Football: The Sweeper - Welsh becomes football tongue

ENGLISH FOOTBALL fans may soon be adding Welsh language dictionaries to their bookshelves. S4C, the Welsh television channel, broadcasts more Spanish and German league coverage than any other TV station in Britain and from this week their new digital programmes are available for the first time to the whole of the rest of the UK.

Cockneys and Mancunians should not be too daunted by the language barrier, however. For example, goal in Welsh is "gol". Even S4C's Monday night highlights programme is called Sgorio. Other examples of common usage are admittedly more difficult. "At the end of the day" is "Ar ddiwedd y dydd". "Over the moon" is "Dros y lleuad". "Eat my goal" is "Bwyta fy ngol". (Watch out of that mutation!).

Sgorio starts at 9.30pm each Monday and shows comprehensive highlights, not just the goals. The Spanish league provides the main action and S4C hopes that their regular interviewee, John Toshack, will continue his close relationship with the programme now that he has returned to Real Madrid. Cardiff-born Toshack is not a Welsh speaker, however, and his views are broadcast in English. Not so bilinguist John Hartson.

Merseyside viewers discovered an S4C transmission overlap a long time ago and Liverpool fans have used Sgorio to bone up on potential opponents in Europe. Digital box owwners can gain a free link-up with S4C, by phoning 0800-389-3396.

THE SWEEPER'S congratulations go to David Beckham, fiancee Victoria and their new son Brooklyn, named after the place that Posh Spice found herself when she realised she was pregnant. For the next time, may we suggest 10 names derived from places Posh might like to visit before doing a pregnancy test.

1 Peckham Beckham

2 Brecon Beckham

3 Beckenham Beckham

4 Nancy Beckham

5 Six Mile Bottom Beckham

6 Basingstoke Beckham

7 Bognor Beckham

8 Pratts Bottom Beckham

9 St Etienne Beckham

10 Tooting Bec'am

FACT OR fiction? Not so long ago Neil Ruddock was reported to be testing a headband which helped him to propel the ball 50 yards, or so it was claimed in a story that was run in a popular newspaper on April Fools' Day. Now, comfortably in advance of the spoofs' day, just such a product, or something very similar, has been unveiled by a marketing agency calling itself Inventorlink. It claims that the band, which is made of textured rubber, silicon and elastic, can "improve friction and thus achieve greater accuracy". It is also said to minimise injuries which may be caused by heading the ball. Coventry City were reported to be testing the band, though when The Sweeper spoke yesterday to one of their coaches, Trevor Peake, he said it was news to him. If they do exist we doubt, after Wednesday night at Old Trafford, whether Dwight Yorke will see the need to order one.

WHILE THE country at large was temporarily warming to Manchester United on Wednesday night, Black Country folk were braving the freezing weather to celebrate the return of a local hero - Steve Bull. After five months out with a knee injury which seriously threatened his career, the Tipton Terrier made his return for Wolves Reserves in a game against Bolton and 8,266 turned out at Molineux to witness it. The previous home reserve match had drawn a crowd of 759. They even had to open up the Stan Cullis stand to accommodate them all. Wolves' 3-1 defeat was secondary in importance to the fact that Bull came through unscathed and is in line for a first- team return in a fortnight. With their leading striker Robbie Keane off to Nigeria to play in the World Youth Championship, Bull's comeback could not have been better timed.

DON HOWE, the former England coach, does not share the view of his old friend Bobby Robson that it is impossible for Kevin Keegan to do the England job part-time. If anyone can do it Keegan can, said Howe recently in his column in Birmingham's Sports Argus. "I have known Kevin for a long time. My first real contact was back in 1982, towards the end of his international career, under Ron Greenwood's reign. He is a totally hyperactive character, not capable of sitting still for one minute. I remember Bobby saying to me when Keegan arrived on the scene: `Don't try and prevent him from doing anything he wants.' While the other English players might want to go up to their beds and rest before international games, Kevin would be looking around to see what else he could get up to. He would look at the swimming pool, the tennis court, the table tennis table and even the nearest golf course to keep himself going. That was the Keegan I knew. I doubt if he has changed."

THE NO 9 or rather 99 could prove unlucky for Newcastle in tomorrow's FA Cup quarter-final against Everton. The Merseysiders won the Cup in '33 and '66 and so, say soothsayers, it is inevitable that they must win it also in '99. Another omen, say the clairvoyant, is that when Everton last won the Cup in '95, against Manchester United, they survived a hammering en route from Bristol City at Ashton Gate, just as they did this season. Finally, when they won the trophy in 1984 it was the Chinese Year of the Rat, when Kevin "Rats" Ratcliffe was their captain. This is the Chinese Year of the Rabbit when their captain is Don "Hutch" Hutchison, which, of course, could just mean that they will freeze in the sights of Alan Shearer at St James' Park.

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