Dance of the doomed

FOOTBALL DIARY
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The Independent Online
The fixtures computer has inadvertently been rather unkind this weekend in pairing clubs who are already doomed to relegation, like Leicester City playing host to Ipswich Town. But when Chester City take on Leyton Orient at The Deva Stadium it will not be an occasion for mutual misery if people behind the O's three fanzines have their way. The Leyton Orientear, Pandamonium and Frankly Speaking are encouraging fans of the East London club to travel north with drums, trumpets, ticker tape, balloons, streamers and simply party the afternoon away.

The match between the Second Division's bottom two, which they're calling the "Wooden Spoon Classic", promises, so the fanzines think, "to be a riotous celebration of mutual incompetence".

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There won't be a party atmosphere at some other grounds. Exeter City, who play Fulham at St James Park, are in serious danger of drifting out of business, Gillingham, whose visitors are Hereford, have uncovered another potential buyer to save them from a possible plunge into oblivion and Lincoln City, who take on Bury, have also announced large losses that will mean tough action to keep the club afloat. The problems are not confined to the League, either. Halifax Town play Kidderminster in the Conference with a new threat hanging over them, and Chelmsford, the Beazer Homes League club rescued by a group of fans last summer, face the loss of their ground. It might be worth a trip to any of those games just in case.

Rod Stewart's football pitch, part two: The ageing rocker's mini-Wembley in the grounds of his Grade Two-listed 19th-century mansion almost got the red card. It is some months since the white lines went down but various reports about it recently drew the attention of his local council in Essex. Rod did not have planning permission for the 60m by 110m pitch. However, the council has now approved the pitch, which has already been used for matches by Rod and teams from the local police and fire brigade. But not Scotland - yet.

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If Sporting Lisbon are serious in wanting to take Birmingham's Jose Dominguez back home to Portugal, they had better keep an eye on him. He missed the top of the Second Division game with Brentford on Wednesday because he left his boots at the airport on his way back from the Under-21 international game in Dublin. He retrieved them but reached St Andrews too late.

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A lifelong Middlesbrough fan has ensured the name of the club's ground will live on after the team moves to a new stadium next season. The name of the new dockside stadium will be revealed next week but "Ayresome Park" is not on the shortlist. However a Boro fan, Joe Boyle, has preserved the name by christening his son Matthew Ayresome Park Boyle.

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There will be a brief memorial ceremony at Valley Parade before Bradford City's Second Division match against Blackpool today to mark the 10th anniversary of the fire at the ground, in which 56 people died.

A deluge of entries from people who were inspired by the Bard threw up a number of JuliGus Caesars, a few Mutch ado about nothings, some Romario and Juliets and a Gazza You Like It among the many clever entries. The Wild Turkey Bourbon goes to Gary Matthews, of Jersey, for:

SHAKESPEAREAN XI: BANKSquo; The Taming of LE SAUX, HENDRY V, WINTERBURN's TALE; Alas poor YORATH, QuINCE (Midsummer Night's Dream), The MERSON of Venice; ROSENTHAL and GULLIT, STEIN.

Next week: Floral XI. Entries to: Team Spirit, Football Diary, Sports Desk, The Independent, 1 Canada Square, London E14 5DL, or by fax to: 0171 293 2984.

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