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Football teams who had cigarette brands as a shirt sponsor – The Guardian

“Has a club ever had a cigarette brand as a shirt sponsor?” tweets Nick Hayhoe. “Google can’t find one.”

Google? Pah! Who needs a multi-billion dollar search engine when you’ve got the Knowledge on hand. Where Google failed, Knowledge readers have succeeded in unearthing several cigarette-based shirt sponsorship deals.

First to central Europe. “Austria Vienna had a partnership with the Austrian tobacco company ‘Austria Tabak’ from 1977 to 2004,” writes Michael Gahler. “As a consequence they had the Austrian cigarette brand ‘Memphis’ as the main sponsor on their shirt. They were also renamed to Austria Memphis in 1977. They had Memphis in their official club name until 2004 when a new law prohibited them from having a cigarette brand as a sponsor.”

Dale Pyatt emails in with pictorial evidence of FK Saravejo’s sponsorship. “At least they had a couple of excuses, though,” he writes. “One: nearly everyone in the city was so traumatised by the war that almost nobody over the age of three didn’t smoke. Two: thousands of the city’s jobs were, as a direct result, dependent on the Aura cigarette factory. No similarly mitigating circumstances justify the ubiquitous sponsorship of top-flight UK clubs by betting/payday-loan sharks.

“When I attended a FK Sarajevo match back in the day, I had a flashback of a ‘Billy the Fish’ cartoon from Viz, in which the advertising hoardings showed two messages side by side: ‘Smoke tabs’ and ‘Government Health Warning: Don’t Smoke Tabs’. There were anti-smoking messages everywhere in Bosnia, but absolutely nobody paid any attention to them, and cigarette companies were just about the only ones with sufficient economic resources to sponsor sports clubs.”

FK Sarajevo


FK Sarajevo shirt, circa 2003. Photograph: Dale Pyatt

And the cigarette sponsorship arrangements sometimes went beyond shirts. English cricket had the Benson & Hedges Cup, Colombian football had the Copa Mustang.

“I can offer you not only a team being sponsored by a cigarette brand but a whole league,” writes our very own Euclides Montes. “To Colombia, where the league had been cancelled following the killing of a referee in 1989 during the bad days of the drug wars. Enter Mustang cigarettes, who decided they could be the flag-bearers for the wholesome and family-friendly message of unity in football and entered into a fruitful agreement with the league, rebranding it Copa Mustang.

“It was by all accounts a successful partnership that lasted well into the 21st century. It wasn’t until 2009 that the pesky anti-smoking brigade finally managed to bring in a law against tobacco advertising. So the league is now sponsored by the leading national brand of beer instead. Ho hum! Mustang did manage to squeeze in a shirt sponsorship before their scheme ran out of puff, when during a six-month period in 2002, the brand graced the kits of Millonarios FC (that’s the Millonarios of Di Stefano and Goycochea fame).”

Meanwhile, sponsorship in Indonesia led to some very oddly named competitions. “Indonesian football (sadly) has a very close relationship with the tobacco industry,” writes Adi Prasatya. “When our pro league system was rebooted in the mid-90s, the league’s main sponsor was Bentoel, a local tobacco giant. The inaugural season in 1994 was named ‘Liga Dunhill’, a cigarette brand distributed by Bentoel. As part of the sponsorship deal, all clubs must put the Dunhill logo in front of their shirts.

“Dunhill lasted for two seasons, and for the third season Bentoel used the league to hawk their Kansas-brand cigarettes, which resulted in the ridiculously named Liga Kansas – no relation whatsoever with the heartland of America. Bentoel has since been acquired by the British American Tobacco. The league is no longer sponsored by the tobacco industry, but their grip on the football scene remains strong. You cannot watch a football game on TV without seeing a cigarette ad.”

But the relationship was not all one way. As Ben Marlow writes to point out, West Brom displayed an anti-smoking symbol on their shirts during the 1985-86 season and John Terry has (inadvertently) been involved in the anti-smoking message.

West Brom’s squad for the 1985-86 season pose for a team photograph with their anti-smoking symbols.


