Which fruit and vegetables have been hurled at footballers and managers?

Guardian sport on 10 October 2018

“After Steve Bruce had a cabbage thrown at him, it got me wondering what other odd fruits or vegetables have been tossed in the direction of underperforming managers or players?” asks George Jones.

It wouldn’t take a genius to guess which vegetable was thrown at the late Graham Taylor back in the 1990s. Here’s an extract of Jeremy Alexander’s match report from Bolton Wanderers’ 5-1 defeat of Wolves in 1995. “As Graham Taylor settled on the bench three turnips winged past him on to the pitch. Compared to his goalkeeper he got off lightly. Three shots flew in from 30 yards like sticks of celery.” Three turnips! And not one hit the target. That’s a poor conversion rate.

Joe Cleverdon takes us to the south coast, where a supporter did hit the spot, which was poor old Ian Branfoot’s head. “In the 1993-94 season Ian Branfoot was the worst Saints manager ever,” he writes. “His theories involved dropping Matt Le Tissier. Many regulars in the Milton Road End at The Dell claimed responsibility for the tangerine that hit his head and marked the beginning of the end.”

Simon Hermansson takes us to Sweden for another fruit-based attack. In April 2013 the top-flight match between Mjällby and Djurgården was suspended after Mjällby’s Gbenga Arokoyo was walloped by a pear thrown from the stands. Not only did it lead to the game’s abandonment, but a 3-0 victory was awarded to Mjällby.

Sadly, numerous players over the years have had to contend with having bananas thrown at them by boneheaded racists. In 2012 Barcelona’s Dani Alves responded to this despicable act by taking a bite out of the fruit at El Madrigal.

Chelsea fans have been known to bring celery to matches for almost three decades. And on occasions some supporters have taken to tossing the tasteless sticks on to the pitch. In 2007, three fans were banned for pelting Spurs players in an FA Cup match, while Cesc Fàbregas was targeted in the 2007 League Cup final when he was an Arsenal player.

During FC Twente’s match against Willem II in March, supporters peppered the pitch with red chillis. We don’t know why. Readers?
During FC Twente’s match against Willem II in March, supporters peppered the pitch with red chillis. We don’t know why. Readers? Photograph: Soccrates Images/Getty Images

And for a reason we can’t fathom, Watford supporters tried to liven up trips in 2007 by smuggling random fruit and vegetables in. The campaign was called “Five-a-day awaydays” and was a source of embarrassment for some Hornets supporters. Items photographed inside stadiums included watermelons, butternut squash, ginger, carrots, lemons, broccoli and aubergines.

Can any team beat that? If so, you know where to find us on email or tweet @TheKnowledge_GU.

The Fiver: sign up and get our daily football email.

Dotty names

“Has there been, or is there, a professional player with more umlauts in their surname than Leicester City’s Caglar Söyüncü?” wonders Ben Fisher.

To get pedantic for a moment, those aren’t umlauts. The “ü” is a separate letter in its own right in Turkish, just as “ä” and “ë” are in Finnish. So has there ever been a player with four letters-with-two-dots-above-them in his or her surname? Let’s find out.

“From my research, three umlauts seems to be more common than thought,” writes Gareth Hughes. “Jussi Jääskeläinen, the former Finnish goalkeeper for Bolton Wanderers had three. Then there is another Finn and goalie, this time a current one with Brighton, Nikki Mäenpää with three again.

Jussi Jääskeläinen
Jussi Jääskeläinen in action for Bolton in 2009. It appears the club could not fit the dots on above the goalkeeper’s name. Photograph: Andrew Yates/AFP/Getty Images

“You could also look as far as the Mongolian football league where the likes of Mönkh-Erdengiin Tögöldör [who you’ll notice has one in his forename] ... but I have struggled to find any more than three.”

There’s also Finnish midfielder Kasper Hämäläinen and, perhaps most impressively given his surname is just six letters long, Ilari Äijälä (one cap for the national team back in 2012) packs in three.

Elsewhere in Turkey, Giresunspor defender Ferhat Görgülü, Afjet Afyonspor’s Ibrahim Sürgülü and former Trabzonspor utility man Hasan Üçüncü can all claim a hat-trick in their surnames but the magic fourth remains elusive.

Animals on shirts (2)

Last week we asked if Burnley’s five different animals on their club shirt is a record. Ben North takes us Down Under for what appears to be a winner.

“The Australian jersey (men and women) features the national coat of arms as the team crest,” begins Ben. “The coat of arms consists of a kangaroo and an emu supporting a shield. On the shield are six sections for the six main states. For animals, this includes two lions (one each for New South Wales and Tasmania), a black swan for Western Australia, a bird (piping shrike) for South Australia. This is a total of six animals (or five different ones) on the crest alone. No sponsor animal (which is cheating). Because this is Australia, all of these animals can probably kill you.”

It’s all in the crest.
It’s all in the crest. Photograph: Romain Lafabregue/AFP/Getty Images

Knowledge archive

“Has a streaker ever scored? And would it count if they did?” asked Jimmy Lloyd in July 2005.

The self-proclaimed ‘World’s No 1 streaker,’ Mark Roberts, has scored at least two goals while baring all. He scored in the Carling Cup game between Liverpool v Chelsea in 2000 and the 2002 Champions League final between Real Madrid and Bayer Leverkusen. Roberts is not the only streaker to find the back of the net. In December 1998, during an interruption in Reading’s 1-0 win over Notts County, a fan ran on to the field, kissed the ground and scored past the County keeper before evading a steward and disappearing. These goals didn’t count because they occurred during breaks in play but even if a streaker were to find the net during a game, it wouldn’t count. Law 10, The Method of Scoring, says that a goal can only be given if no infringement has been made by the team scoring the goal. A streaker would be an ineligible player; a team cannot field more than 11, so there would be no goal. And that’s even before considering improper kit!

One streaker from Finland, back in 2013, did lead directly to a goal being disallowed, much to the displeasure of HJK Helsinki players.

Streaker at Finnish football game causes goal to be disallowed.

Can you help?

“Nuneaton Borough and Halesowen Town played out an 8-9 thriller in the FA Youth Cup in front of a confirmed attendance of just 83 fans,” notes Alex Riddle. “Is 4.9 fans per goal the lowest ratio of its kind ever recorded?”

“Didi Kühbauer was appointed Rapid Vienna manager on 2 October,” begins Benedikt Zoerfus. “He had beaten Rapid with his former side SKN St Pöltenm on 29 September. Is less than 72 hours between beating a team and being appointed its manager a record? And what is the shortest time between a manager being sacked and beating the side he has been sacked by?”

“Newcastle, Cardiff and Huddersfield are outstanding candidates to go down. What is the earliest stage in the season that all the teams eventually relegated have settled and remained in the relegation zone (ignoring any changes in league position across a weekend or ‘matchday’ before all teams have played)?” asks Matt Fox.

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

Latest football headlines

Latest Football News