"When," wonders James O'Leary, "was the last time two major clubs in the same city (outside of London) played separate matches on the same day?"
Well James, a quick dip in the pool of the Knowledge archives of 2004 reveals this thorough response from one Gavin Buckland: "The last time this happened was on 3 January 1981 in the third round of the FA Cup. Everton defeated Arsenal 2-0 at Goodison in front of 34,000 while a gate of 37,000 saw Liverpool beat non-league Altrincham 4-1 at Anfield. The two teams were then drawn together in the fourth round with Everton winning 2-1. When the two teams were subsequently drawn together at home, matches were played on different days on police instructions."
But that isn't the only time that this has happened. There was also a night in 2008, 3 December to be exact, when Manchester City and Manchester United both played because of a congested fixture list – United beat Blackburn 5-3 in the League Cup (Carlos Tevez scored four), while City drew 0-0 with Paris Saint-Germain in the Uefa Cup.
On 18 February 1989, Rangers and Celtic both played at home in the Scottish Cup, Rangers beating Stranraer 8-0 and Celtic beating Clydebank 4-1 but we have yet to find a firm kick-off time for each match. Elsewhere north of the border, there are numerous dates when Dundee and Dundee United have played on the same day. They both played in the League Cup on 8 August 1998, but Dundee kicked off at noon, United played at 3pm. They also both played in the Scottish Cup on 23 February 1991.
And way back when in February 1968, they both played at home in the Scottish Cup, United kicking off against Hearts at 2pm, Dundee playing Rangers at 3pm. Overall there were about 44,000 supporters in Dundee that afternoon, with United manager Jerry Kerr describing the day as a football festival in the programme. Both home sides lost though, in the end.
BIGGEST AWAY FOLLOWING (2)
Last week, we discussed the largest away followings at a match. We've had a few more emails on the subject, starting with one from Darren Cousins: "Manchester United's visit to Wimbledon on 9 May 1993 must be up there. The crowd that day was 30,115 which is still the Dons' record attendance; far, far more than they would usually attract. The reason? United had just wrapped up their first title in more than two decades and thousands of United fans flocked down, having already bought tickets in case the title was still up for grabs. It wasn't, as Villa's defeat to Oldham had handed United the championship, but the fans still came."
Paulo Padilha also writes in: "Corinthians fans made an impression last year when somewhere between 20,000 and 30,000 of them made the trip to Japan for the Club World Cup. But to those in Brazil that was hardly a surprise. One of the club's most famous matches was the 'Corinthians Invasion' of the Maracanã in 1976. That year they reached the semi-final of the national league, which was held in a one-off match at the home of the club that had the superior overall record in the competition, Corinthians had to make the trip to Rio de Janeiro to face favourites Fluminense. In the buildup to the match the Fluminense president Francisco Horta dared the Corinthians fans to come to the match, offering them half the Maracanã's capacity and famously declaring: 'let the living leave their houses and the dead come out of their graves to support Corinthians at the Maracanã, because Fluminense will win this match.'
"They duly obliged (the living, not the dead), clogging the highway with buses and filling the streets of Rio with black and white shirts. When the game kicked off, approximately 70,000 of the 146,043 present were wearing Corinthians' colours. The team responded on the field, holding Fluminense to a 1-1 tie before winning on penalties in order to reach the final of the competition. They lost the final to Internacional but that's just a minor historical footnote."
Finally Christopher Bodington nominates the USA v Mexico international at the Rose Bowl in California in 2011. He reckons most of the 93,000 spectators were cheering for Mexico.
Any more for any more? If so, you know what to do.
"I recall that Argentina fielded outfield players in two World Cups with the No1 jersey (Alonso in 78 and Ardiles in 82), since they chose to use alphabetical order for assignment of numbers. Obviously there are no rules against it but assigning the No1 shirt to an outfield player seems very unusual. Are there any more top level occurrences?" asked Eduardo Villanueva Mansilla back in May 2001.
Yes there are, Eduardo. The great Dutch side of 1974 were also numbered alphabetically. "Hence, Ruud Geels, a striker, had a squad number of one while the goalkeeper Jan Jongbloed wore No8. At No22 was Harry Vos, a defender," explains John Murray.
"The only exception was, of course, Johan Cruyff – who was allowed to wear his trademark No14 shirt instead of No1 which he would have worn under the system.
"In 1978 the Holland squad numbering system was a little more confusing," John continues. "Eight players from the 1974 squad kept their squad numbers from that tournament – Jansen, Jongbloed, the Van de Kerkhof brothers, Neeskens, Rep, Rijsbergen and Suurbier – while Rensenbrink (12), Schrijvers (1), Krol (5) and Haan (9) took on new numbers. Incidentally, the famous No14 shirt was worn by Johan Boskamp."
If you want an English example, look no further than Charlton Athletic. As Trevor Pearce and Tristan Browning point out, in the early 90s, shortly after the advent of squad numbers, the Addicks went all alphabetical – with the Scottish defender Stuart Balmer wearing the No1 shirt.
CAN YOU HELP?
"Colin Stein's four goals against Cyprus in May 1969 was the last time a Scottish player scored an international hat-trick," remembers Fred Sullivan. "Is there another 'major' (a side who have qualified for a World Cup) international team that need to look back further than this for their last hat-trick scorer?"
"Adam Le Fondre won the January Player of the Month award despite playing only 85 minutes of football and not starting a single game" types Robert Woolmer. "This got me thinking has anyone ever been the top scorer in a league without starting a game? Or, similarly, has someone ever been named player of a major tournament without making the first XI?"
"Ashley Cole has won all of his 100 England caps as a starter," says Rich Perkins, who writes all the way from St Helena. "Has any other player won more caps in a row as a starter?"
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