Football Diary: French without cheers

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The Independent Online
IT'S amazing how some people forget their French. On his return to a hostile Leeds on Monday, Eric Cantona was greeted with gesticulating, lurid taunts but only one mention in the programme. Even that was deliciously underplayed considering the furore which followed the Frenchman's departure to Manchester United . . .

'When the Reds struck another barren spell in front of goal in the autumn, Mr Ferguson looked to Elland Road for a new striker - signing Eric Cantona for a seven- figure fee'. Steady, guys, don't let your emotions run away with you.

Howard Wilkinson hinted he had not forgotten, Leeds' manager finished his programme notes with: 'As they say in France: 'Aux Les Deux Equipes, Bonne Chance]'.'

ONE OF Cantona's (six) former clubs, Auxerre, have provided Leeds with two of their most talented teenagers. Jamie Forrester and Kevin Sharp, who caused a stir by choosing a French club on leaving Lilleshall, returned to England in November complaining of homesickness. Forrester has now hit five hat-tricks in junior matches, two of them in recent FA Youth Cup ties. Leeds fans would love it if a goalscorer trained at one of Cantona's French finishing schools lifted a trophy currently residing at Old Trafford.

DESPERATELY seeking a romantic gesture for Valentine's Day? Looking for a love-in tomorrow? Well, thank you, West Ham, for this unmissable date: Martin Allen will be hosting a quiz at the 'Valentine Weekend's Price Massacre' at the Ford Main Dealer in Romford. So, get along to the Mad-Dog Escort agency.

PAUL WARHURST'S Geoff Hurst impression is miraculous. When his second goal went in at Blackburn it proved an uplifting experience for one Sheffield Wednesday fan on crutches behind Bobby Mimms's net. He threw both sticks in the air.

IF San Marino take a shock lead at Wembley, expect a large bar-ward surge away from the dart-player- sized Sky screen at the University College London union. Not for sorrow-drowning but for the free beer on offer until England equalise. Graham Taylor will not be the only one gutted if England lose a game of two halves and 10,000 pints.

PASQUALE BRUNO, Torino's tough-guy defender, was unimpressed when Florin Raducioiu, of Brescia, alleged he had threatened to break his leg before kick-off. During last Sunday's Serie A bout Bruno did tackle Raducioiu, leaving him needing nine stitches, but the Italian was dismissive of the Romanian's claims. 'Yes, Raducioiu was right and I had a rifle, a pistol and a Magnum 44 in my pocket,' a smiling Bruno said. No wonder they favour baggy shorts.

THE Bulgarian Embassy has become embroiled in the Boncho Genchev saga. No, not about his international spell, but about his international spelling. Ipswich registered him as Bontcho Guentchev, using the French translation from the Cyrillic alphabet as stated by his interpreter. But Bulgarian diplomats in London, who did not know he was at Portman Road, insist Boncho Genchev is the correct translation. Nice one Cyrillic?

BRAZIL and Uruguay hold the record (22 minutes) for brawling, at the 1959 Copa America. Ringside at this summer's event will be a When Saturday Comes party, who will be cheering Venezuela, the continent's San Marino. Interested? The March issue has details.

THE Aberlour Malt for alternative fact goes to Mike Barnes, of Wokingham, Berks, for this . . .

'Contrary to popular belief, the cast of Dad's Army was alive and kicking on Saturday. (Sgt) Wilson put QPR ahead and (Pte) Walker scored for Bolton. (Pte) Pike netted Cardiff's goals while (L/Cpl) Jones put West Ham ahead before returning to form with an own goal for Halifax. (Pte) Godfrey turned out for Brentford, without finding the net.'

All freak facts and figures to Football Diary, The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB.