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News & Comment

Outside the Box: Dempster's dad would have cherrypicked Liverpool tie


Mansfield Town's FA Cup tie at home to Liverpool next Sunday fulfils a boyhood dream for their captain, John Dempster, who scored the first goal in the second-round replay victory over Lincoln City.

Dempster's father was born and brought up in Glenbuck, the mining village on the Ayrshire/Lanarkshire border where Bill Shankly and his footballing brothers came from; a staggering total of 38 lads from Glenbuck went on to play professionally, many having been spotted playing for the local Cherrypickers.

As a boy, Dempster Snr used to write to Shankly, and the family, who like so many Scots migrated to Corby, still have the great man's replies. John was brought up supporting Liverpool, and for his 13th birthday was at Anfield to see the famous 4-3 win over Kevin Keegan's Newcastle.

Glenbuck has sadly gone the way of the coal-mining industry that it existed to sustain, with barely half-a-dozen houses left occupied – plus a memorial to Shankly that was seriously damaged four years ago by joyriders. Scottish Coal helped with repairs and boulders now prevent a similar occurrence.

Indian sign of the times

Liverpool have come up with the latest example of football clubs using social media, claiming to be the first European club to launch a Twitter account for their Indian supporters.

Started last Saturday, the account, @IndiaLFC, already has more than 3,500 followers. Less happy were non-League Salisbury City, who blamed a rival fan for hacking their official account and announcing that the manager, Darrell Clarke, had been sacked.

The Big Brother of songs

Still on Merseyside, the Christmas No 1 single by the Justice Collective, "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother", in aid of the Hillsborough families, continued to do well last week. Sales of some 300,000 would make it the best-selling football charity single, ahead of two other No 1s: "Ferry 'Cross The Mersey" in aid of the Hillsborough Disaster Fund (1989) and "You'll Never Walk Alone" for the Bradford Fire Disaster (1985).

All three are in football's top 10, of which "Football's Coming Home", originally the official song for England's Euro 96 campaign and twice re-released, sold 1.4 million.

Evo-stik to the day job

How good a Christmas was it for some of the nation's smaller clubs? Glad tidings of great joy at Maldon & Tiptree in the Ryman League Division One North and Skelmersdale in the equivalent level of the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League, both remaining unbeaten in their leagues so far after 18 and 15 games respectively.

But there is room for improvement for Woodford United in the Evo-Stik Southern League Central, whose record reads: played 18, lost 18, with 67 goals against.

Bell rings in New Year

Outside the Box's highlights of 2012: Coventry winger David Bell being sponsored by The Campaign For A Referendum On Our Membership Of The European Union; Ebbsfleet United receiving a grant to improve "the worst toilets in football"; £23,500 paid for the original programme (match-card) of the 1909 FA Cup final; Grantham scoring a winner in the 19th minute of added time; Danny Mills finishing runner-up to Emma Kennedy on Celebrity Masterchef; Stirling's Kieran McAnespie having briefly been a cameraman for TV porn channel Babestation; former England full-back Mike Pejic receiving another international call-up – at taekwondo; the Burton Albion goalkeeper offering to model for "erotic assignments"; and the 90 female choristers who found their coaches escorted to Port Vale by police motorcyclists under the impression that they were Chesterfield fans.

s.tongue@independent.co.uk; twitter.com/@stevetongue