Football Diary: Nothing like a Dane

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The Independent Online
LIVERPOOL are an ambitious club again. For Christmas Jamie Redknapp craved 'to have Cindy Crawford all to myself' while another red-blooded, red-shirted young buck, Steve McManaman, desired 'to wake up to a big blonde at the end of my bed' - although in the latest issue of Xtra Time, the Anfield paper, the winger did not specify if he meant Jan Molby. Stig Bjornebye sought some 'educational' books, including one by his favourite writer, the Peruvian-born Chilean novelist Isabelle Allende. Ever the pragmatist, Graeme Souness asked Santa to bring him 'as many points as possible'.

Most cherished pressies from Christmases past included Molby's 'bar football game' (so if the Dane starts spinning and going from side to side, you know why), Paul Stewart's Action Man, and Bruce Grobbelaar's 'a sheep and a goat'.

TROOPING in to the away dressing-room at Boston United after warming up, Fleetwood Town's players received a big surprise: an unfamiliar figure changing in the corner. 'Who are you?' the nonplussed non-Leaguers chorused. 'I'm playing against Boston FC,' came the reply. 'This is Boston United,' he was informed. After quickly dressing and retrieving his girlfriend from the social club, the errant player shot off across Boston to Boston FC to find his bemused Bedfont team-mates.

NOT ONLY do West Ham spin the hippest discs before matches but the Boleyn Ground boasts a new wise-cracking announcer. Moments before the midweek kick-off against Spurs, M C Hammer proclaimed: 'News just in from Stamford Bridge: Glenn Hoddle has just given all his players lighters for Christmas. Because they keep losing their matches.' Great timing: Mark Stein scored Chelsea's matchwinner 11 minutes later.

WEST BROM'S bouncing 'Boing' antics prompted a visit by council safety officers concerned at the 8,000 pogoers' effect on the Birmingham Road end. They came in after staff in the tea bar below stairs noticed their ceiling vibrate. But, following an inspection, the Baggies were given the all-clear to carry on Boinging.

JUST UP the M6 from The Hawthorns, Stoke City's choristers belt out the well-established 'Delilah', a number noted for the unity and harmony of its singers. Each rendition is preceded by a series of 'shushes' before a gentleman called 'T J' (short for Tom Jones) sings the first, tearjerking, lines. Then the whole Victoria Ground joins in the chorus. 'Delilah' even had an airing in Venice recently when Stoke played nearby Padova in the Anglo-Italian Cup. Venetians more used to gondola-rocking Brits warbling 'Just One Cornetto' were delighted to be serenaded with 'Delilah'.

TO COMMEMORATE its 36th issue, Scotland's premier fanzine, The Absolute Game, has reprinted the 1885 fanzine of Bon Accord - remember them? - 36-0 losers to lucky old Arbroath. The mock mag features '10 Least Impressive Excuses for the Scoreline', including: 'After seeing the 33rd go in, the heart just went out of us' and 'the scoreline didn't give a fair reflection of the balance of play'. The 36-0 Special Emergency Issue's name? The Clean Sheet.

FOOTBALL as a mirror of world change: Dnepr Dnepropetrovsk have a new sponsor. A bank has replaced the Ukrainians' old backers - the local missile base.


The bottle of Aberlour Malt for alternative statistic goes to Jo Thomas, of Reading, for the following . . .

'Roy Clarke, a Welsh international, played in the Third, Second and First Divisions on consecutive Saturdays in 1947. He played for Cardiff City (Third) and was transferred to Manchester City (about to become Second Division champions) in the last week of the season. Permission was granted for him to play in their last game in the Second. He then played for City in their first game in the First the following season.'

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