Football Diary: Wind and reign

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SOME people have an evening with Gary Lineker. Steve Coppell has lunch with Paul Gascoigne. The Palace manager is a regular visitor to Italy to study Serie A training methods and while taking in Lazio, he twirled pasta with the recently con gaz Gazza. On his return Coppell was asked whether the London Eagles would dare swoop for a Roman one. Coppell, with tongue jammed very firmly in cheek, replied: 'I've told Paul he can come to us and belch and fart as much as he would like. We'd accept wind from any opening.'

SPOTTED in a pub near Hillsborough, a witty graffito on the stylistic chasm between the two Sheffield sides. On a poster for the British Thai Kick Boxing Championships, beneath the line advertising the venue as United's Bramall Lane Executive Suite, a Wednesdayite hand had scrawled: 'Where else?'

FIRST the girlfriend, then Ryan Giggs: Old Trafford can be so inhospitable. When Brighton travelled to Manchester United in the FA Cup one Seagulls supporter was not just thinking of the past, and 1983. He was focusing on the future. And marriage. As planned at half-time, the United scoreboard flashed up his proposal of marriage to his lover. She said no, she had someone else, and then Giggs struck another knockout blow.

'THE Referee's A Wonder', Part 1. Aintree official David Horlick has had a soothing effect on a certain cantankerous woman who supports Workington. Having received an earful from Mrs Angry on his last visit to the HFS Loans club, Horlick, as they say in the game, got his retaliation in first. Before blowing for the start of Workington's game with Alfreton, he sprinted over and presented the fiery female with a box of chocolates and a kiss. So that's why the Milk Tray man wears black. He's a ref.

'THE Referee's A Wonder', Part 2. When Crystal Palace's Chris Armstrong and Paul Allen, of Spurs, indulged in a bit of off-the- ball wrestling at Selhurst Park on Saturday, David Elleray moved quickly - and slowly. The Harrow official beckoned the errant pair over and when they arrived, surprised everyone by dropping to one knee. Elleray leisurely tied up a loose lace while Armstrong and Allen stood there looking increasingly embarrassed as the crowd hooted with laughter. Ten seconds later, there were two subdued footballers who were only too grateful to shake hands and get the game restarted.

SIMON STAINROD: player, manager, couturier. From next season, Dundee are planning to wear tartan shirts created by their designer-manager. 'It's the club's centenary, so we wanted something novel,' the 34-year-old Yorkshireman said. 'The design is based on the club tartan.' Roll on the Tay City Rollers. TERRY BUTCHER was chosen by Sunderland as the inspirational individual to help a once great club match the remarkable success that neighbours Newcastle are enjoying under Kevin Keegan. The burly centre-half does not have long to wait to put one over on his former England colleague. The Lawn Tennis Association, with astonishing foresight, is staging a pro-celebrity contest on Wearside next Thursday between 'the managers of Newcastle and Sunderland'. Game, set and match of the day?

The bottle of Aberlour Malt for alternative statistic of the week goes to Steven Blake, of south London . . .

'Last weekend was a good one for the residents of Coronation Street. The following stars scored: (Reg) Holdsworth (for Wimbledon); (Rita) Fairclough (Leeds); (Des) Barnes (Liverpool); (Emily) Bishop (Chester); (Jim) McDonald (Walsall); (Alf) Roberts (East Stirling). Remarkably in the lower leagues: (Alan) Bradley (Halesowen) who is dead; (Alf) Roberts (Southport) who also scored twice for East Stirling; and (Don) Brennan (Southport) who only has one leg.

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