Q & A: Isolated cases of sibling rivalry

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Q. Have any international sporting brothers or sisters opposed each other as a result of opting to play for different countries?

A. During the 1991 rugby union World Cup, the Bachop brothers, Steve and Graeme, were in the squads for Western Samoa and New Zealand. - S Farrell, Bolton

A. At university level, John Varey played for Oxford against his twin brother David in the Varsity cricket match in 1982. John took his brother's wicket in the first innings. - Robin Masefield, Limpsfield, Surrey

Q. Would Lester Piggott be considered as the greatest sportsman of all time? He has now been at the top of his profession for five decades at international level.

A. I would not decry the undoubted ability of a jockey such as Lester Piggott, but it is easier for a sportsman like him to remain at the top for a long period, as so much of his success depends on the horses he rides rather than his own talents. Forty-six years, however, is a long time. I can find three others who have topped the 40- year mark. First is the cricketer W G Grace, who played for 43 years at the top level (1865-1908). If significant minor matches are included, his career could be said to have extended from 1857 to 1913, an amazing 56 years.

Jean Borotra, the French tennis player who made his 35th Wimbledon appearance in 1964, 42 years after his first went on to take part in veterans' events, most recently in 1977. That would give him a 55-year career.

Finally, the archer Alice Blanche Leigh won 23 national titles over a 41-year time-span. - Tim Mickleburgh, Grimsby

Q. Which League football team has had the most promotions/demotions: in the past 10 years; in the past 20 years; since the Second World War?

A. In 1977 Wimbledon were elected to the League, gaining promotion to the Third Division two years later. They were twice relegated to the Fourth Division but regained their place as champions in 1983. They were promoted to the Second Division in 1984 and to the First in 1986, thus completing a total of eight changes in 10 years. - David Willoughby, Oxford

Q. This season, a full team of ex-Bournemouth players could be selected from the staff of Premiership clubs. Has any lower-division club ever been able to make such a claim?

A. All but one of the following former Bristol Rovers players began his League playing career with the club. They would have a rather distinctive 5-2-3 formation: Phil Kite (Sheff Utd); Nicky Tanner (Liverpool), Keith Curle (Manchester City), John Scales (Wimbledon), Gary Mabbutt (Tottenham Hotspur), Steve Yates (QPR); Geraint Williams (Ipswich Town), Ian Holloway (QPR); Devon White (QPR), Gary Penrice (QPR), Steve White (Swindon Town). The substitutes' bench could comprise four players who made loan appearances for Rovers: Dennis Bailey (QPR), Nicky Hammond (Swindon Town), Jon Hallsworth (Oldham Athletic) and Martyn Margetson (Manchester City). - Claire Kendall and Neil Kendall, Emsworth, Hampshire

Q. Am I right in thinking that there was a one-armed German international footballer in the early Fifties? Or have I been reading too much of Roy of the Rovers?

A. I am not sure if there was a one-armed international footballer playing for Germany in the early Fifties, but Uruguay had a one-armed centre forward playing for them in the 1930 World Cup final.

He was named Castro and was usually the reserve centre-forward but with the great Pelegrin Anselmo injured in the semi-final, the one-armed striker was selected to face Argentina in the final.

With Uruguay trailing 2-1 at half-time, Castro produced a great performance in the second half, laying on two goals and scoring Uruguay's fourth to secure their victory. - Tony McAllister, Woking


Q. The last plastic pitch, at Deepdale, is finally to be removed. Of the current League clubs, I can only think of Barnet who have never played on plastic. Did any other club never play on one of the artificial surfaces, at Preston, QPR, Luton or Oldham? Excluding these four, which club had the best record on plastic? - T Tarquin Scott, Preston

Q. Is anything known about the First World War Sportsman's Battalion of the Fusiliers? Were the soldiers volunteers, and what made them eligible? How long did the institution survive? - Charles Clunas, Aberdeen

Q. Of the 1994 first-class umpires, I understand that six are from Leicestershire and seven from Somerset. How do these counties manage such a high proportion of the total (50 per cent)? - Tim Mickleburgh, Grimsby

Q. Which was the first Football League team to segregate away supporters at its ground and when? Is this form of sporting 'apartheid' practised elsewhere in Europe and the rest of the world? - Adrian Brodkin, London N2

Q. How and when did the practice of 'shielding the ball' out of play develop in football? What do the laws of the game say about this practice and what would happen if a player (or players) attempted to 'shield the ball' in open play? - Chris Moses, Leeds

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