Outside the Box: Rangers share spoils of a club in crisis - Arsenal, circa 1900


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One of the fascinating snippets to emerge from the débâcle of Craig Whyte's stewardship at Rangers is the curiosity of the club owning 16 shares in Arsenal.

As other fortunate shareholders in the London club have discovered, the shares have become a valuable commodity since rival investors Stan Kroenke and Alisher Usmanov began buying them up, so it was perhaps no surprise that Whyte should decide to sell to Usmanov's Red and White Holdings at a premium price of more than £14,000 each.

The Financial Services Authority have frozen the assets of Pritchard Stockbrokers, the company which holds the proceeds from the £230,000 deal, while the administrators try to recover it for the club.

Rangers are believed to have bought two Arsenal shares in the early 1900s when the club were in trouble and contemplating moving from Woolwich to Fulham. Later they were given 14 more as a reward for their help and support.

Team from time of the Druids

Further to the ongoing debate about the oldest clubs in Britain, new research has established a strong claim for Wrexham to be included among the top half-dozen.

There is convincing evidence from local newspapers for the north Walians having been established in 1866, six years earlier than when they were believed to have started as an offshoot of the local cricket club.

OTB's resident historian Graham Curry confirms: "There was a thriving sub-culture around Wrexham in the early days, including Druids FC from Ruabon, the first Welsh entry in the FA Cup in 1876."

The Scottish Football Museum confirms Queen's Park as the oldest surviving Scottish club (1867) ahead of Kilmarnock (1869) and Stranraer (1870). Further afield we find Cliftonville in Northern Ireland (1879) and Le Havre in France (1872), whose light and dark blue colours were chosen by their Oxbridge founders.

Manchester's making history

The Manchester Histories Festival starts on Thursday with a walk round what are described as "key city centre footballing sites of both City & United", followed by a quiz.

The following day there is a debate on overseas ownership, which might involve rival supporters of the two clubs in lively discussion. A play about City's former German POW goalkeeping hero Bert Trautmann is on at the Town Hall for two nights and on Saturday morning the local author and historian Gary James is giving a talk on the story of City and United – timed, he points out, to finish well before the game against Bolton at the Etihad.

Most of the events are free: visit www.manchesterhistoriesfestival.org.uk.

No Sneyd remarks from men

Banter in the Port Vale dressing room about the putative managerial careers of striker Tom Pope and defender Adam Yates and must have been flowing once the local press published details of their efforts in a high-scoring fixture last Sunday.

The pair are co-managers of Sneyd, one of the most successful clubs in the Potteries & District League, and must have thought a difficult season had taken a turn for the better when their opponents Abbey Hulton turned up a man short.

Abbey's manager, Ian Cooper, volunteered to play in goal to bring them up to strength, handing the managerial reigns to Janet Llewellyn, the club's secretary for 17 years.

While Sneyd had Yates and Pope prompting them from the touchline as well as a clutch of substitutes, Ms Llewellyn was left to run the show for Abbey, who turned round a 6-4 deficit to win an epic game 8-7. "I just kept shouting and egging my team on," she said.

From Messrs Yates and Pope there was no comment.

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