The Withington Pub Quiz League


10th January 2018


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Gerry Hennessy



We have heard that Gerry's cremation service will take place next Monday January 15th at 10.30am at Southern Cemetery with drinks and memories afterwards in the Red Lion (where else!).

I hope you can get long to say goodbye to a much loved member of our quizzing fraternity.

As I know that people going along to this service may be interested to read what we published about Gerry just before Christmas I have repeated it below.

Gerry Hennessy

Sadly we have just heard that our good friend Gerry Hennessy died earlier this week.

Gerry was one of the founders of this quiz league back in 1977 and was much loved and respected by all who knew him.  Latterly he became a stalwart of the Electric Pigs team.

Many of the longer-serving members of the league will remember him for his wonderful Red Lion quizzes which he set and QMed for many years.  The quality of these quizzes and the fun they generated cemented his reputation in South Manchester as the leading character in our quiz activities.  Setting quizzes was his forte and he set many great papers for WithQuiz matches over the years.  Knowing it was a 'Gerry paper' week always made Wednesdays come around that little bit quicker.

Back at the end of the 2007/08 season at the End of Season evening at the Albert Club we chose to thank Gerry for all his tireless service to our hobby by presenting him with a 'lifetime achievement' award.  Dave Rainford (who else) gave the speech and presented the trophy.  Here's a picture and an extract from that week's website report on the evening:

QuizBiz - 07/05/2008

End of Season evening

“Highlight of the presentations, however, was a heartfelt tribute to Gerry Hennessy from Dave Rainford.  Gerry, who was in at the start of the Withington Quiz League, has just had his 60th.  He received a fine glass trophy from Dave inscribed:

To Gerry Hennessy KWE (Knight Commander of the Withington Empire) commemorating his 60th birthday and acknowledging his immense contribution to quizzing in South Manchester and profits in the Red Lion – The Withington Quiz League May 2008

As you may know Gerry contracted throat cancer a few years back and had had great trouble speaking as a consequence.  In more recent times he had lost the faculty of speech altogether and used pencil and slips of paper to communicate - a heavy burden for one so adept at language.

Pigs team captain Gary Donely writes this tribute....

"RIP Gerry.  So sad what life threw at him over so many years - and dealt with at every turn with an attitude to it all that was an object lesson in fortitude and, yes, bravery."

and friend and Pigs colleague, Andrew adds this....

"On Thursday, 23rd June 2016 I had the good fortune to spend a few hours with Gerry.  First, taking him to vote in the EU Referendum and then on to Wythenshawe Hospital for yet another round of treatment.  He was a passionate Remainer and for much of the journey was furiously scribbling notes for me to read hoping the right result would come about."

Results & Match Reports

History Men beat Charabancs

Dunkin' Dönitz beat Electric Pigs

Mantis Shrimp tied with Prodigals

Albert beat Bards

Opsimaths lost to Ethel Rodin

The History Men recorded a comfortable win over The Charabancs of Fire.  After a few years of doom and gloom Ivor's crew are drifting back into contention leapfrogging the Opsimaths and Albert to reach fourth place in the table.  Ivor sums up....

"We started the new year well for once with a victory over one of our oldest foes. Of course we are not foes and tonight, in what was about our 40th meeting, we all had a very merry evening in an almost deserted Red Lion."

...and Mike H chips in....

"Let me just say that it was a very enjoyable, quiz in the company of two very friendly, humorous teams."


Dunkin' Dönitz took advantage of the Shrimp's tie against The Prods by beating The Electric Pigs and moving back into first place in the table.  Kieran sends his first report of the new year....

"A decent win to start the new year against old rivals and friends, the Electric Pigs.  A comfortable enough win in the end but we were 5 points down after three rounds and didn't get our noses in front until half way through Round 6.  After that we were never headed.  Twos were evenly split, 11 each, so yet again it was conferred questions and pass-overs that won it for us.  The Pigs clearly got the rough end of the unanswereds with 7 against only 3 for us. 

