Football Diary: Nicholl gets the kiss-off

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The Independent Online
AS EVERTON and England discovered, a managerial vacancy is a recipe for everyone to send in their CV (Lancaster Gate reckons around 500). Birmingham City, before they installed Barry Fry, received their fair share of applications from fans; but among the no-hopers were enquiries from respected coaches. Like Chris Nicholl, 51 times a Northern Ireland international and Southampton manager for six years. So he was a trifle surprised when his letter to St Andrews inspired a standard photocopied rejection letter from Karren Brady. Birmingham's MD thanked him for his interest and, to ease the disappointment, enclosed a signed photo of herself.

WHILE Roy Keane was starring at Anfield, police were chasing his VW Corrado across the North- West at speeds of up to 130 mph. It had been nicked by joyriders from outside a Manchester hotel.

SINCE his release from an Iraqi jail, Paul Ride has been able to catch up on his beloved Chelsea - and Glenn Hoddle's revitalised Blues have responded with 10 points out of 15. On the flight back Ride was dissuaded by Sir Edward Heath from wearing his Blues shirt (Tory politicians are sensitive about this) but within 24 hours he was guest of honour at the Bridge for the visit of Ipswich. While imprisoned, Ride tried to keep in touch with Blues news but, sensibly, refused to join in the Inmates v Guards matches. 'They were all nutters,' Ride tells Chelsea's ever excellent programme. 'One Swedish guy had his knee dislocated and his cheekbone kicked in. Chopper Harris wouldn't have looked out of place.'

AS BEFITS one of the most watchable teams around, Southend United possess some eye-catching kit sponsors. Among the more traditional backers from the worlds of double glazing (Jason Lee) and car centres (Ricky Otto) are Alison Moyet (Paul Sansome) and Lt Col J Boorman (Andy Sussex).

NICE to see the yanks on the ball: piled high at the American Airlines official merchandising stall at Los Angeles airport were . . . 'England World Cup 94' T-shirts, a snip at dollars 18 ( pounds 12). The approach to the airline's terminal is dominated by 15ft- high pictures of the in-form Roy Wegerle - surely a unique honour for a Coventry City striker.

QUESTION: Explain the football link between Mikhail Gorbachev, the Statue of Liberty, Woodstock's 20th anniversary (hippies, not little bird), the Super Bowl and the signing of the Palestine-Israel peace accord? Answer: Peter Max, US painter, who has depicted all of these plus the official (rather splendid) 1994 World Cup poster.

WET WET WET sponsor Clydebank but they could back a Waterlogged XI sent in by the regulars at the Royal Oak, Mellor, Stockport.

WATERLOGGED XI: Bert Trautmann; Tommy Banks, Peter Swan, David Webb, Paul Lake, Peter Reid, Geoff Pike, Ted Drake, Rodney Marsh, Ian Rush, Chris Waddle.

ARE Wimbledon going soft? asks Jim de Rennes, from Surbiton, Surrey. Unlikely, but De Rennes cites Joe Kinnear's recent praise for Peter Fear, Wimbledon's versatile and highly rated teenager . . . 'He's got all the qualities that I look for in a player in that he's strong, a good tackler, gets forward well and seems completely unnerved by any situation.' Well, his name is Fear.

ARSENAL are enjoying more cup success, according to Joe Davies, a Potteries craftsman who produces elegant mugs depicting famous kits and Kops. The best sellers have been the four Highbury designs followed by Spurs, Bolton, Burnley and Charlton. Anyone up for a cup can call Joe on 0782 711869 (prices up to pounds 4.99).

THE Aberlour Malt for freak fact of the week goes to Andrew Bruno ('and believe it or not, my father is called Frank'), from Ripponden, Yorks, for this . . .

'The three Welsh representatives in the Football League currently occupy successive places (15th to 17th) in the Second Division table:

P W D L F A Pts Wrexham 23 8 6 9 37 38 30 Cardiff 22 6 9 7 35 38 27 Swansea 22 7 5 10 26 33 26

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