The Gaffer Tapes: Good old days of Bovril on tap and leaky loos

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APPARENTLY HRH Phil wants to see a World Cup match. What, I wonder, brought on this sudden interest in football? It's not as if he's been a regular down at the Old Cornfield. Not that we're taking it personally, it's not as if he goes to Old Trafford, the usual haunt of glory-hunters, or Elm Park, Windsor's local league ground, either.

It's not even as if Greece are in the World Cup. He may justify pinching a ticket from one of the Tartan Army on the basis that he is the Duke of Edinburgh but how often has he been to Tynecastle or Easter Road, or seen the Jocks at Hampden? But then, nice as Easter Road is - especially at this most appropriate time of year - it's hardly Paris in June.

At least William and Harry have been to see the odd League game, you may recall William having an afternoon at the Old Cornfield. He certainly does, he still has the mental and physical scars to remind him. Apparently he has never forgotten it, whenever he threatens to turn up wearing Doc Martens and Kangol rather than a suit and tie the Palace threaten to make him go again.

Phil the Greek's conversion is, I suppose, the final proof that football has moved away from its working-class constituency. Next thing we know there will be Earls and Barons buying up clubs, and I don't mean Robbie and Jim.

Well, we at the Old Cornfield do not intend to forget football's illustrious past. We are working on a new lottery application for a luxury Heritage Stand. It combines the conveniences of the modern game with the traditions of the old. Each seat will have Bovril on tap (guaranteed BSE-free) and a complimentary packet of Woodbines, a wooden rattle and a flat cap on a string - so you can get it back after throwing it in the air after a goal.

To really capture that sepia-tinged spirit we'll provide small boys to be passed over the audience to the front (they'll actually be small tailors' dummies, you can't be sure what sort of deviants we may attract otherwise); a Tannoy which doesn't work; special toilets where it flows all over your feet; and an old bloke sitting behind who keeps saying `course, Raich Carter would've slaughtered this lot'.

We're expecting a big middle-class uptake on this which we hope will see spin-offs at the club superstore. We're trying to negotiate a sponsorship deal with someone like Ikea or Laura Ashley which would involve every fan, sorry, customer, getting Goal Points for every purchase at the ground which could be redeemed at their shop.

To kick off the promotion we were going to give every fan an Easter egg today but the police put the kibosh on it, they said they might be used as missiles. Instead we're handing out Easter bonnets though I'm not sure the lads at the Graveyard End, resolutely working-class, are going to be too impressed.

Of course, a lot of issues are settled at Easter but it's not like the old days. I can remember playing four times in four days, all away games, Blackburn then Plymouth, Darlington then Gillingham. And we won them all, we cleaned up at the bookies though it barely covered the speeding fines.

Meanwhile, I've had a problem with the local paper, the Sludgethorpe Advertiser. I've had a running battle with the editor ever since he caught me giving his daughter some free coaching one night and now he's got his own back with a front page headline of 'Gaffer held after lewd loo shame'.

Talk about top-spinning a story. I'd been out for a walk in the park, looking at all the schoolgirls, when I was caught short. Anyway, the public toilets had all this yellow and black tape round them but I couldn't wait so I climbed over to get some relief, so to speak.

Then a cop tells me I'm trespassing on a crime scene. Apparently Stavros George, a pop star, had been arrested a few minutes earlier for a dodgy misdemeanour and I've gone and destroyed the evidence. The plus side is two free tickets for Stavros' next concert, the downside is an appearance in court the following morning.

Meanwhile, Ivor Niggle is out today, he's got the runs after eating all his Easter eggs in one session, and as for Shaun Prone, well, his excuse is too daft for words but I've promised to listen without prejudice. If Melinda Messenger's become a Buddhist anything is possible, even Shaun pulling a muscle on an extra training run.

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