Didsbury's own far superior version of Gertrude Shilling, QM Bob, was sporting a new cap - this time honouring Peru.  A present of course, and there must be at least 50 or so countries yet to find a home on the Ganley cranium so there's plenty of scope to mark future birthdays and Christmases.  Just a hint for any Withquiz team who are even half as impressed with our superb master of ceremonies as we have been these past few years. 

We're pleased to note that the paper this week inconvenienced the Shrimp and did for the Opsimaths whose conquerors, Ethel, we face next week.  There have been a couple of one point victories and a draw between Ms. Rodin and the Dönutz in the last few seasons so it should be a great match.  I wonder if the Opsis will go for a retro paper? (ED: Actually we're contemplating 64 teasers on characters from Dickens as we know that's the Dunkers' favourite subject!)"


Compulsory Mantis Shrimp tied with The Prodigals in a thriller at The Turnpike.  Anne-Marie sends this....

"An honourable tie in what, for both teams, turned out to be not the most agreeable WithQuiz paper ever set.  We really enjoyed each other's company though and thanks to Roddy and his fixtures computer we look forward to playing the Shrimp again next week - this time at our gaff."


Albert kept their challenge alive with victory over The Bards of Didsbury.  Winning skipper, Mike O'B, makes these comments....

"Much to our chagrin we arrived at the Fletcher Moss to find it closed for what looks like a radical refurbishment.  Consequently, we transferred to the Crown which proved to be a surprisingly good venue.  We had a comfortable lead until the last two rounds but then The Bards finished much more strongly so that in the end we only just scraped home."


The Opsimaths started the new year off poorly by going down to title hopefuls, Ethel Rodin.  There was little in it through most of the evening with the lead changing hands on a number of occasions.  Ably marshalled by QM Hilary the quiz rattled along leaving plenty of time at the end for a most enjoyable chinwag.  There were one or two mini-disputes along the way (did we really have to give Ms Menchik's first name; was James' stumble towards Castel Gandolfo via various Italian names that sounded like a cross between Mafia bosses and characters from The Hobbit worth the points?) but on the whole the match was played in the best of spirits between two teams with plenty of respect for one another.  In the end Ethel were worthy victors and good luck to them in their quest to unseat the Dunkers.

When we started the evening and Roddy and I were chatting, Roddy warned me that he thought it would be 'an old man's paper' from John Tolan.  Well with Hilary QMing there were 8 old men ready and waiting for the questions with their metaphorical pipes and slippers at the ready.  No surprise then that at another venue the Shrimps were slippers of a very different sort.

Quiz Paper Verdict

This week the paper was set by Guest (John Tolan)

The average aggregate was 78.6.

A gloriously retro affair perfectly in tune with our celebration season when we are looking back over the past 40 years quizzing that has got us to where we are.  It was like settling down in a comfortable armchair to watch the telly and accidentally switching to BBC4 where they're showing one of those nostalgia-fest programmes dressed up as serious history and you're watching the Ideal Homes Exhibition of 1957.  This was a paper redolent of our wonderful past when facts were facts, questions all fitted on a single line, answers were no longer than two words, matches finished at 9.30 or earlier and Mike Heale huffed and puffed about the waste of good drinking time answering daft questions about poncey subjects.

A couple of days ago when John sent me the paper I had to get my wife to print it out and check that all was OK so that I didn't compromise myself as a player.  When she said only two pages had popped out of the printer I had to get her to check that there were 8 rounds of 8 questions.  "Yes" she said, "Of course, isn't that what you always have?".  "But will it be legible to an an aging QM with so-so eyesight in a gloomy pub backroom?" I said.  "Yes - shall I read some of the questions out just to prove it?".  "NO!!!!"

No themes, no pairs, no run-ons, no bingo and no essays attached to the answer to inform you of everything the question-setter also knows about the subject in question.  Indeed the whole affair could have been a Bingo paper where you just chose a number between 1 and 64.  The downside, of course, to such potpourri-ity was some questionable balance.  My sense however was this evened itself out over the 8 rounds.

So what did others make of the paper?


