Up the brackets! Have teams with parentheses in their names ever met?

<span>A fan of <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Liverpool FC;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Liverpool FC</a> (Montévideo) celebrates wildly in the derby against Club Atlético River Plate (Montévideo).</span><span>Photograph: Agencia Gamba/Getty Images</span>

“Ashford Town (Middlesex) played South Park (Reigate) in the Isthmian League South Central Division on 16 March,” tweets Andrew Wilson. “Are there any other parentheses derbies?”

Jack Hayward has taken this question and run with it, all the way to the other side of the world. Thankfully, he sent us an A4 postcard while on his travels.

“My first instinct was to search South America, where teams named in tribute to other clubs are common,” writes Jack. “Let’s begin with the crosstown derby between Liverpool FC (Montévideo) and Club Atlético River Plate (Montévideo) in the Uruguayan Primera División, a fixture that will take place this Saturday.

“Next, we’ll move slightly north to the Campeonato Brasileiro Série C, home of Botafogo Futebol Club (Paraíba) and Athletic Club (Minas Gerais, not Bilbao). Interestingly, this Botafogo do not have parentheses because of Botafogo de Futebol e Regatas – the legendary club of Nílton Santos, Garrincha and Jairzinho who currently play in Série A and are based in the eponymous area of Rio – but because of Série B side Botafogo Futebol Clube (Sao Paulo). That’s right: all of Brazil’s top three divisions will have a Botafogo this season.

“Common occupational team names make for great examples. Keen watchers of the Niger Super Ligue will be aware of the rivalry between AS Douanes (Niamey) and AS Police (Niamey) – just two of the many clubs in Francophone Africa representing their country’s border control service (‘douanes’ means ‘customs’ in French) or police force.

“And then there’s the Arab world, where the chance of any given league having at least one Al-Ahli, Al-Nasr, Al-Hilal or Al-Ittihad is extremely high. Here are some examples from top flights in the region:

  • Al-Ahli SC (Tripoli) and Al-Ittihad Club (Tripoli) in the Libyan Premier League.

  • Al-Ahli SC (Doha) and Al-Arabi SC (Doha) in the Qatar Stars League.

  • Al-Ahli SC (Amman) and Al-Hussein SC (Irbid) in the Jordanian Pro League.

  • Al-Nasr SC (Salalah) and Al-Wahda SC (Sur) in the Oman Professional League.

  • Al-Nasr SC (Ardiyah) and Al-Arabi SC (Mansouria) in the Kuwait Premier League.

“Unfortunately, South Park (Park County, Colorado) does not have a team, as a pre-season tour of Surrey would surely book itself.

A little caveat – this is how the clubs are commonly known, and how they appear on sites such as Wikipedia and Transfermarkt. I believe the Libyan Al-Ahli has a different full name to the other two Al-Ahlis; however the answer is still valid because of how they are referred to in most English language sources.”

Two points per game and no promotion?

“This season’s Championship is crazy, with potentially the top four reaching 92 points (two per game). Has any team in the Football League ever got two points per game and failed to win automatic promotion?” asks Tim.

Any Sheffield Wednesday fans reading this may be about to come out in a cold but ultimately joyous sweat. “Since three points for a win was introduced in 1981, only one team in the Football League has gained over two points per game and failed to get automatic promotion,” says Tom Reed. “That was Sheffield Wednesday last season with 96 points at an average of 2.08 per game.”

Wednesday did go up in the end, but only after surviving the near-death experience of a 4-0 defeat at Peterborough in the first leg of their playoff semi-final. They went through on penalties after winning the second leg 5-1, then beat Barnsley in the final thanks to a 123rd-minute winner from Josh Windass.

The next best is 90 points, or 1.96 per game. “Sunderland (1997-98 in the Championship) and Sheffield United (2011-12, League One) both managed 90 points from 46 matches,” writes Chris Roe. “Both then lost on penalties in the playoff final – Sunderland to Charlton after an unforgettable 4-4 draw, Sheffield United to Huddersfield after a goalless draw.

“This is just short of the two points per game in Tim’s question. But if we adjust all the tables before 1981, when three points for a win was introduced, we can find some answers. It’s worth stressing, though, that often there were fewer teams being promoted and relegated.

