Bosman reaps belated reward

THAT WAS THE WEEKEND THAT WAS
Click to follow
The Independent Online
Another summer of transfer frenzy in the cash-rich Premiership will accelerate the top players' inflated wages to even higher levels as a new influx of expensive foreigners hit these shores - but do not accuse them all of being transient mercenaries interested only in lining their own pockets.

Behind some of the overflowing bank balances lies a touching gratitude towards the man whose pioneering court battle helped open up the European transfer market.

It brought together an impressive roll call of stars past and present in Barcelona yesterday in aid of Jean Marc Bosman, the Belgian footballer, whose successful legal action removed barriers to free movement of footballers between European Union nations.

Ronald Koeman, Jordi Cruyff, Vitor Baia, Hristo Stoichkov, Christian Karembeu and Eric Cantona were among those involved in a contest between a Europe XI and a World XI in Barcelona's Olympic Stadium.

Johan Cruyff, sacked as coach of Barcelona almost a year ago, agreed to take charge of the Europe team with the former Real Madrid great Alfredo di Stefano looking after the World XI, assisted by Socrates of Brazil.

Cruyff, who celebrated his 50th birthday on Friday, says he has no plans to return to coaching - "there are no challenges left" - but was happy to break his exile for this match.

The contest was not staged without opposition, however, not least from the football authorities in Spain, who claim their national side has been damaged by the influx of foreign players into the country and threatened to boycott the event.

They gave their blessing to the occasion only when it was agreed that its official status would be a benefit for the AIFP, the international football players' union, although it is expected that Bosman will receive most of the proceeds.

Hail the leading scorers

Ask someone to name the nation's leading goalscorers and you can assume that the names of Robbie Fowler, Fabrizio Ravanelli, Ian Wright and Alan Shearer will trip readily off the tongue.

Were the reply to mention Graeme Jones of Wigan, and Luton's Tony Thorpe you will have undoubtedly happened on a member of the anorak tendency - but that is not to say these two unsung strikers do not deserve recognition.

One of them will certainly finish the season as the country's leading League scorer, leaving Fowler and company some distance behind. Jones, a 27-year-old former postman, raised his tally for the campaign to 33 on Saturday , of which 31 have helped Wigan secure their passage to the Second Division.

Thorpe's score stands at 31, with 28 in Luton's quest for promotion to the First Division. Of the Premiership's leading marksmen, only Shearer's 24 League goals (out of 27 all told) come in respectable distance of this pair's respective tallies. Fewer than half of Ravanelli's 29 have been scored in the Premiership.

Can they expect one day to have Jones or Thorpe in direct competition? Perhaps the former, signed for just pounds 150,000 from Doncaster last year, ought not to give up his studies for a teaching qualification. At 22, however, Thorpe, an ex-Leicester trainee, could be one to keep an eye on.

MISTAKEN

IDENTITY

Rachel

Beckham

Is David Beckham exhausted from so many games? Or has he been expending too much energy shooting episodes of the cult US comedy show, Friends, in which, a reader suggests, he has the hairstyle at least (if not the figure) to stand in for Jennifer Aniston as Rachel.

Take a bow

BURY

The minnows of greater Manchester, who secured their second promotion in two years after a goalless draw at Watford on Saturday, winning a place in the top half of the League for the first time in 30 years.

Red card

ALEX FERGUSON

Whose protective attitude towards David Beckham is understandable - but whose attempts to place doubt in the mind of Glenn Hoddle by suggesting his young star is exhausted can only undermine England's World Cup cause.

Rumours...

fact and fiction from the Sunday papers

While the Sunday Mirror reckons Paul Ince is bound for Arsenal or Liverpool, the Mail on Sunday says Paris St-Germain want to sign Internazionale's England midfielder and will allow him to live in London and commute to France by plane. The People predicts Savo Milosevic will leave if Aston Villa sign Stan Collymore, for whom the Mirror says the Midlands club will make an offer the Liverpool striker cannot refuse this summer. The News of the World, however, has news of a pounds 10m double swoop by Villa for Manchester United's Andy Cole and Everton's Duncan Ferguson. The People reports that Chelsea have captured SK Brann Bergen's giant striker, Tore Andre Flo, for pounds 2.5m, but Ruud Gullit can expect a pounds 4m offer from Marseilles for Franck Lebouef, according to the Mirror, which says Atalanta are interested in Gianluca Vialli. The People echoes the News of the World in forecasting a coaching role for Eric Cantona at Manchester United, whom the latter reckons are set to land 22-year-old Dutchman Roy Makaay, hailed as the "new Bergkamp", for pounds 4m from Vitesse Arnhem.

