Q & A: Aikido's pleasures . . . and who are the Mysterious Dwarves?

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Q. I recently purchased two old prints of jockeys in a bric-a-brac shop. The jockeys' names are T Loates and Mornington Cannon. Does any reader have any information on them?

A. Thomas Loates rode two Derby winners, the Duke of Portland's Donovan in 1889 and the Triple Crown-winning Isinglass in 1893.

Mornington Cannon's only winning ride in the Derby was another Triple Crown winner - the Duke of Westminster's Flying Fox in 1899, the last of seven Derby winners trained at Kingsclere by the legendary John Porter. Both Loates on Isinglass and Cannon on Flying Fox are the subjects of paintings by Emil Adam - I believe both are owned by the Jockey Club.

Another anecdote concerning Cannon that I came across involves the 1904 Grand National. That year saw the final appearance in the race of Manifesto, who in seven previous attempts had fallen once, finished fourth once, third three times and had twice run out the winner. On the morning of the race Mornington Cannon was so impressed by Manifesto's appearance that he persuaded the trainer to allow him to ride the gelding in his final gallop. Unfortunately Cannon didn't bring Manifesto any luck - ridden by Ernie Figgott he was last of only eight finishers. But he was carrying 12st 1lb and was 16 years old] - Barry McCarthy, London SW11.

Q. Southampton have just lost more than pounds 500,000 on the transfer of Kerry Dixon - around pounds 25,000 per game for Saints. Which has been the worst-value transfer?

A. Millwall's acquisition of Paul Goddard must be a contender. He was bought in 1989 from Derby for pounds 800,000, a club record. He was released on a free transfer to Ipswich in 1991, having played 21 games in League and Cup, scoring two goals: almost pounds 40,000 a game or pounds 400,000 a goal. During his spell there Millwall were also relegated from the old First Division. - Ian Page, London SE14.

Q. Which of the martial arts would be most appropriate for a child to learn for self defence? And how young could they start?

A. The oriental martial arts are rightly well regarded as being suitable for children, relying as they do on technique and agility over weight and power. The discipline they require is probably a plus point.

I have tried both judo and aikido and would heartily recommend the latter. With judo, I always felt that I would be completely at a loss if attacked by someone wearing anything other than a judo suit (most of the elementary techniques seem to involve grasping the lapels and/or cuffs of your assailant's clothing, which is awkward if the school bully habitually wears a T-shirt). Aikido techniques work whatever your assailant is wearing because you grasp the limbs and joints of your opponent. Even the basic techniques you learn in the first few weeks seem genuinely useful, which instils confidence (itself an important factor in not getting picked on) so that you don't have to wait until you become a black belt before you start to feel safer. Finally, as a 6ft 1in man weighing nearly 14 stone, who has been comprehensively thrown about by a very small lady instructor who was probably less than half my weight, I can vouch for the fact that size and weight are no advantage at all. - C Wooding, Gravesend.

Q. Does anyone have any information about the downfall of the Castle Irwell racecourse in Manchester?

A. The Manchester Racecourse at Castle Irwell in Salford was sold to a property development company in 1963. The final meeting was the November Handicap, 7-9 November 1963, during which Scobie Breasley narrowly pipped Lester Piggott for the Jockeys' Championship.

The property company's plans to build houses were opposed by Salford Council, which favoured using the site for playing fields and halls of residence for the local College of Technology. Following a public inquiry in 1965, the Minister of Housing, Dick Crossman, decided in favour of the Council.

The Council sold the 120-acre site for pounds 300,000 in 1967 to the college, which had in fact become Salford University. The Council then changed its mind and tried to insist on the site being used for local housing. It took another public inquiry before, in 1971, the university was given the go-ahead for its plans, leading to the construction of Castle Irwell Student Village on the southernmost part of the course.

The racecourse was the subject of a book by Caroline Ramsden, Farewell Manchester (1966), this and much more information on the course being available in the Local Studies Unit of Manchester Central Library. - Richard Bond, Local Studies Officer, Department of Libraries and Theatres, Manchester M2.

Q. As a lifelong West Ham fan, I remember Jim Standen, who played in goal in the mid-Sixties and also played first-class cricket for Worcestershire. I assume the Compton brothers are the most famous double performers. Who else can readers add to this list, and has there ever been a treble performer?

A. Mick Lambert, an outside-left with Ipswich Town in the 1970s, has the distinction of appearing in a Cup final at Wembley as a substitute (for Ipswich v Arsenal in 1973) and as 12th man at Lord's in a Test match. He was on the Lord's ground staff at about the same time and stood in on the field of play for a short time. He played for Cambridgeshire in Minor Counties cricket.

Trevor Bailey and Doug Insole have both achieved notable doubles, never to be repeated. In addition to their cricket prowess (both were double Blues at Cambridge for cricket and football, both were vice-

captains on MCC overseas tours - Bailey to West Indies in 1953-54, Insole to South Africa 1956-57) but uniquely both won FA Amateur Cup winners' medals, Bailey with Walthamstow Avenue (in 1952 I believe) and Insole in 1956 (I believe) a runner's-up with either Pegasus or Corinthian-Casuals. - L H Mills, Pulborough, West Sussex.

Q. How did other countries get such ridiculous names for their football teams as Young Boys and Grasshoppers in Switzerland and Go Ahead Eagles in Holland? What is the most ridiculous team name in the world?

A. My current favourite discovery is General Accident Reserves, who play, I think, in the Lucozade York and District League. - Dick Coon, Malton, N Yorks.

A. I have some strong contenders from Europe: from Germany, Kickers Offenbach; from Malta, the team of old Greek soldiers, Hamrun Spartans; and the team which has set Belgium alight with their explosive football, Boom. Others must have been named after people involved with the club: Boby Brno from the Czech Republic, and Norma Tallinn from Estonia. Does anyone know which countries Lierso, Ipal and Tongeren come from? - Mike Cussen (aged 13), Wimborne, Dorset.

A. What about The 61 FC, who play in Luton in the Campri South Midlands League? It is a lovely little club where spectators are always made welcome. - Simon Hughes, London W3.

A. Liberia's Invincible Eleven, South Africa's Dangerous Darkies and Ghana's Mysterious Dwarves take some beating. - Wayne (surname illegible), London NW10.

A. Bolivian football boasts not only The Strongest, 21 times league champions, but also Always Ready, champions in 1951 and 1957, not to mention Blooming, the 1984 champions, and Nimbles Rail (1931 champions) and Nimbles Sport (1927).

One game I look forward to is a possible World Club Championship between Young Boys of Berne and the Argentine side Newell's Old Boys. Incidentally, there was at one time another Swiss team called Young Fellows-Zurich - presumably Young Boys' bitter rivals. - Adrian Brodkin, London N2.


Q. There is much concern as to the present state of English football due to our failure to qualify for the World Cup. Are the same concerns being shown in France? - Simon Godfrey, London N19.

Q. There have been many pairs of brothers playing professional football in the same season, and I am sure there have been uncle-nephew combinations. But I have never heard of a father and son playing in the same season. Has this ever occurred? - James Albiges, Leeds LS8.

Q. Matthew Cooper, the All Black kicker, said recently that rugby balls in Britain are fatter than down under, where they are more cigar- shaped. Why is this so? - Kate Slater, Guiseley, Leeds.

Q. What is the average age of the FA International Committee? Is there any other international sports committee with a higher average age? - Michael Taubman, Great Yarmouth.

Q. Which football player has transferred back to the same club the most times? I believe it is the legendary Ernie Moss, of Chesterfield fame. - Rob Willett, Brixton, London.

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

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(Photographs omitted)