A. Peter Eccles won one cap while playing for Shamrock Rovers as did Liam O'Brien, who won 10 in total. Barry Murphy, of Bohemians, also won one cap. All three players achieved this for the Republic of Ireland under the managership of Jack Charlton in the 1985-86 season. The further one looks into the history of the national team, the more domestic representatives one finds in it. On 4 Apri 1934, the Netherlands beat the Republic 5-2 in a World Cup qualifying match. The team that night contained 10 players from the League of Ireland: two each from Drumcondra, Cork and Bohemians and one from each of Shamrock Rovers, Dolphin, St James's Gate and Shelbourne. The other two players came from Aberdeen. - John Harvey, Carndonagh, Co Donegal
A. The last Irish league player to represent Northern Ireland was Stephen McBride, of Glenavon, who played against Denmark in a European Championship qualifier in November 1991. Due to the limited resources at his disposal, Billy Bingham was never averse to selecting players from the Irish League when necessary (or when performances warranted it). Several members of the World Cup squad who went to Spain in 1982 were from the Irish League. The Republic do not have the same need to select players from their league as just about everyone playing in the four divisions in England seems to be qualified to play for them. But don't start me on that. - Simon Topping, Newtownabbey
Q. With League football matches now being played on all days of the week, there being two kick-off times on Sunday, and with the FA Premiership, and various European and domestic cup competitions, is it possible to watch all the 92 League clubs play at home in a single season?
A. Can anybody beat my brother's feat in watching four complete football matches on the same date? On 31 May 1982, in Copenhagen, he saw: VIF v Svendborg (kick off 11.0am); Avasta v Fremad A (1.30pm); BIF v Kolding (kick off 4.0pm); KB v Hvidovre (7.0pm). In addition, I wonder if any reader can match his record for visiting 'sets' of grounds. In addition to the 92 English grounds (Premier and Endsleigh League), he has visited, and watched a match at, every ground in the Scottish League (apart from Stirling's new ground), every ground in the Belgian First Division, every ground in the Dutch First Division and in the German Bundesliga. He has also seen games at every ground in the GM Vauxhall Conference and in the Diadora Premier League. - Richard Fone, Worksop, Nottinghamshire
Q. In Scotland, some rugby union team names finish with the title of FP (former pupils). But in English teams use OB for old boys. Is there a logical explanation?
A. FP is more civilised than OB, with its distinctly snobbish overtones. The real reason is probably because many of the Scottish rugby-playing schools are also co-educational, thank goodness] You also get women's hockey teams with the suffix FP. At the school I attended the boys played rugby, but not soccer, and cricket, while the girls played hockey, netball and golf. Together we had dancing lessons though the girls had to wear their 'passion killers', but it was great fun and that was nearly 50 years ago. - Alan L Forsyth, Twickenham, Middlesex
Q. Other than psychological reasons, why do football teams tend to do better at home than away? And why do Norwich City seem to be doing the opposite this season?
A. It must be a great advantage to play the away game first in two-leg football cup competitions, especially European competitions. To begin with, the team playing at home in the second leg knows exactly what is required of them in the vital second match. And if the match goes into extra time the team at home in the second match has ground advantage for longer. But what is the evidence from past European competitions? Do the teams playing at home second tend to win more ties? - Ted Wilson, Stockport, Cheshire
Q. If a batsman hit a ball which struck the stumps at the bowler's end and rebounded on to his own wicket, would he be out bowled?
A. Law 30 reads as follows. The striker shall be out bowled if: (a) His wicket is bowled down even if the ball first touches his bat or person; (b) He breaks his wicket by hitting or kicking the ball on to it before the completion of a stroke, or as a result of attempting to guard his wicket.
In the case described, the wicket would not, in the ordinary meaning of the words concerned, have been bowled down nor would the wicket have been broken before the completion of a stroke or from the batsman attempting to guard his wicket. - Adam Samuel, London NW3
Q. In cricket, tennis and football, left-handers and left-footers have always done well at the top level. But in the past 30 years, Bob Charles is the only top-class left-handed golfer I can recall. Do left-handers turn round and play right-handed, or do golf courses militate against left- handers?
A. The relative scarcity of top-class left-handed golfers is due to a combination of causes. First, there is no advantage to be gained by being left- handed in golf, unlike in certain team games such as cricket or tennis where left-handers strengthen the side's attacking options considerably. Second, golf is impossible for left-handers without the use of left- handed clubs. These are much less widely available so young left-
handers starting the game are likely to try playing right-handed at some stage. Third, when all the leading players are right-handers, young golfers have no left-handers as role models.
As regards golf courses, left-
handers may experience slight disorientation. The markers on each tee, giving information on yardage and so forth, are on the right, located to be visible to right-handed golfers as they step on to the tee and face towards the green. Other information signs may be similarly placed. Golf course architects may take into account the position of the sun in designing the layout, and exceptionally this may cause problems. On the other hand, bunkering is usually set out to trap the right-hander, so the left-hander can benefit. - Ian Coldicott, Norwich
Q. Has a goalkeeper ever been ruled offside in a properly refereed football match? - Emily Wilson, Stockport, Cheshire
Q. Recently I read about a cricketer called Jack Iverson who played for Australia in only one series versus England - 1950-51 - and never played for them again. He was referred to as 'a 'mystery' slow bowler'. Did this description refer to his cricketing background or his bowling action? - Keith Stacey, West Midlands
Q. A recent profile of Ryan Giggs mentioned that his father, Danny Wilson, played rugby for Cardiff. I remember going to see a match at Cardiff Arms Park between New Zealand and South-east Wales in the mid to late Sixties. The match ended 3-3. South-east Wales's points came from a try scored by a winger after the legendary Barry John had miscued a goal attempt. I have an idea the winger was called Wilson and I wonder whether it was Ryan Giggs's father. - David Cohen, London NW3
Q. In 1954, Roger Bannister broke the world mile record with a time of 3min 59.4sec. The race was run at Iffley Road, Oxford, with the well- known athletes Chris Chataway and Chris Brasher assisting Bannister to break the four-minute barrier. Was there, however, a fourth man involved in the race, and if so, who was he? Does anyone have details? - G E Davis, Poole, Dorset
Q. The England cricket team at present touring South Africa in effect constitutes an England Second XI or reserve team. Why then are they called England A? - Adrian Brodkin, London N2
Q. The last time Torvill and Dean were famous, local authorities scrambled to build ice rinks and every child wanted to master the triple salchow. Has any talent emerged from that period? - George McVitie, Eastbourne
(Photograph omitted)Reuse content