Q & A: Make-up time in gridiron . . . as the champions lose face

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Racing journalists offer two tips, a 'nap' and 'next best'. What is the origin of the word 'nap'?

Shortened form of 'Napoleon', from the card game. The call of 'Nap' means taking all five tricks, a willingness to risk all on a single call but at the same time implying a strong hand and a marked likelihood of success. Thus the tipster proposes to 'go nap' on a particular horse.

The card game is allegedly so named in honour not of Bonaparte, but of Napoleon III. The call of nap having been made, it can be overcalled by 'Wellington', if another player also proposes to win all five tricks. This term doesn't seem to have devolved into horse

racing, the cry of 'Give it some welly' being based on an entirely different concept. - Ramin Minovi, Birmingham B13.

As a Leeds United fan I hate to tempt fate, but has a championship-winning side ever been relegated the subsequent season?

Yes. Manchester City won the championship in 1937, finishing as the top scorers in the division. In their relegation season they actually scored more goals than they conceded (80-77) and became only the second club ever to be relegated from the First Division with a positive goal difference. (Small Heath - later Birmingham - were the other club, in 1902.)

In 1979 Milan won the Italian championship but were relegated at the end of the following season, although this was because of match-fixing rather than by finishing in a relegation place. - David Toole, Liverpool L14.

Aficionados of German football might recall that the Bundesliga champions of 1968, FC Nuremburg, were relegated the following season when they finished one off the bottom. It took them nine years to regain First Division status. - David Wangerin, Perton, Staffs.

Ipswich Town came close. With Alf Ramsey as manager, they were promoted as Second Division champions in 1960-61, along with Sheffield United; Spurs did the double that season. In 1961-62, in their first season in the top flight, Ipswich won the championship, ahead of Burnley and Spurs, who retained the FA Cup; Sheffield United finished fifth.

The following season, 1962-63, Ipswich finished 17th out of 22, and only four points above Manchester City, who were relegated with Leyton Orient. At the end of that season, Ramsey was given the England job, and Jackie Milburn took over at Ipswich. They were relegated after his first season in charge, 1963-64, having finished bottom of the First, and spent the next four seasons in the Second Division, before again being promoted as champions. - Dr Richard A'Brook, Carnoustie, Angus.

As well as Manchester City, there have also been two near misses. In 1898-99 Sheffield United finished 16th (third from bottom) having been champions the previous season. Aston Villa were champions in both 1898-99 and 1899-1900 and finished 15th (fourth from bottom) the following season.

Of the 92 champions since 1888-89, 18 have finished as champions again the following season and 18 have finished second. Only 17 have finished below halfway. The last club to do this was Everton, who finished 14th in 1970-71.

If Leeds United wish to finish in a position never before occupied by the ex-champions they can aim for 10th place. Should they wish to set their sights lower they could try finishing 19th, 20th or, if they really want to make history, 22nd] - Andrew Kirkham, Knaresborough.

What a short memory Alan M H Bush has] The last time the defending champions went down was just over a decade ago. The runaway champions of 1980-81 lost their last game in the next campaign and finished third-from-bottom of the First Divison. For reasons which have never been satisfactorily explained, their manager retained both his job and his excellent squad, which made an immediate return to the top flight, breaking all manner of records on the way to the Second Division title.

The club was Melchester Rovers; the manager Roy Race. - Martin R Smith, Bristol BS7.

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

After his momentous act, William Webb Ellis concluded his career at Rugby School by being awarded an Exhibition in Classics at Brasenose College, Oxford.

On receiving his MA in 1831 he elected to pursue a career in the Church of England, subsequently becoming Curate of Gravesend, St George's Church, Albemarle Street, London, and St Clement Dane's in the Strand, before becoming Rector of Magdalen Laver, a parish in rural Essex, where he remained until his death in southern France, at the age of 64, in January 1872.

He was the author of five theological publications, comprising essays and sermons, but I am not aware of him having had anything to do with the development of the game of rugby after he left school, although he did represent Oxford against Cambridge at cricket in 1827. Any additional information (such as the precise location of his grave in Menton, where I spent some fruitless hours wandering a few years back) would be gratefully received. - Brian Carpenter, Exeter.

