these two teams were 'friends'. And it was true. They proceeded to sing each others' songs and included a cute 'Wisla i Wroclaw' number. Do other clubs have such a love affair going on while in the same (top) division? It seems unlikely but there must be a precedent. Having said that, I can't imagine English fans singing 'Stoke and Fulham, la la la la la.'"
It seems that Wisla and PKS are far from the only sides to enjoy such friendly relations. In fact, they're not even the only sides in Poland. "When I used to wander along to support the mighty Polonia Warszawa [Legia Warszawa's older, nobler, smaller rival], they used to sing songs in support of Cracovia [Wisla Krakow's older, nobler, smaller rival] and also had a soft spot for Arka Gdynia," writes Nicholas Walton. "It was normal to have a few Cracovia flags and shirts in attendance. Other clubs had other alliance networks – although I was told by Polonia fans that Legia didn't have any friends as they were arrogant big-time Charlies.
"The alliances extended to hooligan gangs. Possibly this is because generally small travelling fans were able to build links, especially for a spot of fighting, on away trips – based upon perceived shared identity [as with Polonia and Cracovia] and rivalries."
And it's a phenomenon far from confined to the land that produced Grzegorz Lato, Zbigniew Boniek and, yes, Dariusz Wdowczyk. There are further examples elsewhere in eastern Europe. "I attended a match this August between Dinamo Kyiv and Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, who were at the time both in the top five of the Ukrainian top division," writes Adrian Rogstad. "The match was a dreary 0-0 draw attended by just 17,000, so the best entertainment came from the two teams' fan groups, who my local 'guides' told me had a friendly relationship.
"In the second half, they would on occasion join in each others' songs, and towards the end were united in a chant of 'Metalist is a team of condoms', referring to Metalist Kharkiv, a club both of the groups apparently despise. I have no idea if calling someone a 'condom' is a common insult in Ukraine or whether the choice was merely due to the fact that 'team' [komanda] and 'of condoms' [kondoma] rhymes in Russian."
But not all fans come together to deride their common enemy as a team of prophylactics. "It is quite common in Turkey but the best example is the friendship between Bursaspor and Ankaragucu," writes Dominic Brassington. "The friendship comes from, allegedly, the death of a fan going to watch the game and the fans then agreeing to bury their differences. On the matchday the fans will meet before to eat, visit Ataturk's mausoleum if the match is in Ankara and watch the game in a party atmosphere.
"But the support extends far beyond that. While Bursaspor were on their charge to winning the league last year Ankaragucu fans came out en masse to support Bursa against Genclerbirligi, and Bursa sent a large number of fans to support Ankaragucu against Fenerbahce. The province numbers in Turkey run alphabetically with Ankara No6 and Bursa No16, so during Bursa games the fans chant Ankaragucu during the sixth minute and vice-versa."
The Bundesliga is also littered with these relationships. Bayern Munich and Bochum, 1860 Munich and Kaiserslautern, and Schalke and Nürnberg are particularly close, but there are plenty of others of varying strength and also a plethora of regional alliances. The reasons behind the phenomena are varied, and not always easy to work out [even our man in the know, Rafa Honigstein, was unsure of the exact origins]. The spectre of hooliganism and "my enemy's enemy is my friend" almost certainly lies around some, though by no means all.
Cologne's freundschaft with St Pauli, for example, dates back to 1978 and the final day of the Bundesliga season. Borussia Mönchengladbach, facing Dortmund, required victory and a 10-goal swing to win the title on goal difference, while Cologne travelled to already-relegated St Pauli. Gladbach rather conveniently trounced Dortmund 12-0, but Cologne took the title thanks to a 5-0 win. Fans of both sides apparently celebrated together.
Serie A is also a hotbed of inter-club cosying. "In Italy, nearly all clubs are 'twinned' with other clubs [Gemellaggi]," writes Paul Haynes. "For example, the team I support, Napoli, are twinned with Genoa. When Napoli were promoted to Serie A in 2007, the Genoa ultras held up a banner saying "Benvenuto fratello napoletano" – "Welcome, my Neapolitan brother" – when the clubs met in the league."
And there are even teams on the other side of the Atlantic that enjoy a pre-match sing-song and shirt-swap with their rivals. "Lanus and Colon in Argentina claim that they are 'more than friends, they are brothers' ('Más que amigos, hermanos')," writes Martin K. Here's the teams' fans enjoying a bit of quality time together.
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CAN YOU HELP?
"Following Roberto Mancini's sacking, Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement and Rafael Benítez's interim-ship, the top three clubs in England will all begin next season with new managers. Has this ever happened before?" asks Ben Fortune (among others).
"Richard Keogh deservedly won Derby's player of the year award this season, having also won Coventry's equivalent award for the two previous seasons and Carlisle's the year before that," writes James Murton. "Can any other player claim to have been head and shoulders above his peers for such a streak?"
"Sam Minihan was released by Rochdale this week," begins Nick Grenier. "On his debut, his only match for 'Dale – against Exeter on 14 April 2012 – he was named as man of the match. Are there any other examples of players who have been awarded MOTM in their solitary appearance for a club?"
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