Football Diary: Hot line fails to cut ice

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The Independent Online
FOR A club famous for cold showers and long balls, it was only natural to find Miss Whiplash on Cambridge United's 0898 phone- in number. The dominating voice on the end of the line was not John Beck's, but some siren keen to dish out some discipline. Steve Greenall, the Cambridge secretary, ran the Abbey Update on this number which was advertised in Rothmans Football Yearbook. In February the service was closed down when Ladbrokes came in to provide their news. 'The number ceased to exist over the summer,' Greenall said, 'but then British Telecom re-let the line to this Whiplash woman.'

The saucy voice was revealed only when the Liverpool Daily Post, keen to get a story on Chester City's pre-season match with Cambridge, rang up and got a hot line instead of a scoreline. 'The awkward thing was that I used to put ice hockey news for Peterborough Pirates, Telford Tigers and Sheffield Steelers on that line,' Greenall said, 'and we've had a few confused people wondering what was going on.' The number in the current Rothmans is correct - the only beating you'll hear about is Cambridge's midweek thrashing by Charlton.

A QUICK dip into the archives has revealed this gem from Maidstone United's first Football League programme, on 26 August 1989. Jim Thompson, the Maidstone chairman, wrote: 'There are those who saw the traumas that led us to Dartford as the end, but today, standing in the refurbished Watling Street as members of the Football League, I can say to them that their fears have proved groundless.' Nice use of the word 'groundless'.

MANCHESTER UNITED have Sharp, Liverpool have Carlsberg, Yeovil have Preston Plucknett Post Office.

One of the longer names in sponsorship will be emblazoned across the shirts of the GM Vauxhall Conference club, whose season kicks off today. The tiny sub post office (on the Taunton road going out of Yeovil) earned this first-class reward by paying only pounds 250 to enter the Glovers' draw along with 141 other local businesses. The modest outlay for such prime advertising space has already reaped dividends for Preston Plucknett Post Office. 'They are coming through the door,' Alun James, the sub post-master, said. 'Young ladies are coming in and saying 'Can I change my child benefit to here, because my husband is a Yeovil Town fan'?' A sponsorship that delivers.

THE old footballing 1-2 was much in evidence in the 2.05 Rous Selling Stakes at York on Wednesday. Bold Seven, owned and trained by Franny Lee, romped home, followed by the steed of another former Manchester City and England striker, Mick Channon. The name Bold Seven comes from the number Lee wore during each of his 27 internationals. Channon's horse is also a (painful) reminder of his playing days - Knobbleeneeze.

WITH a new diary, comes a new competition. Each week the bottle of Aberlour Malt Whisky will go to the most inspired alternative football statistic of the week. A classic from last season would have been when Holmes and Watson solved Carlisle's scoring problem. Or which two strikers - one who replaced the other, who was his namesake - both scored twice on their debuts this season? (Alan and Duncan Shearer). The funnier and more irrelevant, the better. Answers by Friday morning to Football Diary, Sports Desk, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 4DB.

THEY are big on brothers in the Conference. Andy Salako (brother of Crystal Palace's John) has just joined Welling from Charlton. The 20-year-old will soon face the brothers of two more England representatives - Witton's Gary Stewart (Paul's brother) and Grantley Dicks, of Bath and Julian fame. Talking of the name game, Dundee could soon have a Gilzean-Toshack strike-force. Ian Gilzean (son of Alan) has moved from Spurs while Cameron Toshack (John's son) is having trials at Dens Park.