But for bad weather, Alan Pardew could have made a romantic trip back to old haunts for his first official engagement as manager of Newcastle United. On Thursday night, hours after he was officially appointed, the Toon were due at Dog Kennel Hill in south London for an FA Youth Cup tie against Dulwich Hamlet, one of Pardew's first clubs, which had to be postponed.
He joined them from Corinthian Casuals as a workaday midfielder before moving up a notch to Yeovil and then returning to south London with Crystal Palace; thus giving up work as a glazier to join the club previously known as the Glaziers. It cost him money too, as he always claimed the Palace chairman Ron Noades paid him "rubbish" wages. The extraordinary five-and-a-half-year contract awarded by the Toon at up to £500,000 per year may just compensate for the earlier loss.
Leeds supporters lead way
As Leeds reached the play-off positions in the Championship last week, the thought occurred that financially strapped clubs at that level (meaning most) would be sorry to see them win promotion, as their away support puts so much money in the pocket of home teams. So far this season the damned United have sold out their allocation for every away game played and contributed to the best crowd of the season at all but two of them, including a ground record at Coventry City's Ricoh Arena. Their average following has been around 4,000, with a high of more than 6,500 at Barnsley. In this age of half-empty stadiums for FA Cup ties, it is also notable that they received more than two applications for each of the 8,500 tickets available for the game at Arsenal on 8 January, a tie now sold out despite being live on ITV.
They won 8-2 but were lucky
Spectators were thinner on the ground in east London last Tuesday for the second-round Cup replay between Leyton Orient and Droylsden, but the 1,345 spectators present (69 away fans) saw one of the most remarkable ties in recent history. Orient, 2-0 down at one stage, equalised in the last minute to take the game into extra time, when they scored no fewer than six more goals. Both sides also finished a feisty evening with nine men after the referee issued four straight red cards for bad tackles. It was understandable in the circumstances but as the years go on, Droylsden's Dave Pace may come to be remembered as the manager who, after losing 8-2, said of the opposition: "They were lucky."
Demon Barber is a cut above
The number of extra-time goals at Brisbane Road has been matched at least once, although not all by the same team, according to the Football Association's resident historian David Barber. He reports that in another second-round replay, 15 years ago to the day, Walsall and Torquay United were level at 3-3 after 90 minutes, but the home team scored five times in the added half-hour and the visitors once, for a final tally of 8-4. Delving even further back, the Demon Barber discovered that in the fourth round in 1949, Bradford Park Avenue held Manchester United to two 1-1 draws; in the second replay at Manchester City's Maine Road, there was no score in normal time, but in extra time United belatedly ran in five goals.
Heineken reaches parts...
The insistence of Champions' League sponsors on exclusive branding even extends to the names of stadiums. As Heineken has the rights on alcoholic intake, Spurs supporters in Holland last Tuesday found that FC Twente's ground was no longer known as De Grolsch Veste but the FC Twente Stadion. In France, Spain and Russia, where there are restrictions on alcohol advertising, the lager firm is not allowed boards around the perimeter of the pitch. Premier League fans used to a pint before the game (which cannot be consumed within sight of the pitch) have to go without in the Champions' League, when no alcohol is on sale. Hence a last-minute rush from local pubs before (or after) kick-off by fans who are berated by radio commentators for not turning up earlier.