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News & Comment

Outside the Box: Dan's already on his bike so England had better make it

As England attempt to wrap up World Cup qualification on Wednesday, one supporter is so sure they will make it he has already left London to cycle to South Africa. Dan Harrison, 29, is pedalling 14,000 miles over nine months to raise £100,000 for African orphanages. A communications officer from Wimbledon, he is currently in Italy as he covers 30 countries and three continents on the way. "The idea is to raise money and see England win the World Cup," said Mr Harrison, who patriotically paraded in a GB jockstrap to raise funds during Wimbledon in June. He can be sponsored at betterlifecycle.com.

Not on the Sabbath at Villa

Happy 20th birthday to the Aston Villa fanzine 'Heroes and Villains', in the current edition of which Geezer Butler, the Aston-born bass guitarist with Ozzy Osbourne's Black Sabbath, reveals his attempt in the pre-Randy Lerner/Martin O'Neill era to persuade Villa to run out to a piece of Sabbath heavy metal instead of that Dad-bop favourite 'Hi Ho Silver Lining'. First he suggested the song 'Iron Man', but they seemed not to appreciate its lyric: "Heavy boots of lead/Fills his victims full of dread" (which surely fitted Alpay Ozalan)? Then he tried 'War Pigs', which features a wailing siren and the jolly refrain "Death and hatred to mankind/Poisoning their brainwashed minds'. For some reason, Doug Ellis and his cohorts decided against. Undaunted, Geezer is now considering offering "a heavy metal instrumental version of 'Ghost Riders In The Sky'", the old Frankie Laine song that is a Holte End anthem.

Unfair to pooh-pooh Preston

The typo of the week award goes to Crystal Palace's communications department, who, in their excitement at the club having finally been able to make a signing after a long transfer embargo, rushed out an e-mail about the former Preston player Claude Davis joining from Derby County. This was followed by a hasty correction: "Dear all, I would quickly like to apologise for the spelling error in the Claude Davis press release of 'Lancashite outfit' instead of 'Lancashire outfit'. It was a typo and not a deliberate attempt to tarnish the name of our Championship counterparts." Unlike the Charlton Athletic announcer Brian Cole, who was sacked a couple of years ago for greeting the visitors as "Crystal Pal-arse".

Dunne deal, dumb deal

Fifa's long-overdue crackdown on clubs poaching foreign boys at a ridiculously young age prompts the question of when anyone ever complained as furiously as Chelsea last week about a ruling that will save them tens of millions of pounds? And if Manchester City (£173m spent in this year's two windows) needed to sell Richard Dunne to Aston Villa to bring in some money, as he claimed, the best thing they could do is steal an eight-year-old from a French club and earn a transfer ban.

Winners, for the Record

Many thanks to all those readers who responded to last week's quiz. The answers were: 1) Manchester United's Edwin van der Sar is Holland's most-capped player (130 caps); 2) Argentina have won five of the last seven World Under-20 tournaments; 3) South Korea have appeared at seven World Cups.

Congratulations to five winners of the 'World Football Records 2010' book, published this week by Carlton. The winners are Philip Rolfe, Kevin Rawlings, Terry Lynch, Peter Pinteric and Zena Cameron.