Football: Franzi's got a dull reputation but he's actually a laugh- a-minute guy

THE GAFFER TAPES
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The Independent Online
Strange goings on at the Old Cornfield this week. I arrived for training on Monday to find a Mercedes parked in my spot and a bloke in the driver's seat. I went to have a quiet word only to discover this fellow spoke a different language, the language of the gun.

Anyway, after I'd left the motor in Tesco's car park over the road I came back to find three of his mates in a meeting with the chairman. All were wearing big coats, thick moustaches and bulges where most people keep their wallets. Either Mark Lawrenson, Graeme Souness and Tom Selleck were joining the board or there was something even more sinister going on.

Miss Moneyecu, our latest secretary, explained they were a party of Belarus businessmen who wanted to buy the club. They were offering a cash deposit - in a variety of currencies. They didn't need a receipt as they were sure Sir Hirem Firem's word was his bond. This is not generally regarded as the case: even the Chichester Club won't allow him a slate at the bar anymore, but Dave the barman tends not to settle his debts in blood - I suspect these guys will.

Sir Hirem was not quite convinced about the deal and, once I discovered they intended to bring in their own manager, neither was I - we've enough foreign coaches already. So I nipped off to make a quick call to the local nick. Minutes later Inspector Cools drove up in full dress uniform. We introduced him with a nod and a wink as the club's "security officer", and they made their excuses and left.

This was probably a good thing as we've a special visitor today. Apparently Prince Harry wasn't too impressed by Arsenal last week so he's come to watch us instead - he thinks there'll be more goals, though I think he's a bit cheeky asking to go in the away end so he can enjoy them.

We were going to carpet the away end in red shagpile (personally tested by Miss Moneyecu and I), erect a special canopy over his seat, and invite him in an executive box for pre- and post-match tea and truffles. But the brat insists on being treated just like an ordinary fan. So we've arranged for him to sit behind a pillar next to a foul-mouthed anti-royalist bigot. On the other side will be an incontinent pensioner who'll get up to go to the toilet whenever an attack develops and spill Bovril over Harry just after the Prince has spent so long queueing for a CJD-burger that's he's missed the only goal of the game.

Some of our most accurate hooligans will be aiming coins at him - with his mum's face upwards - and, after the game, the police'll keep him behind for an hour. Let's hope it's raining and the supporters' bus gets bricked, then he can have the full experience.

I left the arrangements in Miss Moneyecu's firm but tender hands and headed for Marseilles where I helped Franz prepare the Europe side for the World Cup draw exhibition match. Franz and I go way back; we used to ski together in Kitzbuhl. I still treasure the get-well card he sent me after I broke my leg when he led me off piste. For his part he says he still remembers the sore head he had the following year when I led him on the piste.

Franzi's got a dull reputation but he's actually a laugh-a-minute type. No sooner had I checked into my hotel and checked out the bar than I came back to my room to discover he'd draped towels over the TV, the mini-bar and the trouser press. I had to respond so I got down to training early, had a quiet word with the lads, and when Franzi arrived they all came out of the dressing-rooms goose-stepping - Incey was brilliant while Kopke was a natural. Franzi cracked up and wanted to do it on the night but Fifa said no - what spoilsports.

I took the opportunity to have a quick word with Ronaldo and his agents. They said if we could rustle up pounds 30m he'd love to play at the Old Cornfield. So the chairman's off to Belarus on Monday.

We've already raised a couple of million: Keegan's signed the tea lady and groundsman for Fulham. We were going to bring in a couple of YTS kids to replace them but there have been a few problems - the new tea girl ran over Shaun Prone with her trolley and bruised his hip while Ivor Niggle's twisted his ankle in a hole the groundsman had dug. Apparently he was keeping his fags there in case he fancied a drag while mowing the grass. So, that's those two out for today's game. Wonder if Harry's bought his boots.

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