At least Toure's superstition wasn't life-threatening

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Kolo Toure's superstition about being the last player to take the pitch proved bad luck last week when Arsenal kicked off the second half against Roma without him as he waited for William Gallas, who had been receiving treatment. The Ivorian was then yellow-carded for scurrying on late without the referee's permission. Could have been worse, though, as another African player discovered last October after the players for Zimbabwe's Midlands Portland Cement side were ordered into the crocodile-infested Zambezi by their coach for a spot of ritual cleansing, intended to banish bad spirits. Seventeen went in; 16 came out. And they lost their next match.


THE VALUE of Gary O'Neil's Ferrari, nicked from a petrol station when he left the keys in the ignition as he paid. It was found 15 miles away, and his Middlesbrough team have regained their drive too, beating Liverpool yesterday.

Spell check of the week

BRRING! BRRING! Keith Elliott, the much-missed former angling columnist of these pages, calls to share a strange mail tale. He is the founder and editor of 'Classic Angling' magazine, and was recently notified that HM Customs had intercepted a package posted to the publication from Japan. Keith was mystified as to the reason for this until he learned that the senders had made an unfortunate spelling mistake on the address label, substituting the letter "a" for the first "g" in the world "angling". He has yet to pick up the package and does not know its contents, but expects to get to the bottom of the matter soon. Lost in translation. Lost in the post. Lost in thought.

Good week for...

Jason Robinson, former England rugby union captain, announced as Sale's new head coach... Younis Khan of Pakistan, became the 20th batsman to score over 300 in a Test innings... Ali Carter, won snooker's Welsh Open to take his first ranking title... and Barbara Slater, appointed as the BBC's first female head of sport.

Bad week for...

Oscar Pistorius, South Africa's Paralympic sprint star, injured in a car accident... Darlington FC, docked 10 points in League Two after being placed in administration for a second time... Lee Beachill, the English former squash world No 1, forced to retire after knee surgery... and Matt Stevens, the Bath and England prop, banned from rugby union for two years after testing positive for cocaine.

Reading matter of the week

Still time to vote for the 2008 Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year at Not too much of sporting interest this time, unless 'Curbside Consultation of the Colon' refers to the American footballer Willie Colon, but previous entrants have included 'Bombproof Your Horse', handy if there are any more racecourse security scares, and 'How To Avoid Huge Ships', essential reading for yachtists. Our favourite sporting title of the moment, however, is 'Forgive Us Our Press Passes' (Know The Score Books, £19.99), a collection of articles by leading lights of the Football Writers' Association. Proceeds go to Great Ormond Street Hospital. Buy now, buy often.