Q & A: Hail our model yachtsmen . . . and the inventor of Jokari

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In which sport are the players most heavily padded?

As a sometime participant (1926-38), I suggest that the padding required for fencing with spring bayonets probably outclassed all others, consisting as it did of an extremely heavy mask (or head- dress) together with a padded jacket, two padded gloves and a well-padded triangular sporran, all of which, as I can vouch from personal experience, were vitally necessary to ward off the weapon - a dummy rifle with spring-loaded rod at the front - the weight of a rifle with a fixed bayonet. - R E W Johnson, Marlborough.

Sumo. - W K Evans, Newcastle upon Tyne.

In the days when the England cricket team travelled by boat on overseas trips, what practice facilities, if any, did they arrange on board?

In the 1950s the England team were able to keep their eye on the ball by playing Jokari - the popular game consisting of a tethered length of elastic, a rubber ball and two wooden bats. A photograph was published of team members playing the game on deck. How do I know? My father supplied the sets to the team. - Alan Jackson, Leeds.

Is there a sport invented in England (or Britain) of which we are still world champions?

Model yacht racing, which like most sports can hardly be said to have been 'invented', evolved into its present form over the years since the first formation of model yacht clubs which occurred in Britain in the early 1850s. Scotland was the first country to group its clubs into a National Association in 1908, closely followed by England and Wales. In the 1920s an international body to control the sport was formed and this body was accepted in 1990 as a Division of the IYRU (International Yacht Racing Union) in its own right.

Britain has the present World Marblehead champion in Graham Bantock, who won the title over a hard week's racing in New York last autumn. A Briton had previously won this biennial event in 1978 and 1984. The World Marblehead Championship is the most coveted international model yachting prize, the boats of this class being at the leading edge of yachting development. The British also won the team prize in New York, and had we been allowed to enter two teams the 'B' team would have come second, which shows the strength in depth of the country in this sport. - Ian Taylor, MYA Information Officer, London N12.

Which is the remotest club in the Premier or Football League?

First of all, is this column subject to a clandestine campaign by Plymouth Argyle fans everywhere to raise the club's profile by submitting appropriate questions?

I define remoteness to be the actual distance from other clubs rather than time and assumed road travel. I selected five clubs from the edges of the League and took mileage figures from a reputable road atlas. The results show that with an average journey of 255 miles to away games, Plymouth are clearly the remotest club. That leaves the question: which club is most accessible to other clubs? I know one thing - the answer is not Plymouth Argyle]

Here is a table of distances in miles to away games this season of five selected clubs (within own divisions, within all divisions, and average):

own div all div ave

Norwich 3,280 15,824 174

Newcastle 5,183 18,765 206

Plymouth 5,865 23,201 255

Swansea 4,583 17,512 192

Carlisle 4,154 18,908 208

Neil Manley, London SE13.

What happened to William Webb Ellis, who evolved the rugby code back in 1823? Did he go on to play the game?

The suggestion in Dr Langan's letter (Q & A, 3 Jan) that rugby football sprang from a traditional game, which involved handling the ball and which was codified by Rugby School, is not borne out by the school's archivist, Dr Jennifer Macrory, in her scholarly book Running With The Ball. She states quite clearly that 'whatever form (the) local game may have taken it certainly did not result in the direct translation of the carrying game to the playing fields of the school, where the game played at the turn of the century distinctly forbade running with the ball'.

As to Webb Ellis's contribution to rugby football's evolution, Dr Macrory considers this point at 2pm this afternoon on a World Service programme on the history of the game. - Paddy Feeny, Cuckfield, Sussex.

The account of Webb Ellis breaking the then existing rules of football was put forward by the antiquarian and Old Rugbeian Matthew Holbeche Bloxam in December 1880, eight years after the death of Ellis. The views expressed by Bloxam were not based on personal observation but on hearsay evidence recalled more than 50 years after the 'event'.

