Did you know ?Posted: August 15, 2011
A topic which is actually not talked about as much as I would’ve imagined on the internet. Here we take a look at some little known or overlooked facts about footballers and teams. Some are interesting, some are funny and some are probably worth a second read if you’ve heard the story already.
Just how popular is football in America ?
The Americans are often ridiculed for their lack of knowledge and love for football (soccer as they call it) by others, although it has grown in popularity in recent years, however, did you know there was a time when Deer Hunting, Monster Truck Pulling and Wrestling were much more popular? And it wasn’t very long ago either.
Sadly, I don’t have the article on hand as it seems to no longer be available, but these sports were much popular than football only as far back as the 1990s. Or, in other words, they much preferred the sight of sweaty men in man thongs throwing each other around a ring than football.
I have noticed however, almost unintentionally, they have had an impact on football in their way worldwide. Especially in television, many football fans hate calling it ‘soccer’, yet we have television shows such as ‘Monday Night Soccer’, ‘Gillette Soccer Saturday’ and ‘Soccer AM’. More surprisingly, the latter two are England based channels, the “Home of football”!
Have you ever heard of Arthur Wharton?
Have you ever heard of Arthur Wharton ? Probably not, but really you should as he is an historic figure in the sport. In 1886 Wharton became the first ever black footballer to play professionally.
In the football league nowadays, it’s nothing new to see players of different races and colour playing for teams, however back in Arthur’s time, it was a strange occurrence.
In 1886, after one year with Darlington, he was signed by then English football powerhouse Preston North End. Many would think during Arthur’s era, he would have been subject to racism, however this is far from the truth, he was a favourite of the media and fans alike and was considered the best goalkeeper in England at the time.
Wharton had a very sad death. By the end of the 1920s, he had become poverty stricken and became an alcoholic, and eventually passed away in 1930. His death was very much unrecognised, when he was buried at an unmarked grave. Anti-racism groups however have been fighting to make this forgotten hero a recognised name in football, and in 1997 got a headstone for his grave and are currently campaigning to have statues erected in Darlington, Rotherham and possibly even Preston in honour of his impact on football.
It’s also commonly assumed that he was the first ever black footballer, but Andrew Watson from British Guiana predates him by a decade. Watson, however, never turned professional despite even making 3 appearances for Scotland.
Gordon Ramsay and Liam Neeson – Footballers ?
Gordon Ramsay and Liam Neeson are both very well known as a chef and actor respectively, but did you know they were both very keen footballers who also considered making the sport their career?
The foul-mouthed chef always had a great love for football and played it a lot as a youngster, and was quite impressive. Rangers spotted his talents when he spent much of his summer holidays at their youth academy as a teenager and did enough to play in a few friendlies to prove himself, however a shocking knee injury ended his hopes of ever becoming a footballer, so he went on to become a now very famous celebrity chef.
Liam Neeson was also particularly fond of the sport, but discovered he had a natural talent for football when he played while attending University in Belfast.
Bohemians manager Seán Thomas spotted his potential playing in a match, and offered Neeson the chance to go on trial for the Dublin side. He only played one game as a substitute against Shamrock Rovers but wasn’t offered a contract to continue playing.
Why are they called Sheffield Wednesday?
I’m sure I’m not the only person who at times wondered why they were named Sheffield Wednesday. Rather than just let it remain a mystery to me, I looked up the origin of the club’s name.
Sheffield is often proclaimed the original home of football because of the club Sheffield FC, the oldest club in the sports history who were formed in 1858.
The Hillsborough area of Sheffield felt they were in need of their own football club, and already getting to the interesting parts of their history, they were originally a cricket team!
Now, onto where the name came from. The club was formed by a group of working class lads who only had the one day off every week (guess which one…), and having developed an interest in the then only new sport, they formed a new club on Wednesday September 4, 1867 , that would be called Sheffield Wednesday. They also chose the name as it significantly distinguished them from other local clubs Sheffield United and Sheffield FC.
Sligo Rovers overlooked 2010 record
2010 Cup Double Winners Sligo Rovers hit the headlines last year when Ciaran Kelly pulled off the incredibly rare feat of saving every spot kick in a penalty shoot-out in the FAI Cup Final against Shamrock Rovers. Four to be precise.
Something that is often overlooked is the fact that they went through their entire FAI Cup campaign without conceding a single goal.
They came up against Athlone Town, the one game Richard Brush played in, and won 1-0. Two months later, it was Kelly’s turn in goal, he also helped Rovers to a 1-0 victory, this time away to Finn Harps.
The Quarter-Final brought their highest scoring result in a 3-0 victory over Monaghan United while the Semi-Final brought about one of the finest performances the fans had ever seen as the booked their place in the Final with another 1-0 victory. This time, it was away to Bohemians.
After 120 minutes, the final was a goalless stalemate, and penalties were needed, and not one single person would have predicted Ciaran Kelly would do the unthinkable when he saved all four penalties as he proved to be a remarkable Cup hero and played his part in a remarkable journey, much of which is overlooked.
The dangers of crisps
As children, I think many of us ended up with a Tayto crisp momentarily caught in our throats, or were poked in the eye by the corner of a crisp packet, but these were purely accidental.
Now, these were incidents as children, but let’s now move our attention towards a professional footballer (Who unfortunately was never named). This player decided he need to quickly wipe the sweat from his face, and with no cloth or towel in sight, he picked up an empty packet of crisps. Oh dear…
He wiped the sweat, and as he got towards his eye, he is said to have made an unholy roar as he screamed his eye was in severe pain. It was revealed he had damaged his retina.
Some footballers are often ridiculed for their lack of intelligence, but this was just downright stupid.
Who ate all the Pies ?
Another goalkeeper story, this time about the origins of the feelings hurting chant which is ‘Who ate all the Pies?’.
As we know, football fans are very inventive and creative with songs and chants and use popular songs themes and replace the words with something about a player, this one was is well associated with the traditional English past time of eating meat pies at half time. When there aren’t enough to go around, the fans proceed to aim the chant at a rather rotund player, official or opposition fans.
This chant originated all the way back in Victorian times, 1894 to be exact when Sheffield United fans aimed the chant at their own ‘keeper, William ‘Fatty’ Foulke who weighed a whopping 25 stone!
Fatty did himself no favours either, he had a habit of hanging from the crossbar during a match, and finally, his weight proved too much in one match when the crossbar broke in half.
He is a bit of a legendary figure at Sheffield United for two altercations. The first was with a referee. After the full time whistle had blown with many still in the ground on hand to witness the incident, an arse naked Foulke emerged from the dressing room to confront the ref about a decision he had made!
Next, he clashed with Liverpool’s George Allan in 1898. The players had a small falling out when Allan knocked the ball from Foulke’s hands. The large ‘keeper picked Allan up, turned him upside down, and threw him straight into the mucky surface! I think it goes without saying Allan was awarded a penalty.
I hope you enjoyed this small selection I chose, and be sure to watch out for Part 2 which will be on the way very soon!