Football Diary: Teeming talent on the Tyne

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The Independent Online
ALAN SHEARER runs into Steve Bruce at Ewood today. No surprise that: Wallsend Boys Club graduates are everywhere. The Tyneside talent factory, which has also moulded Newcastle's Beardsley, Elliott, Clark and Watson, is one local industry still booming. 'Quite a few of our boys are signed to clubs,' Wallsend's Sid Sharp says. 'We get scouts here all the time.' The pick of the current 140-strong crop is a versatile 12-year-old, Michael Carrick, 'who is interesting all the top clubs', according to Sharp's colleague, David Beardall, who adds with a laugh: 'If we got 1 per cent of all the transfer fees of those who have turned pro, we'd be all right.'

Wallsend's fully qualified coaches are not doing too badly, working on four pitches rented from the Civil Service at Longbenton. 'Every parent round here is mad keen for their boy to be the next Peter Beardsley,' Beardall says and the occasional return of the England striker, a local hero at 12, plus Bruce and Co for fund-raisers, presentations and coaching helps double desires. 'Stars like Bruce may be on their way to being millionaires,' Beardall adds, 'but they don't forget their roots.' Success breeds success but the eyecatching element to Wallsend's pre- eminence is that only boys within a five-mile radius can join. 'I think we are the only club with such a restriction in the country,' Sharp adds. It has clearly not hindered them.

BRUCE'S army of supporters arriving chez Shearer are advised not to bury themselves in 4,000 Holes. For within the Blackburn fanzine lurks a cruel competition: 'Do you come from Manchester? Do you have any relatives in Manchester? Do you live near Manchester? If you can answer no to any of these questions you are an ideal person to become a fan of Manchester United.' Printed alongside is a map of Great Britain for contestants to mark where 'you think the City of Manchester might be'. First prize is a 'K-reg Ford Bandwagon for you and others to jump on. This prestige vehicle comes with many features like a stereo preset to come on at 4.45 every Saturday . . . yes, of course, you won't be at the game.' Other rewards include a complete supply of programmes from the United games 'you have attended. They will both be sent in the same envelope.' A coupon asks entrants to fill in 'Name. Address. Age' and . . . 'Mental Age'. Paranoid?

WOLVES' switchboard was besieged yesterday after it was reported that Graham Taylor was replacing the Old Gold shirts with an England-style white affair as the gold was too similar to Dutch Orange. Ceefax, in one of the better April Fool wheezes, added that Taylor had checked with Phil Neal, who agreed with everything he said. Back in the real world, Taylor's tracksuit is to be sponsored by a local businessman. Nothing strange about this, except that the backer, a box holder, jokingly suggested a fund-rasing scheme to have the then England boss shot during last summer's endless humiliations.

ALTHOUGH pounds, shillings and expense remain the ethos behind the Premier League, clubs still possess a soul. Like Everton. Pasi Korkeamaki, a 25-year-old Finnish postman who has long worshipped the Blues from afar, arrived in England recently craving his first sight of Goodison. Needing transport and tickets to the home game with Swindon, Postman Pasi and two friends contacted Everton's London Supporters' Association, who arranged cheap BR travel from Euston plus match entry. The club were equally kind, inviting the Finnish trio to Bellefield to meet the players after training. Game day itself brought entertainment at the Supporters' Club; Cottee and Co even laid on a 6-2 win. Everton should invite them every week.

THE Wild Turkey Bourbon for freak fact of the week goes to Iain Brown, of Newmachar, Aberdeenshire, for this:

'St Modon's High School in Stirling has a team full of ex-pupils in the Scottish League: Grant (Aberdeen), J Philliben (Motherwell), Colquhoun (Hearts), Dawson (St Mirren), Jack (Airdrie), Ferguson (Clydebank), McCormick (Alloa), R Philliben (Forfar), Ross, Loney, Crews (all East Stirlingshire).'

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

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