FOOTBALL: Mansfield look for Daley bread

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The Independent Online
On the face of it, even Mansfield Town would admit that their registration of former Olympic champion Daley Thompson smacks of a publicity stunt to rival Ian Botham's dalliance with Scunthorpe.

But the Third Division club are increasingly serious about the double decathlon gold medallist, who won a place on the substitutes' bench against Cardiff on Saturday after scoring for Mansfield's reserves last week. He may be given a League debut against Hartlepool next Saturday at the unlikely age of 37.

Thompson stayed under wraps on Saturday but his manager, Andy King, admitted: "He is much better than I thought he would be, with the strength, pace and power every striker needs."

Thompson - "I'm just a 17-year-old inside this 40-year-old body" - set his sights on professional football after the last World Cup, since when he has trained with Reading, Wimbledon and Leicester City.

"It's no gimmick," King insists. "When Ian Botham signed for Scunthorpe, that was a gimmick. Daley is an athlete - Botham wasn't."

One suspects that the club's board might prefer King to play the publicity card a little more boldly. Even the prospect of a Daley debut drew only 2,200 fans to Field Mill - 300 down on the average.