“Last week, there was uproar at Whitby Town when their PA announcer, Colin, revealed the winner of the Great British Bake Off over the Tannoy during the match,” writes Elliot Leaver. “Are there any other examples of TV spoilers being given at live football events?”
Chris Page and several others got in touch with one spectacular example from 23 February 1983. “On Coronation Street, Deirdre Barlow found herself having to make a choice between staying with her husband, Ken, or leaving him for Mike Baldwin. She would eventually choose [SPOILER ALERT] … the former, leading to an announcement at Old Trafford.
“Manchester United were playing Arsenal in a League Cup semi-final when the message ‘Ken and Deirdre reunited – Ken 1 Mike 0’ flashed up on the scoreboard. At a time when people were not quite as worried about spoilers, the announcement was greeted with rapturous cheers from the crowd rather than uproar.”
It all ended in tears for United (who lost the final to Liverpool) and the Barlows (who were divorced in 1990), but the Wednesday night episode brought in the highest ratings of the year. While the match is widely listed as taking place the night before, the match programme confirms otherwise. Stefan Glosby adds that “my parents would often tell me the news was put up on the half-time scoreboards at several different matches”.
“During Crystal Palace’s promotion season in 2012-13, the Selhurst Park screen broadcast the climax of the Grand National during the match,” writes Joe Walker. “Ian Holloway was understandably bemused.” The match in question, a 0-0 draw with Barnsley, also saw the visitors play in Palace’s away kit.
Here’s a different angle from Sander Kuvener – “a football spoiler, given during a theatre show”. We’re listening. “The Netherlands had all but qualified for Euro ‘84, and would only miss the tournament if Spain beat Malta by at least 11 goals.
“Performing on the night of the game, Dutch comedian Freek de Jonge decided to inform the audience of the final score. Everyone in the theatre assumed he was joking when he said it was Spain 12-1 Malta. Imagine how they felt when they found out the horrible truth.”
And another different style of spoiler:
Longest spells away: the gap keeps growing
Last week, we looked at players with the longest gap between spells at one club. Henrik Larsson and Faryd Mondragon were our frontrunners – but a new leader has emerged.
“Steve Claridge first arrived at Bournemouth in 1984, making just seven appearances before leaving for Weymouth in October 1985.” writes Kevin Adair. “He went on to play for dozens of other clubs, but returned to Bournemouth for one further appearance in December 2006.”
That’s a whopping 22 years later. It was Claridge’s 1,000th game as a professional, and his last in the Football League as Bournemouth lost 4-0 to Port Vale.
Footballers married to other footballers
“Alex Morgan is married to LA Galaxy’s Servando Carrasco,” writes Kevin. “Are there any other notable examples of married footballers?”
We looked at this back in 2007. Hermann Hreidarsson and Ragna Lóa Stefánsdóttir have since divorced, but there are plenty more to add to the list.
The England women’s captain, Steph Houghton, is married to former Liverpool and Bradford full-back Stephen Darby, who retired from football last year after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease.
Houghton’s fellow Lioness, forward Jodie Taylor, is married to New Zealand striker Emma Kete. Sticking with Kiwi forwards, Burnley’s Chris Wood is currently dating Liverpool’s Kirsty Linnett. The couple had a chat with Andy Hunter last year.
New Zealand appears to be a hotbed of footballing romance – Ferns midfielder Katie Duncan (née Hoyle) is married to former international Priscilla Duncan, and Kiwi midfielder Kirsty Yallop married her Klepp IL clubmate, Australia’s Tameka Butt, earlier this year.
They’re not the only international couple: Sweden’s Magda Eriksson was notably supported at the World Cup by her partner, Denmark striker Pernille Harder. USA teammates Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris are engaged, while midfielder Julie Ertz is married to a different kind of football player – Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz.
League leaders thumped (redux)
Following on from Blackburn 7-1 Norwich last week, here are more memorable examples of league leaders taking a good gubbing …
“On 22 February 1939, Everton were top of the old First Division and faced fellow title challengers Wolves at Molineux,” mails Bradley Cates. “Everton got thrashed 7-0, as Wolves moved two points behind them. Despite the defeat, Everton won the league.”
“My first ever Walsall match was in February 1986, when the Saddlers beat league leaders Reading 6-0,” offers Rob Davies, for whom it’s been largely downhill since.
“Sunderland were visited at Roker Park in December 1995 by Division One table-toppers Millwall,” writes Reuben Dodds. “Sunderland won 6-0, and went up as champions; Millwall lost Mick McCarthy to the Republic of Ireland, went into freefall and were relegated.”
“Can anyone tell me why the Spurs emblem is a chicken on a beach ball?” asked Fang Xiwen, back in 2005.
Ken Ferris’s book, ‘Football: Terms and Teams’, published that year, dealt best with Fang’s query. “The emblem is related to Harry Hotspur’s riding spurs, since fighting cocks were once fitted out with miniature spurs.”
“The cockerel and ball first appeared in 1909, when former player William James Scott cast a copper statue to perch on the new West Stand. The cockerel motif has been used on the shirts since the 1901 FA Cup final when Spurs became the only amateur team to win the trophy.”
• For more from the font of nerdvana, click this thing here.
Can you help?
“To celebrate 2,000 Premier League goals, Manchester United released videos of every goal on their app, season by season,” begins Mike Coxon. “While watching 1994-95, I noticed in a game at the Dell that there seemed to be in-stadium commentary, presumably over the Tannoy. Can anyone shed any light?”
“Is there any reason why West Ham, Aston Villa and Burnley all wear the unlikely claret-and-blue colour combination?” asks Adrian Cocker. “Why is it so common, and is there a link between the clubs?”
“Lionel Messi scored two goals from free-kicks against Celta Vigo over the weekend,” writes Bogdan Kotarlic. “Has anyone ever scored a hat-trick of direct free-kicks?”
“With Chelsea riding high in the Premier League despite being smashed 4-0 by United in their opening game, what is the biggest opening-day defeat a team has suffered and still gone on to win the league?” asks Stefan Glosby.
“Marcus Bent joined Sheffield United in October 1999, leaving in November 2000,” says Darren White. “He then returned for three months on loan in 2011. Bent therefore played for the Blades across three decades, but made just 59 appearances. Can anyone beat that?”