claim on referees
IT IS not often that Tony Blair could be accused of spreading doom and gloom, but the report this week from the Manchester County FA training officer of the same name that referees were quitting the game in droves as a result of the kind of intimidation highlighted by Paolo Di Canio's recent assault on Paul Alcock, was flatly denied by Lancaster Gate yesterday.
Blair was reported as saying that nearly half the 180 who passed last season's training course in Manchester had already left the game largely because of abuse - "they'd rather go shopping with their wives" he said - but the FA maintains that while the figures may be true, the reasons are not.
"Everybody's been painting a gloomy picture since the Alcock incident," said Colin Downey, the referees' secretary. "There are six thousand recruits most years and we do tend to lose that sort of number because often new recruits are schoolteachers who aren't going to register for a second season. They've just wanted an extra qualification and some knowledge of the rules of the game so they could be involved with their school teams."
Downey believed it would take a more serious assault than that suffered by Alcock to deter people. "Some people are not sure whether they want to be referees and just try it and find they're not good enough. Having the theory's one thing, but being out there is a bit different. But we're pleased that people have been on the training course because then they've got a bit of knowledge of the game - and in future they might not be so critical of referees."
IT MAY be popular to mock the England faith healer Eileen Drewery, but her footballing successes do not begin and end with Darren Anderton. In fact they begin with Richard Green, but then since he is not particularly high profile, such cases tend to get overlooked.
Green, a central defender with Walsall, was playing for Swindon eight years ago when he suffered a serious back injury and was told by surgeons he would never play again. He had been out for five months when Glenn Hoddle took over as player-manager and he was advised by the England coach- to-be to pay Drewery a visit.
He spent a week of 30 minute-a-day "healing" sessions at Drewery's Kent home whereupon she told him to rest for a fortnight and then resume training.
To his amazement, Green made a complete recovery. "I was bent over like an old man for five months," he said. "They couldn't help me at Lilleshall and top surgeons told me I was finished. But she saved my career and it changed my way of thinking. If Glenn Hoddle feels she should be with the England squad, then she should be there."
AS IF poor Bobby Gould has not been taking enough flak until the recent sudden turnaround in Wales' fortunes, he has even been held accountable - wrongly - for one of the great FA Cup upsets of all-time, when non-League Woking beat one of his old clubs, West Bromwich Albion, 4-2 at The Haw- thorns in 1991.
According to Ron Atkinson in his book Big Ron, a Different Ball Game, Gould, and not Brian Talbot, took over from him when he resigned in 1988.
"Bobby Gould took over from me, managed to get them relegated and was immediately rewarded with a two-year contract. . . I recommended they put Brian Talbot in as my successor," he wrote. In fact that is exactly what they did do, being three years before Gould arrived at the club. A different ball game all right, Ron.
THERE MAY be little chance of Teddy Sheringham returning to Tottenham in the near future despite losing his place at Old Trafford, but the Londoner remains a Spur at heart and very much still an anti-Gunner.
Questioned this week at the launch of his autobiography about the vilification of his United and England colleague David Beckham since the World Cup, Sheringham replied: "I thought it was scandalous how he got sent off. This might cause a bit of a stir, but if he'd done the type of thing that Dennis Bergkamp did at the World Cup where he stamped on a fellow and got sent off, fair enough, but a little flick like that. . . as for Diego Simeone, I wouldn't be able to face my son if I'd reacted as he did."
NORWICH CITY must have known they were asking for trouble when they requested Dave Small, editor of the Birmingham City fanzine, The Zulu, to write the Birmingham pen pictures for the recent League game at Carrow Road.
One can only assume it was a deliberate psychological ploy to unsettle the "natives".
Needless to say Trevor Francis - whom Small described as "Charisma" - and his players were not impressed with the pen portraits. A couple of samples: "Thank goodness Paul Furlong has got private medical insurance, otherwise he'd bankrupt the National Health Service," while Martin Grainger had "a knack for finding space, then putting a telling ball through, right to the feet of the opposition."
Small said: "I can only assume that although it was tongue-in-cheek, it bordered on the truth and I touched a raw nerve."
Norwich apologised to Birmingham - after winning 2-0.
As You Were
THE YOUNG Robert Gould was a 22-year-old Arsenal player when fate dealt him the cruel blow of pitting his side against Swindon Town in the 1969 League Cup final. The Gunners, including Bob Wilson and George Graham, only managed one goal and that was when Gould (above, left) beat Swindon's Peter Downsborough. Swindon, however, managed three goals and those with memories long enough will recall a distressed Gould leaving the Wembley pitch in tears after his side's defeat. After leaving Highbury in 1970, Gould went on to play for a host of clubs, including Wolves, West Brom and West Ham before moving into management and coaching jobs at, among other places, Charlton, Chelsea, Wimbledon, Coventry, QPR and West Brom. Now in charge of the Welsh national side, Gould has had enough bad times to grey his hair (right). Two wins in the past week should ease the strain a little at least.
The price is right
ITALY 2 SWITZERLAND 0. We knew. Alan Shearer didn't get much of a service in England's two internationals, but is in good domestic form and is a fair bet to score first for Newcastle at home to Derby today. Strugglers Coventry and Sheffield Wednesday could draw 1-1 at Highfield Road tomorrow, but those seeking a touch of real class should tune in to Channel 4 to watch Milan give their Serie A hosts Cagliari a hard time. Oliver Bierhoff, prolific last season, prolific this, can score first in a 2-1 victory for the visitors, who returned to winning form when beating Venezia 2-0 away two weeks ago. Leicester, in disarray over the Martin O'Neill affair, could pay the penalty at home on Monday to Spurs, who have made a good start under George Graham. Les Ferdinand could score first in a 2-1 win for the visitors.
