Q & A: Feast of Christmas crackers

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Q. Why did Italy not get to keep the World Cup trophy after they won it for the third time in 1982 since Brazil kept the previous trophy after their third win in 1970?

A. A cup is awarded to the first country to win a specific trophy three times. Thus, Brazil, who won the World Cup in 1958, 1962 and 1970, kept the original cup, called the Jules Rimet trophy. The present cup will not be awarded outright until a country has won it three times. Since its introduction in 1974, Italy have only won the World Cup once - in 1982 - having won the original trophy twice, in 1934 and 1938. The new trophy has been won twice by West Germany and Argentina, so should either of these two be victorious in this year's World Cup final in Pasadena, California, in July, they will keep the trophy and a new one will be required for the 1998 finals, which will be held in France. - James Medhurst, Cambridge

Q. Which sports event has had the most sponsors?

A. Over the past 10 years, the Formula One British Grand Prix, held at Brands Hatch and Silverstone, has had a suitably chequered, for want of a better word, history. It has had no less than four different sponsors: John Player Special (cigarettes); Shell (oil); Marlboro (cigarettes) and Fosters (lager). - Adrian Brodkin, London N2

Why don't women play ice hockey?

A. They do - and the all-important Women's Ice-Hockey Varsity Match was hosted by Oxford last weekend. - A Cambridge player

Q. Why, when the attendances at football and rugby league matches are routinely reported, are the figures for cricket and rugby union games almost never quoted?

A. I am afraid that Steven Deller (Q & A, 6 March) is far from the truth when he says that 'even when the Tigers' games clash with Leicester City's football matches the rugby team often attract larger crowds'. Last season, the Tigers averaged 7,500 in the Courage league; City drew a far higher 15,300 in the First Division. There are important differences between the Tigers and City which on paper should turn the affections of the Leicester public firmly towards the oval ball - but don't. For a start, the admission prices at Welford Road are considerably cheaper than those at Filbert Street. The rugby team play fewer games too. And the Tigers' squad is full of international players whereas some City players are not even household names in their own households. Crucially, the Tigers are successful and City are not. Despite all that the Tigers' attendances would not be out of place in the lower divisions of the Football League. - Jeremy Clay, Leicester

Q. I seem to remember in the 1970s, when teams played the same opposition twice over the holiday period, that Manchester City won 6-0 on the Saturday and lost by the same score on the Monday. Are there any other similar examples?

A. Until the 1960s, the Football League's fixture list set up games between two clubs, home and away, on Christmas Day and Boxing Day and there would often be high-scoring games. Tranmere Rovers were involved in several. The most noteworthy were in 1935 when they met Oldham Athletic who won 4-1 on Christmas Day at Boundary Park. On Boxing Day, at Prenton Park, Rovers won 13-4. I doubt if there has been a higher combined score than those 22 goals, three more than Rovers' Christmas 1931 double over Rochdale, 9-1 at home and 6-3 away. In 1938, Rovers had their most disastrous season and the Christmas holiday games, when they met Manchester City, did nothing to cheer them up. In the home fixture they lost 9-3 and the next day at Maine Road went down 5-2. - Barry Borrowby, Wirrall

A. On Boxing Day 1963 Manchester United lost 6-1 at Burnley. Two days later at Old Trafford, George Best was brought in to the side for only his second game and scored as United put five goals past Burnley and conceded only one in return. - Michael Crick, Chipping Norton

A. I remember watching Oldham play Southport on Boxing Day in, I think, 1961. The Oldham pitch was snow-covered and the Southport players found it extremely difficult to stand up, let alone play football effectively. Oldham led 7-0 at half-time and scored another four in the second half, all by Bert Lister, a very enthusiastic, chase-anything centre-forward. They also had one disallowed - the best of the game - by the brilliant Bobby Johnstone, presumably on the ground that any further score would be cruel. Having won 11-0, Oldham went to Southport the day after and lost 2-1. - Neil Howarth, Redruth

A. During the 1960-61 season, Plymouth Argyle played at The Valley, home of Charlton Athletic, on Boxing Day and the Valiants won 6-4. The following day, back at Home Park the scoreline was reversed. That second match still holds some significance in Argyle's history, as Wilf Carter scored five goals in a match, the only time this has happened. - Gordon Sparks, Plymouth Sound Radio, Plymouth


Q. Why does the football team which finishes bottom of the Scottish Second Division not have to apply for re-election each year? - Roger Stead, Leicester

Q. How accurate are the pools panel in predicting the results of postponed matches? - Jim Land, Todmorden

Q. I have only been able to find biographies on six Irish rugby union internationals - Solomons, Doyle, McBride, Robbie, Ward and Spring. Does anyone know of any more? - Alwyn Hughes, Gwynedd

Q. Norwich's Butterworth, Culverhouse, Ullathorne and Woodthorpe, provide a 42-letter back four. Is there a longer one? - N P Lovejoy, Buckinghamshire

Q. Why do the horses (mares excepted) in the Champion Hurdle and the Gold Cup run at level weights, have to lug 12 stone, the top weight that may be allocated in a handicap? - Nicholas Clee, London N5

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