Wembley's worst wasters

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Q. With Wembley now being used for numerous football finals, which of the present league teams have never played there? And for those who have been there often, which has the best and worst record?

A. I suspect that there can only be one response to the part of question about Wembley's least successful performers. Poor old Leicester City have never won the FA Cup but have played in four Wembley finals, three of them in the Sixties alone. In the Nineties they have suffered torment by play-off there on two further occasions before finally tasting success this time last year. Much good it did them, of course, or their conquerors, Swindon, the previous season, though Blackburn Rovers, who squeezed past them with a questionable penalty in 1992, have fared rather better in the top flight. - Mike Dodds, London SE21

Q. Eric Cantona seems unusual among the sports fraternity in his artistic leanings. Has any professional sportsman or woman enjoyed a career as a painter or sculptor during or after their sporting days?

A. Unlike most sports, cricket provides its participants with a fair deal of spare time during matches. While waiting to bat or hoping that the rain may abate, at least two professional cricketers have put this time to creative use.

Martin Speight, of Sussex, has produced a set of oils and watercolours of cricket grounds and personalities. This month a collection of his work is to be published called A Cricketer's View. The original of his painting of The Oval hangs in the home of a certain cricket lover in 10 Downing Street.

Gloucestershire's Jack Russell often toured abroad as England's reserve wicketkeeper and, rarely getting a game, he would occupy his time in sketching the exotic venues he has visited around the world. Prints of his work are also commercially available.

I believe that the footballer Pat Nevin is something of an expert on visual art, but whether he paints, I'm not sure. Can anyone advise? And there is of course the French/Algerian playwright and novelist Albert Camus, who managed to knock out the odd volume while playing football as a goalkeeper. - David Balcombe Northwood

Q. How many of the 22 GM Vauxhall Conference teams would have been eligible for promotion to the Third Division had they won the Conference title? Is the present situation really as daft as it seems?

A. Further to Rod Cross's response (21 May), it does make sense for the Football League to insist on allowing only well-run clubs with suitable facilities to be promoted from the Conference. However, the Football League rather spoil their own case by allowing clubs that do not meet such criteria to remain in membership of the League. They also require clubs seeking promotion from the Conference to have their grounds up to standard by 31 December, i.e. five months before the end of the relevant season. The old pals' act of re-election has been replaced by an old pals' act based on one set of rules for existing members and one harsher set for potential newcomers. Incidentally, Southport and Dover Athletic hope to bring their grounds up to League standard, so there may be as many as six clubs eligible for promotion next season. - Colin Startup, Kingston, Surrey

Q. Will the average home crowd of Blackburn Rovers be the lowest ever for champions of the top division in England or Scotland?

A. The 1964-65 Scottish league season was an exciting four-way contest between Dunfermline Athletic, Heart of Midlothian, Hibernian, and Kilmarnock. On the last day of the season, Killie went to Tynecastle needing a two- goal win to be champions; any lesser result would give Hearts the title. Killie won 2-0; their average home gate in their championship season was 10,500.

In 1982-83, Dundee United won the Premier League with an average home gate of 11,137. - D Hayes, York


Q. I note that Motherwell managed to be runners-up in this year's Scottish Premier with a goal difference of zero. I wonder if any club has achieved the distinction of being runners-up, or indeed champions, with a negative goal difference? - Jonathan Fulford, Dundee

Q. Which football team has the biggest away following in relation to their attendances at home games, in terms of percentages? - Sean Redgate, Nottingham

Q. Why are the FA and Scottish Cup finals now on different days? - Tim Mickleburgh, Grimsby

Q. In football league or cup games, what percentage of the gate receipts does the away team get? - C Matthews, Weston-super-Mare

Q. In the early Fifties, the West Indies cricket team had a spin-force in Ramadhin and Valentine. They have never been replaced and West Indies have relied on a battery of fast bowlers. Why? - Kevin Maguire, Batley

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