Is the Merseyside derby the dirtiest Premier League game? | The Knowledge

Guardian sport
Steven Gerrard becomes the third player to be sent off in the Anfield Merseyside derby of September 1999. Photograph: Michael Steele/Getty Images

“Liverpool v Everton is known as the ‘Friendly Derby’, yet someone always seems to be sent off,” writes Paul Jeffreys. “Has any Premier League fixture had more red cards?”

It’s harder to find red-card data going back to 1888, so we don’t know what is the dirtiest top-flight fixture of all time but our friends at Opta have confirmed that the Merseyside derby is, by quite a distance, the Premier League match with the most red cards.

To date there have been 21 red cards in 49 Premier League derbies. Three of these came in one game in September 1999, when Franny Jeffers and Sander Westerveld threw hands and Steven Gerrard was a couple of days late on Kevin Campbell. Gerrard and Phil Neville have each been sent off twice.

In second place on the list – unsurprisingly, given its nature – is Liverpool v Manchester United. There have been 16 red cards in that fixture, a couple of them to somebody other than Nemanja Vidic.

The full list of shame is:

  • 21 Everton v Liverpool
  • 16 Liverpool v Manchester United
  • 15 Everton v Newcastle United
  • 14 Liverpool v Newcastle United
  • 13 Chelsea v Everton, Aston Villa v Newcastle United
  • 12 Arsenal v Liverpool, Arsenal v Chelsea

The 3,787-day itch

“After taking over as caretaker manager, Craig Shakespeare led Leicester to victory over Liverpool on 27 February 2017,” begins Chai. “This was a whopping 3,786 days after he had led West Brom to victory over Crystal Palace on 17 October 2006. Is this the longest a manager has had to wait between victories? Or to manage their next game?”

“I’d like to nominate Kenny Dalglish, who had a break of 3,885 days between his last game at Celtic (21 May 2000, v Dundee) and his first at Liverpool (9 January 2011, v Manchester United),” mails Boris Cule. “Liverpool didn’t win that game, so he had to wait 3,898 days (22 January 2011, v Wolves) between two (albeit not consecutive) wins.”

It’s a good answer but even King Kenny has to bow down at the feet of South Shields’ finest. “Malcolm Crosby’s last match in caretaker charge of Oxford United was a 2-1 defeat against Charlton Athletic on 17 January 1998,” begins Nick Jones. “Despite a spell as caretaker manager of Northampton Town in March 2011 (two days, no games in charge) he would have to wait 6,121 days for his next match in charge as joint caretaker manager of Birmingham City on 21 October 2014, in a 1-0 away defeat by Blackburn Rovers.”

Two pikes and you’re out

“Earlier this month, Bristol Rovers’ Stuart Sinclair was sent off after receiving two yellow cards against Bury, both for diving,” reports Michael Woulfe. “I have never heard of this happening before and after a cursory bit of research can’t find any evidence for it. Am I being naive?”

We don’t know if you’re being naive, Michael, but you definitely need to up your Google game. A quick search brought up a few examples. The earliest such incident we can find is Peter Ndlovu, for Birmingham in 1998. More recent examples include Zack Kotwica, for Cirencester against Weymouth; Eduardo Pacheco on his debut for Gaziantepspor against Besiktas and Gbolahan Salami for KuPS against Ilmes.

We also have this, from Daniel Brownsill. “I remember it happening once at Sixfields,” he says. “Derek Asamoah played for Mansfield against his former club Northampton and got booked twice for two dives and therefore saw red.”

Nuthin but a shirt number

“Recently, six of Leyton Orient’s starting XI had shirt numbers that were higher than their age (the only substitute was, too, so seven of the 12 players who played),” writes Ken Shadlen. “Is that a record in senior football?”

Get Rich Jones. “While on my stag do in Porto this February, we went to see FC Porto B v Santa Clara, a Portuguese second division game,” he says. “The game was a 0-0 bore draw, but we realised that every single FC Porto B player had stupidly high shirt numbers. Checking the game stats, all 11 players, plus three substitutes, had numbers higher than their age: 71, 33, 45, 52, 64, 48, 66, 68, 37, 59, 90, 50, 47, 95.”

Unless it was actually the Portuguese equivalent of the Craggy Island Over-75s Indoor Challenge, that’s surely a winner.

Knowledge archive

“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?” enquired Stephen Guilfoyle back in the day.

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 his 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 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.”

Can you help?

“Brazil have qualified for the World Cup, well over 14 months before the tournament begins,” notes James Turley. “Is this be the earliest a team has ever qualified for a major international tournament (obviously not including automatic qualification by being hosts or previous winners)?”

“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 …”

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

“Of the top six scorers in the Bulgarian league this season, five (Claudiu Keseru, João Paulo, Marcelinho, Wanderson and Jonathan Cafu) play for Ludogorets,” notes Jack Lewis. “Are there any other cases of a single team dominating top scorer charts in this way?”

“Recently, the Vancouver Whitecaps lost at home to Toronto FC,” begins Chris Corrigan. “This comes on the heels of away losses to Mexican side Tigres in the Concacaf Champions League, and to the San Jose Earthquakes in MLS. Is this the first time a team has lost consecutive matches to three different teams from three different counties in each of those countries?”

“Bjorn Bergmann Sigurdarson just became the fourth brother to score an international goal for Iceland – his half-brothers Thórdur Gudjonsson, Bjarni Gudjonsson and Johannes Karl Gudjonsson had all scored before for Iceland (unlike Sigurdarson, the other three are the sons of former Iceland and Stoke manager Gudjon Thórdarson – but all four have the same mother),” says Asgeir H Ingolfsson. Is there any other quartet of siblings – or more – that have achieved the same feat?”

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