“Stockport County have just signed Connor and James Jennings, from different clubs. They are brothers. Have there been many other clubs who have done the same?” asks Dan Levy.
It depends what is being asked, Dan. If it is brothers coming from different clubs and signing for the same team and crossing paths there are quite a few examples, but if you are asking if other brothers have signed from different clubs at exactly the same time, as the Jennings did at Stockport, we’re struggling.
Mark McGowan, though, has found an example of siblings signing in the same month from different clubs: “The Paixão twins (Flávio and Marco) signed for Hamilton Accies in August 2009 from different teams (Flávio from Benidorm and Marco from Cultural Leonesa). They were more noted for coordinated goal celebrations than any particular football ability and left in 2011, for separate Iranian clubs. Interestingly their footballing partnership was reunited in 2016 at Lechia Gdansk having, again, signed from different clubs.”
Another set of twins to join forces were the Oriols, Edu and Joan. Both joined Blackpool in the summer of 2014, with Edu moving to Lancashire just 10 days after his brother. It was not the first time they had played together, having both enjoyed loan spells at Reus in their native Catalonia during the 2006/07 season. Incidentally, as they both left Bloomfield Road in January 2015 to sign for Rapid Bucharest.
Jonathan Benteke arrived at Crystal Palace from Zulte Waregem 11 days after his elder brother, Christian, arrived from Liverpool. He only played once, against Middlesbrough, when he came on as a replacement for … Christian.
If we broaden it out to brothers arriving at the same destination from different clubs within a season or two of each other then Matt Kitson has this example: “Huddersfield Town signed Efe Sodje from Crewe at the start of the 2003-04 season and then his brother Akpo at the start of the next season from Erith and Belvedere. They did sell both at the end of the same season and Akpo didn’t really feature as memory serves, so the opportunity for them to play in the same team was limited. Disappointingly they didn’t sign the other brother, Sam, at the same time. A missed opportunity.”
“I have an example of brothers signed from two different football clubs,” adds Alex Boritchev. “The Kovac brothers, Niko and Robert, were signed by Bayern Munich from Bayer Leverkusen and Hamburg respectively, in 2001.” Good knowledge, Alex. There were of course the Compton brothers at Arsenal, too, if we go back further in time, to before the second world war: Denis was better at cricket while Leslie’s forte was football, and both represented the Gunners and Middlesex, signing for Arsenal at around the same time.
Michael Butler, meanwhile, highlights Julio Santa Cruz, who joined Blackburn Rovers in 2008, a year after his brother, Roque, had taken the Premier League by storm. Julio left in 2011 without making a first-team appearance.
Take out the requirement of brothers signing for the same club simultaneously, and you open up a whole new world of possibilities. Eden and Thorgan Hazard at Chelsea, Phil and Gary Neville at Manchester United, Fábio and Rafael da Silva also at Manchester United, André and Jordan Ayew at Swansea City, Kolo and Yaya Touré at Manchester City, and Sean and Matthew Longstaff at Newcastle, to name only a few.
More floods of first-half goals
We’ve had a few more contenders for most goals scored in the first half of a professional match …
“Derby were 9-0 up at the break in their Uefa Cup tie with Finn Harps in September 1976 at the Baseball Ground,” cheers Steven McGhee. “We went on to win 12-0 and, yes, it is our record victory. Derby won the second leg 4-1.”
Oh, and Bill McGinley gets in touch with this little note: “In reply to George Jones’s query regarding highest first-half scores, Norman Shuttleworth mentions the 7-0 scoreline after 45 minutes of the Bury v Tranmere game in January 1970,” he writes. “What he doesn’t mention is that four of those goals were scored by George Jones. Coincidence?”
Vertical kit sponsors
“Hi, just read the bit about Ajax’s vertical sponsor in this week’s Knowledge,” writes Mike Pollitt. “In the 93-94 season Huddersfield Town were sponsored by Vileda and had an incredible third shirt (surely a contender for most 90s shirt ever) which had the mop manufacturers’ name vertically down the side of the shirt.”
Huddersfield also got a slap on the wrist – a £50,000 fine, in fact – after unveiling a home sash-style kit with that massive Paddy Power logo emblazoned across it.
OK, it’s not a sponsor, but David Seaman’s garish red, yellow and green second strip at Euro ’96 had ENGLAND written on it in vertical letters. As students of the game, you’ll have worked out that the below photo is Seaman comforting Gareth Southgate after missing that fateful shoot-out penalty against Germany in the semi-final.
“I don’t know what inspired me to ask this question but can you tell me who, statistically speaking, is the worst England goalkeeper in history?” asked Charlie Geller in September 2005.
The worst – in sheer statistical terms – is Upton Park’s Conrad Warner, who conceded seven on his debut against Scotland in 1878, and unsurprisingly didn’t play again. For goalkeepers who played more than once, the worst is Pilgrims’ Harry Swepstone, who let in 18 goals in six games during the 1880s, but for those with 10 or more caps, Gil Merrick of Birmingham City stands out. Not aided by the 13 he conceded in the two Hungarian hammerings of the 1950s, Merrick let in a total of 45 in 23 internationals (1.96 goals per game).
Can you help?
“Birmingham took the unusual step of retiring Jude Bellingham’s No 22 shirt after the teenage prodigy secured a move to Borussia Dortmund. What other clubs have retired shirt numbers in honour of players? And, if there are others, are Bellingham’s 44 appearances a record low for the bestowing of this honour?” asks Derek Robertson.
“Liverpool have gone three straight league seasons without a home defeat. What’s the record (English, European, worldwide)?” wonders Boris Cule.
“As we all know, Norwich have already been relegated from the Premier League. Now that Watford have gone down too, is this be the first time two teams wearing predominantly yellow shirts have been relegated from the top league in the same season?” muses Jonathan Tasker.
“Has there been in a club in any league that were as high as Blackpool (2010-11) were in the goalscoring rankings (8th), who scored as many goals (55) and still got relegated?” asks Tommy Lam.