FOOTBALL: THAT WAS THE WEEKEND THAT WAS; Walsall saddle fans with shopping trip
Monday 19 January 1998
Second Division Walsall have incurred the wrath of Saddlers fans with a curious offer by which supporters wanting to see their side's dream fourth-round game against Manchester United have to pay pounds 44 for an Old Trafford seat priced at pounds 19.
In the usual way, season-ticket holders were given first access to Walsall's 8,500-seat allocation, which go on general sale today. But the club created controversy by giving fans without season tickets a chance to jump the queue - so long as they spent pounds 25 in the club shop in addition to buying their ticket.
With a voucher offer also in operation, supporters without season tickets or the correct voucher accused the club of taking advantage of their anxiety to make sure of a full turn-out for Saturday's big occasion.
"I'm worried that most of the tickets will be sold before Monday, but I don't see why regular Walsall fans should have to pay an extra pounds 25 to get them," one disgruntled fan complained.
But the Walsall club secretary, Roy Whalley, insisted: "Genuine supporters will not mind buying goods at the shop. Our average gate is 4,000 and there are 8,500 tickets."
In any event, under FA Cup rules, a club can set any conditions it considers appropriate for the sale of tickets.
Stevenage, meanwhile, were selling tickets for the visit of Kenny Dalglish's team at pounds 12.50 for the East and North Terraces and pounds 20 for the main stand, rising to pounds 30 for a reserved place.
Breaking into the first team is tough enough for any player, but Andy Todd's progress at Bolton has also involved overcoming the barrier of his father.
The versatile 23-year-old has begun to establish himself as a key figure in the Bolton defence this season, but it has taken him two years to reach this stage and manager Colin Todd admits their relationship might have had something to do with that.
"It has taken him a long time to get into the side and I wonder if maybe I've treated him more severely than other players because he is my son," Todd senior said. "My staff were always pushing me hard to include him. Now he is in the side it has not surprised me that he has done well. I'm pleased also that the crowd seem to have accepted him, which is always something you are anxious about."
Bringing his son to the club from Middlesbrough two years ago presented a dilemma in itself. "It was a difficult signing for me," he said, "but we had a joint management team at the time, with Roy McFarland also here. Roy was just as keen, if not keener, and in the end I was able to leave the decision to him."
"Andy still lives at home, but we have a house rule that football is never discussed. In every other way we are a normal father and son, but if he wants to talk to me or I want to see him about a football matter, we meet in the office at the ground."
Young Tommy gunning for success
Having been christened Tommy Doherty, it was only to be expected that Bristol City's 18-year-old midfield player would be a little different from the average young footballer.
Indeed, the talented newcomer, who scored his second goal of the season as City extended their current run of form to one defeat in 18 matches at Wigan on Saturday, might have been typecast as a mere full-back had he not had the nerve to tell his manager, John Ward, that there was a lot more to his game than just that.
"He drove up to the training ground last summer to hunt me out," Ward said. "He was anxious to tell me that he wasn't just a defender and wouldn't mind if I wanted to play him in midfield. To be honest, it took me by surprise because here was a boy who had just got his first pro contract and doesn't tend to say much to anyone."
Doherty recalled the incident, saying: "I thought the manager might have seen me playing for the reserves at right-back and maybe didn't know I could play in midfield."
Ward describes his young player as a quietly confident lad and "not at all arrogant", but he clearly is not without a fiery side to his character, if not quite on the scale of the original Tommy Doc.
During one pre-season match, he was so determined to show his competitive edge that his manager was forced to substitute him for his own good - after only two minutes of play.
"He was charging around trying to kick everything and everyone," Ward said. "The referee told me that either we took him off or he would be sent off."
GOOD BOYS . . .
John Hartson 19
Andy Cole 18
Kevin Gallacher 16
Dennis Bergkamp 14
(Arsenal) Chris Sutton
(Blackburn) Gianluca Vialli
. . . and BAD BOYS
THE SEASON'S RED AND YELLOW CARDS
Fact and fiction from the Sunday papers
Despite reports that Arsene Wenger is to rein in his overseas spending, yesterday's tabloids named four Dutchmen and a Dane as potential targets for the Arsenal manager.
The People reckons Dutch target No 1 is Milan striker Patrick Kluivert, who they say the Italians will sell if someone comes up with pounds 6m. The Mirror, however, believes Wenger's sights are on Ajax brothers Frank and Ronald de Boer and has offered a combined pounds 10m. Meanwhile, the News of the World says international defender Jaap Stam could be on his way to Highbury to be groomed as the successor to Tony Adams.
Wenger is also in the hunt for Rangers striker Brian Laudrup, according to the Express, who name Manchester United as rival bidders for the Danish star but believe both could be pipped by Chelsea, reported to be offering a pay deal to Laudrup worth a staggering pounds 3.5m a year.
The sale of Faustino Asprilla seems set to spark a Newcastle buying spree. Mirror spies say Kenny Dalglish is another with his eye on Kluivert, but is more interested in landing French midfield schemer Robert Pires for pounds 5m from Metz.
And if the News of the World's information is correct, Dalglish is also looking at Juventus striker Daniel Fonseca as a new partner for Alan Shearer. The same paper suggests Asprilla's return to Parma could make Argentinian striker Hernan Crespo a pounds 6m target for Blackburn.
Closer to home, Leicester are set to sign Stoke's England youth international wing-back Andy Griffin for pounds 1.5m (People) while Everton want to sign fervent fan Alan Stubbs from Celtic (Mirror).
On the managerial front, the Mirror believes Terry Venables could take over from Steve Coppell at Crystal Palace if director Mark Goldberg succeeds in a pounds 30m takeover and also suggests that Gerry Francis is top of Portsmouth's list as a replacement for Terry Fenwick.
The 1st Eleven
Norway's finest - a Premiership XI Scotland might encounter in France this summer.
Frode Grodas (Chelsea) Gunnar Halle (Leeds) Ronny Johnsen (Man Utd) Henning Berg (Man Utd) Stig Inge Bjornbye (Liverpool) Oyvind Leonhardsen (Liverpool) Alf-Inge Haland (Leeds) Stale Solbakken (Wimbledon) Petter Rudi (Sheffield Wed) Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (Man Utd) Tore Andre Flo (Chelsea)
Known best as the striker whose goal saved Alex Ferguson's job when Manchester United beat Nottingham Forest in the third round of the FA Cup eight winters ago, Robins appears to have run into a dead end at Leicester. Still only 28, he has not appeared in Martin O'Neill's side since April last year and there is no indication that his situation at Filbert Street is about to change. A month on loan at Reading in September, culminating in a 6-0 defeat against Tranmere, came to nothing, as did a proposed move to Greek club Panathinaikos. He waits now to see if a short-term contract with Deportivo Orense will open any doors in Spain.
Having scored a spectacular 88th-minute winner after just 13 minutes of his first-team debut as a substitute at Blackpool last month, the 20- year-old left-winger repeated the feat as Wrexham took three points at Millwall on Saturday. The Warrington-born striker's 76th-minute goal settled the issue on his third full appearance. "He has a great chance in the game," his manager, Brian Flynn, declared afterwards.
Should Newcastle's nightmare become reality at Stevenage on Sunday, David Batty could always set his sights on another centre of sporting dreams. If he can borrow some riding breeches and fit in a few sessions in the sauna, he might just fool someone into letting him ride around a racecourse instead.
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