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McGrory's goal a game

Q. How many strikers have better than "a goal a game" at international or Premiership level?

A. Considered by many to be the greatest ever Celtic player, Jimmy Mc- Grory (1904-82) had an average of a goal every league game in the period 1922-37. Memorable matches included scoring five goals against Aberdeen, Dundee Utd and Clyde in 1926-27, eight goals against Dunfermline Athletic in 1928 and nine hat-tricks in 1935-36, including three goals in three minutes against Motherwell. Internationally, he was only capped seven times by Scotland. However, in those seven appearances he scored six goals. - Sean McColm, Copenhagen

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. A detailed history of Thames Association is contained in Rejected FC: Comprehensive History of the ex-Football League Clubs, by Dave Twydell. Their ground at the West Ham stadium, Prince Regent's Lane, Custom House, London E16, had a claimed capacity of 120,000 which made it the largest ground ever regularly used by a Football League team in England. Ironically. Thames Association were one of the poorest supported teams and their record attendance was approximately 8,000 versus Exeter City in August 1931. The stadium also hosted greyhound and speedway racing. The stadium's record attendance was 64,000 for England v Australia at speedway. The stadium was demolished in the Seventies for housing. - Colin Startup, Kingston

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?

A. There are two reasons, one practical and one emotional. First, apart from the fact that they do not need the money, it might be difficult to find a sponsor. When Zanussi sponsored Real Madrid, their sales in Catalonia fell by more than 20 per cent. Sponsoring Barcelona would increase sales in Catalonia and reduce them in the rest of Spain. Second, although the origin of the blue-red stripes is that they were the school colours of the Swiss founder John Gamper, they replaced the red and yellow stripes of the Catalan flag when it was banned by Franco. To some older Catalans, sponsoring the Barcelona shirt might seem like the equivalent to us of sponsoring the Union Jack. Perhaps the solution was that of Barcelona FC basketball team who were sponsored by a regional savings bank called Caixa de Catalunya. - Henry and Thomas Trull, Aylesbury

Q. A frequent feature of matches at Recreation Park, Alloa, is for the ball to be kicked out of the ground either on the Clackmannan Road or on to the disused railway line. Does this happen at other grounds. Which ground holds the record in this respect.

A. As regards lost balls at football grounds, I would nominate Kenilworth Road as a contender for the record. The Bobbers Stand (it used to cost a bob to stand there once upon a time), which is now used for executive boxes, is not at all high and does not require much "hoof" to clear. However, last season a net was put up above the stand, stretching the entire length of the ground, to cut down the losses. It was immediately nicknamed the Dreyer Net, in memory of John Dreyer, a former centre back who put more than his share of balls out of the ground. Unfortunately, while reducing the number of balls entering neighbours' back gardens, it is now possible for a ball to hit the back of the net, drop down and get stuck on the roof of an executive box. - Steven Whitehead, Wingrave. PS. Do balls still end up in the river at Shrewsbury?


Q. What is the earliest date in the season a football club has been relegated from the Premiership and Football League? - Peter Downes, Bristol

Q. Can anyone tell me who was the first black cricketer to play county cricket, for which club, in what year and at which ground? - H Jones, St Helens

Q. The University Boat Race, contested by Oxford and Cambridge, has an enduring quality, but how did it start and why is it rowed on the River Thames? - James Howlett, Walsall

Can anyone name a town in Europe whose football club has a better record in their national league (and European competition) over the past 15 years than Auxerre in relation to the town's population, in this case 40,000 (smaller than Chesterfield)? - R A Smith, Sheffield

After one of the wettest winters on record, which Football League pitch remains in the best condition. - Peter T Evans, Craven Arms, Shropshire

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

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