Outside the Box: Burglary proves the window should be closed in January

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The Independent Football

An unusual result from the semi-professional East Midlands League: Holbrook Miners Welfare against Borrowash Victoria, match abandoned – theft. When the players came in at half-time, they found that both dressing-rooms and the referee's room had been burgled. Thieves had climbed through a window, helping themselves to clothes, car keys, phones and wallets, all of which were then put in the Holbrook kit bag and carried off. The ref called the game off at the players' behest. Asked about how the intruders had got in, Holbrook's manager, Kevin Bunting, said, without apparent irony: "They only had a small window of opportunity."

Gordon's Bank loses out

Progress has come at a cost for Stoke City followers in the habit of watching matches from the conveniently placed hill overlooking the Britannia Stadium pitch, wittily named "Gordon's Bank" after the 1966 World Cup hero who is now the club president. Since City moved there in 1997, both goals had been visible from the vantage point, especially by climbing one of the nearby trees. Now an expensive new electronic scoreboard has blocked one of the best free views in the Premier League. The most famous scoreline posted on the old board was from a League Cup tie eight seasons ago and read: Stoke 0 Liverpool 9. Amid all the excitement the operator understandably lost count: in reality, it was only 8-0.

Megson's early kick-offs

Eliciting sympathy for sports journalists is quite rightly a thankless task, but those who think the job is all glamour should consider trying to reach the far-flung training grounds of Bolton Wanderers or Crystal Palace by 8.30am. That is the hour at which Bolton's Gary Megson insists on holding his weekly media conference. The only consolation is that "breakfast is served from 8am", enabling hacks to arrive straight from a big night out. Megson's bleary-eyed kick-off time equals the previous earliest, set by Iain Dowie in his Palace days, when the numbers managing to defy the south London rush-hour traffic on time tended to be on the small side. Such an adventure was described by the Irish journo Tom Humphries in his obscurely titled but hilarious account of a sportswriter's year, 'Laptop Dancing and the Nanny Goat Mambo', which concluded, after a mission to interview Clinton Morrison: "I now believe no road actually leads to the Palace training ground, I believe [it] is, in fact, a secret garden accessed via a little door hidden behind a hole in a hedge."

Shut that door, Grayson

And finally... not all footballers' nicknames can be as sublime as "One size" Fitz Hall; the new Leeds United manager, Simon Grayson, has always been "Larry". But given Leeds' apparent inability to keep a clean sheet this season, "Shut that door" does seem particularly appropriate.

Heskey's not poor

The regrettable trend towards publishing financial guess lists did at least provide a headline we thought we'd never see. "Wigan star on rich list" trumpeted that town's 'Evening Post' after a football magazinethat clearly has impressive access to players'bank accounts "revealed" that the Latics' Emile Heskey is worth £12 million (to Manchester City maybe, but not to anybody else).

s.tongue@independent.co.uk

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