Robins, Trotter and Potter: footballers who share their club’s nickname | Football

“Mat Sadler scored for Walsall last Tuesday, which is a bit like a player called John Red Devil scoring for Manchester United. Any other examples of players with the same name as their team’s nickname?” wonders Tom England.

We were hoping somebody called Grauniad might answer this question. Alas not, but the rest of you did a pretty good job. Let’s start with a singular example from the West Midlands. “A mere six miles from Walsall along the A454, John de Wolf scored five goals in 28 games for Wolves in the mid-1990s. Not an exact match, but it counts. And in Germany, Wolfgang Wolf coached VfL Wolfsburg – whose nickname is Die Wolfe – from 1998 to 2003.”

Rit Nanda has another Germanic example. “We could always consider Christian Fuchs playing for Leicester City, with his surname meaning ‘Fox’ in German,” says Rit. “If we are not allowed translations, a certain Martin Fox also played for them as well.”

Nathan Eaton
(@nate_1983)

@TheKnowledge_GU re. Players with the same name as their team’s nickname – Graham Potter played 45 games for @stokecity between 1993 and 1996. Up the Potters! 🔴⚪️🔴⚪️


November 5, 2020

Thanks to all of you who also pointed out that Mark Robins had a spell at Bristol City in 2003, and especially to James Armstrong for this nugget. “Robins once scored for City v Swindon,” he says. “In other words, Robins scored for the Robins against the Robins.”

A couple of Whites have played for Leeds – David from 1993-95 and Aidy from 2008-15. Steve Bull played for Hereford United and Liam Trotter for Bolton. But the final word is a Miller’s tale from Yorkshire. “Rotherham may provide the most recent example,” reckons Simon Harpin, “courtesy of our summer 2020 signing winger Mikel Miller.”

Keepers who scored the winning penalty

“What have been the most famous or most notable instances of a goalkeeper scoring the winning penalty in a shootout (not including ones that bumped themselves up the order a la Ricardo)” muses Jack Tanner.

Let’s start with a charming story from 2015. “Boubacar Barry did it for Ivory Coast in the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations final against Ghana,” writes Mark van Dijk. “Once all the outfield players had had a go (with two misses each), Barry saved an attempt from his opposite number Brimah Razak, and then scored the winner himself.”

From Equatorial Guinea to north London. “Depending on your definition of ‘famous’ and ‘notable’, Huddersfield Town keeper Alex Smithies scored the decisive penalty in the 2011-12 League One play-off final,” mails Matt Kitson. “Otherwise, it wasn’t a particularly good game. I watched it on a mate’s phone outside a pub near Goodge Street if you’re after background colour.”



Alex Smithies is congratulated by his Huddersfield Town teammates after scoring the winning penalty in the 2011-12 League One play-off final. Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA

Always. If that wasn’t dramatic enough, Dinos Samartzis writes in with details of an even more dramatic penalty competition a few years earlier. “The Greek Cup final between AEK and Olympiakos went to penalties in 2009 after ending 4-4,” he recalls. “A mammoth shootout ended 15-14 in favour of Olympiakos, during which their goalkeeper, Antonis Nikopolidis, scored twice, including the winner. You can watch from 5min 15sec, although the whole highlights package is entertaining and features Matt Derbyshire!”

Finally to a couple of Boy’s (and Girl’s) Own stories. “Tottenham defeated Brighton 10-9 in the Continental Tyres Cup a couple of years ago,” explains Chris Page. “When it went all the way to the goalkeepers, Spurs stopper Emma Gibson netted the winner. Even more remarkably, it was on her debut.”

One day Port Vale’s Sam Johnson will be able to regale his grandchildren with a similar story. “The 19-year-old was making his first-team debut against Vale’s old rivals Walsall in the Football League Trophy,” says Rob Fielding. “It finished 2-2 in normal time and went to penalties. There had been 21 taken, of which Johnson had saved three, before the keeper strode up to take the 22nd. He scored past his opposite number to give Vale the win.”

