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Are any football grounds symmetrically back-to-back? | The Knowledge

26th September 2012

Plus: The longest gap between two legs; Players wearing kit when out and about (2); and the player-manager who sold himself. Send your questions and answers to and follow us on Twitter

“There is a street in Budapest in which on the right there is the stadium of MTK Budapest and on the left that of BKV Elore,” wrote David Kaposi last week. “I was wondering whether there is any other street in the world with the football stadiums on both sides, symmetrically back-to-back?”

First things first and sadly the first thing is to point out that the grounds on MTK and BKV aren’t exactly symmetrical. But they’re not far off:

We have discovered a couple of grounds that are as close to symmetrical as you’re likely to get but, before we get to that, let’s take a look at a few grounds that come reasonably close. Most obviously there’s the closest two British league grounds, Dundee United’s Tannadice and Dundee’s Dens Park:

Slightly further afield and slightly further apart are two grounds in the Nigerian capital. “There are two stadiums directly opposite each other in Lagos,” writes Emmanuel Dimike. “The National Stadium, Surulere, and the Teslim Balogun Stadium. Both are on Western Avenue. As a matter of fact, you can actually see into both stadiums at once on the bridge that runs parallel to the street.”

Ranking very high in the symmetrical states are the homes of Independiente and Racing Club in Avellaneda, Buenos Aires. “The Estádio Juan Domingo Perón and The Estadio Libertadores de América are actually right next to each other rather than on either side of the road,” writes Max Green:

In Campinas, Brazil, writes Claudio Kristeller, the stadiums of Ponte Preta and Guarani are separated only by Ayrton Senna da Silva Avenue:

But the most impressive answer of all comes from the outskirts of Blackpool. “The two closest teams in the English pyramid are Squires Gate FC and Blackpool Wren Rovers,” writes Michael Haughey. “The two grounds, School Road and Bruce Park, share a boundary wall along the length of one touchline.” And they make an impressive sight to the right of the image below. The ground to the left is the home of AFC Blackpool, making a neat little trio within a few hundred yards.


“In the 1985-86 season a competition called the Screensport Super Cup took place between some (but not all) Division One clubs,” began John Martin last week. “Liverpool won it, as they did most competitions in those bygone days. An interesting fact concerned their semi-final against Norwich City. The first leg was played at Carrow Road on 5 February (1-1) but the second leg did not take place until 6 May (3-1 to Liverpool). Is this the longest gap between two legs of a tournament?”

Michael Haughey points us in the direction of the 1955-58 Fairs Cup, a competition which could teach cricket’s international one-day tournaments a thing or two about procrastination. It began on Christmas Day 1955 and ended on 1 May 1958 and the group stage was initially split into four groups of three teams, with each team to play the others twice. However the withdrawal of the Cologne XI from Group C left Leipzig and Lausanne Sports to battle it out over what was essentially two legs. The German side won the first 6-3 in Leipzig on 6 March 1956 but Lausanne mounted a stunning fight-back nearly eight months later, winning 7-3 on home soil on 21 October 1956 to progress to the semi-finals (the first leg of which did not take place until 16 September 1957).

But one two-legged tie has waited nearly 25 years for a second leg. “The query from John Martin about the longest gap between two legs of a tournament brings to mind the Anglo-Scottish Cup,” writes Darren Hudson. “I recall the competition was revived in 1987 (in what must be a golden age of pointless cup competitions such as the Dubai Cup) in which the FA Cup and Scottish Cup holders would meet over two legs. This pitted Coventry and St Mirren together in their version of a ‘Battle of Britain’ with the first leg taking place on 23 December 1987 at Highfield Road and ending in a 1-1 draw.

“The first leg was poorly attended and two sides couldn’t agree on a return date for the second leg and as a result 23 December 2012 will mark 25 years since the playing of the first leg with the outcome still to be decided.”


Last week we looked at the players to have been spotted out and about in their own replica kit and the Knowledge inbox has seen a glut of further examples.

The most spectacular of which comes from Ian Roberts. “Has any player ever worn his kit ‘out of term’ in a more triumphant manner than the demi-God that is Tony Hibbert?” he wonders with good reason.

Away from the world of rods and tackle Spurs fans were given a surprise at Old Trafford in October 2005. “Outside the south stand was a lone Spurs fan with Freund on the back of his shirt,” writes Jonathan Radcliffe. “He stopped to sign an autograph which made us look at him. It was only Steffan Freund wearing his own Spurs shirt!” It was indeed. Specifically, Freund was wearing his shirt from the 1999 Worthington Cup final. More details of the trip can be found here.

