Scarborough versus the might of the Roman Empire: ah, if only

Eye witness: Everyone was a winner when Chelsea came to town

You might call it the Henman Hill of Scarborough, a lofty, grassy bank next to the town's football stadium which gives an almost unfettered view of the ground. No need for a plasma screen when you can see the real thing, of course. And they'd rather call it Quayle Hill, after Mark, the young centre-forward who fired them into yesterday's fourth-round FA Cup game with Chelsea.

"Thought the club might have charged us to come up here. They could have minted it," murmured Boro fan Gareth Rule as he watched Chelsea (total value, £87m) run out against Boro (total value, £2,000 - the cost of Quayle, the only player to have cost the club a fee in the past 10 years).

Inside the ground the chants started effortlessly. "What a waste of money", and "Shall we sing a song for you?" Even the police officers on the hill could not resist a smile. But, truth be told, it was hard to conjure up much tribal hatred for Roman Abramovich's all-stars since, down from the hill, Scarborough had been ringing up the profits from their presence all morning.

Aside from the £500,000 in television rights and ticket sales - enough to pay Scarborough's wage bill for two years - Abramovich has sunk £25,000 into the club's youth academy in the past few days.

But the day's essential fashion accessory, for £15, was a "Defeat of the Roman Empire" T-shirt, sponsored by the local branch of Marks and Sparks. "It's our one and only chance," said T-shirt seller Jill. "It'll be Halifax away in a few weeks." Ten yards away, Keith Crowe, Scarborough FC's head of match programmes, was puzzling over the logistics of shifting 5,000 copies, 10 times the usual number. "Chelsea are a collector's piece. For the kids this is just about Chelsea," he said.

The team's merchandise was also selling fast. Paul Day was grateful to have sold 30 Boro scarves in 30 minutes, two hours before kick-off. He usually manages five in an afternoon.

Nearby, Steve was talking about "game-specific" gear, such as woven half-Chelsea/half-Boro scarves. "They've gone," he said, snapping his fingers. "This is a rare chance. Where else would you get an English football fan to buy a scarf with the opponents' name on it?"

The Sun offered £50,000 to become the team's shirt sponsor for match and the club only just stopped short of agreeing to a magazine's £10,000 offer for the players to drop their shorts en masse if they scored.

All this for a club that was 24 hours from closure when its chairman, Malcolm Reynolds, a merchant banker, took over two years ago.

Inside the ground, 79-year-old Bernard Newby was singing his heart out. He was denied his usual seat (back row, seat 51) where he had watched every Scarborough home game for the past 70 years. "That's more than anyone else alive," he reckoned. No one was quite sure how many games that was but he had certainly seen off more than 30 managers.

"We just need to remember our motto 'no battle, no victory'," he said as he marched into the ground. "They won't like those little dressing rooms and they won't like the mucky pitch."

But in the ground and on the hill the chants gave way to silence after a ninth-minute goal by Chelsea's £15m John Terry.

There was talk of the penalty that should have been, the goal being offside and daylight robbery. But Gareth Rule and the lads up on the hill knew they were not walking home as losers. "How can we be?" he said. "We've got half a million quid in the bank tonight."

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