Q & A: The phantom goalscorer tells all

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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?

A. In reply to Andrew Bone's letter (Q & A 6 March) concerning the 'goal that never was' during the Reading v Rochdale match in 1975, being slightly closer to the incident I would like to add my observations. First, the referee was Walter Harvey from Redditch. Second, the shot was struck with accuracy and power with the laces of the boot, and not with a toe-punt. Concerning his description of Tommy Youlden as an uncompromising defender of dubious footballing finesse, I would agree with the term uncompromising but dispute the dubious part. What Mr Bone failed to mention is that when the referee awarded the goal, in his frustration the Rochdale goalkeeper, Michael Pode, picked up the ball and volleyed it over the main stand. For this, the referee added insult to injury and took the player's name. The linesman was in little position to advise the referee on his decision because he had already suffered a suspected broken ankle in the first few minutes, and spent most of the first half limping along the touchline. I had a conversation with the referee after the game in the players' lounge and he still insisted he had made the correct decision. - Tommy Youlden, University College School, London NW3

A. Further to Andrew Bone's letter (Q & A 6 March), Eamon Dunphy was in Reading's midfield that day and wrote in the newspaper the following week: 'I couldn't believe my eyes when the referee pointed to the centre circle . . . Should I own up? I quickly dismissed the thought and got on with the game.' But years later Eamon was sure he 'had a guilty conscience and told the ref it didn't go in'. The ambiguity of whether the players confessed persists but the laughter of the Elm Park crowd stays fresh in the mind. The referee, Mr Harvey, must have guessed the truth, but as far as I know, he never confessed. - Roger Titford, Pewsey

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?

A. Several counties announce the attendances at Sunday League cricket matches, but County Championship crowds are so awful that they are rarely revealed. Lancashire members receive gate information in their annual report and while the Sunday League one-day average was a healthy 4,428 in 1993, the Championship attracted a mere 5,425 per four-day game. Fewer than 10,000 saw the four-day Roses match, although 55,000 watched England lose the first Test and a capacity 20,614 suffered at the one-day international v Australia. - Gavin Willacy, Sedbergh

Q. Who are the youngest, and the oldest, drivers to qualify for points since the FIA Formula One World Championship was instituted?

A. The oldest driver to have scored points in the Formula One World Championship was the Frenchman Phillipe Etancelin, who came fifth in the 1950 Italian Grand Prix at Monza at the age of 53 years and 248 days. The oldest driver actually to win a race was Luigi Fagioli, of Italy, who was 53 years and 22 days when finishing first in the 1951 French Grand Prix. The youngest driver to win a race was Bruce McLaren, winner of the 1959 Grand Prix aged 22 years and 80 days. - Adrian Brodkin, London N2

Q. Now that Francis Lee is chairman of Manchester City, can anyone tell me the last person to win the championship, FA Cup or any major football honour as both player and chairman?

A. The former Manchester United chairman Harold Hardman won an FA Cup winner's medal with Everton in 1906, an Olympic gold medal for Britain in 1908, and four England caps. Although he only played in four matches for Manchester United, he joined the Old Trafford board in 1912 and served almost continuously as a director until his death 53 years later. - Michael Crick, Chipping Norton

Q. When was the last time, if ever, that 15 different clubs were represented in a starting rugby XV in a Five Nations' Championship match?

A. I can find no instance of any match where 15 different clubs were represented in one side. However, in 1987 when they played Scotland at Murrayfield, Ireland's players came from no fewer than 14 different clubs. The only two players representing the same club were Michael Bradley, the present captain, and Donal Lenihan, both of whom played for Constitution. Four years earlier, England used players from 13 clubs when they played Scotland at Twickenham. Only Leicester were represented by more than one player, in the shape of Dusty Hare, Peter Wheeler and Paul Dodge. - Gavin Mortimer, West Sussex

Q. When victorious ice-skaters are receiving their medals, is the rostrum they stand on made of ice as well?

A. Usually the medal rostrums are not made of ice. However, at this year's Winter Olympics they were - and for all events not just the ice skating. There did appear to be a covering on top of the ice block, though, presumably to stop the athletes falling off, not that this is very common. - Alison Evans, London SW19


Q. With clubs having large first-team squads, there must be players who play very little real football in a season, especially the second-string goalkeeper. Is this correct? - J F Houston, Corby

Q. Which sports event has had the most sponsors? - Tim Mickleburgh, Grimsby

Q. When was the hymn 'Abide With Me' first sung at the FA Cup final and why? - Eric Hudson, Preston

Q. What is the theoretical maximum tennis service speed for the tallest player, given the restrictions of the court and net height? - Tim Johnston, London SW5

Q. Are medals awarded to teams who win the Five Nations' Championship, the Grand Slam or the Triple Crown? - Kevin Maguire, Batley

Q. When were the last occasions on which English football league grounds had attendances in excess of 50,000, 60,000 and 70,000? - Michael Weeks, Bristol