Q & A: The curious tale of a coup that failed . . . . . and a wind-assisted miracle at Miracle Hills

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A newspaper report two or three years ago concerned an amateur tennis player in Wimbledon who placed a bet on himself to win his local amateur tournament. The bookmaker, assuming he was referring to the All England Championship, accepted the bet at very long odds. Can anyone confirm this story?

I was the bookmaker who took the bet for the 45-year-old Jamaican-Chinese-English player Ian Moo Young. He said he wanted to bet on himself to win Wimbledon, accepted odds of 50,000-1, standing to win pounds 1m. He then announced that he actually meant the local Wimbledon Club Championship. Fortunately for William Hill's bank balance and my career, he failed to win either. The full story is told in my book Coups and Cons, published by the Aesculus Press. - Graham Sharpe, Media Relations Manager, William Hill.

When was the last time the Formula One world championship was not won by the driver with the best car?

It could be argued that the Williams cars of 1986 and 1991 were superior to any of their rivals. Yet on both occasions the title went to a McLaren driver, Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna respectively. Nigel Mansell was the driver who failed to make the most of his superior equipment in each of those years. His 1986 failure could be attributed, however, to that infamous tyre blow-out on the Adelaide high street. - Arif Ellam, Finchley, London N3.

Has any Football League player ever scored against every other team in his division in the same season?

Joe Payne of Luton Town achieved this feat in 1936-37 against the other 21 sides in Division Three South. The sequence began with a goal at home to Southend on 29 August 1936 and was completed on 28 April 1937 with a hat- trick at Kenilworth Road against Newport. He scored 55 goals in 39 games, the Hatters winning the championship. In 1928-29 Andy Rennie, also of Luton Town, scored against 19 of 21 sides in Division Three South. Brighton and Watford were the only teams to keep him out. - N S Smith, Luton.

In golf, has anybody ever had a hole in one on a par-four hole? Has this happened in a professional tournament? Or in domestic play by an amateur?

The longest hole in one on record was on the 447-yard par-four 10th at Miracle Hills, Omaha, Nebraska on 7 October 1965, by Robert Mitera, a two-handicapper. I have no record as to whether it was in competition. Mitera was 5ft 6in and 165lb. His normal drive was 245 yards. The one above was wind assisted by a 50mph gust. - Des Wood, Aldershot.

There have been several par-four holes-in-one in the history of golf, both by amateurs and professionals. The longest is generally held to be Bob Mitera's. There are many more of around 400 yards or so, the longest by a woman being the 393-yard hole in one by Marie Roberts at Furnace Brook in Massachusetts, and the longest in Britain being the seventh at West Lancashire (also 393yds), aced in 1972 by the assistant professional, Peter Parkinson.

Also notable was a hole in one by the Irish professional and long hitter Liam Higgins, who once hit a Spalding Top Flite 638 yards down the runway at Baldonnel Airport. He holed his tee shot on the 16th at Waterville in County Kerry, (a par four of 352 yards, now called 'Liam's Ace') on his way to setting the course record there. Remarkably, although scoring an astonishing 62 on one of the longest courses in Europe, this was the only green where he didn't have two putts. - Rick Wheaton, Stover Golf Club, Newton Abbot, Devon.

I'm sure holes in one have been scored on par-four holes on many occasions. The only one I have witnessed occurred when partnering my son in a friendly four-ball at Teeside Golf Club in August 1991. My son managed to hole his tee shot on the 271-yard par-four 17th hole. This made the match all square. Unfortunately his achievement went to our heads. I hooked my tee shot on the 18th into the woods and he put his second into the club car park, and we lost the match one down.

Happily, it being five minutes before last orders on a quiet Sunday, the bar was almost empty, so my pocket didn't suffer too severely. - Angus Moorcroft, Guisborough, Cleveland.

My bookshelf contains The Dying of the Light by the football writer Brian Glanville, a 1976 novel recounting the bitter- sweet days of Len Rawlings, 'hero and victim'. Other than their sportswriting, do any of our other professional observers write fiction?