“In Division Three North in 1925-26, Rochdale finished third with 59 points from 42 games. Their adjusted points total (W27 D5 L10) is 86, which is 2.05 per game. That would have put them level with Bradford Park Avenue – but they would have finished behind them on goal average.”

And Bradford Park Avenue weren’t promoted either. With two Division Threes, North and South, only the champions were promoted.

Drawless away campaigns

“Darlington’s away record this season in the National League North is P20 W7 D0 L13. They have had one cup away game and lost 2-0. Has a team in the top six divisions in England ever gone through a season without drawing away from home?” wonders Craig Stoddart.

Darlington came tantalisingly close to killing this question at the weekend, when they lost 3-2 away to Rushall Olympic. Their away record is now P21 W7 D0 L14, so they need two more wins or losses to complete a drawless away campaign.

If it happens, it won’t be unique. And although Darlington aren’t in the EFL, Chris Roe’s magic database of the top four leagues in England is a decent place to start. “Of nearly 9,650 completed seasons, 68 have involved no draws away from home,” writes Chris. “The two most recent examples are Leeds United in 2020-21 and Tottenham Hotspur in 2018-19.”

Leeds’ first season back in the Premier League included some big wins and defeats away from home (5-0 v West Brom, 4-0 v Burnley, 1-4 v Crystal Palace, 2-6 v Man Utd). They also flirted with a draw a few times, particularly against the current and future champions. Their first game back was a memorable 4-3 defeat at Liverpool, decided by a late penalty from Mo Salah. Then in April, Stuart Dallas scored an injury-time winer to give Leeds, who were down to 10 men throughout the second half, a famous victory at the champions-elect Manchester City.

Two of the older examples came in back-to-back seasons. “Brentford managed it in successive seasons in Division Three South between 1923 and 1925,” writes Colin Bell. “Their record was P21 W5 D0 L16 in 1923-24, followed by P21 W1 D0 L20 the following season. In total they went 45 away games without a draw.” In the same period, to prove logic is bunkum, Brentford drew 16 league games at home.

You can keep your follow-up questions, Chris Roe has answered them. Seven teams have gone through an entire league season without drawing home or away. All were in the 19th century with Darwen (P30 W14 D0 L16) the most recent in 1896-97.

Knowledge archive

“On 31 March 2012, towards the end of Stockport’s heroic 3-1 win at Kettering, a substitution took place with Daniel Lucas Rowe being replaced by Daniel Martin Rowe,” wrote Alex Dixon in 2012. “Both are known as Danny Rowe – is the first substitution involving two players with the same name?”

No, is the short answer. But luckily Henrik Hansen was on hand to elaborate and help us flesh this answer out. “In the 1995-96 Danish Superliga season, FC Copenhagen had two players in their squad named Morten Nielsen,” he revealed. “One of them was usually referred to as Morten B Nielsen (short for Morten Bøhme Nielsen) to avoid confusion. On one occasion, an away game on 31 March at Vejle, the two players were substituted with Morten Nielsen replacing Morten B. Nielsen after 73 minutes of play.”


Can you help?

“Josh Cavallo proposing to his now fiancé in Adelaide United’s empty stadium got me thinking: has a player ever popped the question during a match? And did the proposee say yes?” wonders Jack Hayward.

“The reported pursuit of Xabi Alonso by Bayern Munich and Liverpool made me wonder: has anyone managed every club they played for? No one-club men or women, and bonus points if they also managed their national team,” mails Rakin Choudhury.

“Has any club playing in a major European competition gone the entire season unbeaten in all competitions?” wonders John Whyte. “I know that Steaua Bucharest (1985-86) and Ajax (1994-95) came close. If not, has it happened in another continent?”

“Joe Taylor is currently top scorer for both Lincoln, who he joined in January, and his former club Colchester. Has anyone ever managed to be top scorer for two teams in the same season?” asks Andy Pechey.

“I recently noticed the Bayer Leverkusen emblem is the same as that of pharma giant Bayer & Bayer, and since learned that the team arose from their staff members in the 1900s. Are there any other examples of teams arising from private businesses, especially any that have retained the business’s logo in the same way?” wonders Ben Egan.