The term 'Old Firm' was first applied to Celtic v Rangers games in 1904. It was used, sarcastically, to describe the keen commercial rivalry which had developed between the two clubs and the professionalism and lowering of moral values which it was assumed would follow. Before the Scottish Cup final in 1904, a cartoon appeared in the Scottish Referee showing a man carrying a sandwich board with the words, 'Patronise the Old Firm' and signed, 'Rangers and Celtic Ltd'. - Dr Peter M Johnston, Glasgow.
How did Ray Wilkins get the name 'Butch', and what was the name of his footballer brother?
I can shed no light on why Wilkins Snr was called Butch but his footballer brother is called Dean and plays his football for Brighton and Hove Albion FC. - C Aitken, London SE9.
Has there ever been an occasion when an own goal was deliberate (in any sport but preferably football)?
In Australian Rules, a defender who is unable to clear the ball will often deliberately put it through his own goal, because an 'own goal' only counts one point to the other side, whereas if an attacker scores it counts six points. - John N Meadow, London SE9.
I was reminded of an incident from American Football in the mid-1980s. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were at home to the New York Jets. Tampa Bay running back James Wilder required a certain yardage to gain a record, but with less than two minutes to go he was short of his target and the Jets had the ball. In desperation, it is alleged, the Tampa Bay defence allowed the Jets to score a touchdown, as they would get the ball from the ensuing kick-off, thus giving Wilder a chance to break the record. They needn't have bothered. They lost the game, Wilder came up short, and the Tampa Bay defence was fined for not trying. - David Gibson, Newcastle upon Tyne.
While staying in Sicily preparing for the 1990 World Cup finals, Bobby Robson's England team played a friendly match against a local team. The FA were keen to demonstrate to anxious locals how determined they were to combat any potential misbehaviour amongst the English fans. It was arranged that England would score an own goal straight from the kick-off, to demonstrate how contemptuous the England camp were towards the troublemakers - something to do with hooliganism being an 'own goal'.
In his book All Played Out, Peter Davies recalls how this bizarre symbolism was somewhat lost on the Sicilians, who were understandably bemused by the whole thing. The player chosen to score the goal was Steve McMahon. He obviously found giving goals away a hard habit to break, as a few days later he generously gave Kevin Sheedy the chance to equalise for the Republic of Ireland against England. - Gavin Barber, Leicester.
When was the first instance of a streaker at a sporting event?
David Balcombe's memories (30 May) of a long-haired gentleman being led off the pitch at Twickenham are most certainly true. The individual was Mike O'Brien, an Australian who was then and still is a member of Melbourne Rugby Club. I had the pleasure of meeting him while playing there for three seasons during the late Eighties.
The deed was attempted, needless to say, because of a bet which the policemen involved allowed him to win by touching the perimeter fence having traversed the field. I understand that Mike will still supply an autographed photograph of the incident. - Nigel Finlay, Dublin.
In the mid-Eighties I spent a year or so with the Melbourne Rugby Club. I was alerted to the club's existence by one of their advertisements, a picture of the aforementioned gentleman. The caption read: 'Would you play rugby with this man? If so contact . . .'
Mick O'Brien, a lawyer, was fined the total of his winnings from the bet, the princely sum of pounds 10. - Paul G Arnerich, Harpenden.
The famous photo was used recently - without permission or payment of royalties to the subject - to promote a brand of underwear in Australia.
The cross that Mick bears is that every time he is introduced to anybody, it takes the form, 'Do you remember the photo of the bloke with the policeman's helmet?' - Bruce Gordon and Derek Saifoli, Sydenham, London.
The year was 1974 and the event was the England v France Five Nations match. The policeman was Acting Sergeant Bruce Perry, or Uncle Bruce, as he was and still is known to me and his other nephews. -Gareth Evans, Sudbury, Suffolk.
Have any cricketers played for England despite never playing county cricket? And have any footballers played for England despite not playing in the League?
I was surprised to see F W Milligan in Kevin Preston's list of England Test players who had never played county cricket (30 May). Milligan had been a useful all-rounder in Lord Hawke's Yorkshire side for a few seasons before his death in the Boer War, for which he stayed behind after the 1898-99 South African tour. Like his captain, he was among the select band of Yorkshire cricketers born outside the county.
Another Yorkshireman, R T Stonyforth, could be added to the list in that he had not played county cricket when he captained England in the 1927-28 series against South Africa. He is the only player to have captained England having never played county cricket, as well as having been, until last winter, England's only wicketkeeper/captain. However, he did play a few games for Yorkshire after his Test career in 1928. - Hugh Faulkner, London N20.
I think that John James Ferris ('JJ') is worthy of note. Whilst he went on to play county cricket for Gloucestershire, representing them in 63 matches between 1892 and 1895, he played his one Test for England before representing his county. This was in March 1892 against South Africa in Cape Town. He took 13 wickets for 91 runs and scored 16 runs in England's only innings.
Before representing England he had played for New South Wales, to whom he returned later in his career. He played in eight Tests for Australia between 1886 and 1890 and returned to play for New South Wales before his career was brought to a premature end in 1900, when he died of enteric fever at the age of 33 whilst fighting in the Boer War. - Brian Shearing, Reading.
Djamolidine Abdujaparov, the Uzbek cyclist, has nine syllables in his name. Can any leading sportsman or woman boast more?
Although I have struggled to find any sportsmen or sportswomen with more than nine syllables, I have found a number with nine. Spanish golfers provide three examples - Severiano Ballesteros, Jose-Maria Olazabal and Jose-Maria Canizares. There is also the Swiss tennis player Manuela Maleeva-Fragniere and the former Soviet ice- skater Natalya Bestemianova. - Patrick J Winterbottom, Leeds.
If doing the pools is a game of skill, has any forecaster made a living from the winnings?
Richard Silverman, a student from the United States, is said to have covered his expenses while studying in this country solely from his winnings on the pools. What was he studying for? A doctorate in mathematics. - Chris Brown, Harrogate.
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?
I feel the case of my own club, Fulham, is an interesting one, as the perception as to who is Fulham's main local rival seems to parallel the club's decline. When I was a boy and Fulham were a First Division side, there was no doubt as to our main rival - Chelsea. But as Fulham began to slide down the divisions the upwardly mobile QPR were seen as our greatest rivals.
QPR continued to rise and Fulham to fall, and Wimbledon became the new nemesis, but Wimbledon too were on an upward spiral and it was Brentford who then assumed the role. Over the past few seasons that rivalry, too, has seen Brentford come off better. Now we Fulham fans need yet another new rival. I await the first 'We hate Kingstonian' graffiti. - John Saunders, Morden, Surrey.
Have any British basketball players played in the American NBA? - Alun Davies, Gwent.
What has been the longest penalty shoot-out, in domestic and world football? - Gareth Ebenezer, London W4.
Has any Football League player ever scored against every other team in his division in the same season? - Spike Denton, London SW9.
English, Scottish and Welsh rugby union internationals have switched codes to rugby league. Have any Irish players done so, and how many? - Kevin Maguire, Batley, West Yorkshire.
Has a cricket umpire ever had to send a member of the fielding side back to the pavilion? - Alastair Greswell, Bristol.
I am a lifetime supporter of Bristol City, and my father told me that John Atyeo scored in every debut match he played in, both domestic and international. Is this true, and has anyone else done it? - RJ Underhill, Bristol.
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