Football Diary: That'll be the day . . .

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The Independent Online
FROM bar to boardroom, everyone knows the best England team - but what do the professionals think? Players and managers at all the 89 English League clubs were canvassed for their national selections, some of which were bizarre to say the least. Gary Lineker polled twice as many votes as Paul Merson; Tony Coton did the same to David Seaman as Chris Woods' understudy. 'Coton received a lot of support from Crewe Alexandra,' explained David Hanlon, the managing director of Hatfield-based Hanlon Marketing Ltd. 'Oddly, real squad members like Martin Keown and Nigel Clough did not get a vote.'

The pros were asked to name which position their nomination should fill, 'but with Chris Waddle, who won the fifth amount of votes of all the 47 players named, people just said 'let him on the pitch',' Hanlon added. So, assuming everyone was fit, the alternative England line-up (with share of the 618 votes cast) would be:

Woods (31; Sheffield Wednesday); R Jones (26; Liverpool), Pearce (36; Nottingham Forest), Walker (47; Sampdoria), Pallister (25; Manchester United) or Adams (25; Arsenal), Ince (47; Manchester United), Gascoigne (55; Lazio), Platt (51; Juventus), Waddle (46; Sheffield Wednesday), Shearer (30; Blackburn Rovers), Wright (36; Arsenal).

IT WAS just as well ITV invited Ron Atkinson to Dublin to help commentate on the Republic's match with Denmark. The Aston Villa manager revealed that one of the items he had brought with him from Villa Park was a pair of boots for Paul McGrath.

ALL you Buddy Holly fans will know that Graham Taylor's latest theme tune, 'Raining In My Heart', was actually the B-side of a more famous single released by the American singer in 1959. The England manager was in downbeat mood but he clearly saw no need to spin the A-side - 'It Doesn't Matter Anymore'.

The 'Brown-Eyed Handsome Man', thinking from the 'Midnight Shift' until 'Early In The Morning' after the Dutch defeat, knew that England were just a 'Heartbeat' away from victory. The team were still 'Learnin' The Game'; it was pointless just saying 'Baby I Don't Care' or disappearing into a 'Valley of Tears' or 'Reminiscing' or 'Wishing' for the old days. 'Listen To Me', Taylor should tell his men, here's 'What To Do' . . . 'Rave On'.

EIGHT quid to penetrate the Palace; pounds 130 and rising (from touts) to enter Old Trafford for Manchester United's game against Blackburn Rovers on Monday, when another crown may be on show. Well, if you've been saving for 26 years . . .

WHEN it rains . . . Despondency during the Tartan Army's retreat from Lisbon after the Portuguese rout was not confined to the Scottish FA party. An hour before the charter flight touched down at Edinburgh, an emotional stewardess announced with an acute sense of symbolism that, due to a takeover, it would be her company's final flight. So farewell Air Atlantis. As one tired and emotional passenger suggested, the Scots now have more chance of finding the lost city than reaching the US.

SO farewell, then, Preston Plucknett Post Office, whose proud sponsorship of Yeovil Town ends today. Alun James, the Somerset shop's sub-postmaster, bought a pounds 250 club lottery ticket last year and won the space on Yeovil's shirts. The highlight of the season was viewing the logo Preston Plucknett Post Office on Match of the Day when Yeovil were in the FA Cup. The initial interest was purely local: wives changed their family-allowance pick-up point to Preston Plucknett because their husbands supported Yeovil. 'We've made lots of new friends,' James said. Their fame spread faster than a Red Star delivery. 'People have been coming in from all over the place purely out of curiosity because they have seen our name.'

THE Dutch penalty raised the question: when had an English keeper last kept one out? Answer: Peter Shilton, against the USSR's Alexander Chivadze in 1986 (Chris Waddle scored the only goal of the friendly).

THE bottle of Aberlour Malt for alternative statistic of the week goes to Michael Holland, of Runcorn, for the following . . .

'How many teams have ever won away from home 4-0 - and still dropped a place in the table? On Saturday, Walsall won

4-0 at Halifax but dropped from fifth to sixth place as Crewe beat Colchester 7-1]'

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