Q & A: Illingworth's overnight best . . . and Chelsea's pounds 1.1m goals

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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 the Netherlands? What is the most ridiculous team name in the world?

A. The way we got our ridiculous name is quite simple. We were founded in 1961 as part of the 61 Club, a youth club run by Christ Church in the centre of Luton. We would like to thank Simon Hughes of London W3 for his kind remarks last week. We continue to try to live up to that image but it has been made more difficult in recent weeks because of an arson attack that gutted a large section of the clubhouse. Thankfully our players, members, local clubs and businesses have responded in a most positive way and things are almost back to normal. - Richard Everitt, The 61 FC, Luton

A. How about the Luxembourg club Red Boys Differ? Perhaps it would serve as a good name for the Labour Party's team. - Jason Nisse, London N5

Q. In a Barclays League game on 28 February this year, Tranmere Rovers fielded a side with a combined total of 2,620 games for the club. Has any other team come close to this combined loyalty in one match?

A. On 31 August 1963 Sheffield United fielded a side who had made a total of 2,685 appearances for the club at the start of the game. The line-up was: Hodgkinson (272), Coldwell (366), G Shaw (379), Richardson (217), J Shaw (541), Summers (236), Allchurch (88), Kettleborough (71), Pace (221), Hodgson (151), Simpson (143). There were no substitutes in those days so this total is between just 11 players, giving an average of 244 per man. The 11 went on to make a total of 3,492 appearances for the Blades. The first six players named played more than 170 games together and this was the final game involving all six. They made a total of 2,607 appearances for United (an average of 434). - Andrew Kirkham, Knaresborough, North Yorkshire

Q. In cricket, what is the highest score by a nightwatchman? What is the highest partnership between two nightwatchmen, and are there any examples of three nightwatchmen being used in an innings?

A. Whoever holds this record, it is not Derek Underwood as suggested on 21 November. The three first- class hundreds scored by Worcestershire's Richard Illingworth include two as nightwatchman. The higher, 120 not out v Warwickshire in 1987, surpasses Underwood's. Australia used three nightwatchmen v England at Melbourne in 1936-37, O'Reilly, Fleetwood-Smith and Ward. All failed, but the tactic worked because the next day Bradman - coming in at No 8] - made 270 and Australia won by 365 runs. Perhaps a reader can provide the record score by a nightwatchman in a Test. I cannot, from a quick glance, find anything to surpass Jack Russell's 94 on his England debut v Sri Lanka in 1988. - Edward Liddle, Wolverhampton

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. When it comes to legendary footballer/cricketers, few can match Everton's two double internationals of the early 1900s, Jack Sharp and Harry Makepeace. Both played over 300 games for Everton, including the FA Cup victory of 1906.

Sharp, who is described in the club's official history as 'the ideal wingman', won two England caps and represented the Football League on a further occasion. He also played for Lancashire at cricket from 1899 to 1925, captaining them for a time and scoring over 22,000 runs. He played for his country three times against the Australians in 1909, scoring a century in the Test held at The Oval.

Makepeace was a left-half of equal distinction and made three appearances for England in 1906, 1910 and 1912. As an opening batsman, again with Lancashire, he played in four Tests, all abroad, and scored 117 in Melbourne on the 1920-21 tour of Australia. - Brian Jones, Widnes, Cheshire

Q. Does anyone remember the motoring event Autopoint which used to appear annually on television?

A. I remember the programme on Grandstand and the recollections of Steve Clarke are all correct, the event taking place between the Army and the London Motor Club on Army land at Bagshot, Surrey. The commentary was invariably by Raymond Baxter and the rules of the event seemed to be to travel as quickly as possible over the rough terrain between two given points. The route was not specified, so the Army vehicles usually took the shortest way, via steep gradients and deep water, while the faster but less versatile civilian vehicles took a longer but easier route. The tests were all very well thought out, and close finishes were the order of the day. Does the London Motor Club still exist, and does the event still take place? - Colin Ward, Yateley, Hampshire

Q. There are more than 60 world boxing champions. When was the last time there were only eight?

A. Eight is far too small a number. There are now 17 different weights. Even in 1962, when the World Boxing Association was founded, there were 10 weight divisions. Why so many? Because the sanctioning bodies obtain revenues as a percentage of the gross purses involved. In 1958 there were 10 world championship fights, in 1991 the number had risen to 124, which means very big business. - Brian Shearing, Reading, Berkshire

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

A. An even worse value transfer than Maurice Johnston (21 November) is another Scot, namely Robert Fleck at Chelsea. He cost pounds 2.2m when they bought him from Norwich, has made 36 League appearances and has scored two goals. This comes out at pounds 61,111 per game, and is the equivalent of pounds 1.1m per goal. - J Aillory, Wandsworth, London

ANSWERS PLEASE

Q. With League football matches now being played on all days of the week, there being two kick-off times on Sunday, and with the FA Premiership, and various European and domestic cup competitions, is it possible to watch all the 92 League clubs play at home in a single season? - I M Davies Jones, Leicester

Q. The numbers on the players' vests in the American NBA are very diverse. Are they determined by NBA rules or are they purely the choice of the player? The number 23, for example, is now synonymous with the great Michael Jordan. Richard Hughes, Worthing

Q. In the late Sixties I seem to remember BBC Television running a competition to find a new football commentator. The winner, I believe, was a Welshman - the name Idwal Robling sticks in my mind, though I don't remember hearing him commentate more than once or twice. Can anybody tell me more about this bizarre episode in broadcasting history? - Hugh O'Neill, Cambridge

Q. At almost every international sporting contest, the teams from opposing sides always stand, either before or after the contest, to respect the national anthems of each competing nation. Is there any reason why this never seems to take place in Test matches involving cricket teams? - P Hanson, Rochdale, Lancashire

Q. Why are some racing odds quoted in larger figures than is mathematically necessary, for example 6-4 rather than 3-2, and 100-30 rather than 10-3? - Phil Tanner, Reading, Berkshire

Q. Other than psychological reasons, why do football teams tend to do better at home than away? And why do Norwich City seem to be doing the opposite this season? - Tim Mickleburgh, Grimsby, Lincolnshire

Q. Could some medical expert explain to me why footballers, and particularly managers, chew gum during games? Does it really help them concentrate or does it just give them wind? - Stephen F Kelly, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester

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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Fax: 071-956 1894

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