"In 2009 Carlo Cudicini broke a rule in his contract about riding a motorcycle when he suffered a nasty crash a few years ago," says Duncan Palmer. "Is it common to have such bans regarding bicycles? Are there any players past or present who are cyclists? I can't imagine that many arrive at training on a Pinarello or Bianchi …"
As Fulham fan Mark Haines points out, Moritz Volz is a keen cyclist. Here's an extract from Simon Hattenstone's interview with the German full-back in 2006:
We meet at his local Starbucks. It's noisy, so he suggests we retire to the park. I ask him where he has left his folding bike. "In the car. I need to get them fixed. I am useless with my hands." It turns out there are two. "One for the missus," he winks. We reach the car - a little VW Golf.
Blimey, I say, call yourself a Premiership player - couldn't you do a bit better than a Golf? "It's the first love of my life. Six years old now. You can't expect me to dump the love of my life, can you?" How much do the bikes cost? He looks embarrassed. "I didn't pay for them. The more known you become and the less you need the money, the more you get things free."
He is wearing a wrist bandage – an injury picked up from his new team-mate Jimmy Bullard in training. "Which team d'you support?" he asks. Manchester City, I say. "We're playing United at the weekend. We'll try and beat them for you, but if we can't beat them who would you like me to injure?" He grins.
That injury takes on an interesting twist when you listen to Bullard confirming Volz's two-wheel tendency. "I was at Fulham with Zoltan Gera, who definitely has the weirdest banter of anyone I've ever come across," said Bullard in a 2010 interview. "He is a proper oddball and a very weird kid. Moritz Volz was another proper weirdo – he used to cycle to training and occasionally to matches which says it all really."
West London in the early 2000s seems to have been a hotbed of pedalling players. Arjen Robben said when he joined Chelsea that he believed he would cycle to training. "Why not? The new complex is very close to where I live with my girlfriend, and if the weather is nice I can go by bike again," he told the Daily Mail in 2004. "When I started playing first-team football, I didn't actually have a driving licence. I had to go by bike. I used to cycle 10 kilometres each way to school every day, and I used to cycle to training as well."
The Manchester City manager, Roberto Mancini, likes to arrive to training at Carrington on his £2,500 specially-designed road bike. "Ten years ago my hero was Marco Pantani and 30 years ago it was Francesco Moser – both Italian cyclists," said Mancini after receiving the gift.
Another Italian manager who has spent time in England had a slightly different relationship with a bike. Fabio Capello's youth team coach at Spal, Giovanbattista Fabbri, was one for innovative training methods. "I'd put him on a bicycle and have him pedal towards the goal," Fabbri told Gabriele Marcotti in his book on the England manager. "Then I'd send over a cross and he'd have to head it in, without falling off the bike. Then, we'd switch over. I'd be on the bike and he had to put in a cross accurate enough to reach me, wherever I decided to cycle."
The former England midfielder David Batty was a big fan of bikes of the motorised variety. In 1998 he enraged his Leeds manager at the time, David O'Leary, after taking to the track ahead of the British Superbike Grand Prix at Donington. He rode in the sidecar while former motorbike racer Randy Mamola sped round the circuit in his 500cc Yamaha.
"I don't think they [Leeds] would have wanted me to do it, I'm not allowed to do any riding on the road," he said. "I've always been into bikes but football means I don't get to ride like I'd want to."
PLAYERS SENT OFF FOR THE SAME TACKLE (2)
Last week we looked at the tackles that saw both players red-carded, and this week Fionnan Howard has delivered a superb example:
"Here's an example from my team Drogheda United playing in our annual pre-season friendly (the Jim Malone cup) against arch rivals Dundalk," writes Fionnan. "The two players in question are Gavin Whelan (nephew of Ronnie) who had returned to the club having won the first major cup with Drogheda in 2005 and Michael Collins, a Northern Irishman who's reputation from north of the border maybe preceded him a little here he was known as a fiery tough-tackling midfielder and a bit of a hot head, prone to losing the rag on occassion. The tackle, and his reaction speaks for itself."
