Football Diary: Gazza - his true story

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THE pleasure in a biography surely comes from the ability of a perceptive, dispassionate observer to draw out aspects of an individual's life and personality that preconceived impressions would normally obscure. A book like that can be an enthralling read even if its subject appears, on the face of it, unpromising.

Sadly, too many biographies do the opposite, pandering to prejudice and exaggerating events that prop up the public image in an attempt to exploit the book for maximum publicity.

Into which category will the forthcoming tome on the life of Paul Gascoigne fall? Is there a clue in the identity of the author? It is to be written by Mel Stein, Gazza's business manager for the past seven years.

Partridge Press, part of Transworld Publishers, who aim to launch the book in autumn next year, are delighted with a book that their publishing manager says 'will allow Paul to set the record straight and will be a revealing portrait'. Farts and all?

IF GARY LINEKER is keeping up with the English game from faraway Japan, he will have had a bit of a shock this week. Teletext revealed the result of their Footballer of the Year poll and there was not a Wimbledon player in sight. Apparently Ryan Giggs looks just as good on the box in words as he does in pictures. The latest entrant in Old Trafford's perennial George Best lookalike competition attracted 28 per cent of the 17,000 votes polled to beat Tottenham's Nick Barmby by a mile.

THE DAYS of the ringer are numbered. The FA has signed a deal that will offer free photo-identity cards to England's two million-plus junior and senior players as a safeguard against the fielding of ineligible players. Referees could check up on the players before the match and could also avoid the occasional cases of mistaken identity when wielding the yellow and red cards. Perhaps that was the real intention all along; Photo-Me International, who are providing the service, are based at Bookham, Surrey.

WHILE BOBBY GOULD was giving his Coventry City side the benefit of his wisdom during the interval last Saturday, the fans were having their ears pinned back by the Grateful Dead. 'I can't prove it,' writes Adrian Smith, of Southampton, 'but I'm pretty certain that Highfield Road was the only ground in Britain on 14 March (or ever?) to play the Grateful Dead at half-time.' He thought 'Ashes to Ashes' appropriate, but if you are 2-0 at home to Arsenal with the prospect of more to come in the second half any revive 45 would do, wouldn't it?

FOR THOSE tired of reading the same old answers to the same old questions in player profiles 'Strife Style' in the magazine Scottish Football Today comes as a breath of fresh air. Witness the responses of Ayr United's Sam McGivern in the March issue. Asked who he would most like to meet in a dark alley he nominated 'the guy who keeps chasing me up for my Poll Tax'. But he does not need to seek trouble. His worst moment outside football? 'I was best man at my brother's wedding when a fight broke out at the reception. I stepped in to sort it out and some bloke shoved a tumbler in my face.' These things happen.

A CERTAIN Chelsea fan has been making rather a lot recently of the power of negative thinking and his theory gains some support from Stoke City's programme for their recent match against Stockport. After their tangles last season in the Autoglass Trophy Final and the promotion play-offs, there is little love between the sides. Stoke do not take kindly to County's style, which they perceive as direct and rumbustious, and the bad vibes seem to be strong enough to corrupt the programme production system. The match-day profile of the visitors' Star Player, their centre-forward, began in bold type: 'Stockport's Kevin Francis is the tallest striker in the Football League, standing 6ft 7in and weighing over 24st.'

THE bottle of Aberlour Malt for freak fact goes to Howard Whitten, of London W6, who got in first on York's 5-1 win away to Barnet, aka the Bees, last Saturday. 'Hosting the day's top scorers, York, they saw the four 'B' men on view - Bull, Barnes, Blackstone and Barnett - monopolise the six goals, Barnett costing Barnet an own goal.'

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