Q & A: Keegan passes German test . . . and the down side of black

Q. Which British footballer who was transferred abroad made the best (and worst) progress in the language of the country he has moved to? And which foreign imports have learnt English best? Any rivals for Jan Molby?

A. I would stake a claim for Kevin Keegan during his stint at SV Hamburg. He spoke immaculate German, although in a recent interview on German television he claimed to have forgotten a great deal of it. He even recorded a hit single while he was in Germany, and is still universally admired by all Hamburg football fans - even those who support St Pauli (SV's local rivals). I bet the friendly between England and Germany scheduled for April would not have been cancelled if Keegan had flown over for a colloquial chat with the resident nasty mob. On the other end of the 'Richtiges Deutsch' scale is Murdo Macleod, previously of Borussia Dortmund, whose pre-match analysis of the friendly between Scotland and Germany last year seemed restricted to the statement: 'Schottland gut. Deutschland sehr gute Fussballer.' - Ned Boulting, Hamburg.

Has the psychological influence of the colours of clubs' playing strips ever been empirically researched? Does 'aggressive' red (Liverpool, Milan, the Wigan rugby league team) usually engender success? Has a colour-change ever dramatically altered a club's fortunes?

A. In the US, the psychologists Frank and Gilovich (1988) found teams wearing black were penalised more than teams wearing other colours in both the National Football League and National Hockey League. My own (UK) research has revealed basketball teams in black are penalised more, and football teams in white are penalised less than teams with other colour kits.

Explanations for these findings include the influence of shirt colour on the referee's interpretation, an alteration of players' behaviour according to the colour they wear, or more probably deliberate use of colour to convey an image, ie the LA Raiders' traditional use of a black uniforms with skull and cross-bones and an aggressive style of play. - Andy Morley, Department of Psychology, University of Plymouth

Q. In cricket, tennis and football, left-handers and left-footers have always done well at the top level. But in the past 30 years, Bob Charles is the only top-class left-handed golfer I can recall.

A. The two neighbouring villages of Newtonmore and Kingussie in the Highlands both produce a high proportion of left-handed golfers. They hold a regular championship for left-handers and Bob Charles was the guest of honour invited to perform the opening ceremony when Newtonmore Golf Club's new clubhouse was opened in the mid-1980s.

The local theory to explain the phenomenon is that the main sport in the area is shinty, and all local boys play it from primary school onwards. In the game a player can swing his caman from either side, so there is no particular tendency for right-handers and left-handers to adopt different techniques. This is believed to strengthen the left-handed golf swing. - Hugh Hoffman, Kingskettle, Fife

Q. In the heat and excitement of the action, how do rugby league players manage to keep count of the sixth-tackle rule? Does the referee signal it in any way?

A. It is not unknown for players, whose minds are obviously concentrated on the game and who are often in a stadium with 15,000 or more spectators, to either fail to hear the referee's tackle count or fail to notice his raised arm signal and, as a result, get caught in possession. It is more surprising that referees do not more regularly lose track of the tackle count, as they have so many other things to keep in mind. All rugby league spectators will be familiar with the occasional shouts from the terraces when disgruntled spectators believe the referee has allowed more than the correct number of tackles to one side. - J Brownlow, Bolton

Q. Which is the biggest all-seater stadium in the world?

A. It is in Europe that the biggest stadiums can be found. (Some African nations may disagree but their capacities are based largely on estimated figures.) The Stadium of Light, home of Lisbon's footballing giants Benfica, completed a third tier of seating in 1985. This raised the all-seated capacity to 120,000,. However, not to be outdone, their neighbours Sporting Lisbon are to remove their athletics track, lower the playing surface and add more seating towards the pitch to create a new capacity also of 120,000.

Other large European venues include the towering Nou Camp, Barcelona, which has a nominal number of standing places in a total capacity of 115,000 and the seated bowls in Moscow, Kiev and Warsaw, which can all accommodate 100,000 spectators. The 103,000-capacity Rose Bowl, in Pasadena, is the biggest that the Americans can boast of. We have Wembley Stadium with 81,500 seats.

The world's largest football ground can still be found in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro. The Maracana Stadium, built for the 1950 World Cup, had an original capacity of 203,000. This has since been reduced to a mere 150,000] It is thought to have more than 110,000 seats. - Paul Sandiford, Burnley

Q. Has any football club ever had such a huge travelling support that they have attracted the largest crowds on every opponent's ground through an entire season? I suspect Manchester United will be deprived of this record this year thanks to Blackburn knocking down their main stand before United's visit.

A. I must dispute the claim that Spurs provided their opponents with their best home crowds in 20 of their 21 away games in 1977-78. Bolton Wanderers were the visitors on the occasion of the best attendances at Blackburn, Cardiff, Blackpool, Notts County and Oldham (as well as at Tottenham). In addition, Spurs also failed to attract the largest League gates at Hull, Bolton, Mansfield, Burnley and Brighton] This leaves us only 11 games in which Spurs attracted the largest crowds, an impressive feat maybe, but surely this has been bettered? - Philip S Howe, Bolton

ANSWERS PLEASE

Q. How many games did Liverpool lose when Ian Rush scored, during his first spell at Anfield? Has he continued to bring Liverpool luck despite their recent run of bad form? Have any other players had similar reputations for match-

winning? - Simon Dunsby, Christcurch, Dorset

Q. Could you could help me establish some information on two cyclists, Messrs J Adams and F Osmond, of whom I have recently purchased prints? - Duncan Holley, Twickenham

Q. Hibernian have gone 20 games without victory against their Edinburgh rivals, Hearts, and have won only one of the last 42. Is there a greater record in local derbies? - D Hayes, York

Q. In the recent Scotland versus Wales rugby union international, Scotland appeared to score a perfectly legal but disallowed drop goal. Although, on this occasion, this did not affect the outcome of the match, has any perfectly legal but disallowed score in a top-level match affected the final result of the match? - Gavin Pritchard, Fareham, Hampshire

Q. Are there any recorded examples of a professional footballer who has just put the ball into the net asking the referee not to award the goal because he had handled the ball before scoring? I seem to remember reading that Corinthian soccer team players did not attempt to score from penalty kicks awarded to them. - John O'Machin, Leeds

Q. What are the typical attendance figures at the top English rugby union club fixtures in the Courage League, and how do the figures for Leicester, Bristol and Northampton, for example, compare with the local Football League clubs? - PT Evans, Craven Arms, Shropshire

If you know the answers to any of these questions, or have a sporting question of your own you would like answered, write to:

Q&A

Sports Desk

Independent on Sunday

40 City Road

London EC1Y 2DB

Fax: 071-956 1894

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