Football: SIDELINES

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King's Road or the Aston Expressway

THE EX-FILES

Brawn and Blanchflower. The very words jar against each other, yet they provide the earliest links between Aston Villa and Chelsea. Billy Brawn, well named at 6ft 2in and 13st 5lb, played for both today's opponents at the start of the century. Danny Blanchflower captained Villa before his glory, glory years with Spurs and later managed Chelsea.

His spell at Stamford Bridge was a classic wrong-place, wrong-time scenario. Chelsea fared much better with their next ex-Villa appointee, John Neal, while three former Blues men, Tommy Docherty, Dave Sexton and Jim Barron, went on to managerial and coaching posts at Villa Park.

Players leaving Villa for Chelsea have included George Graham, Tony Hateley and Tony Dorigo. But until Kenny Swain moved the opposite way and gained Championship and European Cup winner's medals, Villa came off worse in their dealings. John Dunn, Tommy Hughes and John Phillips, all understudies to Peter Bonetti, had modest careers in the Midlands, though Chico Hamilton, a Chelsea debutant at 16, did go on to help Villa out of the Third Division.

In modern times, Andy Townsend exchanged the King's Road for the Aston Expressway. His departure for Middlesbrough has not, however, deprived the fixture of a connection. Tony McAndrew, a brawny Chelsea skipper under Neal, will be using his brains to help Villa in his new role as coach.

Ten things that West Ham's

Israeli midfielder Eyal Berkovitch might be missing

today

1 Bible-bashers. President Ezer Weizman caused a sensation this week when he said: "The Bible contains some very unappealing things which are not worth reading."

2 Halva. A sweet sesame and sugar bar.

3 Armageddon - a pretty town, as opposed to a hellish nightmare (more than can be said for Upton Park tube at night).

4 Strikers with a clinical touch - Israeli surgeons withdrew their labour this week in a staffing dispute.

5 The beach.

6 The Gaza strip. Not to be confused with the Gazza stripping, but equally memorable to witness.

7 The Wailing Wall.

8 Alf Garnett's absence.

9 Giddy Gov - Israel's Paul McCartney. (As opposed to Giddy Guv, as Harry Redknapp appears to be after each win).

10 The Dead Sea - a place to relax, secure in the knowledge that the surrounding dense mass will support you always. Sounds familiar?

NAME OF THE GAME

No 7: PSV EINDHOVEN

The Dutch club, who visit Newcastle in the Champions' League next week, were founded in 1913. They are so called because they are owned by the electronics company, Philips (Philips SV Eindhoven), which employs about a fifth of the town's 200,000 population. The club play at the Philips Stadium - if they move to a new ground might they follow Sunderland's example and call it the Stadium of Light?

THIS

WEEK

Exactly 30 years ago, on 1 November 1967, Rangers sacked their manager, Scot Symon. His departure had some parallels with the present- day situation at Ibrox Park, with the Scottish champions announcing this week that Walter Smith's reign as manager would finish at the end of the season.

While Smith is aiming to guide Rangers to their tenth successive Scottish championship, Symon also had a more than respectable record, having won 10 trophies out of a possible 15 in a five-year period.

Symon, unhappy with the manner of his departure, announced his dismissal to the press before Rangers had officially sacked him, declaring he would leave his keys at the club and never return.

HISTORY

LESSON

Mick McCarthy, the Republic of Ireland manager, will be hoping that Wednesday's 1-1 draw with Belgium in Dublin in the first leg of their World Cup qualifying play-off will prove a good omen in his team's attempt to qualify for France next summer.

Ten years ago McCarthy played in the last Republic side to face the Belgians in Dublin. On that occasion a goalless draw in the European Championship qualifying competition helped to send the Irish into the finals.

The final tournament saw the Republic enjoy one of their finest moments, when Ray Houghton's early goal earned a 1-0 victory over England in Stuttgart. A 1-1 draw with the Soviet Union kept Ireland's hopes alive before a 1- 0 defeat by the Netherlands ended their run.

This week's transfers

Full transfers

Gary Walsh (goalkeeper) Middlesbrough to Bradford City (pounds 500,000); Samassi Abou (forward) Cannes (Fr) to West Ham (pounds 400,000); Micky Mellon (midfielder) Blackpool to Tranmere (pounds 300,000); Neil Maddison (midfielder) Southampton to Middlesbrough (pounds 250,000); David Eyres (midfielder) Burnley to Preston (pounds 80,000); Mark Patterson (defender) Plymouth to Gillingham (pounds 15,000 plus appearance increments); Ivano Bonetti (forward) Crystal Palace to Genoa (It) (undisclosed fee); Billy Clark (defender) Bristol Rovers to Exeter City (undisclosed fee); Nick Cusack (forward) Fulham to Swansea; Andy Saville (forward) Wigan to Cardiff City (undisclosed fee); Jose Quitongo (forward) Hamilton to Hearts (undisclosed fee).

Loans/trials

John O'Kane (defender) Manchester United to Bradford City; Gareth Griffiths (defender) Port Vale to Shrewsbury; Stuart Gray (midfielder) Celtic to Morton; Andrew McCondichie (forward) Celtic to Hamilton; Joe Walker (defender) Aberdeen to Ross County; Mark Watson (defender) Osters Vaxjo (Swe) to Plymouth (trial).

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