Football's cold turkey

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The Independent Online
Q. When did the pools panel first sit in adjudicating postponed football matches? What are the qualifications to sit on the panel?

A. The pools panel first sat in 1963 during the "Big Freeze" of January and February that year. More than 400 league and cup games were called off during a six-week period of snow, ice and freezing cold. With three weeks' football coupons void and the fourth certain to be void, the pools companies combined to organise a panel of experts to forecast the results of the postponed league programme of 26 January.

The panel consisted of the former players Tom Finney, Ted Drake, Tommy Lawton and George Young, together with the referee Arthur Ellis. They forecast 23 home wins, eight away wins and a convenient seven draws.

With space to fill, several local newspapers were inspired to write full reports of the imaginary games, including details of goalscorers, etc. One story in circulation at the time - no doubt apocryphal - was that one player, upon hearing of his side's away "win", applied to his manager for a win bonus, only to be told that he had been dropped for that game. - Adrian Brodkin, London N2

Q. Who were the last football team to win the Premier League or the old First Division Championship whose first strip was stripes?

A. The last "striped" team to win the league was Sunderland; but it was all of 60 years ago in the 1935-36 season. This is not a good omen for Newcastle supporters of a nervous disposition.

It is interesting to note that before Sunderland's success, the 1920s were a successful period for stripes. Huddersfield had their hat-trick in 1923-24, 1924-25 and 1925-26, Newcastle won in 1926-27 and Sheffield Wednesday had a double in 1928-29 and 1929-30. Statistically, relatively few teams wear stripes, so the apparent lack of success in the last 60 years may not be as bad as it looks. No doubt a Sheffield Wednesday supporter can comment on whether the Owls were any more successful in the period when they did not wear stripes. - Peter Fleming, Dunstable

Q. Sheffield FC, formed in 1855, are the oldest football club, while Notts County (1862) are the oldest Football League club, but which is the world's second oldest team?

A. There is no doubt as to the club in question - my club's Winstonlead Kent League rivals, Cray Wanderers. They can trace their history back to 1860. - Mike Floate, Programme Editor, Crockenhill FC.


Q. If Newcastle remain on top of the Premiership without being overtaken at any stage, they will have led from the first game to the last. Has this occurred before in Football League? - Martyn Giscombe-Smith, London NW6

Q. In boxing, referees are usually former top-level boxers, and the same situation applies to cricket umpires. What is the situation in other main sports? - Kevin Maguire, Batley

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

Fax: 0171-293 2894