We know that different forms of football were being played in a number of public schools at the beginning of the 19th century. At the end of the 1830s students at the universities of Cambridge and Oxford realised the need for a form of football common to all.

An Old Rugbeian, Albert Pell, and an Old Salopian started football at Cambridge in 1839. Old Boys from Shrewsbury, Rugby, Eton and Harrow at the university attempted in 1846 and 1848 to decide on a set of laws agreeable to all the schools.

The football played at Oxford in the 1850s was a mixture of Eton and Winchester rules. A meeting convened in Wadham College in 1862 led to the formation of a non-handling game.

The Football Association was formed at a meeting held at the Freemasons' Arms in Covent Garden, London, on 26 October 1863 where 11 clubs were represented. The rules regarding running with the ball following a fair catch, and hacking an opponent, led to differences of opinion.

Subsequent meetings over the next six weeks failed to resolve this issue and the representative of the largely Rugbeian Blackheath club, Francis Maule Campbell, found it 'expedient to withdraw his club's support for the association and form an independent set of laws for themselves'. It is significant to note that this was the moment when the two codes of football, Association and Rugby, went their different ways. - John M. Jenkins, Bow Street, Dyfed.

If in a game of football a player commits a foul and the referee plays advantage, can he subsequently caution or send off the offending player?

If a player commits an offence under Law 12 (fouls and misconduct) which, in the opinion of the referee, warrants a caution or dismissal, he may, once play has eventually stopped, take the appropriate action. - S Francis, King's Lynn.

Has any professional footballer ever held a PhD or other higher degree (not including those awarded on an honorary basis)?

Niels Bohr, a Dane, was one of the 20th century's greatest physicists who brought together the two mainstreams of physics; the German school of theoretical physics (Einstein and Planck) and the English school of experimental physics (exemplified by Thomson and Rutherford). He played football for Denmark. His brother was a noted mathematician who also played international football.

Niels Bohr did the majority of his major work at Manchester University. There is no record of either United or City scouts (then as now) scouring the Theoretical Physics Research Labs for promising talent] - Phil Barton,


Footballers who earned higher degrees include Alan Gowling (Manchester United, Huddersfield and others), who took his studies of the sociology of football to at least Masters level in the 1970s. In the mid-1980s Cambridge United had a player called Gareth Daniels who was studying for a philosophy doctorate. - Frank Leigh, London E17.


I know nothing about horse racing, so perhaps it's not surprising that bookies' odds seem curious. They give 11-2, 9-2, 7-2, 5-2, then 6-4. What happened to 3-2? And haven't I seen 100-30 somewhere? - Frank Haywood, Warminster.

Have the protestations of a professional footballer, having been shown the red card and ordered to leave the field, ever led a referee to reverse his initial decision? - Gerard Strange,


I once read that whenever Grimsby Town FC played at home, they would present the opposing side with a crate of fresh fish - win, lose or draw. Is this still the case? - P J Mason, Bracknell.

Why is the name of that famous football team from Glasgow pronounced 'Sell-tic' and not 'Kell-tic' (as in the race of Welsh, Irish and Scots)? - Billy John, London SW11.

Has an umpire ever considered a batsman to be plumb leg before, but no one appealed? Could the batsman be given out without an appeal? - Geoff Hayman, Lytham St Annes.

Why do rugby players complicate matters by taking a curving run-up? In the old days one made a straight approach - much more logical, surely? - S B Coombe, Castel, Guernsey.

The winner of an athletics race is still said to have 'broken the tape'. But when was a piece of tape last used in an international meeting? - Cyril Breed, London SW19.

Which goal has been shown most often on British network television? - Paul Arnold, Canterbury.

How did the ball used in American golf come to be bigger than the one in British golf? - Jeremy Hale, Ebbw Vale.

Without being too technical, what are the advantages of catamarans over single-hulled yachts? - Jeff Black, London N5.

(Photograph omitted)