Not in his kit exactly but, as James Miller points out, Thierry Henry has admitted to being out and about in club colours. “I left a game by the Tube once,” said the former France striker. “It was a game against Middlesbrough, I think we won 5-1. I didn’t play and I didn’t want to bother the team, because some guys were living in St Albans and some were living wherever, and I didn’t want to say: ‘Can you drop me off.’ At the time I was living in a hotel in St Albans and it was far. So I took the train, then the Thameslink. The fans on the Tube didn’t know me. I was wearing an Arsenal tracksuit so they must have just thought I was another supporter.” Henry’s interview can be seen here.

And two tales with a chance of being apocryphal. “At the Uefa Cup final in Manchester in 2008, Rangers legend Jorg Albertz was sitting several rows in front of me proudly sporting his Albertz 11 shirt from the 2000-01 season,” writes Gavin Danks. And Tony O’Brien recalls: “Back when Danny Baker did 606 and it concerned itself more with the minutiae than whether ‘Stevie G always gives 110%’ a caller told the story of seeing Neil Lennon on holiday in Spain wearing his Leicester kit during the day and for dining out at night his Northern Ireland kit.”


“The banter took an interesting turn in the pub when one of my mates claimed that a player-manager at Carlisle once placed himself on the transfer list, then sold himself to another club. Can this possibly be true?” inquired Stephen Guilfoyle back in 2006.

While we would never advocate believing everything you hear down at your local, Stephen, on this occasion the banter is spot-on. Ivan Broadis, born in Poplar, east London in 1922, is the man at the centre of this tale, although, as John Briggs notes, “the Football League read his signature incorrectly and he was registered as Ivor, by which name he has been recognised ever since.” Ivor’s early playing career took in amateur appearances for Finchley, Northfleet, Finchley again, Tottenham and Millwall, before he became the youngest player-manager ever at Carlisle – in 1946 – at the tender age of 23.

“Although his time as manager of the club could be regarded as being average, Broadis laid the foundations for the future and, when he left in January 1949 (replaced by one Bill Shankly), United were in a far healthier state than when he had taken over,” explains an article on the official club website. “Still registered as a player, he sold himself to Sunderland for £18,000 claiming that it was in the best interests of the club that he leave, providing Carlisle with suitable financial reimbursement for the transfer. The fans were not convinced but accepted his move out of respect for the money it produced. Ivor is officially the first ever manager to transfer himself to another club.”

Ivor’s playing career took him on to Manchester City, Newcastle, back to Carlisle and finally Queen of the South, while he also accrued 14 caps for England and played in the 1954 World Cup finals. He hung up his boots in 1962, choosing to take up a career in journalism, reporting for the Carlisle Evening News and Star and even for the Observer. And, according to Chris Little, “he can still be found swearing at bad copytakers at about 5.30pm on most Saturday afternoons in the Brunton Park press box.”

For thousands more questions and answers take a trip through the Knowledge archive

Can you help?

“In light of Shelvey v Evans at the weekend,” begins Rod Roberts, “has there ever been an instance of two players being sent off for the same tackle?”

“Which manager is the greatest lower league manager in the world?” wonders Claudio Alegria. “Meaning, who has gotten more promotions and/or more clubs promoted into an higher division, in any nation?”

“As a former minor shareholder of West Ham United before the Icelandics bought us out, at the last AGM during Q&A’s it was asked if anyone had ever left money to the club in their will & the response was no one,” begins Chris Clark. “Hammers fans sing West Ham ‘till I die but this clearly is where in ends. Has anybody ever left a sizeable sum of money to a club who didn’t have any direct connections with them prior to their death?”

“I’d like to know when the last Scotland squad for a competitive game was which didn’t feature a Rangers or Celtic player,” writes Alex Paterson.

“With their draw on Friday, Ross County have now gone 40 league games undefeated,” writes Craid McLaughlin. “While this is far from a record, their eight most recent league games have all come in the top division. I am wondering which newly promoted team has gone on the longest undefeated streak in a top-flight domestic league?”

“On Saturday, Southampton conceded two own goals from Kieran Gibbs shots,” writes Ben Pearmain. “What is the record for own goals caused by a player in a game?”

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