Football Diary: In the name of Darren

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The Independent Online
AT WEMBLEY, Anderton became the first Darren to play for England (although Clive Darren Allen paved the way), so joining other charismatic one-name wonders in FA archives. Segal Bastard, a racehorse owner who died of a heart attack at Epsom station, earned his single cap in 1880 slightly before the debuts of Blackburn's Doctor Greenwood (his real Christian name - he was actually a farmer) and Liverpool's Raby Howell, a modestly sized right-half born in a gypsy caravan, according to Douglas Lamming's excellent English Football Internationalists' Who's Who. Anderton's co-members in a unique club include Basil, Thelwell, Elphinstone, Herod, Luther and Septimus.

ITALY and Ireland's footballers may meet in New York in June. You knew? Yes, both countries have sent teams to the Gay Games taking place in the Big Apple.

TAKE your pick: who would you rather watch warm up? David Platt or the Paul Gascoigne-Ian Wright double act? England's Captain Sensible took to the touchline to stretch his muscles, and his elaborate limbering up should be filmed and dispensed to every budding footballer, showing how to prepare properly for lengthy action. Meanwhile, Gazza and Wrighty, last seen in unison rolling like playful puppies in the Graham Taylor documentary, could not resist a dance routine when the Light Division's military band struck up a trumpet-crazed hunting cry: G & W began with the Groucho Marx running crouch, slipped seamlessly into the Extended Trot normally seen at the nearby Horse of the Year Show, and climaxed with Morecambe and Wise's 'Bring Me Sunshine' jig. When the band finished, Wright applauded them.

THE Premiership clubs have rightly been taken to task over their money-spinning squad numbers but it seems the most prolific number-cruncher is First Division Birmingham City. Blues' most recent line-up featured Nos 22, 24, 26, 27, 30, 31, 32, 33, and 34 - a 14- man aggregate of 289 (average 20.6). At last, a record for Birmingham in a modest season.

SPARE a thought, during this current Manchester United and England frenzy, for Lee Sharpe, until recently a contributor to both. The skilful winger, hampered by a hernia, is training again and is focusing on the Coca-Cola Cup final. 'It's been a long road back,' he says. Being a spectator during United's rich season is 'murder - I'm not a good watcher'. But the real problem is that 'even when I'm fit it's going to be difficult getting back in the side because they are doing so well. Maybe I'll need to kick some of them in training.'

AS THE crowd filed out of Burnden Park following a home success last Saturday, Bolton's announcer could not contain his glee. After confirming Manchester United's defeat, he waited for the applause to die down before adding: 'All in all, a perfect day'.

BYE-BYE Bergerac; Graeme Le Saux is becoming the new face of Jersey tourism. Le Saux, last seen sprinting round the outside of Wembley in smart suit, has been swiftly adopted by the island's ad agency for a series of commercials running in this weekend's papers. 'Jersey is a healthy, sporty place,' Diane Needham, of the island's tourism office, said, 'and people like Graeme and Kyran Bracken are raising that profile further.'

A PACKED Wembley made a change from Anderton's last international, for the Under-21s in San Marino. The gate was 83, boosted by two England loyalists.

THE bottle of Wild Turkey Bourbon for freak fact of the week goes to Bob McCorkindale, of Northampton, for this:

'Twelve footballers took to the field on Saturday with names that belie their true occupation . . . goalkeeper: Baker (Ipswich), Barber (Peterborough), Judge (Hereford), Knight (Portsmouth), Miller (Birmingham), Smith (Hearts), Collier (Darlington), Seaman (Arsenal), Butler (Stoke), Chamberlain (Sunderland), Pressman (Sheffield Wednesday). Sub: Cheesewright (Colchester).'

More bourbon next week. Entries to Football Diary, The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB.

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