Tattoo officer and hip-hop talent scout: unlikely football club jobs

Guardian sport
·7 min read

“Massive Attack star Robert Del Naja (aka 3D) was appointed as Forest Green’s art director last week. Have any other clubs got art directors or other random positions you would not associate with football? And are there any other musicians employed at clubs?” asks George Jones.

On the subject of musicians at clubs, an obvious start would be Elton John, who is still standing as Watford’s honorary life-president after an association stretching back to 1976. Though perhaps that is not quite in the spirit of the question, which is asking for more random appointments. Robin Clarke has one that fits the bill: “In 1979 Chile’s national team coach Luis Santibáñez appointed folk singer Pedro Messone as musical director for the Copa América. Given that General Augusto Pinochet was president of Chile at the time I imagine he kept it light. The squad sang together and did well in the tournament: Chile reached the final and lost to Paraguay.”

Related: Football clubs' strangest sidelines – racing cars, petrol stations and bingo | The Knowledge

And here’s Chris Clarke with one that seems to answer all elements: “The Welsh actor/producer/musician/artist/comedian/all-round good egg Jonny Owen is a director at Nottingham Forest, dealing with the club’s video output and other media stuff. He of course famously directed I Believe in Miracles, the story of Forest’s European Cup success.”

The former Simply Red guitarist Sylvan Richardson was appointed as a masseur at Liverpool in 2010. “I am a professional producer and musician but I was always interested in medicine,” he told the club’s website. “When I left the band in 1987, that’s the path I went down.”

Specifically on the subject of random job opportunities at clubs, here’s Rashaad Jorden with one that is very much of its time. “The Philadelphia Union in MLS once hired a chief tattoo officer. Here’s a story about the successful applicant.”

And Martyn Fairbrother points us in the direction of Marseille for another left-field position. The Ligue 1 club have recently launched their own hip-hop label. Emilie Hauck is employed as the talent scout/project manager for OM Records, which certainly sounds more entertaining than being a match analyst.

Clubs with long waits for a former player to score for England

“With his goal against Wales Dominic Calvert-Lewin became the first ex-Northampton player to score for England since 1983,” reveals Tim Postins. “Which English league club can lay claim to the dubious honour of the longest time since a former player has scored for the national side?”

“Well, if we’re only counting former players then the most definitive answer I can come up with, of the current 92 English league clubs, is Grimsby Town,” writes Chris Page. “They haven’t had a player at their club go on to play, and score, for England since Harry Storer scored against France way back in 1924. There has been a subsequent England goalscorer who would go on to play for Grimsby later on, that being Neil Webb whose final England goal came against Hungary in 1992.

Neil Webb was working as a postman in Reading in 2015.
Neil Webb was working as a postman in Reading in 2015. Photograph: Richard Saker/The Observer

“If we were to allow for future players as well as former players, then the best one I could find would be Gillingham. Alf Milward scored the last of his three England goals all the way back in 1897 before going on to play for Gillingham a few years later. It was so long ago, they were still known as New Brompton.

“I came across up to nine clubs in the league who have never had any England goalscorers, past, present or future, in their ranks. Accrington Stanley, Crawley, Forest Green, Harrogate, Morecambe and Salford probably won’t surprise anyone, though if any of Salford’s owners ever fancy a kickabout they may drop off the list. AFC Wimbledon are in too, unless you count them as an extension of the original Wimbledon, in which case Dennis Wise’s goal against Turkey in 1991 rules them out. Similarly Newport County are in, unless you count the original Newport County and Harry Hampton’s goal against Scotland in 1913. Finally, Stevenage haven’t had any England goalscorers play for them, though Teddy Sheringham did briefly register as a player during an injury crisis when managing them.”

Record international scorers in consecutive years

“Robbie Keane scored in 19 calendar years (but in a row between 1998-2016) at international level,” tweets @wilhelm_irl. “Has any other footballer achieved or beaten this?”

This is fast turning into the Chris Page edition. “Well I couldn’t see any in the men’s game, although Ronaldo and Messi are still going strong, and they stand at 17 and 15 consecutive years respectively, so they could yet break that tally. Christine Sinclair has them all beat, though. The Canadian striker has scored in every calendar year since 2000, giving a grand total of 21 years and counting. Given she’s got no signs of slowing down herself, she could yet extend that record further.”

Christine Sinclair has scored for Canada in every calendar year since the turn of the century.
Christine Sinclair has scored for Canada in every calendar year since the turn of the century. Photograph: Ben Radford/Fifa via Getty Images

Knowledge archive

“Have any set of fans, so disgusted with their team’s performances, organised a supporters’ strike so that the team played the next home game to a virtually empty stadium?” wondered Peter Clarke in February 2011.

Not quite, but there are several tangential tales regarding strikes. Upon discovering that their first team would be going on strike due to unpaid wages during the 2009 Blue Square Premier season, Weymouth supporters opted against doing likewise. Instead, they did the next best thing: get rich on the back of it. Knowing that the youth team would be pressed into action against Rushden & Diamonds, Terras fans plunged into local bookmakers and betting exchanges to spark a £1m gamble. On a non-league game. Other punters got wind of it as £680,000 alone was wagered on Betfair, slashing their price from 15-8 to 4-6 just before the match. Ninety minutes later, Weymouth had lost 9-0 and the bookies had been dealt a thorough bashing.

In 2010, 11 supporters of FC Moscow went on hunger strike following the club’s decision to withdraw from the Russian Premier League when their principal sponsor, Norilsk Nickel, pulled its financing. “It’s our last chance to save our club,” said Vasily Petrakov, head of the FC fans’ club. “What else can we do when nothing helps? They don’t hear us as they don’t listen, so going on a hunger strike is really the last thing we can do.” The 11 gave up after five days of famine when, according to this report, “the head of the Russian FA visited them to say there was no chance of a return”.

Knowledge archive

Can you help?

“Has a footballer ever captained their country on debut?” asks Andy Gomez.

“After watching an Arsenal throw-in down the line trickle straight out of play, I wondered about throw-ins going out of play on the opposite side of the pitch without being touched,” writes Simon Bradley. “A cursory search didn’t provide any results – surely it must have happened?”

“Joachim Löw has led Germany in no less than 186 matches. Is this a record in international football?” wonders Bogdan Kotarlic.

Send your questions and answers to knowledge@theguardian.com or tweet @TheKnowledge_GU.