The R's youth set-up, the cradle of prospective prosperity for all but the very rich clubs, is considered one of the best in the country and has produced a crop of teenagers - including two highly valued strikers - capable of ensuring continued success in Shepherd's Bush. Kevin Gallen, a Shearer-sized Londoner, is the real jewel in a barnstorming youth side who head the South East Counties League by five points with an astonishing 86 goals from 17 wins in 20 matches. This morning, against third-placed Chelsea, Gallen needs one goal to push his season's tally to 50, a strike rate which has evoked capital memories of the Blues' 70- goal Jimmy Greaves in 1958.
Everyone at Loftus Road purrs when they describe Gallen, particularly Chris Gieler, the youth development officer, who hails the 19- year-old as 'the best finisher I've ever worked with - and that includes the likes of Clive Allen and Paul Goddard'. Gallen's contribution to a goal difference of +53 has been assisted by the support work of four more England youth internationals: Chris Plummer, Trevor Challis, Richard Hurst and Nigel Quashie - all tipped for greater things.
'Kids want to come here because we have a good track record in bringing on players - like all the Allens,' Gieler says, 'There aren't as many good kids around as before but we still get more than our fair share.'
Certainly Welling United are indebted to Gieler's prodigious production line. Danny Dichio, the London-born son of an Italian butcher, was loaned to the Conference club last week and needed only 63 minutes to become their second top scorer with a four-goal flurry against Slough Town. Whatever happens in the boardroom at Loftus Road, Rangers will not be short of promise on the pitch.
SAUDI ARABIA, whose players were rewarded with Rolls-Royces on qualifying for USA '94, have taken an early lead in the World Cup Countdown Perfect Preparation Stakes. This week, the New York bureau dealing with teams' hotel bookings received a visit from the Saudi federation, whose regal officials sashayed in and asked: 'Which hotel can we buy?'
THOSE Wolves' fans with 'Earp' on the backs of their shirts confused a few Ipswich supporters last Saturday. The squad number (eight) should have given the name away: Steve Bull is known as Wyatt Earp, because he shoots on sight.
SPOTTED in W H Smith's Oxford Street sale the day after Bolton's Cup success: a block of Aston Villa official videos reduced to pounds 2.99.
SUPPORTER power, part 378: 240 Arsenal fans, unimpressed by Highbury's official travel offer to Torino, have hired their own plane for the Cup-Winners' Cup trip to see Adams silence Silenzi. One Gooner has already been over to bulk-buy tickets - and organise lunch. If the Jumbo jaunt goes well and Adams and Co progress, the tour's co- organiser, Tony Willis, an Arsenal fanzine editor, expects to charter 'loads of planes' for the semis.
AFTER finishing a photo-shoot with Aston Villa's first-class mag, Claret & Blue, Mark Bosnich, the talented goalkeeper who was born in Australia of a Croat father, requested a few copies of the best prints from the club's veteran snapper, Terry Weir. They were not for friends or fans or even himself, the ex-Sydney Croatia player explained, but for soldiers back in Croatia who had written asking for photos to put up in their quarters.
THE bottle of Wild Turkey Bourbon for freak fact of the week goes to Keith Crawford, of Andover, for this:
'In this season of Scottish upheaval, my home team, Ayr United, have been remarkably consistent:
P W D L F A Pts
Ayr United 30 10 10 10 30 35 30
No other team comes close to such consistency. What skill Ayr players must have to be able to dole out in equal proportions the joy of victory, the frustration of the draw and the despair of loss.'
More bourbon next week. Entries to Football Diary, the Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB.Reuse content