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Dec 20, 2011

Defenders' hat-tricks & the fattest player

Norman Hubbard is ESPNsoccernet's resident anorak. If you have any questions on football facts, statistics or trivia, please send them to asknorman@hotmail.com and he'll try to answer as many as possible.

Are there any defenders who have scored hat-tricks in a Premier League match, or in any other leagues or competitions? I am talking about defenders such as John Terry and Rio Ferdinand and not Phil Jones or Kieran Richardson - as they can operate in midfield as well Damian in Singapore asked.

There has only been one Premier League hat-trick by a player I would describe mainly as a defender, scored by Steve Watson for Everton against Leeds in 2003. However, Watson was a versatile player who operated in midfield for some of his career, including that game, so no one actually playing in the defence at the time has managed a Premier League hat-trick.

In the old First Division, the last man who was a defender by trade to bag three goals was Liverpool's Steve Nicol against Newcastle in September 1987. However, Kenny Dalglish selected his fellow Scot in midfield that day.

Which, I think, means another of the Merseysiders' Scottish contingent is the last defender to claim a top-flight hat-trick: Gary Gillespie claimed one against Birmingham in April 1986.

Indeed, it was a month for goalscoring defenders. Only five days earlier, a more remarkable treble came from West Ham's Alvin Martin in an 8-1 win against Newcastle. It was scored against three different goalkeepers, with striker Peter Beardsley the third man beaten by the centre-back.

I have just watched a rerun of the season where Blackburn won the Premier League title. It occurred to me that Kenny Dalglish is the only manager to have won the English top-flight title managing two different clubs (Liverpool and Blackburn). Are there any other managers who have done this? Sanjay Rai from Singapore asked.

There are two others. The first was Herbert Chapman, the man whose success led to a hat-trick of league titles for two different clubs. He won two championships with Huddersfield, in 1924 and 1925, before leaving to manage Arsenal. Huddersfield won their third successive title under Cecil Potter, his successor, with Chapman winning a first title at Highbury in 1931. He then repeated the feat in 1933, the first of three consecutive triumphs for the Gunners, but was not to live to see the latter two as he died in January 1934.

More recently, Brian Clough emulated him, winning his two titles with traditional rivals. He led Derby County to a First Division triumph in 1972 and then Nottingham Forest to the same levels six years later. It was all the more remarkable as Clough had to get both teams promoted first.

Dalglish, by the way, won three titles with Liverpool and then took Blackburn to glory in the 1994-95 season, famously winning the title at Anfield.

Who was the last player other than Frank Lampard to score from the penalty spot for Chelsea? Agung Alam asked.

In a match, it is Didier Drogba, who scored from 12 yards against Everton in a 1-1 draw in December 2010. However, Chelsea also won a Carling Cup shootout against Fulham this season and, while Lampard missed his spot kick, Florent Malouda converted Chelsea's final attempt.

Having watched the Amoebi and Toure brothers play for their respective teams, I was curious about the number of brothers playing in the same team. Do we have any more of such pairings in the Premier League currently? Ryan Hong from Singapore asked.

There are also the Da Silva twins at Manchester United, Rafael and Fabio, and Fulham's Riise brothers, John Arne and Bjorn Helge, although as Rafael da Silva and Bjorn Helge Riise have both been confined to cup competitions so far this season, neither pair of brothers have been on the Premier League pitch together so far.

I have seen a few fat players over the years, waddling around the field. Can you tell me who is the fattest or heaviest player to play in the top flight? Al Motani from Canada asked.

As those of us who have checked the various football yearbooks know, some of the less-than-svelte figures in the game appear to use their imagination when declaring their weight. However, the probable winner, revealed by Robin Hackett in one of his First XIs recently, is a goalkeeper who went by the nickname Fatty: William Foulke.

He played for Sheffield United, Chelsea, Bradford and (once) England at the end of the 19th and start of the 20th century; his bulk, depending upon the source, was either 24 stone or a mere 22 stone.

How many times have Liverpool hit the woodwork this year? I heard at one point they were leading the league Evan from the USA asked.

It is 18 in all competitions, with Luis Suarez hitting wood five times in the Premier League alone.

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