Q & A: The great day the Addicks came home . . . and the Wilfred Rhodes story, parts 2-11

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What is arguably the greatest comeback in sporting history?

21 December 1957: 10-man Charlton Athletic, losing 5-1 at home to Bill Shankly's Huddersfield with 28 minutes to go, win 7-6. Johnny Summers scores five, Huddersfield make it 6-6 and and Buck Ryan gets the 89th-minute winner. This is the only such score in league history and the only time a team have scored six and lost.

25 December 1992: 356 games, 2,632 days, an election campaign, one promotion, one relegation, one play-off victory, three managers and two ground shares since their last 'home' game, Charlton play Portsmouth at The Valley. - Ben Hayes, London SE19.

Niki Lauda's comeback for Ferrari in the 1976 Italian Grand Prix at Monza, six weeks after being so badly burned in a crash in the German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring that a priest was called in to give him the last rites. What's more, he finished fourth at Monza (a 10th of a second ahead of Jody Scheckter, and less than 20 seconds behind the winner, Ronnie Peterson, so he wasn't just cruising round) and runner-up in the 1976 Drivers World Championship, to James Hunt, by one point. The following year, he won his second drivers' title, also for Ferrari, by a street. And that's not all. In 1982, he came back from two years' retirement to win the 1984 World Championship with McLaren, beating his team-mate Alain Prost by half a point. Of such rat-like tenacity are sporting legends made. - Tony Walton, Hove, East Sussex.

In 1922, during the Warwickshire v Hampshire cricket match, Warwickshire's first innings was 223 all out. Hampshire were dismissed in their first innings for 15. They then followed on and scored 521. Warwickshire needed 314 to win but were all out for 158. So after being dismissed for 15 Hampshire went on to win by 155 runs. - Philip Grace, Highworth, Swindon.

By October 1922, Big Bill Tilden was already established as perhaps the greatest tennis player of all time; two Wimbledon singles titles, three US titles in a row. Then, in a freak accident, he lost part of the middle finger on his racket hand. For someone who held the ball with virtually his fingertips, this seemed to be the end of everything. Instead, he adjusted his grip as best he could - and won the US title for the next three years, then again in 1929, as well as Wimbledon again (at the age of 37) in 1930.

Even more remarkable was Karoly Takac's comeback. A member of Hungary's world championship-winning shooting team, he lost his right hand when a grenade exploded in 1938, taught himself to shoot with his left - and won the Olympic rapid fire gold medal in 1948 and 1952. - Cris Freddi, London W12.

In American football, one of last season's AFC wild card games was between Houston and Buffalo. At half- time, Houston led 31-3. Buffalo won 35-31.

With regards to a career comeback, Muhammad Ali coming back to win his third title must rank as a good candidate. - John Law, Philadelphia, PA, USA.

In 1991 baseball's Minnesota Twins became the American League's first team to go from last place to first in successive seasons, winning the World Series. Ironically the Atlanta Braves, the National League champions, who also went from last place to first in successive seasons, were their opponents. - Christopher Toms, Shrewsbury.

In county cricket losing sides can acquire points for batting and bowling that contribute to their championship total. Is this practice unique in sporting leagues? How are County Championship points awarded?

In the British speedway league, in addition to two points for a win, one for a draw, teams earn a bonus point for an aggregate winning margin over the home and away legs of a match.

In the event of a drawn aggregate score, teams do not, as might be expected, share the bonus point. A run- off between nominated riders is held, which in speedway strongly favours the home team. - Jack Babrovskie, Stockport.

Has anyone batted in every position from 1-11 in first class cricket?

In his 30-year career the great Yorkshire all-rounder, Wilfred Rhodes, batted in a variety of positions for England, including No 11 and No 2. Indeed, he made his debut for England as a slow bowler and tail-end Charlie, only to rise to open the batting later in his career. Is he the only player to have both opened and closed the innings for England?

Rhodes (1877-1973) must rank as the greatest of all English all-rounders with the exception of the Good Doctor himself. He scored over 30,000 runs in first class cricket and 2,000 in Test, of which there were relatively few in those days. Over three decades he bagged 4,184 wickets and completed 1,000 runs and 100 wickets in a season on 16 occasions. - G R Lyon, London SW7.

Tim Tremlett achieved this distinction during his career for Hampshire between 1976 and 1991. He is now the county coach. As part of his benefit year he will be captaining the Hampshire side in a match at Eversley on Wednesday 14 July. He has put himself down to bat at No 8 - but that might change. - Andrew Renshaw, Eversley Cricket Club, Basingstoke, Hampshire.

Are there any countries other than Britain where most sporting events are prefaced by the names of commercial sponsors?

I would say that the majority of sporting events in my country of birth, South Africa, are prefaced by the names of various sponsors. In cricket there is the Castle Cup, the Benson and Hedges Day-Night Series and, until recently, the Nissan Shield. In football there were, among others, the BP Top Eight and the Castle League. Tennis and golfing events are similarly adorned. - James Beard, Nottingham.

In Italy, instead of naming leagues or national championships after certain brand names, it is common practice to change team names in order to accommodate a sponsor's logo. Thus in basketball, the second most popular team sport after football, the result of a typical match might read: Knorr 97 Benetton 89. This habit is prevalent in other popular team sports such as volleyball and rugby.

Mediolanum (an insurance company owned by media magnate, Silvio Berlusconi) at one time not only had its logo emblazoned across the shirts of Milan, but also found itself among the leading contenders for the national rugby, volleyball and ice hockey titles. - Richard Cockram, West Kirby, Wirral.

ANSWERS PLEASE

During the 1980s to the present, which football club had the most European success? - Tim Niven, Glasgow.

Which touring party was first referred to as the 'British Lions'? Was it a rugby union or rugby league selection? - David Nelson, Tonbridge, Kent.

What are the country's best supported football clubs as regards average attendances expressed as a percentage of the town or city's population? Areas with more than one club should be divided accordingly. - Jon Agyeman, Derby.

Could you settle a dispute between two of my work colleagues concerning the origin of the phrase 'The Real McCoy'? There is a wager on this with a percentage of it pocketed by myself. - P Brookes, London SW9.

I have read recently about the advantages of serving left-handed in tennis. After an accident, Alexander Volkov changed from right-handed to left- handed, and the other day I saw Martina Navratilova, a left-hander, signing autographs right-handed. Is she naturally left- or right-handed, and are there any examples of players working at playing left-handed in order to exploit the perceived advantages? - Ian Maule, Tetney, Lincolnshire.

Rugby union players have pockets in their shorts. Rugby league players do not. Why? - Christopher Westwood, Leeds.

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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