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

(Photographs omitted)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
All in a day's work: the players in the forthcoming 'Posh People: Inside Tatler'
TVGrace Dent thinks we should learn to 'hug a Hooray Henry', because poshness is an accident of birth
News
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.
peopleFormer Newsnight presenter is being touted for a brand new role
News
The two-year-old said she cut off her fringe because it was getting in her eyes
news
Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
film
Sport
football
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Modern Apprenticeship Assessor

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of Scotland's leading train...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Sales Director - SaaS (SME/Channel) - £140,000 OTE

£90000 - £140000 per annum + benefits: h2 Recruit Ltd: Are you a high achievin...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Telesales Executive - Cloud Software/SaaS - £37,000 OTE

£25000 - £37000 per annum + benefits: h2 Recruit Ltd: Are you seeking to furth...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Sales Manager - Welding, Power Tools and PPE - £45,000 OTE

£25000 - £45000 per annum + car + benefit: h2 Recruit Ltd: A fantastic and uni...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game