"The quiz was a throwback; no themes, pairs, mash ups, top to tails, crosswords or any fancy business at all.  There was even an appearance from 'which British city is served by such and such airport', the question format straw that finally broke Chara Gerry and caused him to rage in print against the dying of inventiveness when question-setting.  That said, from start to finish it took little more than an hour including the half time beer break.  Somewhere Mike Heale is wearing a huge grin and channelling Mr Punch, 'that's the way to do it'.  For all the merits of brevity and simplicity though there was something dislocated about it.  A sense that this used to be great and it's nice to experience it just once more but things have moved on and now we're playing a different game entirely.  Like watching Yaya tread the Etihad turf on his Shirley Bassey farewell tour.  It was once absolutely brilliant but now it's a bit.... meh."


"As expected from John Tolan, formerly of the Red Lion team in its various incarnations, a good old traditional quiz.  64 unsorted general knowledge questions.  No themes, a sprinkling of gee-whizzes, some quiz classics and the occasional chestnut - with a difficulty level to ensure everyone went home with a couple of 2s and the feeling one’s brains had been lightly exercised rather than flogged to death.

In what must be the shortest quiz paper of the season tucked into an A5 envelope with barely a question longer than a line and all compressed onto two sheets of paper it ended well before 10.15, resulting in some of us being two sheets to the wind such was the available time for supping ale and chat.  There was even time for jokes during the quiz with the pantry question reminding me of the old classic riddle: 'What is the difference between Fanny Craddock and a cross-country run'? (ED: No, nor me)

The quiz itself certainly tested areas last visited at primary school: scalene triangles, the Fosse Way and Richard I’s marriage en route to the Crusades (surely a marriage as convincing as Elton John’s to Renate in 1984).  And a quiz mercifully free of the distasteful modern world, by which I mean Cabinet ministers, silver screen nonentities, popular beat combos - indeed anything after about 1980, and this suited us very well.  The only curiosity was the greyhound racing colours question as no one had ever seen a race with more than six traps."

Mike O'B....

"The quiz was a throwback to the early years of the League; no pairs, themes, run-ons, bingo etc. - just straightforward general knowledge.  This allowed relatively little scope for using logic to work out an answer and hence relatively little scope for conferring.  On the other hand we rattled through the quiz in about an hour which was pleasing.  The score suggests that the questions were reasonable and there were very few unanswered.  There was an occasional lack of balance but this is bound to happen in a quiz of this type.  Both teams liked the question concerning urination even though both got it wrong."

From the QM point of view, Mike H....

"One doubt - no-one of the 8 present, understood the question about greyhound racing.

The questions contained as they were on just two sheets were difficult for the QM to navigate.  It would not have been difficult to get into the Two Ronnies situation where the answer to a question was given to the preceding or following question - but I survived with just one faux-pas, asking Spares Question 1 rather than Round 8 Question 1."

....and finally Shrimp Tom (who knows a thing or two about setting balanced and enjoyable questions for general consumption) chips in these comments as a counter-balance to some of the remarks above....

"Shrimps and Prodigals alike will remember this paper for the unfortunate pairing of Dennis the Menace and Vera Menchik, which gave plenty to talk about at the half-time break.  But to retain only this memory would be unfair and unfortunate; it was really quite a good paper, with short, pithy questions, good balance of subject matter and plenty of what I call 'inherent interest'.

Commentators above seem to think we failed to win because of 'oldie' questions.  This is not true.  The paper suited us.  We failed to win because the Prodigals knew a lot of stuff, conferred well, overcame the Gnasher / chess-champion spike and because we made a number of incorrect 50 / 50 calls - for instance....

Hebrew alphabet - Richard: ‘I think it’s gimel’. Tom: ‘I think bet and vet are separate letters. Can we go with vet?’

Holst’s Planets - Tom: ‘It's either Neptune or Uranus but I remember my brother’s LP… blah, blah….. shall we try Neptune?'

1908 Olympics - James, Rachel and Richard: 'Was it something to do with a volcano?  Tom: 'Maybe, but there was a major earthquake in Messina in 1908, isn’t that more likely…?'

Clothing labels:  Rachel: 'Could it be Do not bleach?'  Tom and James: 'But how about Do not dry clean?’

