This article titled “Which kits have never seen the light of day?” was written by Tom Lutz and James Dart, for guardian.co.uk on Wednesday 7th March 2012 00.04 UTC
LEFT ON THE SHELF
“I know teams these days tend to wear even a new away kit at the first opportunity at home as a form of advertising,” says Simon Horner, “but has there ever been a kit that, due to a lack of colour clashes, has never been worn?”
While there were a whole multitude of shirts produced in the 90s that should never have seen the light of the day due to their eyeball-bleeding ugliness, Fiorentina’s was perhaps the only one banned on political grounds. It took until December of the 1992-93 season before anyone noticed that the club’s away kit included (presumably unintentional) swastikas. The kit was quickly withdrawn. “Fiorentina and the manufacturers, Lotto, would like to underline that the optical effect [of a swastika image] is purely a matter of chance,” culpa mea-ed the club in a statement.
Of course, Fiorentina actually played in that kit – which doesn’t answer Simon’s question – but Jon Waite brings us news of kits that never saw competitive action beyond a seven year-old winger down the park. “The FA produced a sky blue version of the 1990 World Cup shirt (as famously modelled by Barney Sumner in the World in Motion video) that was never worn in a fixture,” says Jon. “A different sky blue third kit was worn once in a qualifier in Turkey a year later when Dennis Wise scored the winner.”
Jon also nominates QPR’s third kit from the 1989-90 season, which was a jazzy black and orange number – their away kit was red and black and the lack of colour clashes meant it was left mouldering on the dressing room shelves. They also had an unused third kit in 1991-92, which will be familiar to fans of a certain Glasgow club. “It has been long rumoured that this kit was nixed by two senior professionals at the club, Ray Wilkins and Alan McDonald,” says Jon. “Wilkins was still revered at Rangers from his time as a player there and McDonald was an east Belfast boy, long time Rangers fan and Northern Ireland captain. Both allegedly refused to wear the shirt for fear of upsetting friends in high places.”
“With all the talk of upcoming TV rights deals, it got me wondering: what is the strangest host broadcaster of a football match?” wonders Kath Taylor.
You can watch the FA Cup on Facebook and you could even have thrilled to Holland 2-1 Albania in 2006 on this very site. But in September 2007, you could have caught Fiorentina – again – on the Italian adult channel ContoTV for £5 up front or £10 on the night. “Yes, we are a porn broadcaster,” said executive Marco Crispino after securing an exclusive deal to broadcast the Viola’s Uefa Cup game against Groningen. “But why shouldn’t we do this? OK, Sky don’t show porn but then that’s their problem, not ours. Italians like their hardcore.” There was a thrilling climax to the game too: Fiorentina won 4-3 on penalties.
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AGE AIN’T NOTHING BUT A NUMBER
“Who is the oldest player to have featured in the Champions League?” poses Kevin Barnett.
According to Uefa, fortysomethings Alessandro Costacurta (40 years and 213 days), Edwin van der Sar (40 years and 211 days), David Weir (40 years and 211 days too) and Dany Verlinden (40 years and 117 days) are all eclipsed by the Lazio goalkeeper Marco Ballotta, who appeared for the Biancocelesti in the 3-1 defeat against Real Madrid on 12 December 2007 at the ripe old age of 43 years and 253 days. “When I was young I was told to work hard to improve; now I’m older I’m told to work even harder because of my age,” said Ballotta, who retired the following summer before strapping his boots back on as a striker with Prima Categoria outfit Calcara Samoggia the next season.
“The memorable 1961 British Home Championship yielded an astonishing 40 goals from six matches,” wrote Erik Kennedy in 2008. “Has another tournament ever bettered this goal ratio (6.66 goals per game)?”
It has indeed been bettered – more often than not at the South Pacific Games, which, as several Knowledge enthusiasts pointed out, have long provided a rich goal-scoring seam. In 1963, when the inaugural event was held in Suva, Fiji, 49 goals were scored over six matches, an average of 8.17 per match. This whopping tally owed much to Tahiti’s 18-0 victory over the Solomon Islands in the bronze medal match.
As Jostein Nygard and Sean DeLoughry wrote to tell us, the net bulged even more frequently at the 1971 tournament, held in Tahiti. The hosts’ 30-0 Group A win over the Cook Islands, who were also on the wrong end of a 16-1 drubbing by Papua New Guinea and a 15-1 defeat by Fiji, set the tone for an event in which 103 goals were scored in 10 games. That’s an average of 10.3 goals per game.
Leo White pointed to the 109 goals scored in Oceania Group One qualifying for the 2002 World Cup, producing a return of 10.9 goals per match. And finally, Hamzah Khan informed us that the 2006 Viva World Cup, the bi-annual competition organised by the Nouvelle Fédération-Board for teams unaffiliated to Fifa, produced 57 goals in six matches – an average of 9.5 per game.
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CAN YOU HELP?
“I notice that Preston North End are having to play nine games in March,” writes Gordon Butler-Smith. “Whilst this is above average, I doubt it has made it into the record books. What is the most games a team has had to play in a calendar month?”
“Spurs’ Andros Townsend is a promising talent and I’ve noticed he has now gone on loan to eight different clubs, meaning he’s now played for nine different league teams at the ripe old age of 20. Surely that is somewhere near a record?” asks John-Paul Pierrot.
“Neale Cooper being back at Hartlepool got me thinking about his first game in charge in his first spell in 2003, when four players making their league debuts scored for us (Strachan, Robinson, Robson and Nelson) against Peterborough,” notes David Jolly. “What’s the record for the most newbies scoring in one game?”
“I was recently watching a BBC programme about the region of Dagestan where Anzhi Makhachkala play,” begins Manas Phadke. “During the programme one of the people being interviewed by the reporter mentions the regional football league in Dagestan, which is based on Islamic principles, and does not have referees on the pitch. Is this the only football league in the world without referees?”
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