Q&A; Grounds for nostalgia

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Q. What has become of the stadiums previously used by football teams such as Millwall, Middlesbrough and Huddersfield, who have moved on?

A. Ayresome Park, Middlesbrough's former ground, is used by the club for training purposes. It is renowned for its superb playing surface and excellent facilities, making it surely one of the best training grounds in the country. The irony is that Middlesbrough, presumably because of Health and Safety requirements and a need to protect the playing surface of the Riverside Stadium, play their home reserve games at Victoria Park, home of Hartlepool United FC. The present view is that Ayresome Park should be redeveloped for residential purposes. Some time ago, Boro announced plans to sell the hallowed turf and I presume a number of Teesside gardeners are looking forward to filling in the gaps in their lawns.

Millwall's old Den is now demolished and is also being redeveloped for residential purposes. I understand that this includes a nursing home, which should provide the terrace wits with material; the proximity of Ayresome Park to a hospital, cemetery and, previously, a workhouse certainly gave the Holgate Enders much amusement.

It is interesting how old grounds create such nostalgia. I was at the last League match played at Ayresome Park. Long after the game finished, people stood around in a dazed state and strong men wept. - H C Raistrick, Middlesbrough

Q. Sheffield FC, formed in 1855, are the oldest football club, while Notts County (formed 1862) are the oldest Football League club, but which is the world's second oldest team?

A. Civil Service Football Club, a founder member of the Football Association in 1863, can now claim to be older than Notts County, who have revised their formation date to 1864, and perhaps the second oldest in existence. Among those present at the famous meeting to set up the FA in the Freemason's Tavern, Great Queen Street, London, on 26 October 1863 was Mr Warne of the War Office representing the CSFC. Undoubtedly, the club existed before that time but a lack of historical proof prevents us claiming an earlier formation.

The CSFC were the first team to play regularly in Europe in the early 1900s and the club have life membership of both Real Madrid and Slavia Prague. - Barra McGachy, Press Officer, Civil Service FC, Chiswick, London W4

ANSWERS PLEASE

Q. Last season Arsenal and Chelsea represented England in the European Cup-Winners' Cup, yet neither had actually won the major domestic trophy of the previous season. Does this have any precedent? - Martyn Gascombe- Smith, London NW6

Q. When was the last time a FA Cup tie second replay was played on a neutral ground, and did such matches attract large attendances? - Chris Weeks, Bristol

Q. Which football club has retained the same strip the longest? - John Allaway, Norwich

Q. Why do many top sprinters have much larger biceps now than their predecessors did 20 years ago? How are these muscles useful to these athletes? - Simon Ravens, Worcester

Q. How are football referees vetted to ensure that they have no personal preferences for teams in games in which they officiate? - Martyn Giscombe-Smith, London NW6

If you know the answers to any of these questions or have a question of your own, write to: Q & A, Sports Desk, Independent on Sunday, 1 Canada Square, London E14 5DL. Fax: 0171-293 2894

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