Football Diary: No hairs apparent for Martin

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The Independent Online
ALVIN MARTIN, Bootle-born but East End-raised from the age of 16, has always held a special place in the affections of West Ham United, who he has served diligently since 1974. The former England defender, one of only seven players to have passed 500 appearances in the claret-and-blue, is producing ageless performances for the Hammers, whose faithful have awarded him a testimonial-style chant (to the tune of Boney M's 'Holiday') . . .

'Alvin Martin, Alvin Martin, Aaaaaaaaaaaaalvin Martin,

He's got no hair

But we don't care

Aaaaaaaaaaaaalvin Martin'

ASTON VILLA and their star winger, Tony Daley, whose bob- and-weave haircut is at the opposite end of the barber-shop spectrum to Martin's, were also serenaded last Saturday. By Highbury's wags. The Gooner ranks, still delighting over a Cup- Winners' Cup draw against Torino, greeted Villa with 'We're going to Europe. You're not'. This straightforward ribbing was then developed: Daley, Udinese's one- time pursuee, was targeted with: 'We're going to Italy. You're not.'

THE astronomical odds of 25,000-1 against the long arm of the Met Police gathering the FA Cup (their more than useful side face Crawley today) is explained away by Hills, whose spokesman, Graham Sharpe, says: 'Even if they do get to the final, they will all be on match duty so the others are bound to win.'

DISTURBING news from the United States: a Harris poll discovered that only 13 per cent of Americans know that they are hosting the World Cup finals.

WHILE Graham Taylor was talking on Monday about going out with a bang, the blow-ups behind him made revealing viewing. The FA's selection as a backdrop was a subtle case of 'what might have been': on the England manager's left was a huge photograph of Ronald Koeman tugging David Platt in that crucial non-sending-off incident, while on Taylor's right was a Norwegian defender all over an attacking Gary Pallister in Oslo.

ON the night Shrewsbury and Blackburn shared seven goals someone made a hole in the netting at Gay Meadow's Station End. But it appeared before kick- off. The groundsman, Brian Perry, knew the culprits immediately: the Shrews ground-share their riverside home with a family of squirrels, who are often spotted scurrying about. Maybe the four-legged net-busters were hoping for a bid from Kenny Dalglish.

IF Bournemouth's players break into frenetic dance routines on scoring against Brighton in the Cup today it's their physios' fault. Dean Court's medical maestros, Sean O'Driscoll and Steve Hardwick, last week helped out Take That, the popsters who have been raising teen spirits locally. 'A number of the group have regular problems with their backs due to the intense dance routines they perform on stage,' Hardwick said. 'They were really nice lads - although one of them did confess to being a big Port Vale fan.'

MATT LE TISSIER must feel like dancing at the moment: a month ago the maverick Saint was out of favour but then came his dismantling of the Newcastle and Liverpool defences and this week he was awarded the Southampton captaincy. Only for Thursday night, mind, as Hampshire's finest footballers (Le Tissier, Moore, Allen and Hall) took on (and lost to) the county's cricketers in a Question of Sport-style quiz for charity at Romsey's Mountbatten School.

THE Aberlour Malt for freak fact goes to Doug Hudson ('Matchday Announcer For The Gills') for this:

'The head of Gillingham's Supporters' Club has the unusual name of Alan Liptrott. A few seasons ago, while being entertained by Wigan Supporters' Club, he met his counterpart and his name was . . . Alan Liptrott. Gillingham play Wigan at Priestfield on 20 November and the match-ball is sponsored by Alan Liptrott of Gillingham and Alan Liptrott of Wigan'.

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