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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Guardian sport

Which team has played the most games in a row at different stadiums?

England take on Australia at West Ham’s Upton Park on 12 February 2003.
England take on Australia at West Ham’s Upton Park on 12 February 2003 during a run of 21 matches played at different venues. Photograph: David Ashdown/Independent/Alamy

“What is the most consecutive games played at different venues?” asks @fuzzybluerain. “It could be a nation, team or player. They’re all interesting.”

OK, so let’s start with clubs. “It’s not terribly uncommon for MLS teams to have lengthy streaks of away matches as stadium construction/renovations are being completed (just this season Nashville played eight consecutive on the road). But for streaks with more than one home game, NYCFC recently reached 10 stadiums,” tweets @thereisaparty.

Gareth Wright can top that by taking us to South Korea. “I’d like to nominate Seoul E-Land in Korea’s K-League 2 this season,” he writes. “E-Land moved stadium this summer, so played their first four league games and a cup tie away from home while the new ground was prepared. However, in their first game at the new ground, the pitch was almost entirely torn up, meaning it had to be relaid. This saw their second home game played at their previous home, followed by a further six away games. Due to the fact they played Gyeongnam at both their different home stadiums, Seoul E-Land played their first 11 league fixtures in different stadiums. I’m sure there are teams who have played more in total, but E-land played a total of 12 competitive games in a row at different grounds, while in an 11-team league.”

The fondness for taking national teams around their respective countries will likely yield a stretch of matches at different venues that goes deeper than clubs. A quick glance at Brazil’s most recent fixtures shows that their past 12 matches were held at 12 different venues. However …

“England played 22 games at different venues between 2001 and 2003,” notes Alun Thomas. “The friendly against Sweden on 10 November 2001 and the Euro 2004 qualifier v Liechtenstein on 10 September 2003 were both played at Old Trafford. The 21 games between, encompassing the 2002 World Cup finals, were played at: Amsterdam, Leeds, Anfield, Seogwipo, Kobe, Saitama, Sapporo, Osaka, Niigata, Fukuroi, Bratislava, Southampton, Upton Park, Villa Park, Vaduz, Sunderland, Durban, Leicester, Middlesbrough, Ipswich and Skopje. But Germany have beaten England yet again.

Germany prepare to take on France at the Stade de France on 27 February 2001, during a run of 23 matches played at different venues.
Germany prepare to take on France at the Stade de France on 27 February 2001, during a run of 23 matches played at different venues. Photograph: Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images

“Countries without a fixed ‘national stadium’ could go quite a while without repeating venues,” writes Mike Slattery. “All 23 matches Germany played across 2000 and 2001 were in different stadiums.” We can’t find another team to beat that so we’ll flag a few individuals who rank high for consecutive matches at different stadiums. “I’ve got nine for Gareth Bale from June to September 2021,” tweets @AgaTieFan.

Short spells for trophy-winning bosses

Ben Janeson has a Catalan contender. “Enric Rabassa was manager of Barcelona for six matches in 1960, and won them the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup.” Meanwhile, Ricardio Sentulio has a spell which lasted just 90 minutes. “Former Northern Ireland and Manchester United goalkeeper Roy Carroll managed to win a trophy in his first and only game as a manager. In 2011, as Barnet player-goalkeeping coach and interim manager, he led the club to a 2-1 win over Stevenage in the Hertfordshire County FA Senior Challenge Cup final. He probably never wants to manage a club again, or it will ruin his 100% trophy-a-game record.”

But perhaps another one-match wonder, Sandy Stewart, is the best suggestion we have had. “He was in charge of St Johnstone for a single match after Owen Coyle left to join Burnley,” tweets Andy Brook. “That match was the Scottish Challenge Cup final, which they won 3-2.”

More debutants in cup finals

We’ve had a few more examples of players who made their bows on the big occasion.

“George Ray made his debut for Crewe aged 19 in what was then called the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final in 2013, coming on as a substitute; he was widely described as the first player to make his professional debut at Wembley,” mails Steve Lacey. Andrew writes in to say that Jordi made his Blackburn debut in their 2002 League Cup final win. “He was signed a few days earlier and came on for Matt Jansen.”

Richard Bourton has a brilliant example of someone who was thrown into the deep end and survived: “Nigel Spink for Aston Villa in the European Cup final against Bayern Munich in 1982!” Spink replaced the injured Jimmy Rimmer after 10 minutes and kept a clean sheet in the 1-0 win. He had previously only played at non-league Chelmsford City.

Nigel Spink, right, poses with Jimmy Rimmer after Aston Villa won the European Cup in 1992.
Nigel Spink, right, poses with Jimmy Rimmer after Aston Villa won the European Cup in 1992. Photograph: David Bagnall/Shutterstock

Glenn Willmore writes: “In 1966 youngster Danny Campbell made his West Brom debut at centre-half in place of veteran Stan Jones (who had played in every game that season) in the League Cup final against West Ham. Albion won 5-3 on aggregate.” And Ivor Leonard has another from the League Cup: “Gudni Bergsson made his debut for Bolton in the Coca-Cola Cup final against Liverpool in 1995. He replaced Scott Green. His first touch was an assist for Alan Thompson to score an absolute belter.”

And Mark Jameson wraps us up with the tragic tale of Reinhard “Maecki” Lauck, “who moved from Energie Cottbus to Union Berlin towards the end of the 1967-68 season and made his debut in the East German Cup final against Carl Zeiss Jena just 21 days later. Union ended up winning 2-1 and Lauck played a major role in the success, not least because he was a completely unknown quantity. Afterwards he made waves by moving to Union’s hated rivals, the Stasi-run BFC Dynamo when Union were relegated in 1973. A year after that, and he marked Wolfgang Overath out of the game as East beat West at the 1974 World Cup. After retirement, he went back to work as a metalworker, fell on hard times with alcohol problems and was found bleeding from a head wound on the street in Berlin in 1997. He died two weeks later aged 51.”

Knowledge archive

“The Comoros national team are known as the Coelacanths,” wrote Robert Abushal in 2013. “Do they have the most endangered nickname in world football?”

Certainly we should spare a thought for the Coelacanths, both the fish species currently listed as critically threatened on the International Union for Conservation of Nature list and the team at No 192 on Fifa’s world rankings list. And, despite a lengthy trawl through the IUCN archives we’re struggling to find any team nicknamed after a species so endangered. Although there can’t be many species rarer than Chievo’s Flying Donkeys.

Can you help?

“Tottenham’s Son Heung-min finished joint top Premier League scorer, but without a penalty to his name. What is the highest amount of league goals scored in a domestic season without a penalty?” asks Masai Graham.

• This article was amended on 10 June 2022. In a picture caption, an earlier version misidentified Aston Villa’s Jimmy Rimmer as “Jimmy Miller”.

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