GRUDGE match of the weekend? No question; turn to Turf Moor tomorrow for the annual Integra Cup between employees of the Football League and the FA. McKeag's Maulers are unbeaten against Kelly's Heroes - admittedly over only 180 minutes of combat - but at Burnley will face Lancaster Gatemen buoyed by last weekend's 0-0 draw against a strong Buck House XI on the ultra-exclusive Kensington Palace pitch (a sporting lawn probably worth more than England's Wembley home). Graham Kelly, more used to defending the FA, leads the attack against his former employers who have already raised the temperature. 'We'll be the ones playing the fluid, passing football,' a Lytham spokesman said. 'The FA will be the ones playing the very long ball.'
OPPOSING stars often received a ribald welcome from the Kop, which witnesses its last game today. But Kevin Francis, currently Stockport's high-rise hero, was greeted with glee while in Derby's colours four years ago. As Francis warmed up along Anfield's touchlines, the Kop's curiosity with the striker's 6ft 7in grandeur could not be contained. This fascination, described in Stephen F Kelly's commendable The Kop (Mandarin, pounds 5.99), was soon voiced. 'One Blackpool Tower. There's Only One Blackpool Tower', Kopites chorused, swiftly followed by, 'What's the weather like up there?'.
YOU HAVE to admire Wimbledon. The Crazy Gang's reaction to a week of media castigation over their match-betting antics was to have Ladbrokes sponsor their next home match.
KICK-INS no; love-ins yes. Many idle notions were mooted for the World Cup, but one suggestion is gathering backers by the barrel- load. Italy's coach, Arrigo Sacchi, and his Brazilian counterpart, Carlos Alberto Parreira, have followed Switzerland's Roy Hodgson in allowing players a little post-match R'n'R with partners. Sacchi says his Azzurri will be permitted a session of conjugal amore following engagements with the Irish (when Baresi and Co may not feel up to it), Norway and Mexico. On their rare days off, Brazil will be allowed sex, Parreira says, 'and shopping'.
TOTTENHAM have a history of dodgy scoreboards, a noble tradition continued during the 3-0 defeat of Southampton when the new hi-tech screen flashed up
3-0 (from shock?) after the first goal. As befits an Amstrad affiliate, this gremlin was quickly dealt with and, at the final whistle, the operators keyed up the message, 'Didn't We Predict 3-0 Earlier?'.
SURPRISINGLY, they didn't sweep South Africa but at least the SOCCER Party boasted the best manifesto. The launch of the Sports Organisation for Collective Contributions and Equal Rights Party (natty logo with a black-and-white ball in the middle) was graced by the two leaders wearing football kit and claiming they were the only ones fit to govern. The leaders - one white, one black - are neighbours who say that the only way to solve South Africa's problems is through sport, the arts and 'being happy'. And they still didn't win.
THANK you to all Freak Factophiles who spotted the Premiership's distress signal. The Wild Turkey Bourbon goes to an Oldham fan, S J Kenney, to assist him on the Latics' fretful run-in:
'The initial letters of the bottom three Premiership clubs (Sheffield United, Oldham and Swindon) are SOS Save Our Souls - just Oldham's please.'
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