As far as we were concerned, the ‘oldie’ popular culture questions were all perfectly gettable.  Desmond Llewelyn, Trevor Francis, Kind Hearts and Coronets, Puppet on a String – these are comfortably within the standard quiz canon, in the ‘old but enduring’ category.  None was in our condemned category:  ‘nostalgic but dead and buried as far we are concerned’.

I’m still surprised that WithQuizzers don’t seem to see the distinction between these two categories.  Perhaps taphephobia plays a part?"

....and the Dave Barras Question of the Week award this week has been nominated by The Opsimaths in memory of all those innocent days of the late 1970s when quiz leagues were just kicking off and mop-headed footballers were fetching ludicrously high sums of money.  As it happens the footballer in question later went to Man City and lived just a few hundred yards from the Albert Club on Holme Road just the other side of Marie Louise Park.  Who knows he might even have observed the new-born Quiz League in its infancy when he popped into his Didsbury local for a pint after training.  Anyway the question chosen was Round 4 Question 1:

Which footballer was the first for whom an English club paid a £1million pound transfer fee?

For the answer to this and all the week's other questions click here.

'WithQuiz at 40' News

Make sure you've got Wednesday March 28th in your diaries as this is when we will be gathering to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the formation of our Quiz League.

Celebration Evening

A few days ago I sent this message to all Team Captains....

"As you know a small group of us have been planning the ‘WithQuiz ar 40‘ Celebration Evening that we’re holding on Wednesday March 28th 2018 at Didsbury Cricket Club.

The time has come to issue invitations so that we can be sure of the numbers attending.  We want Team Captains to be responsible for issuing the bulk of the invitations.  The attached document describes the evening and is intended for you to include when you send out your invites.

We have decided that we should limit each of our 10 teams to 7 invitees (current and past players).  We are keen to meet up with as many former players as possible so you are urged to make an effort to contact former players and get them in on the act.  The capacity of the Didsbury Cricket Club Function Room where we are holding the event is 80 – so if every team takes up 7 invites that leaves the planning group 10 more invites to send to former WithQuizzers who might not be on the radar of any current team.

Please send me a list of those that have accepted your invitations by February 10th.

Please let me have their name, their email address and whether they would prefer the veggie option on the buffet (if you say nothing about dietary preference I will assume they’re OK with meat).

No individual attending will be asked to pay anything but we will cover the cost by asking each of the current 10 teams to pay (what we currently estimate to be) £50. 

I will place the gist of this email on the website Home page along with other information about this special evening as we get closer to the date."

The attached document read....

WithQuiz at 40

This 2017/18 season the Withington & District Quiz League (WithQuiz) celebrates its 40th birthday.


To mark the occasion we are holding a special event at which we are hoping to catch up with some old friends.


  Details of the event……

·        Didsbury Cricket Club, Wilmslow Road, M20 5QP

·        Wednesday March 28th, 8pm till late

·        Hot pot supper (or veggie option)

·        Entertainment….

o   A few words from guest speaker Mark Bassett

o   A short quiz based on some of the question papers from the early days of WithQuiz (prepared and delivered by Roddy)

o   Plenty of material about the origins of the league, the highlights of its first 40 years and memories of its most colourful characters

o   A vote for the ‘Best WithQuiz Question’ of the first 40 years

o   ……but mainly each other’s company

If you are reading this and used to be a quizzer in our league then do please get in touch with me or one of the team captains.  We'd love to see you on March 28th.

....and also



Whilst out for a drink at the Albert Club last Wednesday with John and Damian from the Charas, we fell to comparing the various venues in which our quiz matches have been played over the years - and in particular the standard of the toilets.  I have to say this was prompted by a number of visits our old man bladders were forced to make to the Club's facilities.  If you haven't visited the Albert Club lately you won't know how swish the bogs there are these days - it's comparable to the Ritz.  Indeed a number of members (oops!) visit the Gents more frequently than they need just to sample the delights.

Of course our assessment turned immediately to the White Lion toilets which were widely recognised throughout the area (indeed throughout Europe for all I know) as the most unhygienic known to man.

Perhaps when we get together for our nostalgia-fest on March 28th we can announce some sort of Bog Standard League Table.

It would be good to hear you views.