United's TV Cup coverage runneth over and over again
Outside the box: For Ward it's in the past; Jaw-dropping encounter; Coaches slow to progress; Making his benchmark; Making his benchmark
It was no surprise that Manchester United's game against Fulham yesterday was live on television. Remarkably, every one of United's past 38 FA Cup ties has been. The last one not to have been shown live was at home to Exeter City in the third round eight years ago, when the broadcasters must have cursed as the non-Leaguers achieved a heroic 0-0 draw. So the replay (a 2-0 United win) was transmitted, followed by every United tie since, including some very ordinary-looking home matches against teams such as Middlesbrough (2005), Aston Villa and Reading (both 2007). At almost £136,000 per team per game, it's nice work if you can get it; which United clearly can.
For Ward it's in the past
It is often the case with local derbies that opposing players are far more friendly than the respective fans. The A52 derby between Nottingham Forest and Derby County has tended to be a rancorous affair in recent seasons and although last weekend's 1-1 draw was typically full-blooded, hostilities gave way to mutual respect between two rival players afterwards. One was Jamie Ward, who scored Derby's equaliser on his first start since suffering a torn hamstring in the 1-0 win at the City Ground in September; on that occasion he was pelted with coins as he limped off, which he claimed to have "used to get a McDonald's afterwards". Despite that incident Ward was happy to agree with Forest striker Billy Sharp – a close friend from their days as Sheffield United team-mates – that he would donate £250 to Sharp's charity if he scored in the return game last Saturday, which he duly did. The LJS Foundation were set up in memory of Sharp's son Luey, who died two days after his birth of the rare condition gastroschisis. They raise funds for research and to support affected families.
It was all was considerably less friendly in the game between Slough Town Reserves and Easington Sports of Banbury, after which four Easington players went to hospital – two with broken jaws – and three from Slough were arrested on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm. The trio have been released on bail until 25 March. The alleged incidents came just before the end of the game when a Slough player was sent off for violent conduct.
Coaches slow to progress
With females slowly receiving greater recognition at all levels of football, accusations of sexism seem likely to land in the in-tray of the Football Association's governance department. The FA are investigating a complaint by Gresley of the Evostik Northern Premier League, who allege their coach, Hannah Dingley, was the victim of shockingly crude sexist remarks by the Northwich Vics manager, Lee Ashcroft, a former Preston and England Under-21 player. Gresley feel it was ironic that at the previous game between the clubs they allowed Northwich to use their physio, who is female, as the Vics had arrived without one. The 29-year-old Dingley was formerly manager of Leicester Ladies and Lincoln City Ladies. She joined Gresley in the summer and holds a Uefa A licence, as do Marieanne Spacey, Julie Chipchase and Julie Callaghan, the FA's regional coach development managers, who are responsible for teaching coaches of both sexes.
Making his benchmark
According to a national newspaper, West Bromwich Albion's technical director, Dan Ashworth, watched the Brentford midfielder Harry Forrester in Tuesday's 2-2 draw with Leyton Orient. We can only hope Forrester impressed in the warm-up; for the rest of the night he was an unused substitute.
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