Has there ever been a professional football player-chairman? | The Knowledge

Rivaldo, left, kisses the World Cup in 2002 before embarking on a maverick player-president stint.
Rivaldo, left, kisses the World Cup in 2002 before embarking on a maverick player-president stint. Photograph: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

“Have there been any player-chairmen or player-owners in the professional leagues?” wonders Luke Kelly. “Or any other unusual combinations of jobs within the club – player-groundsman, player-mascot …”

Even if we overlook football’s early days in the 20th centruy – when player-manager-presidents such as Bayern Munich’s Willem ‘the Cannon’ Hesselink were a more familiar occurrence – there are a fair few examples. In fact, we’ve touched on the topic before. This is from an edition of this column in 2013:

The Doncaster chairman John Ryan became the oldest player to appear for a professional British club when he made a substitute appearance for Rovers in 2003. At the age of 52 years and 11 months Ryan made a brief cameo at Edgar Street as Rovers came from behind to beat Hereford 4-2. “I came on when the ref put his board up for an extra three minutes of injury time,” Ryan said. “I didn’t actually get a kick of the ball but I had a good run around.”

Also having a good run around was Zhu Jun, owner of Shanghai Shenhua, who was in the starting XI when his side faced Liverpool in a friendly in 2007. He was substituted after five minutes. And the 45-year-old repeated the trick in May this year, this time lasting 45 minutes alongside a presumably nonplussed Nicolas Anelka in the Shenhua attack against Argentina CN Sports. “He’s played in games before to let us see his love for football,” the Shenhua manager Sergio Batista said before the game. “No matter if he appears on or off the pitch, I look forward to him standing shoulder to shoulder with us in battle.”

Paulo Padilha typed: “Between his Uzbekistan and Angola adventures, Rivaldo returned to Brazil and, much like Juninho, became president of his first club Mogi Mirim. During his time as president he was also a player and at one point he fired the coach Roberval Davino. Oddly enough, as president he criticised some of Davino’s decisions but as a player he praised Davino’s work. I may be wrong but I believe he also named himself temporary coach after the incident.”

Elsewhere, there was also the curious case of the former Inter and Monaco striker Mohamed Kallon. “In 2002 he bought the Sierra Leone club Sierra Fisheries and renamed it FC Kallon, while he was still at Inter,” Liam McGuigan explained. “In 2009, he joined his own team for a season before heading off to China in 2010. He returned in 2012 for a spell.”

Another example of someone moving from upstairs to downstairs came from Michael Gallagher, who pointed out that “everyone’s favourite indie-pop aficionado Pat Nevin had a stint as player/chief executive at Motherwell, around 2000.”

Former Doncaster Rovers pair Louis Tomlinson and John Ryan.
Former Doncaster Rovers pair Louis Tomlinson and John Ryan. Photograph: Rex/Shutterstock

And there’s more: “We, in Russia, had such an example,” Marat Airapetian begins. “ In 1988 Vladimir Tumayev founded a club called Gazovik in the town of Izhevsk. The club competed in the Soviet and Russian third tier and second tier for many years under different names (the most well-known was Gazovik-Gazprom), and was disbanded in 2011. “Tumayev, the chairman and de-facto owner of the club, played now and then as a forward, and his last game was on 29 October 2005 (when he was almost 59 years old). He scored in that game, by the way. In total, he played 133 games for the club and scored nine times. All of this refers to professional league in Russia.

Ian Williams begins: “Two more here. Kaizer Chiefs (Kaizer Motaung) and Jomo Cosmos (Jomo Sono). Both were players/coaches/owners/chairmen. Kaizer was manager on and off during his playing days. Jomo, when Cosmos won the league in 1987, had Roy Matthews (ex Charlton) as manager.”

The longest wait

“Who has made the most Premier League/First Division appearances before winning their first title?” David Mead asks. “Is it Gareth Barry?”

Sam Trendall opens the bidding. “For a while I thought the question-poser was correct in their guess that Gareth Barry would be the answer to this teaser – Manchester City’s dramatic 3-2 win against QPR to clinch the 2012 title was the midfielder’s 466th Premier League game.

“I delved through the list of English football’s leading appearance makers, and crunched the numbers for a variety of possible names, but the closest anyone else got was David O’Leary, who won a 1989 championship medal after 431 top-flight games. But then all of a sudden an image of Bryan Robson holding aloft the inaugural Premier League trophy popped into my head. I went through Captain Marvel’s career stats and, by my calculation, he had made a whopping 507 top-flight appearances by the time Aston Villa lost their penultimate game of the 1992-93 season, handing the title to Robson’s Manchester United team. The club captain also featured in the remaining two games, meaning he had clocked up 509 appearances by the season’s end.”

Steve Hyde, though, reckons a couple of players can edge out Robson. “Mark Schwarzer made more than 500 top-flight appearances for Middlesbrough and Fulham before finally receiving Premier League winners’ medals for a combined zero league appearances for Chelsea and Leicester, putting him well clear of Gareth Barry. Although Scottish centre-half Frank McLintock can go 12 games better – he made 516 top-flight appearances for Leicester and Arsenal before finally lifting the First Division trophy with the latter at the end of the 1970-71 season.”

Any more for any more? Get in touch at the usual address: knowledge@theguardian.com

Intersecting careers

“As Kazuyoshi Miura scored aged 50, I wondered which players’ intersecting careers have spanned the longest time?” Elliot Carr-Barnsley tweets. “Bonus points if on the same team. Peter Shilton and mighty Scott McGleish (still playing!) have a 56-year league span of 1966-2012.”

