WHILE DAVID PLATT is still wondering, at 33, whether he might be getting a little too old to make a playing comeback, there is no stopping one of the Nottingham Forest manager's former Premiership adversaries, even with his 38th birthday looming.
Clive Wilson, formerly of Chelsea, QPR and Tottenham, turned out for his 436th League match on Saturday in his customary left-back role - making an impressive job of it, too, for ambitious Second Division Cambridge United.
The idea of stepping down into the humble surroundings of the Abbey Stadium is something at which most players of Wilson's pedigree would turn up an expensive nose but the Manchester-born player dismisses the culture shock theory and laments the fact that as a player willing to pass on his experience he represents a dying breed.
"Players used to drop down the divisions as they got older," he said before Saturday's victory over Reading. "But today's younger Premiership stars are making so much money they just won't need to do it. Some may want to go into management, but I don't think you'll see many of them appearing in the lower divisions as players."
Wilson had plans to give up the game and fulfil an ambition to run a restaurant until the Cambridge manager, Roy McFarland, persuaded him to put off retirement a little longer.
"I still get a buzz," he said. He hopes some of his know-how will rub off on the side's less experienced players. "It takes time to learn how to read and understand a game, which is something young players often find difficult. That's what I think I can bring to the team."
Straight flush for Bennett on debut
IF THE sight of Uriah Rennie arriving on match day might fill some Premiership managers with dread, the controversial Sheffield official might soon have a rival among the top division's sharper card-wavers.
Steve Bennett, of Orpington, marked his debut on Saturday with five yellows at Derby against Middlesbrough. This follows a count of 159 yellows in 39 Nationwide League and Cup matches last season, to which he added 10 reds.
Danny Wilson, the Sheffield Wednesday manager, once described his performance as "atrocious, diabolical" after he had booked eight players during Barnsley v Reading.
That incident came in March 1997 during an eventful year for the Kent official. Earlier that month, newspaper reports suggested he "may have got the wrong man" when he sent off Southend's Leo Roget against Oxford, a suggestion mooted in December when he gave Reading's Paul Bodin a red card against Wolves.
In April, Bennett upset the Hereford manager, Graham Turner, for allowing an Orient goal to stand despite a linesman's flag for offside. In September, John Gregory, then manager of Wycombe, was charged with misconduct over comments he made to Bennett after a match against Preston.
The fingers David Beckham displayed to Leeds fans during Saturday's showdown.
Frank Sinclair's career total of own goals after adding two for Leicester in eight days.
The months Leicester City striker Emile Heskey had gone without a goal before Saturday's strike.
The total minutes of stoppage time added to Norwich's match against Birmingham, five after the first half, nine at the end.
WHINGE OF THE WEEK
That was the third penalty given against us and I could see nothing wrong. Egil Olsen, quickly learning that to be Wimbledon is to be persecuted (or so the Dons always think).
Premiership Team Of The Week
Manager of the week: Graham Taylor (Watford) - his first win at Anfield in 22 years of management.
Performance of the week: Tottenham - an inspired comeback, giving the lie to the charge that George Graham cannot turn out an exciting team.
Forgotten man... Face of the future
THREE YEARS ago, Richie Humphreys was the Premiership's hottest teenager after three goals in the first four games of 1996-97 helped Sheffield Wednesday top the table. Now 21, he is still waiting to build on that start, having failed to take off at Hillsborough. His last first-team appearance came against Arsenal on 26 September 1998 and, following an influx of new strikers, last week he joined Second Division Scunthorpe on a month's loan, making his debut on Saturday. "I just want first-team football," he said.
THE SALE of Andreas Andersson and Duncan Ferguson's injury problems have pushed 19-year-old Paul Robinson further up the pecking order among Newcastle's strikers. The Sunderland-born player caught the eye so early at his previous club, Darlington, that he made his debut as a 16-year- old in an FA Cup tie against Hartlepool. Joined Newcastle in March 1998 and after helping the club's reserve team win promotion last season was given his senior debut as substitute in the opening match of the new campaign.
Venables linked with Newcastle
IS RUUD Gullit's Newcastle reign coming to an end? While the controversial coach denies in the News of the World that his trips "home" to Amsterdam indicate any lack of commitment to the Tyneside team, the Sunday Mirror claims Newcastle have made contingency plans for his possible resignation, lining up Terry Venables to form a "dream team" partnership with Alan Shearer should Gullit quit.
In the wake of the sale of Darren Huckerby, the People says Coventry are keen on West Bromwich striker Lee Hughes after being told by Liverpool that Karlheinz Riedle is not for sale. According to the News of the World, however, Coventry's target is Dean Sturridge, although the Mirror says the Derby striker is now planning to stay at Pride Park.
The People supports the News of the World's claim that Wimbledon striker Marcus Gayle has been earmarked by Tottenham as a partner for Steffen Iversen but that Leicester are rival bidders. If Leicester, as the former suggests, have been "shocked" by an asking price of pounds 8m, manager Martin O'Neill should not read the Mail on Sunday, which claims Wimbledon want pounds 14m.
The Express says Dean Holdsworth, sold by Wimbledon for pounds 3.5m in 1997, could leave Bolton for Fulham for just pounds 750,000; while the News of the World says Nottingham Forest want Sheffield Wednesday's Andy Booth.
Uriah Rennie added three Sunderland and three Arsenal players to his list of yellow cards, bringing his tally to 12 in two matches (plus THAT red, of course).
Chelsea last had five players booked in the same match on 16 December last year, against Manchester United at Old Trafford. Wise, Petrescu and Ferrer, among five cautioned at Leicester on Saturday, were booked then too.
Wimbledon's John Hartson, cautioned twice so far, ended last season by going 12 matches without a yellow card.
"With a little more luck he [Gullit] could have done better so far and is much better than his predecessor who transformed us from title candidates into relegation fodder. Things should gradually improve notwithstanding Dunc's groin, Maric's form, a Glass knee and Uriah Rennie's glass eye.
Comment posted (signed "Jonno") on Newcastle United's unofficial bulletin board yesterday supporting Ruud Gullit.