Football Diary: Swede to turn Turnip?

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STRANGE goings-on at Hillsborough - a group of Sheffield Wednesday fans have started a campaign promoting the Swedish international, Roland Nilsson, as the answer to England's troublesome right-back berth.

'Oh to see the spiky-haired wonder give a little wink to the Royal Box at Wembley before dispossessing Johnny Foreigner for the umpteenth time and setting up another raid down the right flank,' comes the call from the fanzine 'Boddle - Taking the Wednesday into Insanity', which has printed 'Roly for England' badges and lobbied the local media to spread the word about the Scandinavian cult figure. The 'Boddle' boys have even composed a sort of modern Song of Roland, which concludes . . .

'How about our Roly, he plays for the Owls'

'He once scored a goal and he very rarely fouls'. Sounds perfect.

NEWS from the Northern League. . . Billingham Town, eager to win a loan for some new floodlights, invited two FA big-wigs to inspect their Bedford Terrace home (where Gary Pallister learned his trade before moving to nearby Boro). Town went to town, their secretary, Tommy Donnelly, donning his smartest suit to show the high-ranking visitors around. 'I was really trying to sell the club,' Donnelly said. His presentation was going swimmingly - until a scruffy, tattoo-stained skinhead with a bulging pocket wandered into the middle of the tour and enquired: 'Can I do some ferreting in here?'

VINNY JONES back in a Chelsea shirt? Andy Townsend joining Wimbledon? What was going on at Selhurst Park on Monday? When the floodlights failed, the Dons home was plunged into darkness; by the time the referee waved the Wimbledon and Chelsea boys down the tunnel, Jones and Townsend, former Blues brothers, had swapped No 4 shirts. There is no truth in the rumour that Jones spent the rest of the game running with the ball from deep positions, spraying pinpoint passes around, volleying winners and being watched by George Graham and Graeme Souness.

WHERE are they now . . . Michael Robinson? After a career of scoring goals for, notably, Manchester City, Brighton, Liverpool, Osasuna and the Republic of Ireland, Robinson has found more fame and fortune on Spanish television, where his occasionally ungrammatical lingo delivered with a distinctly English lilt has made him a national hero. The new El Tel?

WITH players like Nigel Clough and Stuart Pearce, Nottingham Forest are always a danger at set-pieces. At White Hart Lane this week, spectators sitting by the corner flag where the Park Lane end meets the East Stand were treated to a Forest special, courtesy of the sons of the management. Nigel Clough ran over to take a quick corner; he placed the ball, turned away, sped in and crashed it straight into a sensitive part of Scot Gemmill's anatomy. Poor Gemmill was only 15 yards away and totally unprepared, the ball ricocheting away painfully for a goal-kick. When Forest won their next corner, Gemmill sprinted over to take it himself.

IT'S that dewy-eyed time of year when everyone reflects on their favourite team of 1992. Arguably the most colourful collection were the International Veterans' XI who played (and won) in Eusebio's testimonial at Benfica.

EUSEBIO FESTIVAL INTERNATIONAL XI: Albertosi (Italy); Neeskens, Krol (both Netherlands), Pezzey (Austria), Camacho, Gallego (both Spain), Rivelino (Brazil), Kempes (Argentina), Charlton (England), Altafini (Argentina), Milla (Cameroon). Substitutes used: Pfaff (gk; Belgium), Six (France), Rep (Netherlands), Chapuisat (Switzerland).


THE bottle of Aberlour Malt for alternative statistic goes to A J Loutit, of Steventon, Oxon, for this . . .

'Oxford United's 1-1 draw away at Charlton Athletic was the seventh consecutive occasion that this fixture has been drawn'.

All freak facts and figures to Football Diary, The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB.