Football diary: Gladys and the Whippet

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THE First Lady of English football is having a book written about her life: Karren Brady? Jane Nottage? Cherie Lunghi? No. It's Gladys Protheroe, whose biography Football Genius is published next month when bidding starts for the film rights. A close associate of Graham Taylor, who has written the foreword to her spoof England history, Gladys has been in football since the 30s when she fell in love with Watford's winger, Ernest 'The Whippet' Protheroe.

The Whippet's death in a car crash shortly after his pounds 14,000 transfer to Verona drove Gladys to make her own name in the game. Her career ran the gamut of footballing events and emotions: highpoints like coaching Watford and advising England to the nadir of alcoholism and recording naff songs. Glady's importance, according to the book's author, Simon Cheetham, was witnessed in Turin three years ago. 'Paul Gascoigne was becoming increasingly influential against West Germany,' Cheetham says. 'When one studies the videotape of the game, one can clearly see Brehme walk past Gascoigne and whisper something into his ear. Within seconds the English player is in tears. His influence on the game wanes. Why? The German simply whispered that Gladys Protheroe had been knocked over and killed by a milk- float. A lie, of course.' And so is the whole book, but richly entertaining fantasy none the less.

ADIDAS made an attempt on TV this week to justify the proliferation of kit changes and price hikes. The manufacturers' spokesman? Robin Money.

CONTRARY to popular opinion, Graham Taylor is not averse to considering ageing aces for selection. Hoddle and Robson, Wilkins and Cowans (average age 36, but, on current form, four of the Premiership's top playmakers) can take heart from a fax sent by Taylor to Coventry after the midweek success of the reserves who included a goalscoring Bobby Gould, Phil Neal and reserve coach Brian Roberts (average age 42): 'Holland v England 13 October. Reference above game: please could your players Gould, Neal and Roberts be alerted to the fact that they are in my thoughts - nothing else - just in my thoughts] Kindest regards, Graham Taylor'.

STEVE MORAN received a warm reception on his return to Reading with Hull City: the pre- match comedian ran out with a pair of crutches for the former Elm Park favourite.

THE conference season is upon us so football decided to stage its own debate, in London on Thursday. Not a pier or politician in sight, but plenty of the people who count, supporters and players. The discussion, organised by the authors of Soccer City, a provocative, well- written if slightly gloom-laden dissection of London's clubs, climaxed with a call for motions on how to improve the English game. Brian Marwood and Garth Crooks advocated a confederation of all the authorities under Gordon Taylor while the audience demanded more representation for fans, the immediate slimming of the Premiership to 18 clubs and the dropping of the League Cup (rather than the League Cup-winner, in Arsenal's case).

The next debate, this Thursday, with Lawrie Sanchez and Gary Mabbutt in the line-up, promises to be as lively: kick-off 6.30, at the Crabtree Tavern, Rainville Road, London W6. The original venue was Craven Cottage until Fulham withdrew - maybe some of the book's comments about the club didn't go down too well in west London.

THE Aberlour Malt for alternative statistic of the week goes to Gary Watton, of Coleraine, for this . . .

'The recent appointment of Glenn Hoddle as Chelsea manager makes him the third consecutive occupant of that post to have scored the decisive goal in an FA Cup final: Ian Porterfield (1973), David Webb (1970) and Hoddle (1982).

More malt next week. All freak facts to Football Diary, The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB.