Outside the Box: Shotton in the arm is a throwback to Challinor

Should Rory Delap suffer a recurrence of one of his shoulder injuries in the run-up to Saturday's FA Cup final, Stoke City appear to have a ready-made replacement at hand.

Last week at Blackpool they brought on local defender Ryan Shotton, who hurled in a long throw Delap-style, a skill he says he has been perfecting during loans at Altrincham, Tranmere and Barnsley. Given the squad's current injury problems, the 22-year-old could well be on the bench at Wembley. He made his first Cup appearance in the drawn third-round game at home to Cardiff; after which, incidentally, Stoke were 66-1 to win the competition.

One of the few players ever to throw the ball further than Delap was Dave Challinor of Tranmere Rovers, once credited with the world record of 46.34 metres in a challenge at Prenton Park in 1998. Now he is player-manager of Colwyn Bay, who have just won a second successive promotion, to the Blue Square North, by beating FC United of Manchester 1-0 in last Sunday's play-off final in front of a crowd of 2,000 in North Wales.

World in union for Stoke

As Stoke have reached the FA Cup final for the first time in their 148-year history, it is all the more notable that at exactly the same time on Saturday the local rugby union club, Stoke-on-Trent, a mere 128 years old, will be kicking off in their first national final.

They play Aylesford Bulls from Kent in the Intermediate Cup Final at Twickenham, expecting to have "two or three hundred" supporters at HQ. The Potters will take 25,000 and say they could have sold twice as many tickets.

Dalglish sees red over tyros

Looking ahead last Sunday to the England Under-17 team's defence of their European Championship title, we mentioned how pleased and proud Kenny Dalglish must be that Liverpool had more youngsters (four) in the squad than any other club. Not so, it seems.

In another newspaper that very day he was to be found complaining there are too many such tournaments, in which "clubs have to pay their [players'] wages while trusting their welfare and football development to other coaches we have no control over".

It is an attitude that sums up the problems facing the Football Association in attempting to familiarise young players with international football; above all when only six of the 20 Premier League managers are English.

Davison's Turkey shoot

Following up another item from last week, a reader asks if any manager can have had two more diverse clubs for his only managerial appointments than the former Derby and Leeds midfielder Bobby Davison: namely, Guiseley and Ferencvaros.

The explanation was that after a brief spell at the former, in the Northern Premier League, he was coaching at Sheffield United when they formed an affiliation with Hungary's Ferencvaros, whom he joined as an assistant. When the manager was sacked, Davison took over, leading them to promotion, only to be sacked himself and briefly replaced by Craig Short.

Holding the Fort

And after the story on Tunstall Town, whose 25 successive defeats this season have produced a goal difference of minus 238, an update on our old friends Fort William leaves them looking almost healthy in comparison. Almost.

Having recorded the worst finish in the history of the Highland League two years ago by taking one point from their 28 games, the Fort improved with no fewer than six wins last season, finishing above Strathspey Thistle, with whom they are fighting another epic battle this time. Going into this weekend's games, the Fort had one win and three draws from 30 matches, leaving them a point behind Thistle.

To put this in a historical context, since joining the League in 1985, the club's highest position has been 11th and they have conceded 2,441 goals at an average of almost 100 per season. In the four seasons from 2005 to 2009, they managed a total of 17 points.

A bit of a Goon

After Indesit signed a three-year deal with Arsenal worth several million pounds last week, the club's commercial manager, Tom Fox, claimed Arsenal were synonymous with five things: "Attractive style of play, youthful team, innovation, tradition and winning." Spot the odd one out.


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