Football Diary: Wrong said Fred

REPORTS of the death of Congleton Town's oldest supporter, 85-year-old former ambulance man Fred Cope, turned out to be exaggerated. Chris Phillips, the HFS Loans club's programme editor, was just about to hand out the programmes for the game with Rossendale last Saturday when 'the secretary informed me that Fred had died. So I wrote off an obituary, stapled it into the programme and informed the referee that we needed a minute's silence.'

Just as the players were about to ring the centre-circle, Fred ambled into the ground. 'I had to announce on the Tannoy that the minute's silence would be to honour Bobby Moore,' Phillips added. 'Fred said he wasn't quite ready to go yet.' The man himself said he 'had a few funny looks' when he arrived at Booth Street. 'It wasn't until I saw the programme that I realised why. I've been bad over the last week - but not that bad.' The day then went well: a relieved Congleton won 6-1 and, according to Phillips, 'Fred not only came back from he dead - he won pounds 10 in the half-time raffle'.

KEN BATES'S column in the Chelsea programme has been the most consistent part of the club this season. Consistently readable. In Monday's edition, the bearded bard had a pop at people who accused him of appointing 'puppets' as manager. To prove his point, Bates relates a tale about how hard David Webb has been working. 'At about 7pm last Tuesday I bade him good night, and went to start the Rolls Royce, and failed. After a bit of tinkering I went back upstairs and said 'here, you're supposed to be a second-hand car salesman, come and fix my car'. He followed me outside, and he tinkered with it and diagnosed a faulty starter motor (actually it was a flat battery). He gave the tyre a kick and said 'better call the RAC, guv, I'm a manager now'. Some puppet.'

AWAY TRIPS - Argentine style. Fifty fans of Chacarita Juniors hijacked two Buenos Aires buses to take them to Tigre FC in the capital's suburbs for a Third Division match last weekend. The passengers were kicked off, Chacarita's Barmy Army climbed aboard and then forced the drivers to watch the game before taking them home. Even though the freeloaders were unarmed, the drivers were wise to agree. Chacarita's fans are known as 'The Undertakers'.

PROMINENTLY displayed in a window full of porno videos (like 'Hooker' and 'Lingerie') at The Private Shop in Nottingham is . . . a County shirt. Hard core indeed.

TELEVISION trouble, parts 67 and 68. The organisers of the World Youth Cup are expecting two billion viewers to switch on - but none of them will be British, despite England's presence Down Under. The BBC has 'no plans to buy coverage in' although Match Of The Day may show snippets. BSkyB says the same. Expect frantic rescheduling if Nick Barmby and Co start banging them in.

The BBC also discussed the idea of showing England's 1970 match with Brazil as a tribute to Bobby Moore but considered their splendid midweek eulogy to be sufficient. Whenever a major fim star passes away, restrospective seasons normally follow. It seems sad that the Beeb cannot find a slot to honour Moore's finest moment, his Guadalajara duel with Pele.

ASTON VILLA have lowered prices to increase attendances; Barnet have achieved the same aim by transfer-listing all their players. Following Stan Flashman's offer of 11 together, scouts from Barclays and Premier League clubs have been rushing to Underhill - 34 attended Tuesday's win over Gillingham.

THE Aberlour Malt for alternative statistic of the week goes to Tony Beecroft, of Malvern, for this . . .

'By the end of last weekend, the clubs in the First Division had played 375 League matches this season. They had acquired 1,020 points and, in doing so, had scored 1,020 goals.'

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