Is James Milner the only footballer with a door named after him?

Guardian sport
·7-min read

“Under a Guardian article about the ‘James Milner Door’ at Liverpool’s new training ground, a comment from Bludred67 stated that no other footballer has a door named after them. Is this bold statement true?” asks John Tait.

That depends on whether it has to be official or not, John. “At the Allianz Arena in Munich there is a small door within the larger doors to the tunnel, which red-carded players can use to head back to the changing rooms without the rigmarole of opening the main doors,” begins Pieter van der Riet. “On a tour of the stadium in about 2014 the guide told us that this was nicknamed the ‘Van Bommel’ door, owing to the frequency with which Bayern’s hard man Mark van Bommel used this facility. My friends in Munich had not heard this though, and it was not mentioned by the guide on a subsequent tour, so this may be just that guide’s whimsy.”

“Not a door, but always fun to remember that whenever Stuart McCall is announced as Bradford City manager, it’s usually in the McCall Suite at Valley Parade,” offers Stuart Morphet. There are of course the Shankly Gates and the Paisley Gates at Anfield in honour of the club’s two great managers. Paisley was also a former Liverpool player. Not doors, though.

We’ve unearthed many random and expensive things named after footballers before in a previous Knowledge but, alas, there were no doors among them. The closest we could find were the Nigel Spackman and David Speedie entrances at Stamford Bridge but they were removed before the 2020 season began, much to Spackman’s displeasure. “There was no consultation, no phone call, nothing,” he fumed. “I would have loved to have had the sign as a memento. Some of my mates are Chelsea supporters and said they would go and get the sign for me. But apparently, when they went down there, they’d already taken the letters off the sign and thrown them in the bin.” Some believe it was because he said he wanted another former club, Liverpool, to beat Chelsea in 2008. Maybe he could get his name on a door at Anfield.

Nigel Spackman, left, was given the honour of having an entrance named after him by former Chelsea chairman Ken Bates.
Nigel Spackman, left, was given the honour of having an entrance named after him by former Chelsea chairman Ken Bates. Photograph: David Bagnall/Shutterstock

Who has the longest career-spanning teammates?

“John Burridge played alongside both Jimmy Armfield (professional career began 1954) and Richard Edghill (professional career ended 2008), meaning teams he played in had players whose careers spanned a total of 54 years. Has anyone played alongside players who cover a greater span?” asks Andrew Lawler.

“Steve Ogrizovic played with both Tommy Smith (career began 1962) and Robbie Keane (career ended 2018) which gives us 56 years of career span. Bryan Robson played with both Geoff Hurst (career began 1958) and Mark Schwarzer (career ended 2016) which gives us 58 years and one to keep an eye on is Keith Curle, who played with both Alan Ball (pro career began 1962) and Phil Jagielka (career still going) which gives us 58 years and counting,” writes Tom Aldous.

Many roads lead to Stanley Matthews when it comes to Knowledge answers and Bobby Ingram is happy to take us down another: “In his first years at Stoke (1932-33), Sir Stan played alongside Bob McGrory whose professional career had begun in 1914 for Dumbarton. In Stan’s final months at Blackpool (1961-62), they signed a young apprentice called Alan Ball who went on to have a half decent career himself – finally calling it a day for Bristol Rovers in 1984. That’s a span of 70 years! There’s a great clip of Alan talking about playing with Sir Stan and being his boot boy in his early days at Blackpool: Sir Stan didn’t himself finish until February 1965! (that’s 51 years after McGrory’s debut itself) so there could well be a few others he played alongside who played even later than Ball.”

Football club suffixes huddled together

“Has there ever been more than four of the same football club endings together in the table?” tweets Derek Brosnan.

“First, the obvious answer is a resounding yes,” yelps Gary Cumberland. “The Countys are the worst performing. I can only find three of them next to each other, but this has happened six times. For the Citys of the leagues, there are at least five times that there has been five of them together. Towns aren’t any better at sticking together – there is just the one time that five of them made it next to each other, on 6 September 1967 in Division Three.

“I might (I say might) have a clear winner though. After the final whistles blew on the 10 games played on 22 August 1987 in Division Four, the league looked like this, with six of the Uniteds in their little bubble.

“However this only made its way to my results because Peterborough are behind Bolton alphabetically. So there may be other examples, but a few spot-checks of the English leagues where it is possible to beat six (i.e. at least seven similarly named clubs in the same division at the same time) makes me think that these are the winners. Or tied for it, in the case of Peterborough.”

Knowledge archive

“Who was the last player to score for England sporting a proper moustache?” asked Derek Corney in August 2008. “I think it was Viv Anderson, but a friend of mine is convinced it was Kenny Sansom.”

Well, if there’s money riding on it Derek, you’re the one in profit. Sansom’s only goal for England came against Finland in October 1984 in a qualifying match for the 1986 World Cup, while Anderson scored his second and last England goal against Yugoslavia on November 12 1986. The two are in fact split by another moustachioed scorer, Danny Wallace, who netted in January 1986. More recently David Beckham, Darius Vassell and Ledley King have hit the target for England while sporting facial furniture, but theirs are more beard-tache combos, and certainly not what you’d call “a proper moustache”.

Knowledge

Can you help?

“After the recent Ascoli-Entella Serie B match both managers were sacked. Is this a unique case in the world of football?” asks Bogdan Kotarlic.

“My wife’s grandfather has given me some old Swansea City programmes and while leafing through them I came across this: ‘On Good Friday 10 April 1936, the Swans beat Plymouth 2-1 at Home Park. The following day we met Newcastle at St James’ Park where, not surprisingly, we lost 2-0. Is this a record distance for a league club to travel in consecutive days?’ I make it roughly 596 miles over the two days. Well, is it?” wonders Craig Merriman-Foley.

“According to Wikipedia, Des Walker only managed to scored one goal in 860 games as a professional. Can any other outfield player ‘improve’ on this?” asks Kieran Whooley.

“Walking through the local park I noticed that the football pitch had suffered a lot of mole-related damage. Have molehills ever resulted in a match being called off?” asks Paul Vickers. “And has a mole ever popped up live, during a match?”

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