Fever pitch for the Ibrox four

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Q. Duncan Ferguson, the Everton footballer, has received a three- month jail sentence for assault. The offence took place on the field (when Ferguson played for Rangers) against an opposing player. Has any other Football League or Scottish League player ever been charged by the police for an offence on the field of play? If so, how many?

A. In October 1987 at Ibrox during a Rangers-Celtic league match several players were charged as a result of their misconduct. Frank McAvennie (the Celtic centre-forward) squared up to Chris Woods, the Rangers goalkeeper. The slap and shove escalated to a full-blown handbags at dawn, when Graham Roberts and Terry Butcher, both of Rangers, intervened and McAvennie was punched by one of them, as yet unidentified. McAvennie and Woods were both sent packing and Graham Roberts took over in goal (before the days of goalkeeper subs). The police charged all four, with McAvennie found not guilty, Roberts not proven, Butcher guilty and Woods guilty. Incidentally, Butcher was also sent off later in the game for at least his second bookable offence. The game ended in a 2-2 draw with Rangers' nine men equalising in the last minute, much to the relief of Strathclyde police. - Liz Bond, Glasgow

Q. Which football team is supported by the highest percentage of its city's or town's population?

A. Reference to a survey carried out earlier this year for the excellent football magazine Four Four Two will show that Blackburn Rovers are supported by a higher percentage of its population than any other Premier League side. It is unlikely that a higher percentage will be found in the lower divisions. - W E Metcalfe, Blackburn

A. May I nominate the rugby league club Featherstone Rovers, who have had an average attendance of 4,000 plus, in these hard times, out of a population of around 14,000. - Kevin Maguire, Batley

Q. At Kent's Canterbury ground a tree stands within the boundary. What is the history of this strange phenomenon, and does any other first class cricket ground have anything to match this?

A. Kent County Cricket Club moved to the present St Lawrence ground at Canterbury in 1847, it getting its name from being formerly owned by the neighbouring St Lawrence Hospital.

As for the tree, a lime, it was almost certainly growing in those days, and estimates of its antiquity are hard to work out with any certainty. In the Twenties, a Colonel A C Watson of Sussex, hit a six right over its uppermost branches.

According to George Plumptree's Homes of Cricket (Queen Anne Press, 1988), it is something no other county ground can boast of. - Tim Mickleburgh, Grimsby

Q. In the County Championship, which ground is the nearest to the sea? Does this benefit the batters or the bowlers?

A. Just ask the Sussex team. They play most of their fixtures at Hove, with an annual visit to Eastbourne. Moreover, their away fixtures this year take them to Swansea, Portsmouth, Lytham, Hartlepool and Scarborough. To complete the watery theme they play Somerset at Bath. - David Seymour, London SE4


Q. Expectations are high as Monica Seles prepares to return to professional tennis more than two years after being stabbed. But does she have a realistic chance of returning to the top flight? Is there any precedent of a sportsman or woman making a successful, long-term comeback after such a lengthy absence? - Jon Kennaugh, Wallasey

Q. There seem to be many left-handed tennis players at the top level, but very few left-handed golfers. Why? - Paul Halstead, Wakefield

Q. Alec Stewart wears a sky blue cap when fielding for England. The rest of the team wear white floppy hats or royal blue caps. Is Stewart's cap a lucky charm? Similarly, when Wigan RLFC last changed their kit design, it included socks with a red and black band; yet Shaun Edwards has continued to wear the previous kit's all-white socks. Another lucky charm? I often hear of football managers wearing their lucky suit, shirt or tie during Cup runs, but I wonder what other quirky kit variations exist amongst players? - Paul Kingdon, Sheffield.

Q Which municipal golf course issues the most tickets for golf rounds in the UK? Could it be the Pype Hayes in Birmingham? Or Richmond Park in London, which I think has two courses? The price of a round seems to be making a difference in the big cities, as council costs are cut to the bone. - R C Barrett, Birmingham

Q. In a grand slam tennis match, has there ever been a score of 6-0 0-6 6-0 0-6 6-0? If not, what has been the most extreme swings of fortune? - Richard Dale, London N3

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