Q & A: Skating's dances of danger . . . and the 87p football match

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Q. Why is ice dancing regarded as a sport, but not ballroom dancing?

A. Because it is performed on skates: this adds the necessary spice of danger which introduces a sporting element. Freestyle skiing is recognised as an Olympic sport for the same reason. - Dennis L Bird, Archivist/ Historian, National Skating Association of Great Britain

Q. Has any football club ever had such a huge travelling support that they have attracted the largest crowds on every opponent's ground through an entire season?

A. In 1981-82, their only season in that division, Sheffield United finished as champions of the Fourth Division. Sixteen of their away games attracted their opponents' largest crowd of the season. Of the other seven clubs, United provided four with their second highest attendance and the other three with their third highest. This beats Stoke's record of last season. - Andrew Kirkham, Knaresborough, North Yorkshire

Q. When was the last time both Everton and Liverpool were knocked out of the third round of the FA Cup?

A. Further to Michael Brien's letter (Q & A, 13 February) my father tells me it was Norwich who knocked Liverpool out of the FA Cup in 1950-51, winning 3-1 at Carrow Road. Tommy Docherty (not the ex-Manchester United manager) scored two of the goals, and Leslie Eyre the other. - Tim Mickleburgh, Grimsby

Q. In the recent Scotland v Wales rugby union international, Scotland appeared to score a perfectly legal but disallowed drop goal. Although, on this occasion, this did not affect the outcome of the match, has any perfectly legal but disallowed score in a top-level match affected the final result of the match?

A. I read with interest the letter concerning the 'drop goal' not awarded to Scotland last month. There are two examples that come to mind of scores being disallowed in such a way that the result has been affected. Playing for Wales v New Zealand in 1972, J P R Williams scored a try which was not allowed and the All Blacks went on to win. Two years later, playing for Wales against England at Twickenham J J Williams scored, Peter Squires, his opposite number, congratulated him, then the Irish referee disallowed the score from the 22-metre line.

There are also many instances of the obverse - scores being allowed when video evidence has later proved that they should not have been. The referee Roger Quittenden allowed a knock-on, which was followed by a score under the posts, in the 1987 Wales v Ireland match; when England played France last year, the French captain was tackled in air, yet England were given a penalty which was converted and they went on to win the game by one point; and in 1978, two New Zealand players committed a technical foul against Wales. Quittenden gave the penalty, which won the game. Two All Blacks went on record later saying it was a planned move to win the game.

The point for discussion should be about law changes to assist the referee. Touch-judges can now indicate foul play, which includes obstruction and tackling after a pass. Yet how many touch-judges indicate these two fouls? Offside is on the increase, so why should touch-judges not be allowed to flag for it. We would see a decrease in the number of penalties awarded, as the players would know there were three pairs of eyes on them and not one. - Peter Hansford, Chapel Brampton, Northamptonshire

Q. Who has been the fastest winger in rugby?

A. The Leeds rugby league club would not even grant a trial to the fastest and most mercurial winger of all time, the Australian Brian Bevan. But they did sign one of the first Welsh rugby union players to turn to league rugby, Lewis Jones. When he had just joined the Leeds club, in an article in the Yorkshire Post, he confessed that Ken Jones, the Welsh national side's RU winger, was in his eyes the fastest. But that was before he played against Bevan. Lewis very soon changed his mind, when he saw Brian Bevan in action at Headingley, and most generously acknowledged Bevan as the fastest and most elusive winger he had met during his own career. - Cyril Bossward, Liverpool

A. I well remember J MacDonald Bailey - the ex-British Olympic sprinter - playing for Rochdale Hornets during the 1950s. There was also a very quick young aboriginal by the name of Wally McArthur. - Len Jones, Rochdale

Q. Are there any recorded examples of a professional footballer who has just put the ball into the net, asking the referee not to award the goal because he had handled the ball before scoring?

A. Around 1973 the magazine Shoot] published a cut-out-and-keep booklet in which 100 or so players recounted their most memorable match. One of those featured was Lou Macari, who had recently joined Manchester United. Given that this was not a particularly glorious period for United, it is not surprising that Lou was forced to hark back to his days playing for Celtic. As I recall, he selected a game when he handled either before or during scoring and subsequently informed the unsighted referee. Perhaps someone could confirm my recollection. - Andrew Ashbridge, Swindon

Q. Which Football League club charges the least to watch matches?

A. Last season, Notts County charged their junior supporters pounds 15 for the entire year. This entitled them to a seat for all home matches at a price of 87p per game. - Tony Hartley, Nottingham

Q. Some time ago a radio reporter mentioned that Plymouth was the second largest city in England or Wales not to have had a First Division (now FA Premiership) team at any stage in its history. He did not say what what was the largest. My guess is Hull, but I would love to be enlightened.

A. I can confirm, as a long-suffering supporter, that Hull is correct. The nearest Hull City came to achieving a place in the top division was way back in 1910, when they were pipped for promotion on goal average. After a run of 11 wins and a draw in 12 matches they needed only a point in the last match. Unfortunately, they lost 3-0 to Oldham and were beaten to promotion by the Lancashire side. Interestingly enough if the current method of determining League positions (outside the Premiership) was in force then, City would have been promoted as they scored 80 to Oldham's 79. - John Watts, Hull

ANSWERS PLEASE

Q. With Crystal Palace, Charlton Athletic and Millwall all on course for promotion to next season's Premiership, and taking for granted Spurs will manage to escape relegation, could anyone tell me the last time (if ever) the top division boasted nine clubs from the capital? - Gladys Protheroe, Stoke Mandeville

Q. What are the origins of the Calcutta Cup in the Five Nations' Championship? - Denis Curley, London SW19

Q. Why don't any jockeys have facial hair? - Richard Bishop, Great Yarmouth

Q. The highest possible break in a game of snooker must be 155, ie free ball, black followed by a 'normal' 147. Has this ever been achieved in the professional circuit? Do sponsors ever give a special prize for a 155? Has it been done? - Richard Kunc, Brighouse

Q. Why are track events in athletics always run anti-clockwise? - Richard Halpin, London N2

Q Why, when the attendances at football and rugby league matches are routinely reported, are the figures for cricket and rugby union games almost never quoted? Is it because these sports are afraid to reveal their comparative lack of popularity? - Michael Batters, Sheffield

If you know the answers to any of these questions, or have a sporting question of your own you would like answered, write to:

Q & A

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