Swedish researchers recently concluded that footballers are a lot smarter than we give them credit for - but one chairman would beg to differ. In fact, he thinks his players are the dimmest in the land. Ian Noble considers the evidence
DID you know that France shares a border with Wales? Or that the 2012 Olympic Games were held in Sydney? No? Well, those were two of the answers by players from the North-East football team that could just be the thickest in the country.
Spennymoor Town’s players have already proven the old saying that their brains are in their boots by winning a place in the FA Vase final at Wembley next month.
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However, according to chairman Brad Groves, if brains were gunpowder, some of his players wouldn’t have enough to blow their noses.
Mr Groves reckons his team is the thickest in the country - but the dubious honour is no own goal.
Instead, the light-hearted insult is part of the ongoing banter designed to raise a smile before final against Tunbridge Wells on May 4.
"Getting to the FA Vase Final is a fantastic achievement and, of course, we're all very proud of them," he said.
"We all love a laugh and a joke and we all take the Mick out of each other - but if we can't enjoy this, we might as well all pack up and go home."
The Moors have enjoyed a successful season so far which could be capped by victory at Wembley and promotion from the Northern League.
Thankfully, Mr Groves says his team's chances of glory do not rest with the player's IQ levels.
"Barring one or two, the players don't have much between the ears. I suppose that football players aren't normally the brightest, are they?”
Not necessarily. According to research undertaken in Sweden recently, the idea that footballers are, well, a bit thick is a myth.
Researchers at the Karolinska Institute, in Stockholm, analysed the cognitive performance of footballers and found that high-scoring players tended to have the most brain power.
Overall, footballers were in the top two per cent of the population.
"We do have a bright player in the squad,” conceded Mr Groves.
“Stephen Capper is a university lecturer and a foot doctor but, generally speaking, if this cup final went down to brains - we'd have no chance. Luckily for us it doesn't. We've quite probably got the thickest team in England."
To prove the point he organised a Mastermind-style general knowledge quiz and seven players - Robert Dean, Craig Ruddy, Chris Lawther, Kallum Griffiths, Anthony Peacock, Michael Rae and Joe Walton - bravely took up the challenge.
When asked which country borders Wales, winger Craig Ruddy and defender Kallum Griffiths answered Ireland, while midfielder Anthony Peacock reckoned it was France.
On the tricky question of who is the Prime Minister, Michael Walton reckoned Tony Blair was still in charge while Chris Lawther and Kallum Griffiths thought Gordon Brown was the PM.
Mr Groves also recounted other tales of his players dimwittedness.
Goalkeeper David Knight once became so nervous that he forgot his own name.
Defender Griffiths asked passengers on a flight to Malaga where they were getting off and striker Michael Rae suffered third degree burns after forgetting to use sun tan lotion.
Finally, winger Craig Ruddy had to be stopped from calling his dad while abroad. He wanted him to put a bet on a match he had just seen on TV - thinking as he was an hour ahead of British time, no-one would know the result in the UK.
Perhaps those Swedish researchers weren’t so bright after all.
- Tickets for Spennymoor's FA Carlsberg Vase Final v Tunbridge Wells cost £15 adults and £5 Under-16s and are available from www.TheFA.com/tickets or 0844-980-0656.
- Return coach travel is priced £20 each and is available from the Wembley Club Shop next to Spennymoor Town Hall (open 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 1pm on Saturdays) or from spennymoortownfc.co.uk.