Football team may have met its match in the City

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Sheffield United has challenged the press, analysts and institutions to a football match. The club threw down the gauntlet when it announced its interim results earlier this month, and the showdown is set for Thursday 17 April. One of my colleagues will play, while the list for the Sheffield team should be completed by the end of the week.

The match is being organised by City spin doctor Brunswick, which says it wants to see which journalists and City types dare to play before finalising the Sheffield line-up. Whether Sheffield's manager, Howard Kendall, will agree to subject first team players such as Mitch Ward and Dane Whitehouse to the rough and tumble of the City's hard tackling remains to be seen.

Perhaps they could invite actor Sean Bean, United's number one fan, or recall Seventies midfield maestro Tony Currie out of retirement. Watch this space.

Regular readers will know that Sam Jaffa is leaving the BBC after 16 years to become head of pr at Price Waterhouse.

Mr Jaffa was celebrating his last hours at the Beeb on Tuesday night with chums in a wine bar at the back of Broadcasting House. So overcome was Mr Jaffa that he failed to notice TV hell-raiser Chris Evans and two pals taking advantage of Mr Jaffa's free bar.

Mr Evans, sporting a bizarre red, white and blue hat, helped himself to free bottles of Beck's before disappearing into an alcove to cram himself with tortilla chips. Mr Jaffa's pals were relieved to see, however, that Mr Evans later paid for the drinks.

No sooner has John Craven retired as chairman of Morgan Grenfell than that nemesis of MG's asset management arm, Nicola Horlick, pops up on a "fantasy investment game" at the BBC World Service this weekend. Those in the know expect Ms Horlick to forecast a 2,000-point correction for the Dow and to recommend putting all your cash into Japan and Taiwan. I am assured that Deutsche Bank will not be discussed.

When CGA Group, a home and car insurance company, went bust last week not many people realised its historical connection with the Country Gentleman's Association.

Happily, the apple-cheeked landed gentry who form the association's membership will not be affected by the receivership, since CGA, which grew up as the insurance arm of the association, parted company many years ago.

Churchill Insurance was happy to snap up CGA's 100,000 policies this week from the receivers Ernst & Young for a reputed pittance. The association, meanwhile, steams along after 100 years of glorious history. The association is based in Baldock, Hertfordshire, but was founded in Letchworth. It was set up as the wealthy farmer's equivalent of the Co-op, when some clever toff realised it would be far cheaper for him and his chums to team together to buy five-bar gates, water troughs and the like, than to buy such items individually.

Soon the association was selling stuff on and built a warehouse in Letchworth. It is now mainly a membership association with a monthly magazine and the Letchworth head office is a housing estate. But the association enjoys better health than its offspring CGA.

Robin Hardy, construction analyst at Panmure Gordon, is keen to put the record straight about last Friday's story in this column that calls to his number were met by a rendition of the French folk song Frere Jacques, with no beep for a message.

"I was with my wife who was having a baby," says Mr Hardy. Sounds like an impeccable reason to me.

The result was a daughter, Isabel. Mr Hardy returned to work on Monday to find 15 rather long messages on his answerphone.

Mr Hardy didn't even know it played Frere Jacques until the article appeared: "It's just a standard BT answerphone."

Undeterred by its pounds 77m mis-pricing blooper, Martin Owen's NatWest Markets continues its quest for global domination with three new European hires.

In come Geert Jan A Leest, 37, from MeesPierson NV, William Pavone, 36, from Barclays de Zoete Wedd, and Robert Wallin, 37, from Skanska AB.