Football diary: Music for penalty arias

FOOTBALL'S gone poptastic. Premiership shirt numbers could soon reflect where in the charts the wearer's single has reached. Helped by a Pet Shop Boy, Ian Wright has released 'Do The Right Thing' in which he raps 'I ain't a saint, but I ain't no sinner', a line doubtlessly used in discussions with Lancaster Gate. On Highbury's terraces, shouts of 'what's the score?' have taken on a new meaning with fans humming arias from the Gunners opera, St George & The Devil, which includes a reworked Bizet ballad - 'Arsenal is like a woman'.

At Old Trafford, Lee Sharpe has called on the services of New Order's Bernard Sumner (remember the seminal 'World in Motion'?) and ex- Smiths axeman Johnny Marr (a diehard Manchester City fan) for his forthcoming disc. Moving from goal machines to sex machines, James Brown plays Millwall on Monday (and on current form will probably win) while U2 have already left their mark on Celtic's pitch. Finally, footballing funksters everywhere will be dancing in the streets to hear that the compilation Bend It] 93 is now out: old shakers like Franz Beckenbauer's haunting '1-0 For Your Love' and Giorgio Chinaglia's 'I'm football crazy' vie with modern movers 'The J-League Freakout' and 'The Hot Spurs Boogie'. A must. (Available from Sportspages and Exotica, 49 Belvoir Road, London SE22 0QY).

DIEGO MARADONA is not the only one having trouble acquiring a visa to visit the Land Of The Free. As Jack Charlton's 'Green Army' closes on the United States and Boston, home of so many Irish settlers, some of his visa-seeking young foot soldiers have had their applications turned down. The Americans fear a few fans may stay on and look for work. 'They have to convince the consular offices that the whole purpose of their trip is purely for tourism,' the US Embassy said.

ALONGSIDE boys called Hurst and Peters, a promising striker named Anthony 'Albert' Clarke graduated from Lilleshall this summer. Arsenal signed the 16-year-old on trainee forms but his journey to one of football's premier youth set-ups has hardly been easy. Highbury's Thirties' splendour contrasts startlingly with conditions in the first half of Clarke's life, in Togo, Africa, where he lived before emigrating. His first experience of football came when he and his mates used to commandeer washing off neighbours' lines and wrap the material into a ball shape. When Clarke arrived in England and encountered a proper ball he had to learn the game all over again.

TEASER TIME: Name the English cricketer-footballer who has played in cup finals at Wembley and Lord's this year? (Answer at bottom).

PELE is playing for Birmingham City this season. To enliven events at St Andrews, Karren Brady's bunch have gone nickname crazy in the programme. So 'Pele' Parris features alongside 'Hurricane' Hiley, 'Tyson' Whyte, 'Rocky' Frain, 'Magic' Mardon, and 'Tearaway' Tait.

WHO says Liverpool don't bring home trophies from foreign tours anymore? Noel White, the Reds director, returned from a summer stint watching England in the US with a fine souvenir now installed in a display cabinet at Anfield - the Michigan number plate S C O U S E R. White received the gift from a Liverpudlian currently working in Motown's motor trade whose red Corvette bears the original plate.

THE 'Fanzine Phenomenon' part 7,589: from Birmingham comes 'Take Your Boots Off: Kings Heath Concorde Under-13 Football Team Supporters' Fanzine (Championship Issue)' while Cardiff fans have published the amusing 'Bluebird Jones', reputedly the first comic art fanzine.

THE Aberlour Malt for alternative statistic of the week goes to Bristol's T G Black:

'Last Saturday, every team beginning with A in the Premiership, Scottish League, Conference, Beazer Homes and Nothern Premier all avoided defeat: Arsenal, Aston Villa, Aberdeen, Airdrie, Ayr, Albion, Alloa, Arboath, Altrincham, Atherstone and Accrington'.

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

TEASER ANSWER: Clare Taylor of Knowsley United FC (Women's FA League Cup final) and England's cricketers (World Cup final).