Q & A: Sharp practice aids Liverpool

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Q. Has any team ever abandoned a game on the pretext of crowd trouble, like the FA did for Germany v England in Berlin?

A. Graeme Sharp's original testimonial match was to have been on Sunday 15 December 1991, between his then club, Everton, and Celtic. However, the match was cancelled in the light of advice from Merseyside police and the Football Association. With Liverpool back in Europe for the first season since the Heysel disaster, it was thought that any trouble would reflect badly on the city. - P J McGrath, Belfast

Q. Why, when attendances at football and rugby league matches are reported, are the figures for cricket and rugby union games almost never quoted?

A. I gather that the traditional Easter Monday clash between the Barbarians and Swansea attracted a record low crowd, with just 2,483 turning up for this supposed rugby union showpiece. The same day saw seven out of the eight rugby league First Division matches pull crowds above this figure, as did two fixtures in the Second Division. The highest crowd was at Wigan (19,225), followed by Leeds (11,650). - Tim Mickleburgh, Grimsby

Q. Of the clubs making up the four senior leagues in England, only two have names that are not derived from their city/town/county, whereas in Scotland half of the clubs in the Premier League alone have names that are not based on geography. Why?

A. I must correct J Horton (Q & A, 17 April). Everton is in fact an inner city district of Liverpool, although the club actually play in Walton. Their original ground, Anfield, is on the borders of the Everton area, however. Hence their name. - R Watson, Roehampton

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 before?

A. Here is an ex-Watford team that could win the Championship: Coton (Manchester City), Bardsley (QPR), Jones (Wimbledon), Jobson (Oldham), Sherwood (Blackburn), Richardson (Aston Villa), Hodges (Sheffield United), Holden (Oldham), Holdsworth (Wimbledon), Penrice (Queen's Park Rangers), Barnes (Liverpool). Substitutes James (Liverpool), Allen (Newcastle), Bailey (QPR). Manager M Walker (Everton). - Kevin M Walsh, Watford

A. I think you would be hard-pressed to field a stronger team than that composed of these Tottenham old boys (in 4-4-2 formation): Mimms (Blackburn), Culverhouse (Norwich), Gough (Rangers), Ruddock (Liverpool), Bowen (Norwich), Waddle (Sheffield Wednesday), Allen (Southampton), Fairclough (Leeds), Crook (Norwich), Stewart (Liverpool), Walsh (Manchester City). The manager would naturally be Glenn Hoddle (Chelsea) with expert coaching by Joe Kinnear (Wimbledon). Subs would include Polston (Norwich), Gray (Sunderland) and Durie (Rangers). To inject an international flavour we could fly in Lineker (Grampus Eight) and Gascoigne (Lazio). - Stafford Green, Sydenham

Q. What is the most number of times that two football league teams have played each other in the space of a season in the three main competitions, (League, FA Cup and League Cup)?

A. In the 1971-72 season I saw Manchester United play Stoke City seven times: twice in the League, three times in the League Cup, and twice in the FA Cup. More remarkably, we Manchester United supporters visited Stoke's ground five times that season. As well as the League fixture, two League Cup replays and an FA Cup replay, we had to travel to the Victoria Ground for a 'home' League match against West Bromwich Albion after Old Trafford was closed because of crowd trouble. - Michael Crick, Chipping Norton

Q. In football is the four-step rule still in force? If so, what is the consequence of breaking it and when was the last time a goalkeeper was penalised for it?

A. There are no rules in football, only laws. The 'four step' law is still very much in force, and is punishable by the award of an indirect free-kick, to the opposition, from the place where the offence occurred. Unless, of course, it happened within the goal area (or six- yard box), in which case the kick is taken from the edge of the goal area at the point closest to where the law was broken. With regard to the last time the offence was penalised, it is likely to be occurring at this very moment somewhere in the world. - Bruce Smith (Referee Class III), North Harrow, Middlesex

ANSWERS PLEASE

Q. Walsall have gained more points away than at home this season for the second year running. Does this happen often in football and are teams that do so ever successful in those seasons? - Bob Bullock, Swansea

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 an international level. - Kevin Maguire, Batley

Q. Have any international sporting brothers or sisters opposed each other as a result of opting to play for different countries? - Bill Young, St Neots

Q. Those Test batsmen who have held the record for the highest individual score all did so at the start of their international careers. How is it that none of them has gone on to better their record with further experience? - Ralph Gee, Nottingham

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