Football Diary: A blaze of glory for Kelly

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The Independent Online
THE summer sunshine does funny things to people and it made a stand- up comedian out of Graham Kelly. The FA's chief blazer bravely agreed to accept the prestigious award of 'Person Who Has Done The Most Damage To Football In The Recent Past' at a When Saturday Comes' shin- dig in London. Kelly, dressed for the Oscars, stood up to 90 seconds of heavy heckling from 500 tired and emotional fanzine readers (the friendliest comment was a Scot shouting 'Extend Taylor's contract').

The noise eventually subsided. Kelly began: 'This is an honour; I never expected this,' and promptly took out 20 pages of speech notes. The first titter went up. Kelly then proceeded to thank everyone for helping him achieve his award, including 'my parents, my grandfather who never lived to see this great day (cue hankie), and, of course, the FA International Committee'. He left to hearty applause. Could this be the first stage of the FA trying to win over the fans? Now, that would be worth an award.

HERE'S a useful piece of advice for budding footballers from the American newsletter of Soccer Friends International (a new global membership club): 'Try tying your shoelaces on the part of your foot you use least. That way the knot will not be in the way when you play the ball.' So that's why they beat England.

CRYSTAL PALACE may have dropped a division but they haven't lost their sense of humour. On the coach en route to a pre-season match, Alan Smith, the new chief Eagle, told the players that they wouldn't be hanging around afterwards. They would be in and out, like real recluses, in fact, 'just like Hugh Hefner'. 'Does that mean we get dolly-birds and copies of Playboy, guv?' piped up a voice from the back. Er, no, Smith replied. He meant Howard Hughes.

THE player exodus from Barnet had pub-level amateurs across the land reaching for the Basildon Bond. 'Hundreds applied to play for us,' Bryan Ayres, the Bees secretary, said yesterday. 'From all levels of ability, but mainly Sunday league.' Trials will be held later this year.

WHILE Eric Cantona was treading a Parisian catwalk, his international striking partner, Jean-Pierre Papin, was strutting his stuff elsewhere. The French Variety Club was searching for a player with Papin's penchant for goals to bolster a charity XI that included Platini and Rocheteau, Blanco and Bonneval, for a fund-raiser near Toulouse. By chance, Blanco bumped into Papin, who was holidaying en famille nearby, and shocked the opposition when he arrived at the ground with France's most famous forward in the passenger seat. JPP scored seven.

SERGEI YURAN has also been rushing around France with his boots. Benfica's finest was a trifle late in joining up with his Russian comrades for their international in Caen. He had gone to Cannes.

NON-LEAGUERS in the south should not be surprised if the opposition arrive through the club-house window in balaclavas. The SAS has formed a team. Ground-hoppers have to ring for permission to watch home matches but, according to Non-League Traveller, the pyramid's bible, 'team photographs and action pictures during games which could identify players will be strictly prohibited'.

HELLO, Hello, HELLO] What's all this? Hype springs eternal at the white-wedding-filled weekly, but describing Pat Van Den Hauwe as 'one of the world's top footballers, a Welsh international star and striker for Tottenham Hotspur' seems a bit OTT. Still it's welcome news for Ossie, what with Barmby and Anderton injured and Sheringham discussing his future.

HEARD the fans' new pre-match Premiership game? Bingo with the team numbers. Forget 1-11, just look at Wimbledon's probable defence at Upton Park today: Nos 17, 15, 5 and the famous No 35 shirt (Joseph, Scales, Blackwell, Kimble) - an average of 18. The best freak fact will, as last season, win some Aberlour Malt. Entries to Football Diary, The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB.

THE Twelfth Man's final Aberlour goes to London's David Goldberg who writes: 'Mike Atherton's football equivalent is Platt and Alec Stewart is Private Eye's 'ashen-faced Ron Knee'.'

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