“A few years back I wrote an article about this very subject,” Jez Orbell begins. “However, the data is now out of date and also takes serious liberties with regard to the definition of ‘intersecting careers’. Anyway, I believe there’s enough of interest to justify sharing …

In a quick scan of some old football statistics I noted that a few great players had faced each other at the opposite ends of their lengthy careers. This set me thinking about how far back you go with a minimum number of individuals. Of the current set of Premier League players Ryan Giggs is one of the more celebrated and is approaching 18 years at the very top of the game. I guessed that Peter Shilton would’ve appeared in one of Giggs’s early matches and as he had made his debut in the 60s I knew Sir Stanley Matthews could come into the equation. Using these three names, I started my research.

Now, Giggs made his debut for Manchester United in 1991. In his first season he played against Derby County who had Shilton playing in goal for them. Shilton made his debut for Leicester City as a 16 year old in May 1966 but he had been with the club as a youth since 1963. This means he was on the books when Sir Stanley Matthews played his last game in February 1965.

Matthews made his debut for Stoke City back in 1932 just as David Jack’s career at Arsenal was coming to a close. Jack was the first player ever to score at Wembley and was the first footballer in the world to be transferred for more than £10,000. As he made his debut for Plymouth Argyle in 1919 he almost certainly would’ve faced striker Billy Meredith who played his last match in 1924. This was with Manchester City against Newcastle United in an FA Cup semi-final tie while at the age of 49 years and 245 days.

To bring the story full circle, we should note that Meredith was born on 30 July 1874, just four months short of 100 years before the birth of Giggs (29 November 1973). [According to Wikipedia, circa March 2009] Giggs, Shilton, Matthews, Jack and Meredith had played a total of 4,143 games, scoring 677 goals. These include 300 games and 37 goals at international level, too. Between them they won a total of 16 League titles, 10 FA Cups, four League Cups and four European Cups. In addition there were a further 11 Charity Shields, two European Super Cups, a second division title and a World Club Championship.”

Knowledge archive

“Chippenham striker David Pratt was sent off just three seconds into a game against Bashley last month,” Jimmy Finn wrote in 2009. “Does that qualify as the fastest sending off ever?”

Surprisingly it doesn’t, Jimmy. Pratt was indeed reported (by this very website, among others) to have set a new record when he was dismissed for ploughing into Bashley’s Chris Knowles after three seconds of Chippenham’s 2-1 British Gas Business Premier defeat on December 27. We had all forgotten, however, about Cross Farm Park Celtic striker Lee Todd, who was sent off only two seconds into a game back in October 2000.

Where Pratt was sent off for a reckless challenge, Todd got his marching orders for foul language. Todd had his back to referee at the start of Cross Farm’s Sunday league game against Taunton East Reach Wanderers and was startled by the force with which the whistle was blown for kick-off. “Fuck me, that was loud,” muttered Todd – and the referee promptly showed him the red card.

“I wasn’t swearing at the ref or anyone else,” Todd protested afterwards. “Anyone else would have done the same – he nearly blew my ear off.” Manager Mark Heard was supportive. “Players should be sent off for swearing at the ref or a player,” he added after his team won the game 11-2. “But referees are supposed to use a bit of common sense.”

Previously, we discovered the record for the quickest dismissal at the beginning of a professional match was believed to have been held by Giuseppe Lorenzo of the Italian club Bologna, who was sent off after 10 seconds in 1990 for hitting a Parma player. And then there are the substitutes. Sheffield United’s Keith Gillespie was technically sent off after zero seconds during a Premier League game against Reading in January 2007 but that was after he had come on as a substitute. After replacing Derek Geary early in the second half, Gillespie elbowed Stephen Hunt in the face and duly saw red before the game had even been restarted. Walter Boyd achieved a similar feat while at Swansea, earning himself a dismissal before play had resumed when he was brought on as a substitute by Swansea during a game against Darlington back in 2000.

Can you help?

“Has any announced player of the match gone on to have a disastrous effect on the outcome of that same game, such as scoring an own goal to concede a winner or given away a penalty and maybe got sent off?” muses Steve.

“Southampton have just gone 56 days between home games during the same season (4 February to 1 April 2017),” George Potter mails. “When was the last time there was a greater gap between a club’s home games, in the same season, in any competition?”

“This week marked 59 years since the passing of the great Willie Maley, the former Celtic player and manager,” Laura Bradburn begins. “Maley managed the Glasgow club for an incredible 43 years between 1897 and 1940 in one unbroken spell. I wonder if there are any other managers who have come close or, indeed, surpassed this achievement?” [We can raise you to 50 years – Knowledge Ed.]

“I’ve just noticed that in Hull’s victory over West Ham, the three players who scored all have variations of the same first name: Andrew (Robertson), Andrea (Ranocchia), and Andy (Carroll),” Mircea Raianu notices. “Has there been another match when all goals were scored by at least three players with the same variation of first name?”

“Recently Austria played Finland in a friendly international,” Robert Gadsby begins. “Opposing goalkeepers Heinz Lindner for Austria and Lukas Hradecky for Finland both play their club football for Eintracht Frankfurt in the Bundesliga. Has one club ever before provided both the starting keepers for a full international?”

Peter Goldstein writes: “Following up on the question about two yellow cards for diving: in the match between Togo and Angola in the 2006 Africa Cup of Nations, Kassim Guyazou of Togo was sent off after receiving two yellow cards for flagrant handball. Any other instances of this?”

“During the recent Fulham-Tottenham FA Cup match, the commentator mentioned that Scott Parker has played for five London clubs,” Paul Savage notes. “Has any player played for more clubs in the same city?”

“Currently, Australia are in the Asian play-off position for World Cup qualification,” Peter Rist writes. “But, they have yet to lose a game. If they stay there by drawing their remaining games, they could be in the Asian play-off, and not qualify while still not technically losing (away goals or penalties). Has a country ever failed to qualify for the World Cup finals without losing a game?”