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News & Comment

Outside the Box: Another (smelly) brick in the wall for Charlatans drummer

The replacement of a pitch, a stand or a whole stadium can offer opportunities for souvenirs, whether obtained legally or otherwise.

The Charlatans' drummer Jon Brookes – now happily recovered from a brain tumour after collapsing on tour in September – recalls being at the home of his brother and fellow West Bromwich Albion fan Tim, who was having an extension built to his house in Wednesbury at the same time as the Birmingham Road End of The Hawthorns was being redeveloped.

Jon suggested it would be a good idea to have "a few bricks from the Brummie" in the extension, so they drove to the ground after dark. Jon climbed a wall and threw bricks for his brother to load into his Capri. Only when back at the house did they work out the source of the overpowering smell.

"What we'd done was get the bricks from the old toilet block," Jon said. "Sixty years of Brew XI was on those bricks from blokes moaning about Bobby Robson and Jeff Astle. They still ended up in the extension, though it took a few months before it started smelling normal."

A real kick up the Arsenal

As Neil Banfield, the Arsenal reserve-team manager, put it: "You don't expect an Arsenal team, at any level, to get beat 10-1." But that was the unlikely result when his side, previously top of the table in the Premier Reserve League South, met Aston Villa at Hinckley United's ground last Monday.

Villa scored five times in each half to humiliate an Arsenal team who had defender George Brislen-Hall sent off after 11 minutes.

With the first team short of centre-halves and the reserves' captain Ignasi Miquel – from Barcelona – being held back as cover for the Carling Cup tie at Ipswich, it was a depleted Arsenal defence, but Banfield admitted to shock at the way the young side capitulated.

"It's a major embarrassment," he said. "It's a lack of character and that's what I'm really disappointed about."

Villa duly replaced them as league leaders after a game that had a dramatic effect on the goal difference of both teams.

Lampard beats the bank

Fame indeed for former public schoolboy Frank Lampard, who last week found himself the subject of the main "leader" in The Times no less; and for once in such exalted circles, a footballer was being praised rather than buried under the usual pile of ordure.

The gist of the argument was that the economic justification for top players' wages was far greater than for bankers' bonuses because "it is a payment for Mr Lampard's great skill and professionalism, which are matched by only a handful of similarly well-paid players". In contrast, The Times said, "bankers are being paid superstar wages without being superstars". And who could argue with that?

Muir the merrier in replay

Following last week's report about non-League clubs suffering from the bad weather, Bradford Park Avenue finally played a home game on Tuesday night, for the first time since 30 October. They must have wondered if it was worth the trouble, however; local rivals AFC Halifax won the Evo-Stik League Challenge Cup tie 3-0 before a crowd of just 245.

Meanwhile, after the Highland League secretary John Grant admitted that it might be necessary to extend their season, another whole Saturday programme was wiped out because of frozen pitches.

But, on Wednesday, Threave Rovers, from Castle Douglas, the South of Scotland League champions, staged their Scottish Cup third-round replay against Stenhousemuir after 15 postponements. It was the Warriors' first game since the original tie on 20 November, since when Davie Irons, who played for them that day, has taken over as manager of Stenhousemuir.

His inside knowledge obviously paid off: Threave 1 Stenhousemuir 5.