The Gaffer Tapes; Love and peace, man - but I want the hard man back

Barry Gaffer was talking to Glenn Moore
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It has been a long time coming but it still represents a landmark moment. Forty-four years after Barnestoneworth United beat us in the War Cup semi-final Jay Pann, the referee who gave that controversial last-minute goal against us, has issued an apology.

In his apology, issued in the Sludgethorpe Gazette, Pann, who also sent off three of our players and disallowed two goals, admits his behaviour was beyond the refereeing pale. He apologises for any unhappiness caused by his rulings and says his previous plea of mitigation, that he had a grudge against the club after they rejected him as a teenager, was contemptible.

There are those who see this apology as too little, too late and issued mainly for political reasons - Pann's grandson runs the Toyota dealership which is looking to expand by buying some land at our training ground. Personally I see it as a magnanimous gesture and I'll mention that to his grandson when I pick up my new car next week - I'm afraid the Ferrari's a write-off; I should never have lent it to that Georgian midfielder we had on loan.

The other main news is that Glenn Hoddle has brought Brian Heckinbottom back from his self-imposed exile in Goa. Our rough-tough centre-forward had gone away to find himself after being rejected by Jamaica. Hoddle sat down with him on the beach and, over a thali or two, and perhaps a hookah, persuaded Brian he was still in with a chance of making England's 22. How Glenn kept a straight face as he said that I'll never know.

However, the Brian that has returned is not the Brian "how do you like your hospital food?" Heckinbottom we know and fear. Brian was a player out of the Denis Smith mould, as Richie Barker said of Smithy when he took over at West Brom last month, "If I asked him to kick a player he never asked why, he just said `How high?'."

Brian's like that, though the game has moved on since those days of gentle clogging: he now uses an elbow which is much more effective.

We gave Brian a reserve match to test his fitness and he did not make a single foul in the game, not even a dead leg or a fist in the goolies. The one time he did bump into someone he apologised. The callow youth who was down to mark him had spent two hours in the toilet beforehand and looked so pale when he ran out I thought he was a vegetarian. By the end he was puffing his shoulders out and glowing like Ron Atkinson after an afternoon under his favourite sun-lamp.

Well, I gave Brian a right bollocking in the dressing-room, called him a big girl's blouse, a pantie-waist and all sorts of non-PVC names. This would normally get him shoving me against a wall with a broken Lucozade bottle in his hand (one reason why we now use plastic ones) but he just sat there whimpering. "I'm sorry boss, I didn't want to let anyone down but it's wrong to hurt your fellow man. He was only a young lad and he looked a bit ill as well."

Either Hoddle's overdone the counselling or the Moonies must have got hold of him in Goa. I guess I should have realised when he came in wearing a kaftan. Then, when Leroy cut it up he didn't even hit him. He just said: "I can understand your anger, you must deal with as you can", and got his sewing kit out.

I think we might have to send him to Lincoln City on loan so John Beck can toughen him up.

In the meantime we've a problem at centre-forward so I'm following up Ego Massive's tip and heading for Central America. Apparently there's a real head-case No 9, but with a delicate first touch, out there. He's called Che Revolta and all the big clubs are after him but there have been complications: he plays up country in the jungle and most of their scouts have failed to reach him.

I obviously can't trust Kit Mann to find him, so I'm flying out myself after today's game. I've got all the essentials: Swiss Army knife, Immodium, and that back copy of Shoot! magazine with a picture of me coaching the England Under-23s in it.

We need a lift. We're bottom again after last week's defeat. We need a win today but will be missing Ivor Niggle (a nasty cut after he impaled himself on his ceremonial sword) and Shaun Prone (food-poisoning after undercooked sushi). Brian can't make it either, he's attending a consciousness-raising class in Islington.

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