Chelsea's crucial transfer trio

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Q. The transfer deadline for footballers passed last Thursday week. Why is this date chosen and why is it well before the end of the season?

A. Two weeks before the end of season 1909-1910 Chelsea were struggling against relegation and spent more than £3,000 on three players, Marshall McEwan, English McConnell and Bob Whittingham, in an attempt to avoid the drop. To put this into perspective, this was only four years after the first ever £1,000 transfer, of Alf Common. As a result of Chelsea's action, the Football Association introduced Rule 59, which sets a transfer deadline of the fourth Thursday in March, which still stands today.

Incidentally, Chelsea were relegated anyway. - Steve Tombs, London SE19

Q. A frequent feature of matches at Recreation Park, Alloa, is for the ball to leave the ground either on to the Clackmannan Road or on to the disused railway line. Does this happen at other grounds? Which ground holds the record in this respect?

A. As a Bradford City supporter, we often watch the ball going over the Midland Road Stand (which is the smallest side-stand in the Football League, with a capacity of 800 standing) on an average six to eight times in a game, depending on the style of play of the opposing defenders. If the ball gets a good bounce on the road behind, it inevitably ends up on the railway line further down the hillside. - John Murray, Bradford

Q. Was Ellery Hanley the first black person to captain a British national sporting team, in the France v Great Britain rugby league international in 1985?

A. Further to last week's replies: in the final match of the 1972 rugby league World Cup against Australia, Clive Sullivan, the first black person to captain a British national sporting team, scored a vital try shortly before half-time. After gathering a loose ball a few yards from his own line and sidestepping his opposite number, he sprinted down the wing, evaded the covering defenders and calmly touched down in the corner. The 90-yard score fully reflected Sullivan's trademarks of skill, grace, power and speed. - John Rigg, Glasgow

Q. During the 1993-94 season, Dundee fielded 11 players born outside the United Kingdom. Has any other football club had more foreign-born players within its squad at one time?

A. Wales could field a cosmopolitan XI if Mike Smith wished. The following are all eligible: Moussadich (Mor), of Wycombe Wanderers; Nielson (Ger), Newcastle United; Van Den Hauwe (Bel), Millwall; V Jones (Eng), Wimbledon; Young (Sing), Crystal Palace; Potts (US), West Ham; Robinson (Zim), Charlton; Goss (Cyp), Norwich; Stein (SA), Chelsea; Griffith (Guyana), Cardiff; Phillips (Ger), Nottingham Forest.

Only Moussadich, Potts and Stein have never represented Wales. - Adrian Pritchard, Lichfield

Q. What is "On your marks, set, go!" in other languages?

A. In Slovenian this is: Na mesta pozor zdaj and in Croatian: Na mjesta pozor sad. - S Lodge, Halifax


Q. Since the inception of Flat and National Hunt racing, has any jockey had reasonable success at both sports? - Kevin Maguire, Batley

Q. Australian Rules football has gentlemen standing by the goal-line who semaphore in staccato fashion when a goal is scored. They are dressed in spotless white coats, and smart white trilbies. Why the incongruous garb? - Bernard M Brown, Reading

Q. I have been playing hockey since 1950 and I cannot recall any season which did not embrace one or more new rules. Have there been, in fact, any seasons when there were no rule changes? Is there any other sport where the rules have changed so often? For the record there is, I believe, an experiment just being commenced whereby the "feet" rule is not being applied and there is an adjustment to the shooting area. - Alan J Mole, Esher

Q. My late father told me about a football team called Thames which competed one season in the Football League Third Division South in the late Twenties or early Thirties. He said a contemporary football publication gave their ground capacity as 200,000. Was this a printing error or did Thames play in some vast natural arena? If so, where?- Michael Smith, Oldham

Q. Andy Cole cost Manchester United £7m, yet he may not play for the club in the FA Cup as he is "cup-tied", having played for Newcastle in previous rounds. What, if any, is the logic behind the "cup-tied" rule, and how did it originate? - Jonathan Ryan, Enniskerry, Co Wicklow

Q. The British athletics team costume bears the words "View From". What does this signify? - Richard Holdrup, Godalming

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