Outside the Box: Fall guy Rooney went up in smoke for 'playing games'

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The Independent Football

So what precisely was it that made Wayne Rooney the, er, fall guy for the celebrated Edenbridge Bonfire Society, his 50-foot effigy having gone up in smoke in the Kent village yesterday evening? We can reveal that Tony Blair was at one stage 2-1 favourite this year but committee member Jon Mitchell tells us: "We did think that Wayne Rooney had probably peaked too early. The stories about the appalling way he treated Coleen were subsiding. Then he managed to annoy everyone all over again by playing games in the media in order to renegotiate his contract. We have a Man U supporter on our committee and even he wanted it to be Wayne."

No rickets from Galaxy No 1

It is a big day for LA Galaxy, who stage the home leg of their play-off semi-final against Seattle Sounders at the evocatively named Home Depot Center. The Galaxy lead 1-0 from the first game, thanks in part to the efforts of you-know-who, the former superstar of English football. Yes, that's goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, the 33-year-old Jamaican who played over 100 League games for Bradford City. Famously laidback, and renowned for his mild manner and dislike of swearing, he was sent off at Southend five years ago. The crowd had been subjecting him to some famous Essex wit (which City alleged was racial) and when his team went 1-0 up, he turned and raised his index finger "to show it was 1-0". The referee sent him off, prompting the headline: "Sent off for celebrating a goal." Dean Windass, no stranger to this column (he recently came out of retirement to join Scarborough Athletic), went in goal for the last hour and was beaten only once in a stunning show that led his team-mates to christen him "Deano Zoff".

Matt finish is incredible

Club football in Northern Ireland tends to have a low profile outside Ulster, so there is understandable pride in a Glentoran player making the shortlist for Fifa's Puskas Award for the Goal of the Year. The strike in question was by Matthew Burrows for the east Belfast club in the last minute of their home game with Portadown last month. Check it out on YouTube and ask: "How did he do that?" The criteria for the award include "aesthetics", on which Burrows scores highly; "importance of match", which with respect to Glentoran may not count for quite as much; "absence of luck" and "fair play", on which he cannot be faulted. Footage of the 10 contenders will be on Fifa's website later this month when the full list is announced, and the award will be presented in Zurich on 10 January.

Beating nine men is so tough

After West Bromwich Albion had two players sent off in the opening half-hour against Blackpool, our columnist Ian Holloway understandably said that he had never been in that position before. Reader Graham Fildes, a Luton Town supporter from Jersey, points out that something similar had occurred to Holloway, when he was manager of Queens Park Rangers in 2002. "Luton had Steve Howard sent off in the first quarter of an hour and then Kevin Nicholls dismissed shortly after half-time." Unlike last Monday's game, Ollie's boys were unable to find a way through and could only draw 0-0.