Richard Pitman, BBC's National Hunt racing commentator, co-writes racing thrillers with his friend the exceptionally talented and handsome Joe McNally. Hunted, their follow-up to Warned Off, will be published in October by Hodder & Stoughton. - Joe McNally, Kidderminster.

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

I stumbled across a potential mixed doubles pairing whilst glancing through the draw for this year's Wimbledon championship. Both hail from the United States. I can hear it now: 'Game, set and match - Ho and Miss Po'. - Mike Oldfield, London SW20.

Has there ever been an occasion when an own goal was deliberate (in any sport but preferably football)?

The late Ernst Franz Hermann Happel achieved this feat during a World Cup warm-up match in Innsbruck against a select side in 1954. With the Austrians winning 15-0, Ernst suddenly turned on the ball and fired an unstoppable shot against his own goalkeeper from 25 yards. When asked later about the reasoning for his actions Happel replied, 'To show the opposition how to score]'

Happel was a great player and magnificent coach, taking the Netherlands to runners-up spot in the 1978 World Cup. He also won many trophies as coach of ADO Den Haag, Feyenoord, Bruges, SV Hamburg and FC Tirol. - Tim Niven, Glasgow.

My father, Don Roper, played for Arsenal in the Forties and Fifties, making 300 appearances and scoring 100 goals. On 17 December 1955, Arsenal were leading Blackpool 4-0, and right at the end of the match Dennis Evans, the Arsenal full-back, was in possession in his own penalty area when a whistle blew in the crowd. Thinking it was the final whistle, he kicked the ball into his own net. The goalkeeper was Con Sullivan who, hearing the whistle, had turned away to collect his cap from the back of the net, and thus did not have a chance to prevent the own goal. - Les Roper, Plymouth.

In the 1930s I played for Cottenham reserves in the Cambridgeshire League. One year we hadn't won a game and could muster only 10 players for the last match of the season. As full-time approached we asked the referee the score and he declared it was 19-0. A few minutes later our captain received the ball, shouted 'I will make it 20,' and slammed the ball into our net. No yellow cards in those days, only roars of laughter. - Ted Austin (former chairman of the English Schools Football Association), Over, Cambridge.


Recently at Wimbledon, Steffi Graf conceded only 17 points against Kirrily Sharpe. What is the fewest number of points conceded in a Wimbledon match? - Justine Hulston, Oldham.

My brother Neil Robinson played in teams that were relegated from every division of the Football League (before the Premier League). He went down from the First and Second with Swansea City, from the Second and Third with Grimsby Town and from the Fourth with Darlington. Luckily he has now retired, but can any other player match or beat his dubious record? - John Robinson, Aigburth, Liverpool.

Is Lord's unique as a Test match venue in a having a sloping playing area which, if commentators are to be believed, affects the behaviour of the bowled ball? If a level playing field is necessary, both literally and metaphorically, for a fair game, why have the authorities never taken steps to eliminate the slope? - G Steele, Purley.

I understand that the last county side before Yorkshire to drop a birth qualification was Nottinghamshire, at about the time of the 'Bodyline' series, in which two Notts bowlers, Larwood and Voce, figured prominently. Is this correct, and if so, why was it done and what was the effect on Notts? And how many fast bowlers between the wars for Notts and Yorkshire came of mining stock, as did Larwood and Voce? - John Marsh, Sevenoaks, Kent.

What is the name of the catchy tune played in the goals sequences on Match of the Day and Football Focus? Is the music for sale? - S Brennan, Hillsborough, Sheffield.

Everyone of an appropriate age can remember their location and circumstances when news arrived of John F Kennedy's death. Do readers have similar recollections of 6 February 1958 - the Munich disaster? - Paul O'Farrell, Connahs Quay, Clwyd.

What was the longest round trip made by a Premier League referee last season? M Bodenham's trip from Looe to Liverpool in December for the Merseyside derby must be in the frame. Why was it necessary? - A Doherty, Liverpool L30.

Before the recent matches in the United States, when was the last time three or more Manchester United players started a full England international? - Gareth Williams, Orpington, Kent.

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