A glittering array of artistes due to play the Kick Off Celebration Concert in Soweto the day before the World Cup begins now includes Alicia Keys, the Black Eyed Peas, Africa's biggest band the Parlotones and, er, Stan Collymore. The Parlotones, who tour Britain next month, are big Aston Villa fans – the lead singer's uncle set up the South African branch of the Villa Supporters' Club – which led to an invitation to play with them that the TalkSport pundit apparently intends to take up. The band are also helping judge a TalkSport competition for listeners submitting their own World Cup songs. It must at least make Collymore feel a little more loved after all his recent insults from Arsenal supporters and tweeters. Following some critical remarks about Arsène Wenger in his 'Daily Mirror' column, those seated close to the Emirates press box sing disparaging songs about him even when he is not at the match. And last Wednesday he announced he has suspended his Twitter account after suffering personal abuse.
Extra shifts at Workington
It is not difficult to imagine a few Premier League managers yelling "conspiracy" if this happened to them. Darren Edmondson, manager of Workington in the Blue Square North, is cursing after his team were forced to play seven successive away games in 19 days, clocking up 2,000 miles on the road. The marathon began with a defeat at Southport and the one local game, a County Cup tie, followed by wins last week at Eastwood and Harrogate. Edmondson fears some part-time players may not be able to get sufficient time off to play, let alone enough hours' sleep. "They've been putting in extra shifts at work to get enough hours under their belts," he says. The backlog has been caused by a combination of bad weather and Workington's FA Trophy run. As something of a football outpost (in the Football League until 1977), they are used to burning up the motorway miles, and even in the so-called northern section of the Blue Square League there are expensive overnight trips to places such as Corby, Gloucester City and Hinckley. This season there were also 600-mile round trips in the FA Trophy to AFC Wimbledon and Stevenage. Now a push for the play-offs raises the possibility of promotion... and maybe a trip to Eastbourne Borough.
Kids go hell for leather
This week's good cause is the UK charity Alive & Kicking, who are supplying leather footballs to underprivileged South African children unable to afford the official World Cup football. Adidas are selling the ball for 999 rand (£90) and 249 rand (£22.50) for the replica in a country where the minimum wage is only £21. Alive & Kicking ( aliveandkicking.org.uk) have set up stitching factories in Kenya and Zambia, where leather footballs are made for free distribution with HIV/Aids awareness messages. A spokesman said: "The majority of young footballers in South African townships have no choice but to play with homemade footballs, typically fabricated with plastic bags and string. With multimillionaire footballers set to use the best equipment in shiny stadiums, it seems a shame this won't be a realistic aspiration for many children."
It's a crying shame for Cassano
Not celebrating after scoring against a former club is one thing. When Antonio Cassano, the enfant terrible – or Italian equivalent – of Serie A put Sampdoria ahead at Bari on Wednesday, he made a gesture of apology to the home fans and appeared to be wiping away a tear. The final result must have caused him equally mixed emotions: Bari came back to win 2-1.Reuse content