Outside the Box: Saha takes on Stewart for 'King of the derbies' crown

 

Louis Saha's appearance as a substitute for Sunderland against Newcastle last Sunday gave him a claim to be the player who has appeared in the most major local derbies in English football. His previous tally included playing for Fulham against Chelsea, Manchester United against City, Everton against Liverpool and Tottenham against Arsenal, scoring in all those except the Merseyside match.

Many sources (including Wikipedia) credit Paul Stewart with derbies in Manchester, Merseyside, north London and Tyne-Wear, but City historian Gary James, author of the recently published Manchester, the City Years (James Ward, £25) confirms that his 15 months at the club did not include a derby. Stewart can, however, claim south London appearances for Crystal Palace against both Millwall and Charlton, as well as Blackpool versus Preston (League Cup). He could even have added a rare Potteries meeting between Stoke City and Port Vale, but missed both matches when at Stoke in 1997-8, his last league season.

Any other contenders for most different derbies?

Perfect storm at Charlton

Since last week's item on the sacking of Charlton Athletic's head of development, Rick Everitt, another Valley stalwart has left and fans have now become sufficiently concerned about the direction the club are taking to set up a supporters' trust, which will hold a launch party in early December to coincide with the 20th anniversary of Charlton's return to The Valley.

Like Everitt, who was instrumental in that campaign, Wendy Perfect was a loyalist of long standing who helped run away travel, the Young Addicks and the Valley Express coach service. Following the acrimonious departures of the chief executive, Steven Kavanagh, and vice-chairman, Peter Varney, last summer, supporters are asking on the Charlton Life forum who will be next and suggesting that the hugely popular manager, Chris Powell, could be at risk if results do not improve.

Powell is believed to have an uneasy relationship with the current regime of chairman Michael Slater — a Manchester City supporter — and Tony Jimenez, the former Newcastle United vice-president.

Rupert the bare keeper

Amid all the talk of footballers as role models here is a real model, from the rough-and-tumble of League Two penalty areas. He is Stuart Tomlinson, the muscle-bound 6ft 1in Burton Albion goalkeeper who, in the modelling world, goes by the splendid name of Rupert Paddington Gomez, twice a cover star of Men's Health magazine.

In following in the footsteps of David Beckham and Freddie Ljungberg, the former Crewe and Port Vale keeper is doubtless the subject of much dressing-room ribaldry, not least since his website mentions availability for "nude" and "erotic" assignments. No pun was apparently intended when Burton's assistant manager, Kevin Summerfield, described him last week as "a model of consistency", only for Tomlinson to suffer an injury and have to come off during last Tuesday's draw at home to Port Vale.

Wedding day in Dixie Land

Derby day on Merseyside is always a good time to remember William "Dixie" Dean, whose exploits in 1927-8, when he scored 60 league goals for Everton, will surely never be repeated.

Appropriately, the suite named after him at Goodison Park was the scene last Monday of the wedding of his only daughter, Barbara, 67, to her long-term partner Mike Lewis, 84 years to the day that Dean scored the winning goal at the ground for England against Northern Ireland.

In keeping with the recent improvement in relations between the two clubs, with the rival fans uniting over Hillsborough, the confetti was blue and white with one red piece mixed in – in honour of Dean's late son Ralph, who was an avid Red. Dixie died aged 73 while watching a 1980 derby at Goodison and his ashes were later scattered there. A statue of him was erected at the stadium 11 years ago.

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

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