Q & A: Hull's hell . . . and the touching honesty of Steve Kember

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Q. Some time ago a radio reporter mentioned that Plymouth was the second largest city in England or Wales not to have had a First Division (now FA Premiership) team at any stage in its history. He did not say what what was the largest. My guess is Hull.

A. With reference to D H Donovan's query (Q & A, 13 February) regarding the largest city in England and Wales never to have housed a First Division/Premier League team, I can, alas, confirm that Hull must claim this ignominious record. Further shame is attracted by our record of having never reached a competitive cup final of any sort (we made the FA Cup semi-final in 1933), and of never having won a trophy of any sort, unless you count the Third Division North championship, in our 89-year existence. The usual explanation for a city of one-third of a million people being unable to emulate the exploits of such as Burnley, Ipswich and Norwich is that the town is blessed (or cursed) with three professional sides (Hull KR and Hull FC are the others), which has spread the potential support and made money scarce. However, I prefer to believe that Hull is an unassuming town, with a well-developed sense of irony (of the sort never found in brasher places such as Leeds or Liverpool) and that a genuinely successful club would be entirely out of keeping with the local character. - Andrew Okey, Lancaster

A. Hull is indeed the largest city never to have had a team in the top division and Plymouth is second, followed by Reading, Dudley and Walsall. Dudley is the largest city never to have had a League club. - James Medhurst, Cambridge

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

A. In reference to the letter (Q & A, 13 February) asserting that the Straha in Prague was the biggest all- seater stadium in the world, correct me if I am wrong, but is not the Indianapolis 500 Brickyard the biggest? I go to the race every year and am told that: 400,000 people attend (they all looked seated to me); it is the world's biggest sporting event; the final time-trials for pole position are the world's second-biggest sporting event. - R C J East, London SW15

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?

A. Following recent answers reporting Tottenham attracting their opponents' highest home crowds in 11 games in 1977-78 (Second Division) and Stoke's 12 away games in 1992-93 (Third Division), I tender Aston Villa's 12 away games in 1970-71, and their 15 away games in 1971-72. In the 1971-72 season, 350,000 people watched Villa's 23 away games. - Neil Staniland, Ilford

Q. In the FA Carling Premiership on 5 February, 32 goals were scored, an average of 4 per match. When was the last Saturday the Premier League (or the old First Division) had a goal average this high? Has any division had an average this high for a single Saturday afternoon?

A. An average of four goals per match on a Premier League or old First Division Saturday is not uncommon. It last occurred on the last Saturday of last season (8 May), with 47 goals in nine games: an average of 5.22. The last time 50 goals were scored in the old First Division was 25 September 1982. The results included Watford 8 Sunderland 0, Stoke 4 Luton 4 and Notts County 0 Ipswich 6. Arsenal still managed a 0-0 draw, though, at Old Trafford.

In each of the first four Football League seasons, until 1892, the average number of goals per game was over four. Since then the highest average has been 3.96 goals per game in the 1930-31 season. Fifty goals on a Saturday was common from 1925, when the offside law was changed, until the late 1930s. The late 1950s and early 1960s also saw many high- scoring weekends and Boxing Day 1963, when 66 goals were scored in 10 games, was particularly notable. The results included a 10-1 win for Fulham over Ipswich, West Ham going down 8-2 at home to Blackburn plus Blackpool 1 Chelsea 5, Burnley 6 Manchester United 1, Liverpool 6 Stoke 1, and WBA 4 Tottenham 4. Just two days later, when the return games were played, Ipswich (4-2), West Ham (3-1) and Manchester United (5-1) all gained their revenge. - Paul Merkens, Solihull

Q. In the recent Scotland v 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?

A. Some years ago, on a Lions tour of South Africa, Fergus Slattery of Ireland touched down for a try to win the last Test in the last minute and thus complete a full house of wins on the tour. Or so he thought. The referee was on the other side of the ruck, and judged the try as being 'unseen'. I think the result of the match was a draw. - Dr F W G Deighton, Glasgow

Q. Are there any examples of a professional footballer who has put the ball into the net asking the referee not to award the goal because he had handled the ball before scoring?

A. Andrew Ashbridge's recollections (Q & A 20 February) about Lou Macari are incorrect. In fact, while playing for the Scotland Under-23 side against Wales, Macari went up for a cross and realised he would not reach it with his head. He stuck out a hopeful fist and punched the ball into the net. He expected the referee to disallow the goal, but to the player's pleasure the unsighted official allowed the goal. This story is detailed in Shoot]'s booklet 'My Magic Moment in Football'. A more uplifting tale from the same booklet involves Steve Kember. Kember recalled this incident while playing for Crystal Palace: 'Terry Wharton hit a ball which rebounded off Jim Barron's chest and into the side netting, but the ref gave a goal. After a lot of argument, he asked me if it was a goal and I said that it wasn't' - Chris Axon, Frome

ANSWERS PLEASE

Q. When victorious ice-skaters are receiving their medals, is the rostrum they stand on made of ice as well? - Derek Porter, Abingdon

Q. In 1967, the cyclist Beryl Burton rode 2771 4 miles to break the national 12-hour time trial record, beating all the other competitors. Is there any other instance of a sportswoman beating male competitors on even terms, in a purely physical event? - Bernard M Brown, Reading

Q. Has the FA Cup Final ever been contested by two teams from outside the top division of the day? - Chris Muston, Liverpool

Q. I remember from the early 1970s a children's magazine called World of Wonder, which once mentioned a mysterious overseas athlete who ran a 1500 metres in 3min 9sec, and a 10,000m in less than 24 minutes, I think at Mexico City. However, he never made it to a major games. Was this story a complete hoax, or can anyone furnish me with further details? - Tim Mickleburgh, Grimsby

Q. When was the last time, if ever, that 15 different clubs were represented in a starting rugby XV in a Five Nations' Championship match? - Paul G Clark, Epsom

Q. Now that Francis Lee is finally chairman of Manchester City, can anyone tell me who the last person was to win the championship, FA Cup or any other major football honour as both a player and chairman? Also, have there been any other examples of chairmen, past or present, with as many honours and caps as Lee? - Paul Billingham, Manchester

Q. Who are the youngest, and the oldest, drivers to qualify for points since the FIA Formula One World Championship was instituted? - Michael Cahill, Naas, County Kildare

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

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London EC88 1HR

Fax: 071-956 1894

(Photographs omitted)

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