Q & A: Thousands of dancing socialists .. and Merseyside misery

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Q. Hibernian have gone 20 games without victory against their Edinburgh rivals, Hearts, and have won only one of the last 42. Is there a greater record in local derbies?

A. Hibs' recent record against Hearts may be poor, but not that poor] Hibs have won three of the 43 league derbies since the start of 1983-84. Before that, Hearts won only three times in 30 league matches and two Scottish Cup ties going back to 1966-67. In comparing these periods of domination, two factors should be borne in mind. First, for most of the time that Hibs held the upper hand the sides met only twice each season, thus saving Hearts from double the number of trouncings they would have received if the current set-up of four fixtures each season had applied.

Second, in the late Seventies and early Eighties Hearts spent four seasons hiding in the First Division. - Mark Shipway, Leeds

Q. Who has been the fastest winger in rugby?

A. A strong contender would have to be Berwyn Jones, who played for Wakefield Trinity and Bradford Northern in the Sixties (earning three Great Britain caps between 1964-66). Jones was an Olympic 100 metres sprinter, and his team-mate in the 1964 British Olympic athletics team, Alf Moakin, also switched to rugby league, with (I think) Blackpool Borough, but didn't make the grade. Berwyn had an outstanding career with Wakefield Trinity, having upper body strength and footballing skill as well as pace. - Chris Westwood, Leeds

Q. Has any football club ever had such a huge travelling support that they have attracted the largest crowds on every opponent's ground through an entire season?

A. Stoke City were able to provide opponents with their highest gates in 12 away games as recently as last season, when we were crowned Second Division champions. This beats Spurs' 1977-78 record. - Mark Pearce, Watford, Herts

Q. Which is the biggest all-seater stadium in the world?

A. The largest stadium in the world is the Strahov stadium in Prague, which seats 240,000. In 1980 I had the opportunity to visit the stadium for the 'Spartakiada' festival. This involved tens of thousands of gymnasts performing mass callisthenics with flags, hoops and batons. Huge banners extolled 'peace and socialism'. It was dazzling and unforgettable. The 'Spartakiada' was performed every four years. Since the end of Communism it has been abandoned despite its pre-War origins, so presumably never again will a quarter of a million spectators gather in one stadium for a sporting event. - David Hyatt, London E8

Q. When was the last time both Everton and Liverpool were knocked out of the third round of the FA Cup?

A. More recently than one would suspect. Last season both Everton and Liverpool were knocked out in third-round replays. Everton lost 2-1 at Goodison Park to Wimbledon after a 0-0 draw at Selhurst Park. Liverpool lost 2-0 at Anfield to Bolton after a 2-2 draw at Burnden Park.

Before that, I believe the previous occasion both failed in the third round in the same season was 1950- 51. Everton lost 2-0 at Hull City but I am not sure who defeated Liverpool. The League did not provide any great comfort that season either, as Liverpool finished ninth in the First Division while Everton ended up bottom, the most recent relegation endured by the Toffeemen. - Michael Brien, Liverpool

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 before scoring? I seem to remember reading that Corinthian footballers did not attempt to score from penalty kicks awarded to them. - John O'Machin, Leeds

A. Your correspondent is mistaken in his belief that Corinthians players would not attempt to score from penalties awarded to them. Their ideals did, however, dictate that their goalkeeper would not attempt to save any penalty kicks awarded against them, but would stand aside, presenting the kicker with an unguarded goal. - Ian Walker, Dyfed

Q. How many games did Liverpool lose when Ian Rush scored, during his first spell at Anfield? Has he continued to bring Liverpool luck despite their recent run of bad form? Have any other players had similar reputations for match-winning?

A. Ian Rush's record of never being on the losing side when scoring for Liverpool lasted until just before he went to Italy, when Arsenal beat Liverpool in the Littlewoods Cup final at Wembley on 5 April 1987. The North Bank made up a little song to commemmorate the occasion:

'1-0 down, 2-1 up,

That's how Arsenal won the Cup,


1-0 down, 2-1 up,

We ------ Rush's record up,


Stuart Hill, Stockport.

Q. Which Football League club charges the least to watch matches?

A. In 1992-93, season ticket holders at Scarborough were told that if the team failed to make the play-offs, or win promotion, season tickets would be issued free for 1993-94. Scarborough finished out of the frame, and the promise was honoured. In addition, season tickets for 1992-93 were, for a limited period pre-season, available at half price, which was pounds 57.50. That figure, averaged out over two seasons, works out to pounds 1.37 per game. - Paul Eade, Leeds

Q. Would you be good enough to inform me of the achievements of Max Woosnam in the earlier part of this century.

A. Further to Ian Davies's answer (23 January), one of Max Woosnam's lesser known achievements was to have a street named after him on the 'footballers' estate' in Rusholme, Manchester along with other former Manchester City players such as Fred Tilson, Horace Barnes, Sammy Cowan and Tommy Browell. - Brendan Kelly, Manchester M20


Q. Suppose all the black European international fooballers had instead chosen to play for the country of their parents' or grandparents' birth. Which African or Caribbean national team would have benefited most? - S Orange, Sheffield

Q. In the FA Carling Premiership on 5 February, 32 goals were scored, an average of four per match. When was the last Saturday the Premier League (or the old First Division) had a goal average this high? Has any division had an average this high for a single Saturday afternoon? - John F Doyle, Carnew, Co Wicklow, Ireland

Q. Some time ago a radio reporter mentioned that Plymouth was the second largest city in England or Wales not to have had a First Division (now FA Premiership) team at any stage in its history. He did not say what what was the largest. My guess is Hull, but I would love to be enlightened. D H Donovan, Schull, Co Cork, Ireland

Q. How many Oxbridge 'blues' have progressed to play: (a) professional football; (b) professional cricket; (c) professional rugby? - T B Wood, Ilkley, West Yorks

Q. Why do lugers go down on their backs rather than on their fronts? And where can I buy a luge suit? - Bruce Palmer, Weybridge

Q. On 19 January I was astonished to see the scoreline Inter Cardiff 1, Llanelli 10 in the Konica League of Wales. Was this a misprint? If not, could anyone inform me of how this remarkable scoreline occurred? After all, Inter Cardiff are top of the table, while Llanelli are not even in the top five. R S Spear, West Derby, Liverpool

Q. Why is ice dancing regarded as a sport, but not ballroom dancing? - Tim Mickleburgh, Grimsby

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

Independent on Sunday

40 City Road

London EC88 1HR

Fax: 071-956 1894

(Photographs omitted)