Q & A: The perils of away successes

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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?

A. During the past three seasons a total of 16 teams have gained more points away than at home: 1991-92 First Division Tottenham (home 24pts away 28pts) 15th; Second Division Derby (h37 a41) 3rd; Charlton (h34 a37) 7th; Watford (h32 a33) 10th; Grimsby (h26 a27) 19th. Fourth Division Chesterfield (h25 a28) 13th. 1992-93 Premier League Coventry (h25 a27) 15th; Second Division Exeter (h23 a27) 19th; Third Division Darlington (h21 a29) 15th; Doncaster (h23 a24) 16th; Halifax (h14 a22) 22nd (relegated). 1993-94 Premier League Norwich (h2l a32) 12th; West Ham (h25 a27) 13th; Tottenham (h20 a25) 15th; Third Division Shrewsbury (h38 a41) 1st; Walsall (h26 a34) 10th.

The only recent League Champions to gain more points away were Arsenal in 1988-89 (h36 a40), but in the same year West Ham collected a miserable 15 home points compared to 27 away and were relegated. - Bob Colley, Cheshire

Q. Which football club was the first to have a fanzine attached to it?

A. The first club fanzine in Britain was Meadowbank Thistle's Cheers, which began in July 1979. It was edited by a disgruntled former club programme editor, Alastair Petrie-Hay, and was so successful that by issue 12 (February 1980) it had been banned by the club for selling more copies than the official programme. Issue 12 was also the first time it called itself a fanzine. Cheers eventually had 21 issues, the last being in August 1981, but the editorial team came back with a vengeance five years later with the immortal and much missed AWOL. - Andy Mitchell, Edinburgh

Q. Traditionally, when the twelfth man came on in first-class matches he would not take up a specialist position. This no longer seems to be the case. Why?

A. Early rules allowed for the use of substitute fielders with the proviso that 'the consent of the opposite side shall be obtained as to the person to act as substitute, and the place in the field which he shall take'. The first major revision of the Laws this century came in 1947 when a subtle change was made to the above rule. Under the new code, consent 'shall be obtained from the opposing captain, who may indicate positions in which the substitute shall not field'. More significant was a change in 1980. Here Law 2 (2) states: 'The opposing captain shall have no right of objection to any player acting as substitute in the field, nor as to where he shall field, although he may object to the substitute acting as wicketkeeper.' From l April 1989 this was adapted to read: 'No substitute shall act as wicket-keeper.' It remains the only restriction. This change may have been influenced by the Lord's Test between England and New Zealand in 1986. With the consent of the visiting captain, England used four wicketkeepers. While Bruce French recovered from a head injury Bill Athey took the gloves for two overs. Meanwhile, Bob Taylor, two years into his retirement, was recalled from his new job as the match-sponsor's host. On the Saturday, Bob Parks of Hampshire was called up. In all, 29 players took the field at various times. Is this a record? - David Balcombe, Northwood, Middlesex

Q. Am I right in thinking that there was a one-armed German international footballer in the early Fifties? Or have I been reading too much of Roy of the Rovers?

A. Further to Ronnie Goodlass, I do reall a player in an obscure Luxembourg side, trounced 21-0 by Chelsea in the early 1970s who only had one arm. His name does not spring readily to mind, however. - Barry Mills, London SE6

Q. How often do the bookies' favourites win the World Cup?

A. This year's current World Cup favourites with William Hill are Brazil at 11-4 with Germany at 4-1. Other companies make Germany favourites. If and when Brazil or Germany are beaten or if they start unconvincingly, they may well be passed in the betting by other countries who, in turn, could be likewise superseded. So it really depends on your definition of favourite, whose odds you accept and on which date. - Graham Sharpe, William Hill Organization, London N22


Q. Has the practice of recording scores above 200/300 as 'century' innings rather than 'two/three' century innings ever been a matter of debate? Are innings of 200+ less meritorious than separate 'new' innings? - Dick Coon, Malton, North Yorkshire

Q. Is Peter O'Sullevan, the BBC's racing commentator, the best specialist commentator on television? - Kevin Maguire, Batley, West Yorkshire

Q. Is there a more insecure profession than being a football manager? - Bill Borders, Newport

Q. Which country will be the best-supported at the coming World Cup finals? - George Browne, Ewell

Q. Are there any tennis players who have released records? - David Fromley, Chester

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

Sports Desk

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