Outside the Box: 'Wally with the brolly' set to reign again as England coach?

So Adrian Bevington, the managing director of "Club England", confirms Sir Trevor Brooking's earlier assertion that the next manager of the national team should be English.

Nobody has actually said why this is desirable, or what is gained by announcing it two years before the current incumbent's contract is up, having been unwisely extended in such haste just before the World Cup finals. Such reticence is, however, understandable for two reasons. Firstly, it avoids damning Fabio Capello by listing all the qualities an English coach will supply that he doesn't. Secondly, going into detail would suggest the Football Association made a bad mistake in appointing those Swedish and Italian chaps, both acclaimed at the time as the best available for the job. Bad news anyway for most of the world's top coaches, and let's just hope Roy Hodgson doesn't mess up at Liverpool; in which case Steve McClaren will have to be the first England manager reappointed after being sacked. Failing that, the FA will need to fall back on a "home-grown" rule: Martin O'Neill has, after all, been over here for a good few years now.

Two fewer fans at Villa

In a summer of upheaval ahead of Aston Villa's 100th season in the top flight of English football – with the O'Neill/Robertson/Walford triumvirate gone and James Milner too – there has been one bizarrely small change: the ground capacity. Last season it was 42,788. This season it's 42,786 – just two fewer. It's apparently because of renovations in the corner between the Doug Ellis Stand and the North Stand (which Ken Bates during his Chelsea days mischievously dubbed The Other Doug Ellis Stand).

Scottish board games

Thanks to Roddy Forsyth, BBC Radio's ebullient Scottish correspondent, for drawing listeners' attention to a quirky innovation north of the border this season. Clubs are now required to supply their own number boards when making substitutions in order to free up the fourth official for the more important business of, er... (any suggestions welcome).

Celtic miss out on anthem

Forsyth's fellow Glaswegians may or may not have noted that when Celtic played Braga in the third qualifying round of the Champions' League, the catchy CL anthem was not played for the teams' introductory handshake. Yet when Tottenham met Young Boys in Berne last Tuesday, it was. Why? A Uefa spokesman explains: "The Uefa Champions' League anthem has to be played in the stadium when teams enter the pitch as from the play-offs stage of the competition, when the centralised marketing of the competition starts." So now we know.

Ashford's cup bid derailed

This season's FA Cup is already under way, but sadly there will be a notable absentee from next Saturday's preliminary round as the Kent club Ashford Town have been forced to withdraw, allowing Erith Town a bye. Although many clubs at this level have similar financial difficulties, it is a shock for such a large town (with its own Eurostar station), whose team drew with Fulham in the Cup barely 15 years ago. Confusingly, there will still be a team of the same name in the competition: known as Ashford Town (Middlesex), which even more confusingly is now part of Surrey.

s.tongue@independent.co.uk

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When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
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He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
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I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
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