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Which clubs employ animals?

“Earlier this month, Rochdale brought in a falcon to deal with their pigeon problem at Spotland,” writes Connor Randall. “Are they the first football club ever to employ an animal?”

We’re afraid not Connor. Plenty of clubs have been utilising the unique skills of our feathered friends and of other members of the animal kingdom. And not all in order to keep a lid on pigeon guano.

Joe Guarr, Wayne Mabey, Jim Powers and Mike McGroarty all email in with the tale of Bitchy the hawk. Toronto FC brought in the Harris Hawk back in 2007 to help keep their BMO Field clear of pesky seagulls, who hopped over from nearby Lake Ontario to enjoy a good meal at the Authentic Prada Gauffre ground. “Her job Authentic Prada Leather Handbags is pretty simple – it’s to sit and watch the game from the highest vantage point possible,” said Mike Gilvin, the vice-president of Toronto’s Wildlife Management Programs. “Gulls don’t want to fly underneath a predatory bird, so by putting her up high we ensure that the gulls don’t come in and land on the pitch or disturb the spectators.” Bitchy, named thus after a fans’ poll on the club’s website, has “a bit of an attitude” according to Gilvin, but she looks pretty placid in this clip from West Ham’s game in Toronto earlier this year.

Both Madrid sides have used birds of prey in recent years to tackle their pigeon problems, and Ross Sechler informs us that on a honeymoon tour of Stamford Bridge in the summer (Ross, you old romantic) he and his new wife watched a falcon help out with Chelsea’s pest control. It might be an idea for someone to suggest this humane solution to an investation of avian interlopers to Staines FC, who have recently been angering animal rights Authentic Prada Handbags Canada activists with their more direct methods.

“Manchester City also employed a falcon at Maine Road for exactly the same reason,” explains Sam Cowan, “until they realised it was cheaper to hang a plastic one from one end of the Kippax which seemed to work just as well.”

As Oliver Farry and Jaime Alonso point out, an eagle soars around the Estadio da Luz and lands in Authentic Prada Outlet Uk the stadium before Benfica home games. It’s also tradition for Vitoria, as the bird is known, to be present when players sign for the club. Here’s Pablo Aimar trying to force a smile, while holding a huge bird that looks ready to peck his eyes out.

Oliver also suggests Authentic Prada Leather Handbag that Sedan have been led out at two recent Coupe de France finals by boars, while “FC Cologne has always employed a (real) goat as a mascot, I kid you not,” chuckles Robert Sleigh. Ho. Ho Ho. These days, though, mammals are something of a rarity at football stadia. In years gone by, of course, livestock were often allowed to graze on the pitches and in the 1920s the Ipswich Town groundsman Walter Woollard kept sheep, goats and chickens in a stand at Portman Road.

Even a pair of fish have found themselves taken on by a club. In 2005 floods saw Judy the goldfish washed Authentic Prada Online Shop from her comfortable tank in a house opposite Carlisle United’s Brunton Park and wind up in the goalmouth on the pitch where she was fortuitously rescued by Emma Story, the daughter of the club owner Fred. The club won their next game – against Redditch – and, as Emma pointed out, “fans began to say the fish represented the fighting spirit of the club”. On the back of that early success, Judy took up residence as the club’s mascot and can claim to have played her own small role in the club’s rise to League One from her bowl in the club’s reception.

Do you know of any other instances? Email them to the usual address.

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“Hearts have used four goalkeepers in their first nine SPL games,” writes Derek Corney. “What’s the highest number of goalkeepers used by one club in a season?”

Several readers put their hands up to let us know about clubs with a particularly promiscuous attitude to goalkeepers. While Boston United (2007-08), Morecambe (2007-08) and Burnley (1991-92) all employed five different stoppers over the course of a season to better Hearts current tally, James Tong wrote in to raise the bar. “Gillingham used six goalkeepers in the 2006-07 season. Kelvin Jack started the season as the Gills’ No1, but quickly fell out of favour. The club then brought in Darren Randolph, Dean Brill, Scott Flinders, Roman Larrieu, and Simon Royce on loan at various times.”

