Outside the Box: McNamara manages to find funny side between the lines


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The Independent Football

The Partick Thistle manager and former Celtic, Wolves and Scotland defender Jackie McNamara has revealed hitherto unknown talents by co-writing a comedy about a Premier League club.

A pilot has been shown in an Edinburgh cinema and McNamara is looking for a broadcaster to make a TV series. He says it would have to be shown after the 9pm watershed "as there's a lot of swearing".

Much of that will doubtless be done by the actor playing the club manager: Gary Lewis is the 52-year-old Glaswegian who played Billy Elliot's father in the eponymous film. "I think a lot of players had a lot of stories over the years and it's just my way of putting them into a comedy and making characters up," said McNamara, who played 33 times for Scotland.

Eve is the number five No 1

The admirable strength in depth that a real Premier League manager, Tony Pulis, is building up at Stoke City was illustrated last week when the club's fifth-choice goalkeeper made his World Cup debut.

Not only that but Dale Eve, at 16, is one of the youngest players to appear at any stage of the competition. He was called on as a substitute for the second half of Bermuda's 2-1 win over Barbados, who had given up home advantage in order to save costs.

Eve, 6ft 4in tall, joined Stoke from Derby last summer after coming to England from a club called Dandy Town Warriors. His international debut arose because the new Bermudan No 1, Freddy Hall, was involved in Northampton Town's FA Cup defeat at Luton, while the usual understudy, Tahj Bell, was suspended after "relieving himself in a corner of the National Stadium while warming up as a substitute" before a recent international.

The FA Cup also took priority for Bermuda's Nahki Wells, who scored an explosive winner for Bradford City against Rochdale, then flew off to do the same in the second match against Barbados, which his country again won 2-1.

Hold-ups on Park Avenue

Meanwhile, hopes of Bradford Park Avenue achieving some FA Cup glory to put their neighbours and old rivals City in the shade were quickly dimmed in an unfortunate 8-1 defeat by AFC Totton after two Park Avenue players were sent off.

Further bad news is that plans for an ambitious new 20,000-capacity stadium on the Leeds-Bradford border have been put on hold after the site had to be sold to clear debts owed by the club's owner Bob Blackburn, who said his divorce settlement was partly to blame.

Take away a few million

Further to last week's item about the huge TV audience in China when Real Madrid brought forward a Spanish League game to kick off at midday (7pm in Beijing), serious doubts have been cast on how many viewers actually tuned in.

The audience measurement company Kantar Media says the true figure was 1.3 million, rather than the 60m claimed, as the match was not shown nationally. This is still regarded as encouraging, with La Liga keen to increase its market share alongside the Premier League and Serie A, whose lunchtime kick-offs are keenly followed.

As the Premier League believe their Chinese audience per season to be "hundreds of millions", it has to be hoped they use one of the more reliable audience research sources.

Now the Irish are on song

The new album 'Fallen Empires' by Snow Patrol, who hail from Northern Ireland, contains a track called 'Life-ning', written by Dundee and Manchester United fan Gary Lightbody which lists things he likes in life. It includes the generously inclusive line: "Ireland in the World Cup, either north or south."

Not quite yet, and not since 2002, but a fitting pay-off to a week when the Republic qualified for Euro 2012.

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