Q&A: When North went South . . . and officials on the move

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Did any club play in both the Third Division North and Third Division South? Also, if, say, two northern sides were relegated from the old Second Division, by which criterion would one team have been moved from one regional division to another?

The separation of clubs between the Third Division North and the Third Division South between 1921 and 1958 was not always arranged on a strictly geographical north/south basis.

Clubs were transferred on 10 occasions, involving Coventry, Walsall (both three times), Mansfield (three times), Port Vale (twice) and Shrewsbury, but in 15 seasons (1921-28, 1931-34, 1935-36, 1937-39, 1946-47 and 1950-51) there were examples of clubs in the Third Division North which were situated further south than some clubs in the Third Division South.

The most extreme example of this occurred in 1931-32 when Mansfield played in the Third Division South but Walsall were transferred to the Third Division North, despite being some 40 miles south of Mansfield. Walsall played in the Third Division North in 10 seasons when clubs to the north of them played in the Third Division South. Perhaps the League authorities didn't know where Walsall was. - Stephen Lees, Cambridge.

Your correspondents have missed the most famous of clubs, Wolves. They not only played in both North and South Divisions but were the only club ever to win the championship of each. In other words the only club to win First, Second, Third South and Third North championships. - Don Brown, Bexhill-on-Sea.

Sheffield United were so named in March, 1889. Were any other football clubs called 'United' before that date?

Whilst agreeing with L Graves (Q & A, 27 September) that a city that spawns two football clubs should not be allowed to call either of them 'United', the misnomer of Manchester United is not in the 'United' but in the 'Manchester'. Until 1974 the Old Trafford ground was within the boundary of Stretford. As a result of Local Government reorganisation of that year it is now in the Metropolitan borough of Trafford.

One of the more popular chants at Maine Road, after 'Blue Moon' and 'Sing when you're winning, you only sing when you're winning' has the refrain 'We're the only football team from Manchester'. Indeed, the other team are often referred to by City fans as 'Stretford' or 'Trafford'. -Peter Hosie, Manchester.

Are cricketers ever subject to random drug tests, as are athletes, footballers and other sportspeople?

Yes. They are subject to routine drug-testing by the Sports Council. - Michael Clarke, Bedford.

Why are Bayern Munich so called? Bayern Munchen would be consistently German. Bavaria Munich would be consistently English. Why the hybrid?

The team in question is called Bayern Munchen. There are of course numerous examples of teams with English names in German-speaking countries, not least Austria, where you find both Austria Salzburg and Austria Vienna. And in Switzerland (lest we forget) there is Young Boys from Zurich.

German newspapers often refer to English clubs as FC Everton, FC Chelsea and so on and, most enigmatically, a team with the moniker Arsenal London seems to frequent the nether regions of the British tables as published by the likes of Bild am Sonntag. - P Kingsbury, Boston, Lincs.

Which rugby ground has the highest goal-posts? Is there any upper or lower limit to the height?

The South Wales Rugby Club of Pyle has probably the highest goalposts, stretching skywards an amazing 58 feet. There isn't really a limit to how high they can be, as long as the crossbar is three metres from the ground. - Clive R Handel, Exeter.

Apart from bowls players, darts players and golfers, do any other sportsmen smoke during play?

Derrick Rostagno, the Californian tennis player recently ranked as high as No 13 in the world, was involved in a very long five-set match in a tournament last year and, in the latter stages, he asked the chair umpire if he could smoke a cigarette at a changeover. The request was denied.

And there is a famous story in the annals of Australian Rules football about one of the most gifted yet erratic players of the 1960s and 70s, Brent Crosswell, who played for the prestigious Carlton club in Melbourne. Cresswell, towards the end of his career, told the story himself, in a magazine article, about the time he smoked marijuana before a match and took to the field stoned. He didn't play very well.

Keke Rosberg, Finland's former world motor racing champion, was a fierce smoker during his time in Formula One, sponsored by Marlboro in more ways than one. Doug Walters, the Australian Test cricketer, was another who had a fag on the go most of the time. His team-mates often wondered at how he could stay out in the middle for so long. - Andrew Bryson, NW5.

Although never known to actually light up on the pitch, legend has it that Bobby Charlton chain-smoked his way through the half-time break of the 1966 World Cup final. One man, however, stands alone as the sheer embodiment of that unholy marriage between sport and tobacco. I refer of course to Alex Higgins.

Some 14 years ago I was given the dubious pleasure of driving the Hurricane to a handful of exhibition matches around the north-east. The Belfast boy had suffered a slump in form at the time but was still very much the people's champion. We arrived in Hartlepool one night to a positively gladiatorial reception. As the evening unfurled and Alex duly demolished the 10 best players in the club, he also tugged and chugged his way through two full packs of Benson and Hedges, even breaking open a third on the way home. Needless to say this incendiary feat was accompanied by a death-defying quantity of vodka tonics.

A couple of years later he was back in business at the Crucible as the storming of the Iranian Ambassador's residence played havoc with the televising of the World Snooker finals, prompting wags all over the country to pose the immortal question: 'Who smokes more Embassies - Alex Higgins or the SAS?' - Tab Hunter, Newcastle

Which sport is the most physically demanding on the referee or umpire? And which the least?

In Australian Rules football, a field umpire in a senior match of approximately two hours' duration jogs, strides, sprints and runs backwards for 20 kilometres. Combine this with a decision to be made every couple of seconds (often a decision not to make a decision), and you have a very tired umpire when the final siren sounds. - Michael Stinziani, London SW20


In 1972 or 1973 a football match was played at Wembley between 'The Three' and 'The Six'. It was to celebrate the UK's entry into the EEC. What was the score, who were the scorers and what were the line-ups? - A Raczynski, London W3.

Do schoolchildren no longer play conkers? I have noticed dozens lying around in my local park recently which I am sure would have been snapped up a few years ago. - Margaret Davey, Aldershot.

Can it be true that Partick Thistle were once known as the Maryhill Magyars during the heyday of Ferenc Puskas and the Hungarian national side, and if so by whom were they so christened? - Ian Stephenson, Dundee.

Whatever happened to 'The Memory Man' Leslie Welch - famed for his displays of sporting and general knowledge on the radio in the 1950s? - Alistair Roone, Bristol.

Is the objective in cycling pursuit races to catch the opponent? Or are the two riders separated for another reason? If the race stops when one racer catches and/or passes the other how are world records set for the event? Are there any other sports employing the tortoise- and-hare approach?

Len Griffiths, London SW13.

What is the most common score in football? - Simon Samuel, London W2.

Now that half-time in Premier League matches lasts 15 minutes rather than 10, what do the managers find to tell their players? - Patrick Matthews, Rye.

What constitutes the platform beneath a weightlifter that enables him to fling the apparatus to the floor at the completion of his endeavour? - John Drake, London NW1.

I am told that some time in the 1960s, at the end of the second leg of a Fairs Cup tie with the scores level on aggregate, Nottingham Forest's players stayed on the pitch waiting for extra time. They were dismayed to see their opponents walk triumphantly back to the dressing room. No one at Forest had heard of the away goals rule. Is this true? - Louise Fuller, London E17.

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

The Independent on Sunday

40 City Road

London EC1Y 2DB

(Photograph omitted)