Which players have been centurions at four or more football clubs?

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<span>Photograph: Getty Images/Hulton Archive</span>
Photograph: Getty Images/Hulton Archive

Plus: long runs without scoring a penalty, unwanted FA Cup history, second-tier goalscoring greats and more


“I’ve just seen that Scott Arfield of Rangers has made 100 league appearances for four different clubs (Falkirk, Huddersfield, Burnley and Rangers). Is this a record, or has someone done this with five,” ponders Jesse Pajwani.

Tom Ayres would like to add three other names to the 4 x 100 club. “Alan Ball matched this feat at Blackpool, Everton, Arsenal and Southampton,” writes Tom. “Graham Alexander has appeared in the league more than 150 times for four clubs: Scunthorpe, Luton, Preston and Burnley. Tony Ford brought his century up four times, for Grimsby, Stoke City, West Bromwich Albion and Mansfield.”

Kieran Whooley offers the great sleight-of-hip merchant Chris Waddle, who reached three figures for Newcastle, Spurs, Marseille and Sheffield Wednesday.

But there is at least one man who has made 100 league appearances for five clubs. A number of you mentioned Peter Shilton, who belongs to the rare breed of journeymen who were also all-time greats. He reached a century at Leicester, Stoke, Nottingham Forest, Southampton and Derby County. And, as Tom points out, he also won a record 125 caps for England.

Peter Shilton, seen here at Nottingham Forest in 1978, tipping the ball over the bar.
Peter Shilton, seen here at Nottingham Forest in 1978, tipping the ball over the bar. Photograph: Colorsport/Shutterstock

The longest penalty barren spells

“It’s been 100 league matches since Leyton Orient scored a penalty,” tweets Chris Walsh. “Is that a record? If not, what’s the longest such run?”

In 2018 we touched on the longest spells in which teams haven’t even been awarded a spot-kick, as opposed to actually scoring one. But Orient’s current dry spell in the box doesn’t appear to be a record – even in London.

“Crystal Palace went 148 league games (and 154 games in total) without scoring a penalty from 5 October 1946 to 11 March 1950,” tweets Calciocassini. “Unlikely that this is the longest such run. Palace also had a run of 118 league games (128 in all) without scoring a penalty from September 1964 to August 1967, went crazy with a run of three in 10 games, before going on another 99-game run (119 in all) from October 1967 to February 1970. This was around the time I started attending Palace matches and I remember wondering if I would ever see us score a penalty.”

After enduring all those droughts, we sincerely hope you were at Selhurst Park on Easter Monday 1989.

Has Loftus-Cheek made unwanted history?

“Is Ruben Loftus-Cheek the first substitute to be substituted in the FA Cup final?” asks Steve Pye.

The aptly numbered Ruben Loftus-Cheek (12) came on for Chrisian Pulisic at half-time in extra-time on Saturday, before being replaced by Ross Barkley for the penalty shootout. But he didn’t make unwanted FA Cup final history. A similar thing happened to another Chelsea player, Arjen Robben, in the 1-0 victory over Manchester United in 2007.

Robben came on for Joe Cole at half-time in normal time but suffered an injury in extra-time and was replaced by another Cole, Ashley. It was his last appearance for the club. So the record belongs to Robben, though Loftus-Cheek remains the first to be taken off because of his penalty history.

Arjen Robben of Chelsea receives treatment shortly before being substituted in the 2007 FA Cup final.
Arjen Robben of Chelsea receives treatment shortly before being substituted in the 2007 FA Cup final. Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Who has scored the most second-tier goals?

“Aleksandar Mitrovic’s goal tally in the Championship this season is 43 but I wonder which player has scored most goals overall in football’s second tiers,” wonders Bogdan Kotarlic.

Steve Hyde would like to open the bidding on this one.

And, er, the Justin Horton Show may well have closed it.

It was actually 250 – one of his goals came in the First Division, just before his retirement through injury at the age of 29 – though that will still take some beating. Of course, we wouldn’t say Brian Clough was the best second-tier goalscorer of all time. But he might have been in the top one.

Knowledge archive

“Can you clear up who actually first uttered ‘If he’s not interfering with play, what’s he doing on the pitch’? Was it Shankly, or Blanchflower, or neither of the above,” enquired Steve Antrobus in 2004. “In the last few weeks of debate I have seen various reports attributing the quote to both. I am a Spurs fan but I have refrained from sticking my neck out and claiming it as Blanchflower’s … so far!”

And it’s a good job Steve did, as neither Bill nor Danny could rightly take the credit for such insight (something today’s rule-making suits would do well to listen to and discuss over their grande double-decaf skinny latte triple frappucinos). But you will be glad to hear your right to bask in reflected Spurs glory has not been entirely denied, as the coiner of the much-quoted phrase was in fact White Hart Lane legend Bill Nicholson in his days as manager at the club – and not, as some Scouse quarters would have you believe, Bill Shankly.

Shankly’s wordy take on the situation was in fact: “If a player is not interfering with play or seeking to gain an advantage, then he should be.” Which, we think you will agree, is completely different.

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Can you help?

“How many clubs worldwide have won the league title in their centenary year and which was the first?” asks Masai Graham.

“Who’s the oldest player to win their first Premier League or Champions League medal? And who completed the most transfers before this career highlight?” wonders Albert in Vienna.

“With Rangers playing Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League final, they will be playing their third German team in the same Euro tournament after earlier accounting for Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig. Has anyone played more teams from the same country in any of the European club tournaments?” enquires Hugh McGinley.

“Chelsea just lost their third consecutive FA Cup final,” notes Chai. “Has any other club suffered the heartbreak of losing as many or more consecutive finals in the same tournament?”

“Chelsea have been involved in five penalty shoot-outs this season: Villarreal, Aston Villa, Southampton and Liverpool twice. Is that a record?” asks Stuart Corby.

And on that note…

“As a Bristol City fan, it hurt seeing Rovers get promoted, but I have to concede it was an amazing effort. It was especially incredible as they’d only spent the last five minutes (plus a lot of added time) of the season in the top three. Can this be beaten? And what is the shortest time spent at the summit to win a title?” muses Neil McCormick.

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