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Tuesday, 22 October, 2002, 20:23 GMT 21:23 UK
Ask Albert - Number 78
Match of the Day's footballing sage Albert Sewell is poised to answer your queries on the beautiful game.

Fill in the form at the bottom of the page to send Albert into action.


Gary Armstrong, Scotland

Does the ball have to be in play for a penalty to be given?

Yes it does, but it does not have to be in the penalty area. A side attacking one goal could concede a penalty if one of their defenders committed an offence worthy of such an award against an opponent in the opposite penalty area.

Nick, Scotland

Before Alan Smith in the recent match against Macedonia, was David Beckham the last player to be sent off in an England match (against Argentina in the 1998 World Cup)?

Alan Smith is the ninth England player to be sent off. Numbers six, seven and eight after Beckham's dismissal were all in European Championship qualifiers: Paul Ince against Sweden in September 1998; Paul Scholes against Sweden in June 1999; and David Batty against Poland in September 1999.

Dave Shanks, UK

Can you settle a dispute for me: a friend claims that Worcester City knocked Liverpool out of the FA Cup in 1959. Is he right and can you fill in some details please?

It's true enough Dave, and thanks for reminding me that I was there, reporting it for the Daily Telegraph all those years again. Worcester, from the old Southern League, beat then Second Division Liverpool 2-1 for one of the FA Cup's all-time giant-killing shocks. It was in the third round on 15 January 1959.

Michael, Guernsey, Channel Islands

What are the duties of a referees' assessor?

The assessor meets the referee and his assistants before the game for a general chat, and may visit them in the dressing room again at half-time, if a controversial point has arisen on the field.

At the finish, he will tell the referee of anything special that he will be putting in his report to the Premier League or Nationwide League. What he won't do is tell him how many marks he is awarding him on a scale of 1 to 100.

Matt Strom, London

From a penalty, can the ball be passed to a team-mate to score?

It can, as long as it is passed forward. But why would anyone want to do this in a serious match? Once the ball was in play, after being passed, the goalkeeper would be flying off his line and making it much harder for the second player to score.

Matthew Standish, Leeds

Can you be offside direct from a goal kick?

No, you can't...nor from a corner kick or a throw-in. Direct is the operative word. But the merest flick-on by one player in any such situation can make a team-mate offside.

Peter Oliver, England

Which Premiership teams have the most millionaires in their squads?

It doesn't take a genius to guess that the players of Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool head the millionaires' list. But despite press speculation from time to time, contractual arrangements are strictly private between players, their agents and clubs.

Les Pillay, South Africa

How did Sheffield Wednesday get their name? Were they a breakaway from Sheffield United?

Wednesday were formed at a meeting in the smoke-room of a Sheffield pub on 4 September 1867. Founders were the members of the Sheffield Wednesday Cricket Club (formed in 1825), who wanted to stay together as a team during the winter. Both Sheffield clubs entered the Football League in 1892 - Wednesday in Division One, United in Division Two.

Jon James, England

Could Ryan Giggs have played for England? I have a 10 note that says the answer is 'no'.

Cardiff-born Giggs did play for England schoolboys after the family moved to Manchester. But he says: "I am Welsh, 100%...end of story." Pity. Think of all the years England might have been spared looking for a natural left-sided attacker, as they still are.

John Cook, UK

Albert, I have often wondered what is the maximum number of stripes that are allowed to be cut into a Premiership pitch. My mate reckons it is 32.

There is nothing laid down about this in the rule book...nor about pitch watering or the length to which the grass should be limited.

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