Experiment kicked into touch

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Q. Last season, the Diadora League and, I believe, the Second Division of the Belgian League experimented with throw-in rules. Players were allowed to kick the ball into play as opposed to taking a conventional throw. What were the principal effects? Did more goals come? Was the game speeded up? And were players given offside under the new regulations? Is the experiment to be continued?

A. The game did not appear to be materially speeded-up. Depending on the teams competing it was sometimes more exciting, but more often it was boring. In the games I saw, I do not remember many goals being directly attributable to the new rule. St Albans City ignored the rule and continued to throw-in. They challenged for top spot throughout most of the season. Finally, as it was still officially a "throw-in", players could not be given offside. - Stephen Murphy, Finchley

A. More goals were scored in all four divisions of the Diadora League than in the previous season. Curiously, the increase became greater the lower the division - 6 per cent for the Premier, 8 per cent for the First, 10 per cent for the Second and 11 per cent for the Third. These increases were only to be expected with, in effect, twice as many corners and free- kicks as before.

Defenders as a rule never quite came to terms with the change and continued to make wasted efforts to concede throw-ins (kick-ins) in preference to corners. Nevertheless, some teams such as Boreham Wood had obviously worked out from day one how best to exploit the new system by having mule-like kickers never too far from either touch-line to bomb their opponents' goal mouth and a couple of six foot seven inch strikers to convert such missiles. Some people may have thought it was like watching Wimbledon every week.

A player could not be given offside direct from a kick in. The experiment will not continue during the coming season. - John Stagg, Bentley, Farnham

Q. Why does tennis have such a strange scoring system - 0,15,30,40, game? Are the first two points more important than the last?

A. Many lawn tennis terms originate in the much older game of real or Royal tennis. The game is played on courts, not pitches, and the first stroke or serve is so called because, it is thought, a servant threw the ball for his master to put into play. As French was the language of nobility, so "deuce" comes from "a deux", and a score of nil or zero is "love", which is a corruption of "l'oeuf" - the egg-shaped zero. As for the scores 15, 30, 40, these are probably based on the face of the clock, which could double up as a score-board - the hands could be pointed at 15, 30 and 45 minutes (45 shortened to 40 for brevity). - P Evans, Ipswich

Q. Why do men run the 110m hurdles but women the 100m hurdles?

A. The reason why women race the 100m hurdles rather than the 110m hurdles is rooted in the slow progress of women athletes in gaining equality. Indeed, at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, they still only ran an 80m hurdles, it being won by Maureen Caird with a time of 10.3sec.1972 saw the introduction of the 100m hurdles to the female programme at Munich, in replacement of the shorter event. Since then we've seen women compete at the 400m hurdles (Britain's Judy Vernon was an early world record holder) and other distance events including the marathon and 10,000m. Only the decathlon is "out of bounds" - women have a heptathlon instead. However, women athletes continue to use lighter implements for the throwing events, and jump over lower barriers. - T Mickleburgh, Grimsby


Q. As a tennis player used to definitive results and 3 or 5 set matches, I find the logic of six-match Test series and the likelihood of overall draws difficult to fathom. Can anybody explain? - P Evans, Ipswich

Q. Can anyone tell me why in athletics races are run at 100, 200, 400, 800 and then 1500 metres. Why not 1600 metres? Not only is 1600 metres much closer to its old imperial equivalent of 1 mile (1609m approximately) but it could be run as four complete laps of a 400 metre track instead of three and three quarters as in 1500 metres. - T C Miller, Wigan

Q. On last week's Match of the Seventies Leeds and Tottenham players were wearing black armbands in a 1970-71 league match at Elland Road. Who was this in memory of? - T Eves, York

Q. Has the guy who waves the chequered flag ever been hit by a racing car?

- J McAllister, Glasgow

Q. As a former resident of Atherstone in Warwickshire, I'm proud of the fact that their golf club provided 2 players in the recent Open - Paul Broadhurst and Steve Webster - who used to live not far from where I did. This made me wonder whether any other individual club has ever had more players in a single major tournament? - T Mickleburgh, Grimsby

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