SYMMETRICAL GROUNDS (3)
Over the past couple of weeks we've scouring the football globe for back-to-back grounds. And this week's mailbag has brought several more to our attention:
"Non league teams Wellingborough Town FC and Wellingborough Whitworth FC are another example of grounds positioned right next to each other, with both teams playing in the United Counties League," writes Mark Redding. "What's new this year is that the reborn AFC Rushden & Diamonds now groundshare at Wellingborough Town's Dog 'n' Duck Stadium meaning three clubs at essentially the same place. Just look at the ground entrances from the road being side by side. Naturally the United Counties League Cup drew AFC R&D v Whitworth in the first round, with the winner to play, you've guessed it, Wellingborough Town."
"The stadium of FC Copenhagen (Parken) and of B93 & Boldklubben Skjold (Osterbro Stadion) are next to each other," writes Branislav Mihic
"As," Branislav continues, "are the homes of Odense Boldklub and the Odense Atletikstadion, home of FC Fyn."
And finally: "In Reykjavik, the national stadium Laugardalsvollur is situated next to Valbjarnarvollur, home ground of the First Division (and occasionally Premier League) club Throttur Reykjavik," writes Stefan Palsson. "This is as symmetrical as it gets ..."
Back in 2003, Greg Kilminster mailed in to demand: "Between 1975 and 1988, successive managers at a club had the following first names: Johnny, Ronnie, Ron, Ronnie, Ron, Johnny, Ron, Ron. Name the club and list the eight surnames."
No problem, Greg. The club in question is West Bromwich Albion. The first Johnny is player-manager Johnny Giles, who held the post from 1975 to 1977 before Ronnie Allen took over for his first brief spell in charge. Just before Christmas that year John Wile was appointed caretaker for about three weeks before the first Ron, Atkinson, took the Baggies' reigns for the first time.
In 1981 Ronnie Allen returned for 10 months at the helm before a third Ron, Wylie, took charge. Seven months later it was Johnny time again as Mr Giles came back for another two-year stint. With us so far? We've had Johnny, Ronnie, John, Ron, Ronnie, Ron and Johnny. Right? Now comes the anomaly. For five months, the Ron-Jon phenomenon was interrupted by dancing boy Nobby Stiles. But it does rhyme, vaguely, so we'll paper over that gaping crack.
Nobby's spell was succeeded another Ron, Saunders, who lasted seven months before Big Ron made his comeback. Thus it is that West Brom's managerial history reads quite nicely to the tune of Doe a Deer. All together now, Johnny...Ronnie....John Ron Ronnie...Ron...Johnny Nobby Ron....
And did we mention who Johnny Giles took over from 1975? Don Howe. Oh God...
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"Roma's Francesco Totti is about to launch his own guide to the city of Rome," writes Warren Hull. "That must be a first?"
"Having a discussion in the office following about footballers missing games due to their other half having a child/being in labour," begins Tom Rodger. "However, has a footballer ever been substituted during a game due to his other half going into labour?"
"Eliseau's strike against Anderlecht last night brought to mind a classic Hotshot Hamish net buster," writes Niall Stafford. "Has anyone ever broken a goal frame having hit one that stayed hit?"
"Leeds United's matchday squad on Saturday contained a Green (Paul), a Gray (Andy), a White (Andy), and a Brown (Michael)," notes Adam Nelson. "At one point, all but Green were on the field together. What is the most multi-coloured matchday squad or starting line-up?"
"Last season Villarreal competed in the Champions League and got relegated," writes Chris Meli. "Has this ever happened before?"
"Danish team Vanlose IF has started the 2012-13 season with 12 matches with no goals against – nine matches in the 4th level Danish league (seven wins and two draws for a total score of 14-0) and round 1-3 of the Danish Cup (three 1-0 wins)," writes Henrik Hansen. "Is that some kind of record? And if not, who has the longest run of clean sheets?"
"In light of the Barcelona match last weekend, where it was more than 60 mins before Barça were whistled for a foul, has a competitive match ever been foul-free, either by one team or both teams?" wonders Bren Daly.
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