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News & Comment

Outside the Box: Flicker of disappointment is solved by a flick of the switch

Never mind the disappointment of missing England's international against France last Wednesday; strikers Darren Bent (who was injured) and Kevin Davies (passed over for a younger man) have received the ultimate recognition from their local communities by being asked to switch on the Christmas lights in Sunderland and Bolton respectively. Manchester United's goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar, almost certainly in his final season, did the honours in the footballers' enclave of Alderley Edge and the whole Stoke City squad plus manager Tony Pulis flicked the switch (with maximum force, no doubt) in Hanley. When Andy Carroll is invited to do the same he'll know that he really has arrived; on Thursday, alas, Newcastle preferred a former Coronation Street actress for their town-centre ceremony.

How to find a really fit lover

What do they do after football, those (many) former players who need to keep working? "Lifestyle and fitness coach" would seem to be a useful career path in these health-conscious days. But Earl Barrett, once of Oldham, Aston Villa, Everton, Manchester City, Sheffield Wednesday and indeed England (three caps under Graham Taylor), now performs that function for an unexpected employer: an online dating agency called arrangemeadate.com. The service is run by his wife, Keely, and he sees his role as making people feel in the best shape, physically and mentally, to find, er, love. "It's all about that feeling when you've got your best suit on and feel 10 feet tall," he told the Liverpool Echo. "Strut around with your back straight and your chest out." Currently working for his Uefa A coaching licence, Barrett is also an under-16 coach at Stoke City and supports the anti-racism campaign Kick It Out.

Fort William are sinking fast

Readers who rushed to the results page last Sunday to check whether Fort William had ended a familiar run of five successive defeats, the last two of them by 6-0 and 8-1, will have been disappointed; for the second home game in a row, a waterlogged pitch caused a postponement. Black humour prevails, however, at the Highland League's bottom club, where the sponsors are none other than local firm The Underwater Centre. Yesterday's visit to lowly Brora Rangers ("lowly" to most other teams but rather lofty compared to the Fort) was due to go ahead. Yesterday's visit to lowly Brora Rangers "lowly" to most other teams but rather lofty compared to the Fort) brought a defeat by the modest margin of 3-0.

A political appointment

No offence to Ray Wilkins, who was suddenly deposed as Carlo Ancelotti's assistant at Chelsea without explanation last week, but the dressing-room conversation could become a little more elevated following the promotion of Michael Emenalo to replace him. The name may ring a bell with supporters of Notts County, for whom the Nigerian defender played briefly in 1994, when they finished bottom of what is now the Championship. Even County fans may not know he has a degree in International Relations with Political Sciences from Boston University. That's Boston, Massachusetts, not Boston, Lincolnshire. The American college is where his "soccer" career flourished before he had spells in Belgium, Austria, San Jose, Spain and Israel.