Football Diary: Heaved into touch

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CHRIS COLEMAN, Crystal Palace's versatile Welsh international, was made to change his shirt the other day. Not because of a colour clash - that's predominantly a Premiership problem - but due to a bilious baby. The tall, dark defender with the model looks was involved in a fashion shoot for this organ, to be published next Thursday, which depicted what the trendy toddler was wearing this Christmas.

Unfortunately, Coleman's choice of black Paul Smith polo neck (tucked into Armani jeans) received an unexpected respray from his six-month-old baby, Sonny, who he was cradling. An emergency substitution and Coleman returned in French Connection. Rumours that kit manufacturers have put in a bid for the black and Cow and Gate design have proved unfounded.

THE Newcastle nun is in demand. Italian TV asked the Toon Army's ecclesiastical wing if she would appear with her Internazionale counterpart in a Yuletide special. The Toon Sister sadly had to refuse - it clashed with her school's Christmas party.

GARY LINEKER legitimised the practice of following football on Ceefax, freeing millions for whom 140 and 301 are not types of cars but teletext pages. Last week, Phil Coop was flicking through teletext in his Nottinghamshire home when he came across the announcement that the World Footballer Of The Year would go to either 'Dennis Bergkamp, Roberto Baggio or Rosario'. 'Maybe Cloughie made the same error and thought he was getting Romario,' Coop writes. 'If only.'

SUPPORTERS of Swindon Town, the Premiership strugglers, came up with the dream riposte to Leeds fans' chants of 'going down, going down, going down'. 'So are we, so are we, so are we,' they replied.

WOULD one of the thousands of manic pogoers please explain the 'boing boing' craze currently sweeping the terraces of those clubs which still possess standing areas? For those who have not experienced this cult jig, it involves bouncing up and down and shouting 'boing, boing' followed by the club's name. It looks like a trampoline competition organised by Basil Fawlty.

SKY'S series of interviews with leading managers ran into a spot of bother last week. The excellent Martin Tyler's intended 30-minute 'Boss' special with the Everton manager, Howard Kendall, was shelved at the last minute when Kendall became the ex- Everton manager. Quick-thinking Sky turned to Southend United and Barry Fry - moments before he decamped to Birmingham City.

TANNOY trouble, part 68. At Nuneaton Borough the PA system was more snap 'n' crackle than pop in midweek, reducing the main stand to fits of laughter at every garbled message. Some snippets about the FA Cup replay did slip through, amusingly so in the wake of a sudden recovery by a Bournemouth player; the announcer forgot he had left his mike on and unintentionally regaled hundreds of delighted listeners with 'he was only play-acting'.

FOLLOWING a horrific experience of rock-throwing on the M25, Dagenham & Redbridge are organising a campaign to inform youngsters about the dangers of lobbing missiles at fast-moving vehicles. Returning from Merthyr Tydfil, the Daggers coach was hit by four rocks dropped from a bridge, resulting in a smashed windscreen and, mercifully, only minor injuries to the defender, Paul Watts. The Vauxhall Conference club's coach sustained pounds 4,000 worth of damage, as did the other vehicles targeted, a pair of HGVs.

THANKS to Alex Ferguson's decision to give a rare start to the exemplary Brian McClair, the Aberlour Malt for freak fact of the week goes to Phil Rudman, of Nottingham, for this:

'Last Saturday, United fielded a team with numbers 1-11 on their backs, thus making the combined total of only 66. Is this a first in the Premiership?'

More malt on 27 December. All freak facts to Football Diary, The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB.