Q & A: Polysyllabic performers . . . . . and an amateur ode to Joy

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In 1936 the final batch of 25 Class B17 locomotives entered service on the London & North Eastern Railway. Nicknamed 'The Footballers', each carried the name of a leading British club at the time. On a recent visit to Carrow Road I noticed the old nameplate of 'Norwich City' above the players' tunnel. Are any other clubs in possession of their own pieces of railwayana?

Twenty-five locomotives of the London and North Eastern Railways' B17 class were named after football clubs in towns and cities which that railway served. Each locomotive carried two nameplates, each with a brass football underneath with the club's colours painted each side of the ball. British Railways presented one nameplate to most of the clubs when the locomotives were scrapped between 1958 and 1960.

Only 12 clubs still have their nameplates, Tottenham Hotspur being the only club with both plates. The full list is Arsenal, Darlington, Everton, Grimsby, Huddersfield, Leeds, Norwich, Nottingham Forest, Sheffield United, Sheffield Wednesday, Spurs and West Ham.

Over the years several clubs have sold their nameplates to private collectors, including Barnsley, Liverpool and, in the last year, Doncaster Rovers and Hull City. - Mike Sodon, Banbury.

Norwich City is the only club, to the best of my knowledge, to display their nameplate on public view. Not quite all the 25 engines were named after football clubs, and 'Norwich City' was, I am told, originally called 'Rendlesham Hall', in line with many others built earlier which were named after stately homes. This proved an unfortunate choice, however, when it was realised that Rendlesham Hall was being used as a home for the wealthy but dissolute black sheep of aristocratic families, where they could dry out in comfortable surroundings away from the public gaze. Fortunately for the railway, Norwich City had not then had a locomotive named after them, and so a change was made to avoid embarrassment.

The only club to be commemorated which has since gone out of business is Bradford Park Avenue. Does anyone know what happened to the nameplate from that engine when the club folded? - David Agar, Redruth, Cornwall.

Djamolidine Abdujaparov, the Uzbekistani cyclist, has nine syllables in his name. Can any leading sportsman or woman boast more?

India's former Test captain and off- spinner, Srinavasaraghavan Venkataraghavan, now a Test umpire, easily surpasses Abdujaparov with 13. - Lio Barst, London SE22.

May I suggest Edson Arantes do Nascimento? This raises a new question: are there top athletes with nicknames shorter than Pele? - Line Baribeau, Cambridge University.

Has the Formula One world championship ever been won posthumously?

In 1970 the Austrian driver Jochen Rindt led the series as it moved to the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, following victories in Monte Carlo, the Netherlands, France, Britain and Germany. On 5 September during practice at Monza, while approaching the Parabolica curve, a front brake shaft broke and he was killed as his Lotus 72 turned sharp left under the guard rail.

Rindt had scored 45 points and three races remained. To overhaul him, Jacky Ickx in the Ferrari needed to win all of them. He won in Canada and Mexico, but Rindt's replacement, Emerson Fittipaldi, won the American Grand Prix at Watkins Glen to secure the Austrian the sport's only posthumous title. - David Tremayne, Harrow.

What is the highest position achieved by a football team who scored fewer goals than they conceded?

Norwich City finished third in the Premier League this season with a goal difference of minus four (61-65). - Vaughan P Skirrey, Pontypridd.

Why are Celtic the only team in the English and Scottish leagues without a sponsor's name on their shirts?

Wimbledon played their first season in the Premier League sponsorless, as did Luton for the greater part of their final season in the top flight, before being rescued by a salvage company. - D R Neyland, Benfleet, Essex.

Charlton are also without a sponsor's name on their shirts. - Duncan Stuart, Peterborough.

Fulham's football, uncluttered by such trivialities as sponsor's names, has taken the team to the dizzy heights of the middle of the Second Division. But then, after listening to Jimmy Hill's television punditry, would you buy anything advertised on his teams' shirts? - Paul Meacham, Leicester.

