DAVID SEAMAN could make everyone very rich today merely by giving his facial hair an undue amount of attention. Sporting Index, the spread betting firm, has opened a market, called "In Safe Hands", where different facets of the England goalkeeper's behaviour during the game will be awarded points. Twenty-five will be awarded, for example, every time Seaman concedes a goal through his legs, and 25 if Scotland win on the day. And then there will be 10 points for every time the Arsenal man is seen stroking his moustache or touching his hair. With the "spread" quoted at 54-60 (you win if you either "sell" and the total is less than 54 or "buy" and the total exceeds 60) it will only need a couple of nutmeg howlers and a three or four strokes of the lip slug to put the buyers into the black.
Sporting obviously think the match will be a grisly affair, as it also has a "Battle of Britain" market (with the spread quoted at 130-140) with 10 points for every time two or more players square up to each other, 10 points every time a trainer has to come on to tend to an injured player, 15 points for any booking for an off the ball incident, and five points per player who rolls over more than once after having been fouled. Should matters become truly grim, and politicians be spotted in the crowd, there will be 10 points per sighting of Tony Blair or Gordon Brown.
"MY HEART says Scotland but my head says England will shade it," Andy Gray, Sky TV's former Scottish international told us this week of his expectations for the Euro 2000 play-off double header. To stand any chance, Gray added: "Scotland need brains, not passion. If the kilts, the war paint and the Braveheart attitude are left in the dressing room, we might have a chance." Is that clear, Tartan Army? Wigs in the bin, strike a clever pose and wait for the win.
FUNMAIL, AN e-mail provider, is offering free addresses with names related to today's game. You can choose from titles such as firstname.lastname@example.org, and email@example.com, but The Sweeper wonders why there's no address along the lines of you@aren't yousickofthehypeaboutwhatwillinevitablybeagodawfulgame.co.uk
IF KEVIN KEEGAN builds a dynasty of world-beaters and takes his team to World Cup victory in Japan in 2002, what reward might he expect? If a tribute to Sir Alf Ramsey is anything to go by, perhaps he'll have a side street in a red-light area of Scunthorpe named after him in 30 or 40 years' time. The borough of Ipswich finally renamed a street near Portman Road "Sir Alf Ramsey Way" last week. "The choice of the street to rename after Sir Alf sparked controversy," reported the East Anglian Daily Times. "Portman Walk was once infamous for prostitution." What a charming gesture.
WHAT'S THE difference between the Internet football gambling site, Score, launched this week, and the Internet football gambling site, GoldenGoals, launched in August? They can both be accessed by children pretending to be over 16, they both carry the official Premier League logo and they both intend to make pots of money, a chunk of which will find its way into the not-so-needy League's coffers. The distinguishing feature is that while GoldenGoals carries the logo, it is not supposed to. The League makes money from it through licensing but does not want its name to be used to highlight the fact. The Score site, on the other hand, does carry the logo with permission, because, a League spokesman said: "We have had some very useful discussions to ensure that a proportion of the money raised from the game is directed into football's grassroots." How much money? The League couldn't possibly tell us that, or how much it will trouser itself.
HELL HATH no fury like a city scorned, if the Nottingham Football Post last weekend was anything to go by. After Stan Collymore's decision not to move back to Forest, the paper made no less than three attacks on his decision. One touching article ended: "You can't be sure he will ever be taken on by a club anywhere. Unless it's some outer Mongolian outfit that has been locked away from news, television and society for the past 10 years."
ONE HAS to admire the delicious turn of phrase used by one Football Post reader in a letter. "I went with two friends to Forest's game at Barnsley. It cost over pounds 60 to watch the football equivalent of what French farmers have been feeding their cattle." Praise indeed.
Fans of the national team south of the border hope that a Manchester United striker can save them from an almost inevitable 0-0 today
Swing low, sweet Andy Cole, Coming for to score us a goal, Swing low, sweet Andy Cole, Coming for to score us a goal.
Tune: Sweet Chariot
20th Century Icons
As the new millennium approaches, The Sweeper celebrates football icons of the 20th century. Today, the two most formidable Scotland and England managers the game has seen. It cannot be confirmed that Jock Stein (left), a giant of a man in more ways than one, is bellowing, `You English really aren't that good', while Sir Alf Ramsey, never a man to be stirred by such taunts, has put his fingers in his ears and is saying, quite calmly, `Can't hear you, can't hear you!' Daily Mirror
Your chance to reclaim the game
WORRIED NOTTS COUNTY supporters have recently set up the Supporters of Notts Action Group (SNAG). Their stated objective is to ensure that any potential investor has the long-term interests of the club and its supporters at heart. The Group has been particularly keen to discover the intentions of one Reg Brealey, who may sound familiar to supporters of Sheffield United, Darlington, Grantham Town, St Mirren and Chester City.
Mr Brealey is acting as a consultant between Notts County and two potential investors. He has reiterated to the Nottingham Evening Post that: "I don't really see why fans are getting anxious... my wife would leave me if I became a football chairman again."
Neither Brealey nor the current owner, Derek Pavis, have been seen at the club for some time and no one else at the club is available for comment. Reg Brealey took over at Grantham in May 1998 with a promise of substantial investment. The club currently has debts of more than pounds 400,000 (much higher than a year ago) and lies at the bottom of the Dr Martens League.
