Football Diary: Trouble by the truckful

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The Independent Online
IT IS not just Wembley's turf that's sacred - the concrete approaches are too. The stadium authorities have a strict policy forbidding any unofficial merchandise being sold on the routes up to the Twin Towers, a rule that has angered fanzine-sellers used to a free run outside most grounds and alienated fans for whom buying a fanzine is part of the match-day ritual. Before the Sheffield semi, security guards seized 200 copies of the Wednesday publication, War of the Monster Trucks, which were being sold on Wembley land. (People handing out donor cards fared slightly better - they were simply ordered to move on.)

'We were told to come back on the Monday morning to pick them up or otherwise they would be burned,' Matthew Cooper, the editor of Monster Trucks, said. 'Wembley clearly aren't bothered about football or its fans.' Stadium officials stress the need to keep people moving - but the real motive behind these heavy- handed tactics is money. 'We prefer not to have anything that competes with the cash in people's pockets,' a spokesman said. 'Although we allow designated charities to collect here.

'In the morass of pirate merchandise and crooks selling their stuff, obviously fanzines are harmless - but they do have other outlets where they can sell. They (the Monster Truckers) were a bit unlucky but at the end of the day what they were doing was a violation.' What happened to that tradition of matches being for fans?

ARSENAL'S mural is up for sale but will it be tainted by the Highbury Hex? It might end up injured, ignored or under-used - like so many others who made their names in front of the North Bank. Like Stewart Robson, so close to England recognition when he left, or Martin Hayes, or Michael Thomas, or Perry Groves, who has just aggravated an Achilles complaint falling over at home. Some, like Andy Cole and Rhys Wilmot, prosper but whither David Rocastle at Leeds?

CHRIS WADDLE has received many lavish words of praise recently but a new French video, Chris Magic Waddle, really takes the Bourbon. 'The king of swaying hips' and 'the magician of the round ball' is how the ex- Marseille man is described in blurb for the tape of Waddle's OM days. But no voiceover from Graham Taylor.

THANK YOU Mike Kilner, of Hatfield, for pointing out that the one game abandoned on Easter Monday, Newcastle United v Oxford United, was called off for a waterlogged pitch by the referee - Mr Flood.

DAVE WEBB'S application of jump leads to Chelsea's ambitions has ruined a joke doing the rounds at their west London rivals, Queen's Park Rangers. 'Chelsea are to be sponsored by Butlins next season,' the R's gag runs. 'A spokesman for the holiday camp company added that the association with Chelsea was perfect, because their season ends in October as well.' The capital rivalry is understandable as any of the six clubs could finish as London's premier Premier outfit - even, mathematically, Crystal Palace. The lowly Eagles could tally 59 points, four more than QPR have in pole position. The maximum totals for the other five are (in order of League place): Rangers (67), Chelsea (62), Spurs (70), Arsenal (68) and Wimbledon (61).

THE Americans have just announced their 'Official Artist' for next year's World Cup. Peter Max, 'a master of dynamic neo-expressionism' (which should help if the Republic of Ireland qualify), said: 'I am very excited to combine my images and colour with this fluid international sport of sports'. Quite.

STATS LIFE

The bottle of Aberlour Malt for freak fact goes to Ian Herbert, of Sutton Coldfield, for the following . . .

'Since Kenny Dalglish has taken over at Blackburn, much attention has been paid to the players he has bought. However, last Saturday, perhaps some clues to the many departures could be gleaned as nine Dalglish 'rejects' did not manage a full 90 minutes for their new clubs. Those withdrawn were: Roy Wegerle (Coventry) 67 min; Stuart Munro (Bristol City) 72; Scott Sellars (Newcastle) 66; Mike Duxbury (Bradford) 51; Peter Baah (Fulham) 77; Chris Sulley (Port Vale) 24; Lee Richardson (Aberdeen) 41. Nicky Reid (WBA) 69 and Lenny Johnrose (Hartlepool) 49 came on.'

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

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