In football, what is the smallest number of points that has separated champions or promoted teams from relegated teams?

In 1927-28, Everton were champions with 53 points while Middlesbrough were relegated with 37. Ten seasons later Arsenal won the title with 52 points, 16 more than West Brom and Manchester City. Andrew Grealey, Rochdale.

Which football team holds the record for the fewest wins in a season? And has any team matched Cowdenbeath's achievement of failing to win at home all season?

Rochdale won only two matches in 1973-74. The fewest in Scotland was none by Vale of Leven in 1891-92 in 18 matches. Forfar Athletic won only once in 38 matches in the Second Division in 1974-75. - Kevin Preston, Romford.

In the First Division of the Football League, no club has failed to win a home game, although in 1967 Blackpool won only once at home (that was 6-0).

In Italy's Serie A, Varese failed to win a home game when they were relegated in 1972, drawing six and losing nine of their 15 home games. - David P Toole, Liverpool L14.

If doing the pools is a game of skill, has any forecaster made a living from the winnings?

Allan Davies (23 May) claims that research has shown that 'so-called experts' had worse results than could have been obtained by an old lady's pin. Forecasts published in many newspapers and periodicals do, in fact, offer a better alternative to pins, birthdays and lucky numbers. This can be seen in the Sporting Life's Xperts Table, which records their draw-finding success. Tables for the last 10 seasons show that on average 18 of the 26 forecasters analysed achieved results better than random. - G R Whitten, Abergavenny.

Have any cricketers played for England despite never playing county cricket? And have any footballers played for England despite never playing in the League?

England started playing official football internationals in 1872. Even after the first Football League season in 1888-89, dozens of amateurs were capped despite never playing for a League club.

The last to play for the full England side was Bernard Joy, later an Evening Standard columnist, who won his only cap in 1936, the only time England have lost to Belgium.

Joy was with Arsenal, as well as being on the books of Corinthians and Casuals. The last man to play for England while exclusively with a club from outside the League was Edgar Kail of Dulwich Hamlet, who won three caps on the 1929 close-season tour; his last match, in Madrid, was the first England lost to a foreign country. Kail signed amateur forms with Chelsea in March 1930, but never played in the Football League. - Cris Freddi, Lndon W12.

Every football team seems to have local rivals their fans love to hate. Do rivalries vary in intensity across the country? And are most rivalries mutual? Newport used to have Cardiff as their main rivals, while Cardiff fans considered Swansea their most loathed opposition. Are there cases where a team has supplanted another as a third team's main rival?

Due to Devon's remoteness from league teams, the absence of Plymouth, Exeter or Torquay playing in the same division results in a local derby being as far afield as, perhaps, Hereford.

Furthermore, Torquay's continuing struggle to maintain league status tends to attract sympathy from the followers of Plymouth and Exeter who, despite being further away from each other than from Torquay, regard each other as arch-rivals. - Andy Weeks, Exeter.


Why do county cricketers, having all fielded in club caps, wear an inexplicable variety of coloured helmets whilst batting? Is it to help us identify each batsman? - Gavin Willacy, Old Trafford, Manchester M16.

Has a Japanese driver ever won or had a first-three placing in a grand prix? - M Hattersley, Wakefield.

Have two boxers ever simultaneously knocked each other out? In such an event, would the result be a draw or would it go to points? - Spike Denton, London SW9.

In the Rugby League in the 1930s there were three teams which have since disappeared: Broughton Rangers, Wigan Highfield and St Helens Recreation. How long were they in the Rugby League, and what happened to them? - J Bottomley, Manchester M24.

In the football season just ended, who were the oldest and youngest players appearing regularly in the Premier League and Divisions One to Three? And who are the oldest and youngest players to have played in the old First Division? - Tom and Chris Aldred (aged 12 and 9), Havant, Hants.

Why do the Lions rugby team play in red shirts (and not, say, blue, white or green)? - Graham Davey, Brighton.

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