Outside the Box: Late, great Cunningham on shortlist for rare plaque honour

English Heritage are looking for help in increasing the strangely small number of London football men to be honoured with a blue plaque in the capital.

They would welcome further suggestions after revealing that the former Orient, West Bromwich Albion and Real Madrid winger Laurie Cunningham is on the shortlist to receive one, which will be placed at one of his former homes in either Tottenham or Finsbury Park.

The first black player to represent England in a competitive match, Cunningham was killed in a car crash in Spain 21 years ago, aged only 33.

Nominees have to have been dead for more than 20 years, which is why the most obvious choice, the former England captain Bobby Moore, who died in 1993, has not yet been selected, although there is a Heritage Foundation memorial to him at West Ham's ground.

Among the sport's few personalities honoured by English Heritage are the innovative Arsenal manager Herbert Chapman, whose house in Haslemere Avenue, Hendon, bears a plaque. Different systems apply in the provinces.

The website www.playedinbritain.co.uk features in its "galleries" section a number of sporting personalities, including the Liverpudlian who invented goalnets, John Brodie, as well as plaques commemorating the original homes of Manchester United (as Newton Heath) and Everton.

Oh what a Phoenix Night

One small consolation for away teams and supporters who arrive at their destination today only to find the game postponed is that as usual on Boxing Day no clubs have to go from one end of the country to the other.

Such was the travel chaos last weekend, however, that a number of clubs encountered horrendous delays on what should have been relatively straightforward journeys. It apparently took 13 hours for Tranmere Rovers to make it back from Swindon; and 14 for Colchester on the way back from Bristol Rovers. But the record is being claimed by the League Two leaders Chesterfield, whose return from Gillingham lasted no less than 14 hours and 45 minutes. Their coach finally reached the b2net stadium at 2.30am on Sunday, having fought its way through heavy snow and abandoned vehicles all the way.

Players and officials watched the entire series of Peter Kay's Channel 4 sitcom Phoenix Nights as well as the 103-minute Sylvester Stallone movie The Expendables, moving two miles while it was showing. At least the Pools Panel had them down as winners.


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