West Brom’s squad for the 1985-86 season pose for a team photograph with their anti-smoking symbols. Photograph: Bob Thomas/Getty Images

Teams playing under another’s crest

Last week Giorgi Pirtskhelani emailed from Tbilisi, Georgia, with a photo from the 1997 top-flight meeting between city rivals Dinamo and Locomotive. “As we see, Locomotive are wearing Manchester City’s 1994-96 away shirt and they played with it for the whole season. There was another case, as well; Tbilisi-based club Merani 91 wore Sheffield Wednesday’s 1995-96 away shirt. I wonder if there are similar cases when one team plays under another’s crest?”

We touched on this subject to some extent before when we looked at teams who have to borrow their opponent’s kit. Teams wearing seemingly random kits of other sides seems to be a rarer occurrence, although there are some examples.

“In the 1972-73 season, the north-east’s lower-division needle match, Darlington v Hartlepool, was held as usual at Feethams, with the Quakers in their usual white and black kit, and Hartlepool in blue (though not stripes on this occasion),” writes Simon Atkinson. “A close inspection of the badge on the visitors’ shirts, however, revealed a very familiar sight though not in that context. Yes, a lion rampant, the letters ‘CFC’ and the detail: ‘League Cup Final 1972.’

“The reason was that a fire at the Victoria Ground had destroyed a lot of Hartlepool’s kit. Chelsea had taken pity and kindly donated a set of shirts. Having lost that final, of course, Chelsea probably couldn’t get rid of them quickly enough, though the name of the recipient’s ground would have been a bitter reminder since the winners at Wembley had been Stoke City, then of another Victoria Ground.”

And here’s a tale from Ian Williams: “In 2005, in the African Champions League, ASFA Yennenga of Burkina Faso turned up in Cape Town to play Ajax. Now, Ajax’s kit is pretty iconic. And Yennenga’s home kit has always been yellow and green, so far as I can determine. But they pitched up with a red away kit. With less than 24 hours to go, they realised they needed a kit, but by this time it was Saturday afternoon, and most sports shops were closed.

“No problem – we are a tourist city after all, and South Africa was earmarked to host the 2010 World Cup, so buying a dozen Bafana Bafana shirts proved pretty easy. Slap on a set of numbers, good to go. But some genius decided that playing with the SA badge and flag was bad luck for the Burkinabe. So went to work with a marker pen, and scribbled over both national symbols. Cue outrage from Safa.”

Four off? No bother

“Recently on Fifa, I managed to guide Real Zaragoza to a 2-1 home win against Barcelona with just nine men,” taps Kevin Leonard. “This got me wondering, what is the most red cards a team has ever had in a single game and still gone on to win?”

Drum roll: we think we have a winner. In 2005 Grêmio, under the future Brazil coach Mano Menezes, won an astonishing promotion play-off against Nautico despite being reduced to seven (S-E-V-E-N) men when four of their players were sent off. The only goal was scored by future Manchester United tub Anderson, while Nautico missed two penalties. You can read more about it here.

Knowledge archive

“On-loan Manchester United midfielder Jesse Lingard has just scored four goals on his debut for Birmingham,” wrote Jon Porter-Hughes in 2013. “Has there ever been a more prolific debutant?”

It turns out that high-scoring debuts are not quite so uncommon as you would think: just the month before, there was at least a hat-trick of players who scored hat-tricks on their debuts. Fredy Montero, for instance, on loan from Seattle Sounders, scored three as Sporting Lisbon beat FC Arouca 5-1. In the Bundesliga, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang marked his debut for Borussia Dortmund with three goals in a 4-0 win against Augsburg, and not a scuffer among them. In the Eredivisie, meanwhile, Zakaria Bakkali started life at PSV’s Philips Stadion with a trio of goals against NEC Nijmegen (and funnily enough, another PSV player, Jürgen Locadia, scored a hat-trick on his league debut last season).

