Q&A : Thames' short-lived affair

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Q. My late father told me about a football team called Thames which competed in the Football League Third Division South in the late Twenties or early Thirties. He said a contemporary football publication gave their ground capacity as 200,000. Was this a printing error or did Thames play in some vast natural arena? If so, where?

A. Thames FC were elected to the Football League Third Division (South) in place of Merthyr Tydfil for the start of the 1930-31 season. They played on a ground in the East End "as big as Wembley", but just where, and what the capacity of the ground was, I cannot say. In any event their ability to attract crowds never matched their potential maximum gate. On 6 December 1930 they played Luton, whose share of the receipts was one shilling and seven pence (8p). This was paid by a postal order, which for some time, I believe, was kept as a framed memento in the Luton boardroom.

Thames finished 20th in their Division (out of 22) in the 1930-31 season, and 22nd in the 1931-32 season. They did not seek re-election and were replaced by Aldershot. - G Holland, Stoke on Trent

Q. The British athletics team costume bears the words "View From". What does this signify?

A. "View From" is a sportswear brand, a division of Nova International, a sports marketing firm. The significance of the words "View From" on the British athletics team kit, is that it signifies View From Athletics. Watch out for View From Soccer, and View From fitness, coming soon. - Tony McGill, Commercial Manager, Nova International Ltd, Newcastle upon Tyne

Q. There are 13 professional clubs in London, but the dismal average attendances of Wimbledon and Barnet show that the capital cannot support so many teams. Do any other cities in the world have more than a couple of professional clubs, with the obvious exception of Glasgow?

A. Surely, a more relevant yardstick would be the number of clubs in a city in relation to the number of clubs in that country compared to the proportion of the country's population living in that city. It is hardly surprising Tel Aviv has so many, given that city's population in the context of Israel's population.

If London has 13 professional clubs (14 per cent of the League total), this is probably roughly in proportion to its share of England's population. However, this ignores the fact that London has no great footballing tradition compared with Birmingham, Manchester and Sheffield.

Istanbul (Besiktas, Galatasaray and Fenerbahce) is one city that springs to mind obviously than Tel Aviv. Birmingham virtually qualifies (the Baggies' ground is only a few hundred yards outside Birmingham city boundary and many Albion fans are Brummies). What about Rio and Sao Paulo? I am sure one or both of these has more than two, albeit Sao Paulo has a population close on 20m. - R A Smith, Sheffield

Q. Andy Cole cost Manchester United £7m, yet he may not play for the club in the FA Cup as he is "cup-tied", having played for Newcastle United in previous rounds. What, if any, is the logic behind the "cup-tied" rule, and how did it originate?

A. There is logic behind the cup-tied rule, as it helps preserve something of the old-fashioned purity of a knock-out competition. And really, if you have played for one side already, does it honestly seem fair for you to turn out for another? Indeed, some of us believe that transfers should be limited to the close season, making the Premiership and Endsleigh Leagues freer from dominance by the big clubs.

Incidentally, there has been at least one instance when the cup-tied rule was waived. That was when Stan Crowther turned out for Manchester United after the 1958 Munich air disaster, despite having played for Aston Villa in a previous round of the FA Cup. - Tim Mickleburgh, Grimsby


Q. In view of Aberdeen FC's current predicament, am I correct in believing that they are the only provincial British football team never to have been relegated in their entire history? - Iain Cuthbert, Glasgow

Q. How many English amateur international footballers have become professionals and, like Terry Venables, have ultimately gained full international honours? - Keith Markland, Ilkley

Q. How many strikers have better than "a goal a game" at international or Premiership level? - Anthony Davies, Swansea

Q. Can anybody tell me why Barcelona, one of the most televised and best supported teams in Europe, do not wear a sponsor on their shirts? - Philip Parry, Nottingham

Q. I have recently noticed that Kingsley Black, the Nottingham Forest and Northern Ireland football player, looks very much like Roger Black, the athlete. Are they related? - Richard Wilding, aged 11, Wotton-under- Edge

If you know the answers to any of these questions, or have a sporting question of your own you would like answered, write to:

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