Q & A: Rules book thrown at England

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Q. Has Australian Rules football ever been played at international level?

A. In the early part of this century (I think in 1908) a representative team from England went to Melbourne for a series of matches. Their opponents in the first match were Australia, although most of the team were from the state of Victoria. Following this match England were entertained by a series of teams from the Victoria Football League. Although I cannot recall seeing the scores, I have it on good authority that England were trounced by each of their opponents. Following this humiliation the English team returned home and never returned to Australia. - T J Grey, Earlsdon

Q. What is the highest number of horses ever to run in a race?

A. A record 66 horses took part in the 1929 Grand National, which took place on 22 March. As far as the Flat is concerned, 58 horses ran in the Lincolnshire Handicap, Lincoln, on 13 March 1948. - Tim Mickleburgh, Grimsby

Q. Several times this season Manchester United have fielded a team with internationals from seven countries - England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Denmark, France and Ukraine. What is the highest number of countries represented by full internationals in any one league side?

A. For the final league game of the 1989-90 season at Coventry, Liverpool fielded a team consisting of nine full internationals from eight countries. The side was Grobbelaar (Zimbabwe), Hysen (Sweden), Rush (Wales), Barnes (England), Gillespie (Scotland), Molby (Denmark), Staunton (Republic of Ireland), Rosenthal (Israel), McMahon (England) and also Venison and Ablett. - J Saul, London W7

Q. When did the last amateur footballer in Great Britain or Ireland play for his country?

A. Cliftonville, the Northern Irish League side, were an all-amateur outfit from their formation until sometime in the 1960s or 1970s. Two of their players represented Northern Ireland in the 1950s. First, there was Dr Kevin McGarry, who played three times in 1951 against Wales, France and Scotland. He was followed in 1955 by J W (Ernie) McCleary, who earned his only 'cap' against Wales. - Patrick J McGrath, Belfast

Q. Which Football League or FA Premiership clubs have instituted changes in their first-choice kit and colours since their foundation?

A. Re Andrew Okey's reference to Scunthorpe United's changes in strips. It is true that in 1982 they changed their kit from an all-red strip to a claret and blue kit. However, this was a revival of the colours they first wore when they entered the League and during their heyday of the late 1950s and early 1960s. It was hoped that such a move might improve the fortunes of a club that had been resident in football's 'basement' for a decade. It seemed to work, as they won promotion that year. The kit has maintained the claret and blue colours, in various guises, ever since, until this season when the shirts have become predominantly white although the claret and blue still persists in places.

You may be interested in the official reason behind the move to the white shirts. In 1988 Scunthorpe United moved to a new ground - Glanford Park. There is a lot of claret and blue colouring in the structure and particularly in the seats. As Scunthorpe do not draw large crowds for an average fixture, the players were complaining that they were having difficulty picking out their colleagues against that background. Hence the shirts (rather than the seats) were changed. Expect a home defeat the first time it snows. - D Moore, Coventry


Q. Last year Port Vale were the only club in the Endsleigh League or FA Premiership to go through the whole season without having a League penalty awarded to them. Despite this, the club gained promotion to the First Division. Has any other club ever achieved such success in a season without 'official' assistance? What is the record for the number of league games without receiving a penalty award - Vale's now stands at 57? - Jean Jackson, Stoke on Trent

Q. What is the highest score by the third victim of a hat-trick, other than Salim Malik's 237 for Pakistan against Australia? - Mrs R Burton, Upminster

Q. Please help settle an argument. My husband insists that Albert Camus played in goal for Algeria. Although I agree that there are several references to football in his writings, I can find no verification that he actually played the game for his country. - Yvonne McIver, London NW2

Q. In his report on the Manchester Velodrome (9 October) Richard Williams referred to Reg Harris as being 'a hero . . . in the minds of Eagle-reading schoolboys of the 1950s'. But surely he was already a hero in the minds of an earlier generation of schoolboys (readers of Rover, Adventure and Skipper to name a few) while still in his late teens and early twenties - and was prominent in publicity for Hercules cycles? When did he ride to his first victory? - W M Wilks, Runcorn

Q. Why is the ball and chain thrown by athletes called a hammer? Is the equivalent word used in other languages? - Paul Webbewood, London SE12

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