If you are a concerned Notts County fan or feel you can help in any way, contact SNAG at PO Box 1862, Nottingham NG5 1LU or e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Football Supporters' Association: PO Box 11, Liverpool, L26 1XP. Tel: 0151 737 2385. Web: www.fsa.org.uk
Coalition of Football Supporters: Tel: 0113 237 4545. Web: www.cofs.co.uk
TONY MOWBRAY: Now in his 20th year as a professional, Ipswich Town's reliable and highly regarded defender will turn 36 later this month and shows every sign of wanting his sporadic starts at Portman Road to become regular again. "Mogga", as he is known, proved himself an organisational colossus last season, when many supporters feared that age might catch up with him. His consistency was a very important factor in the defensive record of George Burley's side. He has recently added coaching duties to his role at his club and his motivational abilities are seen as a important if the Suffolk side are to overcome the near misses of recent seasons and make it to the Premiership come May.
Mowbray started his career at Middlesbrough in 1981, where he formed an intuitive and sturdy defensive partnership with Gary Pallister. He joined Celtic in the 1991-92 season and became a big favourite with the Parkhead club's fans, before heading south to join Ipswich in October 1995. He made his debut against Wolves at Portman Road shortly afterwards. Tony was made club captain on his arrival and is an inspirational figure on and off the field. He also has England B international honours to his name.
Do you have an unsung hero to recommend? A "one club for life" man perhaps? An octogenarian groundsman? A hospital radio team? A super tea lady? Let us know.
THE SWEEPER'S INTERNATIONAL SEXTET
The Price Is Right
YEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS. The treble we so desperately sought arrived last week, bringing a payout of pounds 144 and reducing the season's deficit to a measly pounds 62. A win like that every 10 weeks or so (instead of every 15) and we're more than breaking even. A bit more luck and we're quids in. This weekend's international fixtures see a host of possible draws. Israel, the Republic of Ireland and Slovenia can find the nerve to hold tough opponents on home territory in important qualifiers, while France and the Netherlands might not stretch themselves at home in friendlies against weaker visitors. Spain are capable of holding Brazil.
20 x pounds 1 trebles and 15 x 50p fourfolds with Coral: Israel to draw with Denmark (15-8); Rep Ireland to draw with Turkey (2-1); Slovenia to draw with Ukraine (11-5); France to draw with Croatia (13-5); Netherlands to draw with Czech Republic (9-4); Spain to draw with Brazil (11-5).
BALANCE: -pounds 62.
TODAY'S BET: pounds 27.50 STAKED.
Sign Of The Times
From The Sweeper's autograph collection from the late 1970s and early '80s. Who are they?
THIS PAIR weren't as mad as their club nickname might have suggested. One managed to become a real success while the other just managed.
Answers next week. Congratulations to all those who made the mail bag bulge this week and correctly identified Peter Reid and Sam Allardyce of Bolton from last week. We enjoyed the many spellings of the latter.
... which non-league teams might win the FA Cup and qualify for Europe next season and who they might appropriately meet.
n Blyth Spartans (England) v Sparta Prague (Czech Republic).
n Seaham Red Star (England) v Red Star Belgrade (Yugoslavia).
Thanks to Matt Simpson of Oberwart, Austria. For next week, The Sweeper invites you to imagine where the losers of England v Scotland will spend next summer on holiday and what they'll do when they're there. Addresses as above.
Found on the Web: A guide to Glasgow
GLASGOW WILL be attracting its fair share of visitors this weekend, and for those unsure of where to eat, drink or sleep, this online city guide might come in handy.
It won't tell you where to get a black market ticket to the game but those not lucky enough to secure a seat can stare wistfully at any of one of over 400 pictures of the city. There's even a snap of Hampden Park somewhere amongst the shots from Europe's City of Architecture 1999.
Brush up on your history of the city and impress the locals (admittedly fairly unlikely if you also happen to be wearing an England shirt) or, for Scotland fans, be inspired by the section on William Wallace. You can even work out which art gallery you intend to visit after the footy. Simon Lelic
Read Of The Week
BLUE MOON - DOWN AMONG THE DEAD MEN WITH MANCHESTER CITY by Mark Hodkinson; Mainstream, paperback, pounds 7.99
Having won many plaudits for his first book, Life at the Top, a chronicle of Barnsley's year in the Premiership, Hodkinson decided to look at the reverse side of footballing fairy tales. Given their rapid descent from the top flight and their early season form, his decision to follow Manchester City during their turbulent season in the Second Division could easily have gone wrong. However, there was enough drama to sustain this in-depth approach.
From the trauma of their relegation at Stoke to their miraculous comeback against Gillingham in the play-offs at Wembley, the author immersed himself in every aspect of the club, debating and socialising with players, officials, directors and fans. This compelling portrait of loyalty and camaraderie inspired by a club finally throwing off its joke image is highly comical and moving, and reveals City's remarkable fans in all their perverse glory.
Courtesy of Sportspages bookshops, 94-96 Charing Cross Road, London, 0171-240 9604; & St Ann's Square, Manchester, 0161-832 8530. Website: www.sportspages.co.ukReuse content