Football Diary: Piercer Pearce is all ears

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KENNY DALGLISH'S utterances are invariably guarded - samples: 'How did you see the game, Kenny?'. . . 'From the dug-out' and 'Do you think you've changed since you left Anfield?'. . . 'Yes, I didn't wear this suit the last time. . .' The Scottish Rover, it transpires, is a laird of the wind-up world, his taste for teasing confirmed amid the tension at Coventry on Monday. In response to an off-camera enquiry from Sky's Ian Darke as to the nature of Ian Pearce's injury, Dalglish replied that the versatile youngster was afflicted with an infected ear, the result of an unsuccessful attempt at ear-piercing. Despite all the Blackburn players concurring with their manager's prognosis, Sky's man remained unconvinced. Darke dispatched a colleague to check with Piercer Pearce, who politely listened - with unblemished ears.

ONE PACK of Rovers proved too powerful for their Old Trafford rivals earlier this week: Dogs Today beat Manchester United Magazine in the publishing world's oscars.

DIANA ROSS works on the switchboard at Coventry City. Glenn Miller is employed in a similar capacity by Uefa. Celebrity artistes are widespread in football, caressing callers' ears while they wait 'on hold'. La Ross fills Coventry's phonelines with 'The Force Behind the Power', a cryptic message if ever there was one, while Mr Miller gets the boys from Berne 'In The Mood'. After awarding the World Cup to Tammy Wynette's mob, Fifa, fittingly, enjoyed a spell of Country and Western. As befits such classy clubs, Wolves enlisted Handel's 'Water Music' while Derby play Luciano Pavarotti's 'Nessun Dorma'. Super- efficient Blackburn have a gentle lady's voice softly issuing a complex string of directions while, disconcertingly, Spurs' callers can disappear into a void. No club, though, has the honesty to use Blondie's 'Hanging On The Telephone'.

THE lost art of crossing undermined Wolves' play-off cause but at least Molineux kept its sense of humour. As another centre flew into the crowd on Tuesday, a frustrated fan bellowed: 'Birch - you couldn't cross a pools coupon]'

DANNY BERGARA was expounding recently on how Stockport achieved success on limited resources. The gist was tailoring your style to the players available, because County don't possess 'a Maradona, a Pele or a Cantona'. To which a voice piped up: 'Er, yes you do. . . Joel Cantona.'

MOSS KEANE, Roy's father, receives a healthy stipend from his famous son, an Irish tradition known as 'emigrants' remittances'. Impressed by this generous supply of the English folding stuff, Keane Snr's drinking partners have renamed him 'Sterling Moss'.

ARSENAL must have been shocked on opening the match programme in Copenhagen: the list of players printed under Parma's logo were Benfica's, who humiliated the Gunners two years ago.

THE season of the Endsleigh Underdog continues to the end: in last Sunday's see-saw struggle at Burnley, the Football League outlasted the FA, Graham Kelly and all, winning 5-4 after extra time.

AMERICA, murder centre of the world, is taking no risks on World Cup security. . . umbrellas have been banned from all nine grounds.

DOOMSDAY at Goodison: 'Evertonians predict a Cottee missed penalty followed by an elbowed last-minute Fashanu winner,' writes Tony Heslop, of Liverpool.

THE bottle of Wild Turkey Bourbon for freak fact goes to Brian Harrison, of Sherborne, for the following . . .

'Many Premier League players have names which lend themselves to wholly inappropriate anagrams. The following team illustrates the point: He Poor (Hooper); Do Nix (Dixon), Dud Rock (Ruddock), He Rank Nag (Kernaghan), Aston Nut (Staunton); Nice (Ince), Batty (Batty); Wastrel (Walters), A Non Act (Cantona), Tank Is On (Atkinson), Dawdle (Waddle).

Final bourbon next week. Entries to Football Diary, The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB.