Class of 46 fall short

Q&A
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The Independent Online
Q. For the first time in 22 years, none of the so-called big five - Liverpool, Everton, Arsenal, Tottenham, Manchester United - was in last season's FA Cup final. However, when was the last time none of them was able to progress even to the fifth round?

A. We have to go back to the first post-war competition in 1945-46 to find the last time all five clubs failed to clear the first two hurdles. It is perhaps significant that the tournament was played on a more level field than usual as many of the big-name players of the late 1930s had passed their prime and much of the younger talent was spread more widely than usual.

Another curious feature of the 1996-97 competition was that, aside from the so-called big five, the other five teams (Blackburn Rovers, Newcastle United, Aston Villa, West Bromwich Albion and Wolverhampton Wanderers) to have won the FA Cup five times or more all fell by the wayside before the fifth round. In the year of the peasants' revolt who would have bet against the first-ever finalist who had to qualify for the last 64? - Mitchell Sandler, London N17

A. The last time that none of the five, Liverpool, Everton, Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United, reached the fifth round was in the 1945- 46 season. The time before that was 1891-92. Indeed, since 1945-46, on just three occasions have all of them failed to reach the sixth round - 1954-55, 1958-59 and 1959-60. - Kevin Parrott, Sutton, Surrey

ANSWERS PLEASE

Q. Why are some football transfer fees "undisclosed"? Are there any advantages for the clubs and player alike? - John Honney, Chorlton, Manchester

If you know the answers to any of these questions or have a sporting question of your own, write to Q&A, Sports Desk, Independent on Sunday, 1 Canada Square, London E14 5DL. Fax: 0171-293 2894

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