Football: Nelson relates a cautionary tale

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The Independent Online
Every Saturday night sports paper, be it a Pink or a Green 'Un, carries the thoughts of one player or another, hired to disclose the latest on the groin-strain front, describe how "excellent" so-and-so did to score three goals in the last match and explain how vitally important it is to take every match as it comes.

The Birmingham Sports Argus carries six such offerings, one for each of the Premiership and Nationwide clubs in its circulation area.

Frankly, few are worth reading beyond the headline. There is one exception, however.

Already, "Inside Villa Park", by Portuguese full-back Fernando Nelson, which made its debut this season, is less of a football column than a family saga.

So far, readers have learned how Fernando and his brother have been trying to build a block of 15 apartments in Oporto, where he grew up, and how the project suffered a setback when the brother, who also makes his living playing football, was transferred to Madeira.

They have been regaled also with the sad story of Fernando's all-white Pyrenean sheepdog, Snowy, who had to be put down because he was epileptic and how Snowy's replacement, Sting, turned out to be "a bit mad" and has had to move to his parents' house in Oporto.

Now Fernando has a St Bernard, called Aston, which he insists would be more than a match for Brian Little's Alsatian.

"I have to say that he [Brian] has a very big dog indeed," he writes. "But the gaffer had better watch it if Aston comes across him [the dog, one presumes] because he will eat him for breakfast."

All this and regular updates on the progress of Ivan Nelson Carvalho da Silva Vieira Alves, Fernando and Maria's new-born son. The next installment is eagerly awaited.