OVERHEARD at Anfield on Wednesday, as Liverpool celebrated the opening of their pounds 8m Centenary Stand by releasing 1,000 balloons: 'It'll be 1,001 if Dean Saunders joins Villa. . . '
SOUTH AFRICA are many punters' outside bet to secure one of the continent's places in the next World Cup, but they are already worlds apart when it comes to players' nicknames. The 'Soccer Yearbook, '92. South African edition' lists some of the best monikers, like one player whose nickname translates as 'this thug can dribble' and a tough referee known as 'the hanging judge'. The sobriquets often stem from other news - you can guess when the international striker, Fani 'Saddam' Madida, was at the height of his powers.
'Soccer Yearbook, '92. South African edition' (pounds 4.95) available soon from Sportspages, Charing Cross Road, London.
HAVE Manchester United given up on the championship? For the first time, Old Trafford is marketing a 'United Honours Wallpaper', a snip at pounds 6.99 per roll, which lists all the club's achievements in the silverware department to date.
RENATO and Ronaldo sounds like a prime candidate for the Palme D'or at the Cannes film festival but in fact it's a two-part, true-life Brazilian drama. The plot revolves around two local legends leaving their natural stage. Plot 1: Ronaldo, the Corinthians custodian, is facing Palmeiras. Act 1, scene 1: Ronaldo hauls down rampaging Palmeiras striker. Act 1, scene 2: Yellow card. Act 1, scene 3: Ronaldo remonstrates. Act 1, scene 3: Red card. Act 2, scene 1: 20 radio and TV reporters surround him as he walks off. Act 2, final scene: mass scrum-style interview behind the goal as spot-kick is taken. Chaos reigns.
Plot 2: Renato, Botafogo's glamour-boy striker, has been sent to the Brazilian equivalent of Coventry, Cruzeiro. His crime? After Botafogo had lost to arch-rivals Flamengo, Renato invited one of the opposition over for a few steaks, an action that drove fans to paint 'traitor' and 'get out Renato' on the club's walls.
GRIM reading time. . . it takes only a second to score a goal, the saying goes, but 28,980 (roughly eight hours) have passed since someone other than David Platt found the net for England, and even longer if you believe that it was an Andras Telek own goal, not Neil Webb's header, that secured the win over Hungary in May. The goal before that was Trevor Steven's in Moscow, making it a total of 33,540 seconds in which only Platt has scored for England.
THE bottle of Aberlour Whisky for the freak fact of the week goes to Southport's Stuart Wharton for this HFS Loans nugget . . .
'Southport have just completed an unusual hat-trick - in three consecutive games one of their players has scored direct from a corner: 26 August: David Gamble (v Fleetwood); 29 August: Jon Senior (v Buxton); 31 August: Senior (v Chorley).'
All weird stats to Football Diary, The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB.