A- Because they're boring. Actually there are many reasons - and not quite all of them start and finish with the words 'because they're boring'.
Historically, it could be because of their original back-door entry to the First Division. From more recent times it could be because of the number of 1-0 victories gained through dubious last- minute penalties or own goals.
However, looking at the last 10 to 15 years suggests that it could be because of their players' unique attitude towards sporting opponents and towards the drink/drive laws.
Personally, I think it's because they're boring. - Roy Saunders, London N12.
Arsenal's traditional unpopularity may have begun in 1915 when they were 'selected' for the extended First Division, with Barnsley, Wolves and Birmingham between them and the leaders Derby and Preston. (There may have been good reasons for this 'promotion', but few reference books explain it. Perhaps another reader can help?) However the main target was the manager, Herbert Chapman, after he had deserted Huddersfield and plundered northern clubs to provide players for Arsenal's successes through the 1930s (five championships and Wembley most years for the FA Cup or the Charity Shield).
The first 36 years of the Championship had belonged to the Midlands and the North, whose dole queues then saw London money buy privileges and take their favoured players south. Chapman then exploited the new offside law with Charlie Buchan, and also created a 'smash-and-grab' reputation on the field. He also changed the name of the underground station from Gillespie Road. It took grotty Walsall to punch him on the nose.
As an arrogant forerunner to Paisley and Clough, he created similar hostilities - clearly never forgotten.
I hate to say it, but Arsenal fans should be proud of the envy, since Chapman made Arsenal, and improved football. - Ralph Gee, Nottingham.
Q Has there ever been an instance in the Football League where a club's second- choice goalkeeper played regularly, or occasionally, in another position?
A. - Gordon Nisbet, West Bromwich Albion's reserve goalkeeper, made his First Division debut in goal against Coventry on 12 August 1969. His next first-team appearance was at right-back against Arsenal in December 1971, the first of 54 successive matches in this position. He also represented the England Under-23 side at full-back. Between 1973 and 1975 he made a further 81 appearances at full-back, including a match at Sunderland where he took over in goal following an injury to the keeper. - P J Knowles, London N6.
During Luton Town's Fourth Division days around the mid-Sixties the club signed, as goalkeeping cover, a player called Tony Read from Peterborough United, at which club he was accustomed to appearing as an outfield player in the reserves.
Before long at Luton he had become the reserve team's regular centre-forward and his goalscoring record was good enough for him to be promoted to the first team in this position. He led the first team's forward line for a substantial part of one season and was well worth his place for his general play as well as the goals he scored.
Without doubt he peaked in one particular league match at Kenilworth Road when he scored a memorable hat-trick - one with his right foot, one with his left and one header. I seem to remember that the Sunday People report of this game gave him a 10 out of 10 for his performance.
By the time Luton embarked on their Fourth Division championship campaign (the 1967-68 season) Tony Read had reverted to his specialist position and was first-choice first team goalkeeper for several seasons into the early Seventies and the Second Division. - J G Fildes, St Brelade, Jersey.
In his days with Aberdeen, when he was understudy to Jim Leighton, the Norwich City goalkeeper Bryan Gunn played a number of matches for the reserves in midfield. - William Hern, Maidenhead.
Q. In their last three League and Cup games, Manchester United have had nine different goalscorers. Is this a record?
A. - My team, Liverpool, can equal this. 24 April 1943: Bolton (A) 6-3 Welsh 2, Done 2, Kaye, Hulligan. 26 April: Everton (H) 4-1 Fagan, Balmer, Done, Nieuwenhoys. 1 May: Bolton (H) 4-0 Done 2, Pearson, Campbell. (Oh for one of those results against Bolton this season]) - Bob Hardy, Liverpool.
In the first round of the 1974-75 European Cup-Winners' Cup Liverpool beat the Norwegian part-timers Stromgodset IF 11-0. The Liverpool scorers were Lindsay, Boersma (2), Thompson (2), Heighway, Cormack, Hughes, Smith, Callaghan and Kennedy. The only outfield player who failed to score was Brian Hall. - Mr D Wilkinson, Birmingham.
Q. Have the protestations of a professional footballer, having been shown the red card and ordered to leave the field, ever led a referee to reverse his initial decision?
A. - G Drummond, playing for Preston North End in the 1890s, once got sent off for fighting but was later invited back on the field by the referee. He duly obliged by scoring four goals in a 6-0 win against Notts County. - W J Bland, Darwen, Lancs.
In the 1986 Scottish Skol Cup Final between Celtic and Rangers, Celtic's Mo Johnston was ordered off for retaliation. During the subsequent melee between opposing players, the referee was hit on the back of the head by a coin thrown from the crowd. He then ordered off Celtic's Tony Shepherd, believing he had struck him from behind. After protests from the player and team-mates the referee reversed the decision and the player played out the remainder of the match. - J O'H, London SE5.
In the 1977-78 season there was a local derby between VfL Bochum and Schalke 04 in which, with the score at
1-0 to Schalke, Bochum's Dieter Bast was sent off. This so enraged his team- mate Jochen Abel that he first protested long and hard about the decision and then, when play had restarted, set off on what the German press described as his Amoklauf, in which he kicked two Schalke players with the ball nowhere near and was shown the red card.
He refused to go, and at this point the normally docile Bochum fans invaded the pitch. When the playing area was finally cleared and order restored, Abel was still on the field and the referee, not wanting a riot on his hands, replaced the red card and showed a yellow one instead. To add insult to injury, Abel himself scored the equaliser in first-half injury time. There was no further score in the second half. - Mark Plowright, Eastbourne.
Q. What are the advantages of catamarans over single-hulled yachts?
A. - The advantage is mostly leverage. Because catamarans are wider, the crew can sit further out from the point about which the boat is rotating as the wind tries to push it over. This increased ability to hold the boat upright allows more sail to be carried on a taller mast. More sail area equals more power, and if the weight remains the same, more speed. Making monohulled yachts the same width as a catamaran would not have the same effect, as the increase in weight and water resistance would be too great. - Paul Metcalfe, Loughton, Essex.
Some 40 years ago at the primary school I attended in Wiltshire the girls of 10 and 11 played a game called shinty. Is this game played today, and if so, how popular is it? - Brian Shearing, Reading.
Why is it that a batsman can be given out, hit the ball twice, for striking the ball twice with his bat in defence of his wicket, yet be allowed to kick the ball away after his first contact? - Bob Stein, London NW6.
Occasionally we hear of goalkeepers scoring after kicking the ball straight from their area. Has a goalkeeper ever scored more than one goal in a game? - John Smith, Beaconsfield, Bucks.
How accurate do pools-panel verdicts prove when games are eventually played? - Stewart Walker, Little Chalfont, Bucks.
Can anyone confirm the story of a Scottish goalkeeper being booked during a league match for smoking? - Iain McSeveny, London N5.
When a football match goes to a penalty shoot-out, how is it decided in which goal it will take place? With the considerable pressure that crowds can exert on players, this could surely have a material effect on the result of the match. - Mr R J Davies, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex.
Which sports have their own constituted learned society for the antiquarian interests of its followers? - Mrs B Knight, Colchester, Essex.
Why do most footballers celebrate so excitedly when their team scores a goal? Has it always been like this? Conversely, why do managers appear so dead-pan in the same circumstances? And where does the phrase 'to keep a clean sheet' come from? - Andy Watters, Shropshire.
Who are or have been the longest serving players with a football club? - Edward Reynolds, Basingstoke.
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
Independent on Sunday
40 City Road
London EC1Y 2DBReuse content