SWEEPER'S STAKING PLAN
YOU'VE GOT TO SPECULATE TO
(pounds 1 five-fold with Ladbrokes) Arsenal to beat Southampton (2-5); Chelsea to beat Charlton (8-13); Manchester United to beat Wimbledon (1-2); Middlesbrough to draw with Blackburn (9-4); Nottingham Forest to draw with Leeds (11- 5). (Return: pounds 35.28).
SATURDAY LIBERO WAGERS
Newcastle v Derby
First goal: Alan Shearer (pounds 2 at 4-1, William Hill).
(pounds 1 treble with Stanley) Everton to draw with Liverpool (9-4); Newcastle to beat Derby (8-11); West Ham to draw with Aston Villa (9-4). (Return pounds 18.24).
SUNDAY SKY MATCH
Coventry v Sheffield Wednesday
Score: 1-1 (pounds 1 at 11-2, generally)
First goal: Dion Dublin (pounds 1 at 5-1, Coral, Ladbrokes, Stanley).
SUNDAY ITALIAN JOB
Cagliari v Milan
Score: 1-2 (pounds 1 at 8-1, generally).
First goal: Oliver Bierhoff (pounds 1 at 4-1, William Hill).
MONDAY SKY MATCH
Leicester v Tottenham
Score: 1-2 (pounds 1 at 10-1, generally).
First goal: Les Ferdinand (pounds 1 at 13-2, William Hill).
ORIGINAL BANK: pounds 100.
CURRENT KITTY: ER...pounds 84.47.
TODAY'S BETS: pounds 10.90 (including 90p tax).
ON THE BOARD
Name: David Chance.
Position: Appointed as a non-executive director of Sunderland FC last Monday.
Form: Left his position of deputy managing director at BSkyB in 1997 after deciding not to accept the position of chief executive following the departure of Sam Chisholm (who is now a non-executive director at Tottenham); Chance remains a non-executive director of BSkyB, has spent many years working in television in the United States, and is currently also a non-executive director of The Modern Times Group, the leading pay- tv operator in Scandinavia, and AT Entertainment, the major cable and television operator in Poland.
Big Ideas: Chance has a BA in economics, a BSc in psychology and an MBA - as well as years of experience in television - and his appointment to the Sunderland board is no surprise, especially with the Nationwide League starting pay-per-view experiments this season. Chance maintains close ties with BSkyB and will be well positioned to negotiate favourably in future over television rights. His ties with overseas broadcasters will no doubt be helpful for selling Sunderland abroad. "These are interesting times for football, especially for those clubs like Sunderland with strong franchises, large loyal supporter bases and modern stadia," said Chance earlier this week, displaying all the gusto of the marketing executive. Even Bob Murray, the Sunderland chairman, has started talking more like a businessman. "The executive board and management team will be working hard to ensure the re-establishment of Sunderland as a national brand," he said. He'll be saying "soccer" next.
Football agent and LBC radio presenter
"As a boy I saw West Ham and Chelsea, and I've been to Tottenham more than most places but I really support any team I'm trying to do deals with. It might be Liverpool today, or Chelsea or Villa - I'll support anyone who wants to spend money on my players. At the moment it might be Tottenham because they want to buy Sherwood. If a French team buy him, I'll support them. My enjoyment is not to go to games. There's nothing to do except have lunch, hustle around, do deals. The worst part is the football. What I like best is watching Teletext, seeing if one of my boys has scored."
Found on the Web: Football howlers
"It's like a toaster, the ref's shirt pocket. Every time there's a tackle, up pops a yellow card." - KEVIN KEEGAN
"Lee Sharpe has got dynamite in his shorts" - STUART HALL
"The World Cup is a truly international event." - JOHN MOTSON
"No one hands you cups on a plate." - TERRY McDERMOTT.
"I couldn't settle in Italy. It was like living in a foreign country." - IAN RUSH
Seen But Not Bought
GIVEN THE chance to buy a Leeds United wheel disc, who could resist? A 16in piece of plastic with a Leeds logo must the kind of accessory any keen cyclist would want to own, especially at just pounds 15.00. The 20in model, at pounds 16.50, or the 24in or 26in models, at pounds 18.50 and pounds 21.00 respectively, must surely be as alluring. On second thoughts, perhaps the "Leicester approach" is the most appropriate way to respond to Leeds' disc salesmen. On yer bike.
They're Not all Dennis Bergkamp
legionnaires No 10
GUIDO VAN DE KAMP: The 34-year-old Raith Rovers goalkeeper was born in s'Hertogenbosch, in the Netherlands, and started his professional career in 1981 with Den Bosch. After 10 years, he briefly moved to Necnymegen, but the allure of foreign football - and Dundee United - proved too strong for him. "When you play in Holland it's a big challenge to go abroad," he said, and a purple patch at the club - sealed with the winning of the Scottish Cup in 1994 - confirmed that he had made the right move. After United, he moved to Dunfermline, where honours, frankly, were not so quick in coming and last season, he moved to Raith Rovers on a free transfer. An affable enough man who has developed an entertaining Dutch-Scottish hybrid accent, Guido sees little difference between playing in his home country and Scotland. "It's up to yourself what you make of it," he said.Reuse content