Seeing Gillingham’s six and raising them a seven, Tristan Browning staked a claim for Tranmere’s 2002-03 side. John Achterberg, Keith Welch, Ian Feuer, Phil Whitehead (who played in consecutive 6-1 defeats), Russell Howarth and Eric Nixon all pulled on their gloves for Rovers’ cause – however, Phil Palethorpe only ever made the bench, Authentic Prada Clothing so it looks like an honourable draw in this case.

However, Mark Andrews tops this with details of AFC Wimbledon’s successful promotion campaign last year. “They started the season with Andy Little. Paul Seuke donned the gloves for a Westview Senior Cup game against Whyteleafe, and then again in the league against Folkestone Invicta. Little returned for the next few games before getting injured against Chelmsford. With no goalkeeper on the bench right-back Luke Garrard went in goal for the second half and kept a clean sheet in the 1-0 victory.

“Then they got Corrin Brookes-Mead on loan from Fulham to deputise for Little, against Tonbridge Angels, but he, in turn, was injured, on his debut, so young reserve goalie Ben Symons came on for his first ever game. Danny Knowles was then signed on loan from Grays Athletic, and played for a number of games; after his loan expired, Lee Butcher was brought in on loan from Tottenham; at the end of his loan James Pullen was brought in on loan from Eastleigh. Wimbledon also had young Elliot Ransom in goal for a London Senior Cup tie against Bromley. So, counting league games only, AFC Wimbledon used eight different keepers, nine if you include the cups.”


Last week we delved into the world of lengthy bans and time elapsing between punishments and the suspensions being served. But there were some notable omissions …

“Brian Mooney, the late 80s cult hero of Preston North End, was sent off for (Irish side) Bohemian FC versyus Dynamo Minsk in 1996, but did not serve the suspension until 2000,” writes Karl Mullen. “Bohs messed up by failing to include him in the squad list for the following year’s Uefa Cup game against Ferencvaros. He did not serve his suspension as Uefa did not consider him to be a Bohs player for the tie, so he served his suspension when U.C.D. registered him for the Intertoto a few years later against Bulgaria’s PFC Velbazhd Kyustendil.”

And Sean DeLoughrey adds that “Donal Broughan was sent off while playing for Bohemians against Ferencvaros in 1997 for lashing out at an opponent. He was banned for three European games, and served two of those five years later, when his new club, Dundalk, played Varteks in the Uefa Cup. In theory, he’s still suspended but having retired from the game, I doubt he’s unduly concerned.”


When we suggested last week that Paul Dickov was the only member of Scotland’s 1989 Under-16 World Cup team to become a full international, we were wrong. As Alex Lamont points out, “sorry to contradict you, but both Andy McLaren (one cap) and Brian O’Neil (seven caps) both graduated from that side.


“Following the recent scandal in Italy, I got to wondering what the earliest ever example of match-fixing is?” wrote Seamus Callaghan in 2006.

It’s a whopping 106 years ago and involves Burnley goalkeeper ‘Happy’ Jack Hillman. With his team needing to beat Nottingham Forest to avoid relegation, Hillman was alleged to have offered the opposition 2 a head to “take it easy” [around 144 in today’s money, according to the retail price index]. He upped his offer to 5 [360] at half-time, by which point Burnley were trailing 2-0.

The Clarets eventually lost 4-0 and went down to the second division before being hauled before the Football League. Hillman Black Prada Eyeglass Case admitted speaking to Forest players, but denied trying to bribe them. Which didn’t wash with the authorities, who chose to set an example by banning him from the game for one year.

For many more sepia-tinged questions and answers, why not visit the Knowledge archive?

Can you help?

“Jamie Carragher’s fine headed goal last Saturday was his third for Spurs, the same number as he has scored in the league Barberino Factory Outlet Prada for Liverpool. What is the record number of own goals scored for a particular club by a single player?” wonders Adrian Riley.

“When was the last time that an English top-flight game kicked off with a snow-covered pitch (and I mean properly covered in snow, not just a light dusting with grass visible through it)?|” asks Mark Goodge.

“Before his switch to Heerenveen, Viktor Elm scored four games in his final match for Kalmar, while playing alongside brothers Rasmus and David,” notes Steve Stringer. “How many other teams have had three or more siblings playing for the same team in the same match?”

“Having read about Peter Thorne’s love of surfing with sharks,” writes Martyn Salter, “I was wondering if any other players enjoy hobbies that could threaten their careers?”

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