Outside the Box: Now Stoke 'Assassin' Pejic gets his kicks in taekwondo

 

The former England full-back and hard-man Mike Pejic has earned another international call-up, at the age of 62.

He has been named in the Great Britain over-60s taekwondo squad after winning a silver medal in his age group at the British National Championships. A third-dan black belt himself, he was beaten only by a grand master who also happens to be the world No 1.

Pejic, who became interested in the sport when he coached in Malaysia, recently opened the Pejic Taekwondo Academy at a community centre in his native Chesterton, a former coal-mining village which now forms part of Newcastle-under-Lyme. At Stoke City during the Seventies, he was part of a fearsome back four (alongside Jack Marsh, Denis Smith and Alan Bloor) which his former team-mate Terry Conroy in his after-dinner speeches describes as "The Assassins".

Those who saw Pejic play might be picturing him launching flying tackle kicks in his white robe; yet he won his silver in the demonstration, non-contact form of taekwondo.

Time to change the record

While readers of this website are, of course, the most courteous and tolerant to be found anywhere, other publications are not as lucky. Scotland's Daily Record has been forced to close its online football articles to readers' comments because of the vitriol which tends to be prompted by references to either of the Old Firm clubs.

The paper explained as follows: "We value the opinions of our readers but, despite the introduction of a Facebook registration system, we continue to see an unacceptable level of behaviour that breaches our terms and conditions. We are talking about personal abuse directed against other users and members of our staff, foul language, hate speech, sectarianism and systematic tit-for-tat deletion of posts."

Half-baked strategy

If matches were only played these days when there wasn't some game or other being shown live on television, no competition would ever be completed. It does, however, take a particularly confident – or should that be reckless – club to stage a League One game with one of the more important England World Cup qualifying matches being shown on ITV1.

Last Tuesday both Bury and Leyton Orient decided to go head to head with Poland against England – not to mention Mary Berry on the Great British Bake-Off – and duly recorded their lowest attendances of the season: 1,913 and 2,664 respectively.

By the time that armchair fans had realised they would not be watching any football in Warsaw it was too late to get along to Gigg Lane or Brisbane Road. Among those who could reasonably have been expected to stay at home but put duty first was the secretary of Bury, Mrs Jill Neville, mother of the England coach Gary.

Audience figures meanwhile were: bake-off 6.5 million, game off 4.6m.

Didcot lacks lawn order

Just in case the story does not make Crimewatch this month, this column would like to help Didcot Town publicise a shocking felony that occurred at their Loop Meadow Stadium last week: the theft of the club lawnmower from a double-locked brick building.

These things matter at Evo-Stik Southern League South & West Division level. "Diddy" are advising all other sports clubs, especially in the Oxfordshire area, to "be aware if offered a three-gang mower (registration no. PX04 CXJ)". As Shaw Taylor always used to say on the original Crimewatch predecessor Police 5, Thames Valley Police await your call.

No high fiver at Charlton

Charlton Athletic supporters are pondering the irony of the club stalwart Rick Everitt being sacked this week, just as one of his initiatives produced their highest attendance of the season for yesterday's game against Barnsley.

Everitt, the club's Head of Development, was behind the "Football for a Fiver" promotion for all fans, including away supporters, as well as instigating the "Valley Express" service of coaches which were used to bring in fans from all over Kent and Sussex.

Previously editor of the influential Voice of the Valley fanzine, Everitt had been a key campaigner in bringing Charlton back to the Valley in 1992 after seven years in exile at Selhurst Park and Upton Park. The club declined to comment.

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

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