What was the first televised sporting event?

A reader recently suggested that the Berlin Olympics was the first televised sporting event (Q&A, 15 November). In fact the Derby run on 3 June 1931 was covered by Baird from Epsom under the direction of the Irish-born J D Percy, who is believed to have died about 1981. The Derby on 1 June 1932 was also covered and transmitted on a 30-line definition to an audience at the Metropole Theatre, Victoria, London. - Norris McWhirter, Chippenham.

What is the highest number of own goals scored by a player in a football League game?

In the Thirties, Herbert Roberts, the Arsenal centre-half, scored three own goals for Derby County at Highbury. The result was 3-3, so Arsenal players scored all six goals but only drew. - A R Johnson, London W9.

Which is the most remote football club in the Premier or Football League?

According to the 1992 volume Ian St John's Book of Soccer Lists, compiled in conjunction with Geoff Tibballs, Carlisle United are the most isolated club in the English League, being 58 miles from their nearest rivals, Newcastle United. Indeed, Carlisle's ground is nearer Queen of the South in Dumfries than any club in the English League.

Next comes Hereford United, who are situated 43 miles from Bristol City, while Norwich City are the most remote Premier League side, being 42 miles from Ipswich Town. - M Jones, Rushden, Northants.

It depends on what you mean by remote. Carlisle United are the most isolated (see above), but based on average distance between any club and each of the other 91 League grounds, then Plymouth Argyle are the most remote. - Michael Crick, Chipping Norton.

Why do American Footballers wear mascara under their eyes?

I wouldn't - not in a drinking venue, anyway - ask a 17-stone NFL linebacker why he wears 'mascara'. Let's call it greasepaint. It's used on bright days to absorb light, hence to reduce upward glare reflected into the eyes from pale skin on the curve of the cheekbone. - Jack Bolton, Winfarthing, Norfolk.

Has there ever been an occasion in cricket where a hat-trick has been performed with the first three balls of a match?

In the first-class game I have no knowledge of such a feat. However, my father, Mr Graham McIlroy, achieved this when playing for Hyndland School Former Pupils' Club against Barr and Stroud at the Renfrew Ground, Glasgow, on 6 September 1947.

Such was the remarkable effort in bowling the first three batsmen of the match that the ball was afterwards inlaid with a plaque to commemorate this achievement. - James McIlroy, London SW15.

Why is a hat-trick so called?

It's well known that the term originated in cricket and refers to the bowler's taking of three wickets in successive balls, thence by extension to consecutive triples in many other fields. George Macdonald Fraser (Flashman's Lady, set in 1843) claims a fictional first for his utter cad, Flashman. When he takes his third wicket (by cheating) the victim, Alfred Mynn, presents Flashman with his straw boater as he leaves the field, with the words, 'That trick's worth a new hat any day, youngster.'

More seriously, Eric Partridge (Historical Slang), giving 1882 as the probable date of origin, says the feat entitled its professional performer to a collection, or to a new hat from his club. Amateur players, being gentlemen, could, presumably, afford their own hats. - Ramin Minovi, Birmingham B13.


Which is easier to see, a red cricket ball in daylight, or a white one at night? - Hugh Jaques, Melton Mowbray.

Why is it that in snooker a player continues playing when he has clearly won a frame but there is no possibility of his making a century break? - P K Lawrance, London NW11.

Do the members of the Association of Football Statisticians, an organisation that frequently crops up in 'Q&A', actually like football? Or is it just the game's statistics that they are interested in? - Ben Miller, Hemel Hempstead.

Why are the different classifications in motor racing described by the word 'Formula'? - Benjamin Phillips, London N3.

What happens to the old cricket balls used in Test matches? In view of the tampering controversy, are they retained as evidence? - R Winfield, Diss.

It's often said that the closer your county plays to Lord's the better the chance you have of being selected for the England cricket team. But do the statistics bear this out? - Colin Brewer, Lowestoft.

Is there a sport invented in England (or Britain) of which we are still world champions? - Anne Pooley, Lincoln.

What is the origin of 'I Zingari', a name often used for both teams and leagues, especially in football and cricket? - Mark Collins, Rye.