What's said in the dressing-room stays in there – so says a time-honoured football maxim. Matt Murray does not adhere to it, fortunately for the wider world, the Wolves keeper having used his time while recovering from a serious knee injury to chronicle Molineux's finest foot-in-mouth gaffes. When Wolves equalised at Barnsley, effectively clinching the Championship title, their jubilant fans were cleared from the pitch by mounted police. Left-back Stephen Ward was incensed. "Did you see those police horses?" Murray records him saying. "They're animals!" Ward was again the fall guy after Murray explained he had been to the city's Grand Theatre to do a picture with the seven dwarves to publicise a pantomime, asking: "What show's that then?" Another pearl, passed on by a physio, finds Andy Keogh being driven to London to see an ankle specialist. "Did your ears just pop?" asks the striker. "We must've been going over the Pennines." And he once played for Leeds. Jay Bothroyd, now with Cardiff, advised colleagues to invest in "bricks and water", and Richard Stearman told team-mates that his ankle scan showed he had "nicked an archery". Mick McCarthy's men are not alone in their unwitting wordplay. Your reporter has a colleague who did all his Christmas shopping "at Mataland". Another wondered whether Joe Hart was "illegible" to play against Manchester City. Wolves, meanwhile, face a tricky FA Cup tie today at Tranmere, who, as any of the players could tell you, play in Burke and Hare.
Stoke taken to the cleaners
Now we know why Stoke City's home form is flagging. The 15m x 14m flag that is passed over the heads of the Britannia Stadium crowd has been missing since Chelsea's visit in September, and may not return after the colour drained out of the red stripes in the wash. "It needed a clean because a few pies got thrown at it and it was a bit mouldy," supporters' club chairman Bryan Shaw explained. Both manufacturers and cleaners deny responsibility for spoiling the £4,000 flag, which will shortly be sent to a laboratory for analysis.
Holloway the teddy boy
All together now: "Today's the day the teddy bears do the tactics." Blackpool manager Ian Holloway's latest ruse is to explain his game-plan using cuddly toys. Holloway bought 22 charity teddies in his local pub at £1.50 each, attached name tags and laid both "teams" out in formation at their hotel before the Boxing Day fixture at Derby. He wanted to show Charlie Adam and the wide players what was required ("though no way did I tell Charlie to shoot twice from the halfway line"). The super furry animals paid off, Blackpool winning 2-0, and are now promised to a children's hospice.
Brown's cutting humour
Craig Brown's return to the goal face with Motherwell, albeit on a caretaker basis, ensures the Scottish game's most senior managerial duo – the ex-national coach is 69, his No 2 Archie Knox 62 – and a welcome sense of fun after the conflicts of Jim Gannon's reign. Brown is steeped in Shanklyesque humour – Bill's late brother Bob, that is, his manager at Dundee. "I feared the worst for my future there when Bob began positioning players for the team photo," he told this column. "End of the row for you, son," he told me. "A pair of scissors will get rid of you."Reuse content