They add their names to a list that includes the likes of Fabrizio Ravenelli, who put three past Liverpool on his Middlesbrough debut at the start of the 1996-97 season (by the way, John Barnes’s goal in that game is delightful); Wayne Rooney, who scored three against Fenerbahce on his Manchester United debut nine years ago, and none of them from closer than 18 yards; and Alan Shearer, who had previously come on as a sub for Southampton but made his full debut against Arsenal and scored three of the four goals that secured Southampton victory in April 1988. It made him the youngest player ever to score a top-flight hat-trick.

These three-goal slackers obviously didn’t match Lingard’s feat, but there are those who have. Earlier in 2013, as the German club Energie Cottbus began their pre-season schedule, Charles Takyi made his debut in a 17-1 drubbing of Mullroser and scored four goals before being replaced at half-time. Perhaps it doesn’t really count, but for the sake of completeness, you should also know about Patrick Weihrauch, who was – at the time of writing – yet to play a competitive match for Bayern Munich but scored four when he played in their sharpener against a Wildenau Weiden Fans XI. And while we’re on training matches, we ought to nod to Emmanuel Ake, who stayed in Denmark in February 2012 just about long enough to score five goals on debut for Svebolle, who beat Frederiksberg 7-4 that day.

Flicking back through the archives, we found a few further examples, all of them from bona fide competitive matches to boot. First to St James’ Park, where on the first day of the 1989-90 season Micky Quinn, top scorer for relegated Portsmouth the season before, marked his arrival with four goals in Newcastle’s 5-2 win over Leeds United. The visitors actually took a 2-1 lead after Quinn had opened the scoring from the penalty spot, but the tide turned in the second half. The crowd were beside themselves by the time Quinn ran through an exposed Leeds defence to slot his fourth past Mervyn Day. “Oh my word, it’s that man Quinn again!” This would become a recurring phrase that season, as Quinn scored 34 league goals and 39 in all competitions.

Now to Turf Moor, January 1957, where a 17-year-old Ian Lawson was about to make his debut for Burnley in an FA Cup third-round match against Chesterfield. Within four minutes of kick-off, Lawson had given Burnley the lead and with the last kick of the game he scored his fourth to round off a thumping 7-0 win. In the next round, by the way, Burnley beat New Brighton 9-0, with Lawson scoring another three.

And, finally, all the way back to November 1934, where Arthur Milne celebrated his move from Brechin Vics to Dundee United with four goals in United’s 9-6 league win over Edinburgh City. In his three years at the club he scored 85 goals in 81 games.

For thousands more questions and answers take a trip through the Knowledge archive.

Can you help?

The recent Joy of Six regarding pitches reminded me of a story when Wales where playing a friendly against Brazil and narrowed the pitch before the game to counter the threat of the Brazilian wingers. However, I can’t seem to find any evidence of this happening, can anyone collaborate this, or is it a case of my overactive imagination?” asks James Hamilton.

“So Liverpool recently signed Alex Manninger, 14 years after he left Arsenal,” notes Michael Britton. “Is this the longest break a player has had in between Premier League stints?”

“Back in the day on Championship Manager (99-00 I think), Alan Shearer managed to play 39 Premier League games in a season without any 39th game happening,” writes Justin. “He did this by moving from Newcastle to Man Utd mid season when his new team had a game in hand over his old team. He thus managed to play 39 games by playing every game available for both teams before and after his move. My question then is whether something like this has happened in real life and by how many games extra has a player played?”

“The Republic of Ireland wound up their Euro 1980 qualifying group on 6 February 1980 with a 2-0 defeat to England at Wembley (England had already sealed their place in the finals the previous November),” writes Oliver Farry. “Just six weeks later Ireland got their (heroic but ultimately unsuccessful) qualifying campaign for World Cup 1982 under way with a 3-2 win in Cyprus. Is this the shortest gap ever between qualifying campaigns?”

— Andrew Toothill (@ARToothill)
August 9, 2016

@TheKnowledge_GU Victor Giro has ‘PC’ on the back of his shirt. Are there any other unusual nicknames players go by? pic.twitter.com/aXTt5sx9YE

Send your questions and answers to [email protected] or tweet@TheKnowledge_GU

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