Which is the biggest English football club without a train station nearby? | The Knowledge
“With the Liverpool v Leeds game having been rescheduled for a time when the last train back to Leeds leaves 20 minutes into the second half, what is the biggest club without a viable train station in the vicinity?” tweeted The Jet Van Set.
Let’s start with a chillingly comprehensive answer from one of our readers. “As a football fan and a railways nerd, this was the perfect question for me,” writes Athena Blight. “For the sake of argument, I’m looking only at clubs in the English league.
“This question is more complicated than it might first appear. There are technically two categories here – clubs with no National Rail station nearby, but that might be served by other railed transport (London Underground, trams, etc), and then clubs furthest from a station of any kind. I will be defining viable as not hugely annoying to get back to on foot, so within three kilometres or roughly a 30-minute walk seems more than generous. In addition, service times (such as stations closed or with limited service on matchdays) are not taken into consideration. I have used the ‘How Far is it Between’ checker on freemaptools.com.
“Using the strictest definition possible, the biggest club without a viable station nearby right now is Reading of the Championship, whose Select Car Leasing Stadium lies 3.756km from Reading West station. However, Reading Green Park station, built partially in order to serve the stadium, is due to open in December of this year, so I feel like this is an unsatisfactory answer.
“The biggest club without a station mantle will thus, in December, pass to one of several League One teams from whom you can take your pick. Cheltenham Town‘s Completely-Suzuki Stadium is just a squeak under three kilometres away from Cheltenham Spa station as the crow flies, so the walking distance almost certainly takes it over.
“If you think this is too close to call, then I refer you to Fleetwood Town, whose Highbury Stadium is a whopping 7.913 kilometres from Poulton-le-Fylde station. There are two caveats here, however. The first is that a National Rail extension to Fleetwood has been confirmed by the government (though unlike Reading, this is still years away) and the second is that it is well-served by the Blackpool Tramway, with Stanley Road tram stop being just 276 metres from the stadium.
Elton John, opening the Watford Stadium Halt railway station in December 1982. Photograph: Trinity Mirror/Mirrorpix/Alamy
“In a similar vein to Fleetwood, Sheffield Wednesday‘s ground is 4.537km from Sheffield Station, but just 256 metres from Leppings Lane tram stop on the Sheffield Supertram.
“If you think these are all exempt, then I bring you to the absolutely undisputed no-arguments-against answers, Oxford United, Wycombe Wanderers and Forest Green Rovers. The Kassam Stadium is 4.054km from the nearest station at Radley, despite a railway line nearby. Adams Park is 3.736km away from High Wycombe station, on the very edge of the town. The New Lawn is 5.218km from Stroud station, and there’s no plans in the officing to extend the railway or provide any form or railed transport to Nailsworth.
“I have attached a spreadsheet with evidence of my claims, that lists the clubs and the closest station of each type.”
Man Utd? The train station attached to the South Stand has been out of use for a long while – albeit it has a few tram stops nearby. Elland Road is approx 2 miles from Leeds station, but 1 mile from Cottingley. Reading looks a pane, but they are building a closer station
— Scotty Walden (@ScottyWalden) October 5, 2022
Finally, David Triggs has a suggestion from the recent past. “Prior to their expulsion from the Football League, I think Bury would be in for a shout,” writes David. “Although served by the Metrolink from Manchester, the nearest National Rail train station from Gigg Lane is Kearsley, which is a small station some six miles away. The nearest bigger station would be Manchester Piccadilly or Bolton which are 16 and seven miles away, respectively.”
Most home games in one month
“Due to the pitch fiasco for Coventry, City are playing five home games in October,” explains Larry Johnson. “Has this ever happened before to a league club? Weather and Cup buildups excepted.”
It’s hard to answer this question without including weather and cup buildups, so we’re conveniently ignoring that bit.
“The actual result is very surprising,” writes Chris Roe. “In the top four leagues of English football alone, there are 1,375 instances of a team playing at least five home matches in a single calendar month! The record is seven, which has happened on eight occasions.”
Those teams are:
Newcastle United (April 1955)
Leicester City (April 1961)
Hartlepool United (April 1963)
Exeter City (March 1969)
West Bromwich Albion (April 1969)
West Ham (April 1986)
Walsall (April 1987)
Wycombe Wanderers (March 2001)
Wycombe playing Port Vale at Adams Park in March 2001, one of seven home games there that month. Photograph: Paul Dennis/TGS Photo/Rex/Shutterstock
You’ll have noticed that, unlike Coventry this year, all of these instances are in the spring, when fixtures tend to pile up for various reasons. However, Chris also found a number of teams who played six home games in a month before Christmas – including Coventry City themselves in September 1958.
Most caps against the same opposition (2)
In last week’s Knowledge, we looked at players who had won the most international caps against the same opponent. But we missed one of Hungary’s greatest players.
Schlosser also scored 22 goals against Austria, which might be an answer to a different Knowledge question: who has scored the most international goals against the same opponent?
“When was the last season (if indeed there ever has been one) that all the clubs in the English top division finished the season with the same manager they had at the start?” wondered Tom Shaw in 2011.
The Knowledge turned to Twitter in search of an answer for this one, and after sterling work from @ChristopherHarv and @STV_Andy, shadowy and intimidating stats robot @OptaJoe’s eyes started flashing, his cogs started whirring, and from within his metallic depths out chugged the answer – 1965-66. In each of the seasons after, someone has lost their job in the top-flight.
Perhaps imbued with pre-World Cup bonhomie, Blackburn stuck with “Jolly Jack” Marshall despite barrelling headlong towards relegation, ending bottom with the lowest points tally in 19 years (though he was sacked midway through the following season – “This post at Ewood Park has been likened more than once to what the Americans call a ‘hot seat’,” reported the Guardian at the time). Dave Bowen, who was also moonlighting as the Wales manager, survived at Blackburn’s fellow relegatees Northampton.
Fulham, despite a relegation-threatened season, stuck with Vic Buckingham; Ian McColl, appointed during the summer of 1965, survived at Sunderland who finished 19th; Nottingham Forest stayed up by three points and kept faith with the softly-softly approach of Johnny Carey (“Some of their tackling, while never vicious, lacked the finesse and complete inoffensiveness of a team managed by Mr Carey,” wrote the Guardian after a mid-season 1-1 draw at Manchester City. “Forest, like so many clubs, have had to adapt their style to meet modern requirements, although Mr Carey would never instruct his men to ‘mix it’.”) Above Blackburn nine teams ended the season separated by four points – perhaps this was a rare … and final? – example of clubs choosing the devils they knew.
The detente didn’t last, however. Arsenal started the 1966-67 season with a new man in charge, Billy Wright having resigned in June.
Can you help?
“Some teams have their bogey player, who always seems to score against them. Which player has the most career goals against a single opposition, irrespective of who he is playing for?” asks John McDougall.
“Just watching Everton v Manchester United and heard that Frank Lampard’s beaten them with all the clubs he’s managed. What’s the greatest number of clubs a manager has beaten another club with?” wonders Alex Craig.
#footballfan out there!! My team @HibernianFC has two players in the team with over 500 club appearances each – Paul Hanlon and Lewis Stevenson. Can any other club match that?
— Harry Fisher (@HFwritesCrime) October 11, 2022
“Colchester have just appointed the former Wycombe player Matt Bloomfield as manager. He started his career at Ipswich, which means they’ve now ‘provided’ 11 ex-players as managers to their A12 neighbours. Can that be bettered?” asks Philip Genochio.
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