Q&A:Haring along on the outside

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The Independent Online
Q. In Greyhound racing, the hare runs either on the inside or the outside. Does this have an effect on results?

A. There are 38 tracks racing under National Greyhound Racing Club rules, with all but three, Henlow, Portsmouth and Middlesbrough, using an outside hare. Approximately 80 per cent of greyhounds are bred in Ireland, where they are schooled behind an outside mechanical hare.

It makes little difference to the greyhound whether it races behind an inside or outside hare, unless it is racing behind one of the types for the first time. Greyhound racing is the second biggest spectator sport in the United Kingdom, with 85 per cent of spectators attending tracks run under NGRC rules. More than £2bn is bet on greyhound racing each year. - Geoffrey Thomas, Executive Director, British Greyhound Racing Board, London NW1

Q. On 26 December 1994, Leeds Rugby League Club played a league match at Hull RLFC, thereby ending a run of 36 consecutive home Boxing Day fixtures. Given the proximity of Leeds to other big rugby league towns and the guarantee of a large home gate on this particular day, why was this sequence allowed to become established? Has any other team played out a longer run of home (or away) competitive fixtures on such an important date in the calendar?

A. There has never been any formal arrangement, but one of the reasons that Leeds have so often enjoyed home fixtures on Boxing Day, often against Wakefield Trinity, was that their Headingley ground had undersoil heating. When the BBC were regularly televising rugby league, this meant that their cameras could be sure of a game over the crucial viewing period of Christmas, if Leeds were at home. This season, Leeds were scheduled to play at home on New Year's Day and it was thought that letting them also have a home fixture on Boxing Day would have been unfair. In the past, other, smaller sides have complained about Leeds playing at home on Boxing Day, more from the point of view that it deprived them of a lucrative visit from the Yorkshire side, who boast a huge travelling support, than from the standpoint that a home match at Headingley would attract all the floating fans. Other rugby league clubs also have particular arrangements over the holiday period, with the two Wigan-St Helens derbies generallybeing played at Christmas and Easter. - Trevor Monk, Doncaster Apart from Steve Archibald at Barcelona and Mo Johnston at Nantes, are there any other examples of Scottish players on the continent?

A. One Scottish player who travelled to Europe to further his playing career and was forgotten by your comprehensive correspondent last week is Alan McInally. After a successful season at Aston Villa under the managership of (I think) Graham Taylor, he was transferred to Bayern Munich. Although he played very well there for a time, little has been heard of him since. I believe he incurred an injury and has had to give up the game. I wonder if anyone else has any more information on him.

Q. What is the route laid down by the Football Association for a non-league club to achieve league status?

A. When a non-league club reaches the stage where they qualify for membership of the Endsleigh League, i.e. winning the GM Vauxhall Conference championship, there are four main criteria the club must meet before the Football League, not the FA, can admitthem. The club's ground must have at least a 6,000 capacity, of which 1,000 must be covered seating. The terracing must comply with the latest safety guidelines and the club's balance sheet must reflect a positive nature - Alan Ford, Dorchester ANSWERS PLEASE Which footballers have played against clubs they once managed? I recall the late Roy Chapman, the father of Lee, playing for Port Vale against Lincoln City on 16 February 1968. Is this the only case? - David Porter, Stoke-on-Trent Q. Which sportsperson was the first to have his or her biography published in the United Kingdom? - Kevin Maguire, Batley Q. Football teams playing in matches that were televised used to have to make sure that their strip would not look too similar to their opponents' when viewed on a black and white television. When did this practice cease? - Tim Mickleburgh, Grimsby Q. At the time of writing, Crystal Palace have played nine consecutive league games without scoring a goal - which I believe is a record for the FA Carling Premiership. What is the all-time record for this undesirable statistic? - David Huckstep, London SW2

Q. Does anyone know whether or not Pete Davies, the author of All Played Out - The Full Story of Italia '90, has any similar projects in the pipeline? - Ben Erwin, London N8

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 1 Canada Square Canary Wharf London E14 5DL Fax: 071-293 2894

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