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Clough works his magic

Steven Lynch September 4, 2012
Jermain Defoe has the most appearances for England as a substitute, coming on on 32 occasions © Getty Images

This week, after all that Olympic excitement, it's time for a football special:

Has any team ever won the top division the season after being promoted (well, we Royals fans can dream!)? asked Bob Warner ... from Reading
This has actually been achieved on five occasions, most recently by Nottingham Forest in 1977-78. Managed by Brian Clough, Forest took the league championship the year after claiming the final promotion place by finishing third in the old Second Division. The first to win the title the year after being promoted were Liverpool, in 1905-06, and they were followed by their cross-town rivals Everton in 1931-32. Spurs managed it in 1950-51, and then Ipswich Town did it in 1961-62. This was the first season ever in the top flight for Ipswich, whose manager at the time was Alf Ramsey. I see that you can get odds of 3000-1 against Reading repeating the trick this season, so good luck!

Who has made the most appearances for England as a substitute? asked Clive Cottrell
This record is currently held by Jermain Defoe, who has come on as a replacement for England on 32 occasions, in addition to being in the starting line-up 17 further times. Owen Hargreaves came on as a sub in a record 14 successive matches between 2004 and 2006, while the record for the most substitute appearances without ever starting a full England international is currently seven, by Carlton Cole.

What's the worst start to a season in the top division of English football? asked George Fraser
The worst start to any season in the top flight is 12 straight defeats by ... wait for it ... Manchester United. That was back in 1930-31, a season in which they ended up bottom of the First Division table and were relegated, to be replaced by Everton, who won the Second Division. United didn't get back into the top flight until they won the Second Division in 1935-36 - two seasons previously they had finished 20th in that league, their lowest-ever placing.

I'm from Carlisle, and we had one season in the First Division (during which we were briefly top!). How many other clubs have been up there for just one year? asked Michael Appleby
Carlisle United's season in the sun in 1974-75 made them the fourth of six teams to have spent just one year in the top flight. The first, in 1899-1900, were Glossop North End, a team which now languishes in the North West Counties Premier Division. The other four clubs are still in the mainstream league, though: Leyton Orient were in the top division in 1962-63, Northampton Town in 1964-65, Swindon Town in 1993-94 (the second season of the Premier League), and Barnsley in 1997-98. Carlisle were indeed top of the first division early in 1974-75 - they had a 100% record after three matches - but fell away and finished bottom, with 29 points (Chelsea were also relegated).

What's the quickest any footballer has been sent off in a league game? asked John Carter
The earliest red card in English league football was brandished after just 13 seconds of the Division One (second tier) match between Sheffield Wednesday and Wolves in August 2000. The recipient of the red card was the long-serving Wednesday goalkeeper Kevin Pressman, who was adjudged to have handled the ball outside his penalty area. Pressman, who made 478 appearances for Sheffield Wednesday, said the ball only struck him on the chest, and he shouldn't have been sent off at all. In an Italian league game in 1990 Giuseppe Lorenzo of Bologna was red carded after just ten seconds against Parma for striking an opponent, while the overall record for any reasonable standard of football seems to be a remarkable three seconds - David Pratt of Chippenham was dismissed for a two-footed lunge at a Bashley opponent immediately after the kick-off of their British Gas Premier Division game in December 2008.

Is there any precedent for a team being demoted three divisions, as Rangers have been this season in Scotland? asked Ron McAlpine
I believe the only similar case, certainly in Scotland, was the case of Livingston: they were playing in the First Division (second tier) in 2009 when they went into liquidation, and were demoted to the Third Division. The good news for Rangers is that Livingston won promotion in each of the following two seasons, and were soon back where they started. But the cases are slightly different, if I understand them correctly - that was the same Livingston club, whereas the Rangers outfit that is playing now would appear to be an entirely new entity, legally speaking. In English football, Peterborough were demoted from the Third Division to the fourth in 1967-68 for financial irregularities, while more recent penalties for clubs going into liquidation have effectively condemned several to relegation regardless of their on-field efforts.

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