Football Diary: Eagles dressed to kill

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The Independent Online
THE football club at Crystal Palace is turning into a night-club. Eagle-eyed fans spotted the following order on the more expensive tickets to the home leg of the Coca-Cola Cup semi-final - 'Dress Code. No Jeans. No Trainers'. Palace say the no-button-fly zone was introduced into the executive-box areas at the start of the season; now, with a full house beckoning for the game tomorrow week, the likes of Moss Bros must be oiling their tills. It's game day: Rattle, check; scarf, check; three-piece suit, check; brogues, check.

But should Selhurst Park rename after one of those other pleasure palaces which insist on smart attire? 'Coppells' or 'Ronfellows' sounds suitable. Any fan who has trekked through London's clubland knows that most of the capital's nocturnal haunts have their roots in football: like Busby's Disco (Manchester United), Legends (Liverpool), The Basement Club (Gillingham), L'Equipe Anglaise (England), The Limelight Club (Milan), The WAG Club (Barking), Paradise (Celtic), the Athenaeum (Olympiakos), Rascals (Wimbledon), 606 (Danny Baker / David Mellor) and, of course, Tantrums (any club Maradona has played for).

MOST states in Europe are acknowledged by Uefa, so why not the Vatican? The Pope was a nimble performer between the sticks in his youth, and the Vatican is slap bang in a football hot-bed. JPP is doing well in Milan; why not JPII in Rome? When Domenica Comes (50p; normal outlets), which joins Forza] and Rigore in illuminating the Serie A scene, has compiled a likely line-up. Among the Vatican's overseas stars is Cardinal Hume - 'the target man up front very much in the Tony Cascarino mould'.

ARE Atletico Madrid paranoid or what? Included in the contract taking Paolo Futre from the Vicente Calderon to Benfica lies an intriguing detail about any future sale of the Portuguese striker. Benfica would have to pay Atletico an additional 1,000m pesetas (pounds 6m) if they ever flogged Futre to Real Madrid. How much simpler when Futre arrived from Porto: the pounds 4.5m transfer's highlight was a yellow Porsche.

DAVE SEXTON calls him the 'English Di Stefano' while Johnny Giles remembers his 'streak of meanness'. Peter Osgood, the kind of marvellously gifted goalscorer Chelsea could do with again, is the subject of Pat Murphy's half-hour of Radio 5 heaven at 8.30 on Monday night. For his PM show Murphy tracked down the great entertainers, men like Osgood, Marsh, Worthington, Currie, Bowles, George and Hudson, who accumulated fewer than 50 caps between them. Osgood is particularly revealing, explaining why someone who made Alf Ramsey's initial 40 for the 1966 World Cup at only 19 managed only four caps. Chelsea supporters will listen and weep.

POT NOODLES are not normally what excites people at matches but Sheffield Wednesday's broad range of fare went down well with the teenage researchers at the Consumers' Association's Check It Out] magazine. Other grounds to receive all-round thumbs-up included Wembley, Anfield, Goodison, Ibrox and Highbury. Roker Park came off the worst. 'It looks like a farmyard barn,' a 15-year-old from Jarrow commented.

STATS LIFE

THE bottle of Aberlour Malt for alternative statistic goes to Brian Eastwood, of Littleborough, Lancashire, for the following . . .

'On 23 December, 19 ex-Manchester City players played in the FA Cup: Mimms, Hendry (Blackburn); Fleming, Taggart, Biggins (Barnsley); McNab, Nixon (Tranmere); C Allen, Morley (West Ham); Johnson, Cunningham (Rotherham); Seagraves (Bolton); Wilson (QPR); Megson, Beckford, Phillips (Norwich); Barrett (Villa); Hoyland, Gayle (Sheffield Utd). Plus: a manager Machin (Barnsley), a player-manager Francis (Sheff Wednesday), and a coach Deehan (Norwich).

More whisky next week. All freak facts to Football Diary, The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB (Fax: 071-956-1894).

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