The Sunderland Quiz League: come and have a go if you think you know some stuff

Ernest Hemingway said: “There are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing and mountaineering; all the rest are merely games.”

Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 6:15 pm

Clearly Ernest was unfamiliar with the Sunderland Quiz League, as well as being famously off his onion. He was wrong about bullfighting, motor racing and mountaineering too (especially motor racing … zzzzzz…).

The quiz league provides combat, Machiavellian intrigue and psychological warfare.

Nah, only kidding. You do get a buffet though and the league wants new teams. Are you any good?

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Egghead Kevin Ashman, left, with Sunderland Quiz League stalwarts Martin O'Neill and Dave Taylor. Don't worry, Kevin doesn't play.

The standard is fairly high. If your general knowledge is only up to rattling off a few questions on Tipping Point, then it’s probably unsuitable.

The league, which has been around for 50 years, has quizzers who have shone on Mastermind, Fifteen to One and Only Connect (most men in the league consider Victoria Coren Mitchell to be the last word in womanly perfection).

They’ve also been on Supermarket Sweep. They’re not proud.

These men and women know things. But don’t be intimidated. For every Brain of Britain there are several like me.

When I play and hear a question about the discovery of uranium, I usually press my fingertips together to affect deep thought. In reality I don’t have a clue and am actually waiting for Coronation Street or Kevin Phillips to crop up – and they often do.

I remember the first time I played. Teams have up to six players and, of the 12 people present, I was the only one who knew that Roger Whittaker and Des O’Connor had a top 10 hit in 1986 with their duet of The Skye Boat Song. Clever or what?

The others had been wasting their lives memorising the periodic table and so forth, when they could have been learning something useful. I smugly excused their ignorance.

In 2013 there was a Leicester City moment when my team, the Kings Arms (the franchise later changed to the Ship Isis), won the league and our glorious leader Barry proudly lifted the solid gold (or something) trophy.

But it’s mainly just fun. It’s tricky, but not impossible and spectacularly wrong answers (like mine) are part of the entertainment. Anyone interested should visit

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