Football Diary: Geordie melody maker

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GAZZA, Waddle, Jimmy Nail, Prefab Sprout: Geordieland is musicland. Newcastle United, that conveyor belt of footballing talent, are also nurturing local singers, like Harry Palmer. Only Kevin Keegan received a noisier reception than Palmer, Tyneside's rotund answer to Bruce Springsteen, before last Saturday's game with Tranmere. Palmer, an unknown busker a few months ago, ran to the centre-circle surrounded by paparazzi to pump out his 'Geordie Medley', a seamless collection of great Gallowgate chants. The second verse says it all:

'Geordie boys we are here, woo-oo, woo-oo,

Slap your lass with a Christmas tree, woo-oo, woo-oo.'

Mickey Burns, Terry Hibbitt, Alan Gowling and Keegan are all saluted in this historically inspired, musically impaired number. The chart-hit comes after Palmer's trip to the European Championships, when the 16st, Ray-Ban wearing Newcastle nut travelled around Sweden flogging Harry Palmer memorabilia to England fans. His tour video, 'We Like Patsy Kensit', is still selling and a Christmas album is in the pipeline. What next from St James' Park? The Lee Clark Five?

PALMER, and another mighty minstrel, Pavarotti, have a rival - Gary Brabin, midfielder with Conference club Runcorn. Brabin was warming up at Yeovil when opportunity knocked. The Somerset Police had just completed their pre- match safety announcement when Brabin, a keen Pavarotti fan, felt the urge. He took the microphone to delight Huish Park with 'Nessun Dorma'.

IT'S OFFICIAL - Stenhousemuir are artists. Fans of the Scottish Second Division club complained to the Pru after the insurance company disgracefully lampooned the Ochilview Park side in a commercial: the last score heard by a pools speculator is 'Stenhousemuir 1 Arbroath 7'. The Pru initially said they wouldn't atone by sponsoring a match because they promoted only the arts and that Stenhousemuir could not be regarded as artistic 'by any stretch of the imagination'. What cheek.

It was score-settling time. After more letters and the intervention of Dennis Canavan, the local MP and staunch Stenhousemuir supporter, the Pru decided to do the 'decent thing' and put up pounds 500 for today's meeting with . . . Arbroath (plus pounds 50 for each goal scored). Lucky old Stenhousemuir.

PENNANTS are normally the gifts swapped before games, but Boston United are different. The club now sponsored by loo-paper makers handed over two packets of their benefactors' finest to hosts Welling last weekend.

NIKE is running an enormous boot campaign with Ian Wright, the Arsenal and England striker, topping the bill. Before kick-off at Wembley Sky's cameras zoomed in on Wright's Nikes as he replaced a broken lace. Difficult to tell whether this unexpected product placement was great advertising for Nike (which had a classy commercial about Wright on at half-time). The logo was clearly visible, but it does not say much for their laces.

IN CASE you hadn't noticed, the US is in the grip of a huge election campaign. Last Thursday was the closing date for Americans to vote for the nickname for the World Cup mascot, a pup in boots. Organisers picked four pet names: Sweeper ('he lays out the offensive structure'), Striker ('he's the 'go to' player on the team'), Sidekick ('he is somebody to practice with even after the stadium lights go out') and Champ ('he's totally focused'). Any other suggestions for Uncle Sam's Best Friend?

Stats life

TO honour Stenhousemuir, the bottle of Aberlour Malt, for statistic of the week, goes to Simon Daniels, from Bury St Edmunds, for this . . .

'Last Saturday the lowest gate (347) enjoyed the greatest number of goals (10) as East Stirling lost 3-7 to Stenhousemuir'.

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