Missing person

Andy Gray (Leeds United)

A year ago, the 19-year-old forward from an Elland Road dynasty - his dad is Eddie's brother, Frank - was the hottest thing in a Leeds shirt, making the Coca-Cola Cup final side after only three starts. Now he cannot even make the substitutes' bench, discarded by new manager George Graham, who picked him for his first match in charge but has not played him since Christmas.

Watch out for...

Andrew Griffin (Stoke City)

Stoke, who produced England left-backs in Tony Allen in the late 1950s and in Mike Pejic in the '70s, reckon they might have another in Andrew Griffin. At 18, the Manchester-born youngster is keeping Northern Ireland international Nigel Worthington out of the Stoke side and the club rate him so highly they have put him on a three and a half year contract.

NOISES OFF...

He's exhausted. The England coach has watched our recent games - he will have seen for himself. Alex Ferguson, on why he believes England's World Cup qualifier against Georgia might be a game too many for United's David Beckham.

I know from when I was 21 that all you want to do is play games. A sceptical Glenn Hoddle.

My decision is not about football, it's for my family. I'm not leaving because I don't like it at Inter... er, if I leave, that is. Paul Ince, trying - and failing - to play his cards close to his chest over his future.

I didn't toss and turn after the Italy game. I imagine I took a lot of stick but I didn't read it. I never pick up a paper for three days after any game. Glenn Hoddle, claiming immunity from the press pack hounds.

It's great to be back. I hope this new structure is the start of getting Watford back on the football map. Elton John, reinstalled as chairman of Watford after a consortium buy-out.

You can almost touch the expectancy and not all the players have the strength of character to cope. Graham Taylor, Watford's general manager, wondering whether his old club, Wolves, can make the leap to the Premiership he failed to deliver.

I look over at the unused terracing and see how the barriers have been reduced to little blue stumps. Symbolic, isn't it? Steve Foster, the former Brighton hero, on the end of the Goldstone Ground.

We're going up! We're going up! Barnsley's going up! Ecstatic supporters at Oakwell on Saturday.

NATIONWIDE TEAM OF THE WEEK

AIDAN DAVISON

BRADFORD CITY

NICKY EADEN

BARNSLEY

ANDY LINIGHAN

CRYSTAL PALACE

LEE SINNOTT

HUDDERSFIELD

NEIL THOMPSON

BARNSLEY

ANDREW IMPEY

QPR

NEIL REDFEARN

BARNSLEY

STEVE MORROW

QPR

PAUL DEVLIN

BIRMINGHAM

PAUL WILKINSON

BARNSLEY

DOUGIE FREEDMAN

CRYSTAL PALACE

Good boys

NATIONWIDE LEAGUE

LEADING SCORERS

Graeme Jones

(Wigan)

Third Division 31; FA Cup 1

Coca-Cola Cup 5.

Tony Thorpe

(Luton)

Second Division 28; FA Cup 1

Coca-Cola Cup 2.

John McGinlay

(Bolton)

First Division 28; FA Cup 1

Coca-Cola Cup 2.

Paul Barnes

(Burnley)

Second Division 24;

FA Cup 1.

Not all Barnsley's 110 years have been grim, despite the barren history widely portrayed in the story of their unprecedented elevation to the top flight.

A long thumbing-back through the record books is necessary, however, to unearth a moment of comparable magnitude in the South Yorkshire club's history: the FA Cup final of 1912, when Barnsley beat West Bromwich in a replay to become only the third Second Division side to lift the trophy.

It was a Barnsley team for which "gritty" was a much more fitting description than Danny Wilson's present-day line-up, which fans proclaim to be "just like watching Brazil."

The 1912 team made it to their second final in three years by slogging through 10 matches, five of which were goalless draws.

The replay at Bramall Lane seemed to be going the same way until two minutes from the end of extra time when Barnsley's Harry Tufnell swerved past the England full-back Jesse Pennington and went on to score a glorious goal.

It had been the third year in a row that a replay was necessary after the final had finished all square and the following season extra time was permissible for the first time at the end of the first game.

In another rule change introduced as a direct consequence of the 1912 match, players off the field for treatment had to seek the referee's permission to return. This followed an incident in which a Barnsley wing-half, who was receiving attention for a foot injury, made a goal-line clearance after rushing back on wearing only one boot.

THE NATIONWIDE'S RED AND YELLOW CARDS

1 Don Hutchison

Sheffield United

2 Andy Hessenthaler

Gillingham

3 Stephen Torpey

Swansea

4 John Dolan

Mansfield

Comments