Who writes his scripts?

More thumpings in title-winning seasons

Last week we looked at teams who were thrashed en route to winning the title. Inexplicably, we left out one of the most famous examples in world football. “In the summer of 1983 Johan Cruyff was transferred from Ajax to Feyenoord,” notes Dirk Maas. “Feyenoord hadn’t been champions since 1974 and things weren’t looking good when Feyenoord suffered a devastating 8-2 loss at Ajax, in September 1983. However, Feyenoord took revenge in February 1984, beat Ajax 4-1 and the Rotterdam side clinched the title a few months later.”

Iain Macleod has a slightly less high-profile story to tell. “I give you the example of Wealdstone,” he writes. “The Stones actually received the 1984-85 National League/Alliance Premier League/Conference/Gola League trophy at the end of a 7-0 shoeing by Barnet, having won the league a few days prior. To be fair, they were resting players before the FA Trophy final at Wembley – which they won to complete the non-league double. Sadly, there was then a long and tempestuous decline, and Wealdstone were out of the top flight of the non-league pyramid for 32 years until this season.” No wonder the Wealdstone Raider was so angry.

Knowledge archive

“In last week’s Knowledge (10 August 2005) regarding multi-talented footballers, an answer stated that one-time Southampton player CB Fry was once ‘famously offered the throne of Albania’. Could you please detail how this unlikely incident happened?” asked Russell Yong.

Iain Wilton, author of CB Fry – An English Hero, said: “Fry was much more than a sportsman. In fact, he was a novelist, journalist and friend to politicians on the left. He was offered the throne of Albania but decided he hadn’t quite enough money for the post.”

Why did Albania offer him the role? Well, at the end of the Great War, Albania came under Italy’s power. The Italians opted against garrisoning the country and instead granted it full independence in 1920. Serbia attempted to invade almost immediately, but heavy fighting drove their forces back. A suitably neutral leader was required but, as mentioned, money was an issue, forcing Fry’s polite decline. Eventually, the country’s former PM Ahmed-I-Zog seized power and was crowned King Zog I in 1928.

Knowledge archive

Can you help?

“I see Crawley scored in the 14th minute of injury time, Torquay in the 18th and Crawley again in the 21st. Has there been a later goal than the 21st minute of injury time (not counting extra-time obviously)? Or three goals scored so late?” wonders Matt Robb.

Torquay 5-6 Crawley



Torquay 5-6 Crawley Town. Photograph: The Guardian

“Which player has scored most goals from the penalty spot in one match,” asks Bogdan Kotarlic.

Jack Tanner
(@mrjacktanner)

With this bizarre situation of England vs Iceland possibly being in Albania, what’s the furthest an international side has played a home *competitive* fixture away from their country?


November 10, 2020

With Gareth Bale and Tanguy Ndombele starting together for Spurs, how many other times have a club’s record signing and record sale played together?” ponders Nick Jones.

Philip Genochio
(@philipgenochio)

Any instances of players refusing an international call up because they felt they weren’t good enough/hadn’t earned it?


November 10, 2020

“Lee Dixon acknowledged on TV commentary that his professional career included coming in first (with Arsenal) and 92nd (with Chester City) in the pyramid,” begins Mike Wilner. “Are there other players who finished first and worst in England? How about other nations?”

John Scott
(@Canarly)

Same team kicking off both halves? And did it happen Sheffield w Chelsea 1985? Cheers😀⚽️


November 10, 2020

“Spotted in Fulham’s comedy loss at West Ham that nearly all of their defensive back five (including keeper) had a surname beginning with A (bar Robinson who ruined the clean sweep). Has there been a back four or defence and keeper combo that have all had their surnames beginning with the same letter?” asks Alexander Gowing.

David O’Connor
(@salmsonconnacht)

Ipswich have never lost a home European game (31 games). Has any team played more home fixtures in Europe and remained unbeaten?


November 10, 2020

Send your questions and answers to knowledge@theguardian.com or tweet @TheKnowledge_GU.


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