Outside Edge

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The Independent Online

Will the Curse of Colonel Sanders finally be lifted? No, not the taste of that "secret blend of 11 herbs and spices" they coat Kentucky Fried Chicken with, but the drought suffered by the Hanshin Tigers baseball team, who have failed to win the Japan Series since 1985, when fans celebrated that year's title by flinging a statue of KFC's founder in the river. It's finally been found by divers, but the Tigers faithful might have to wait a little while before it's replaced on its plinth, because KFC, sniffing a publicity opportunity, want to take it to Chicago to help another team, the city's Cubs, break their own jinx, the Curse of the Billy Goat. Tigers, Cubs, goats, chickens – no wonder some fans behave like animals.


THE NUMBER of calories contained in each burger on offer at another baseball club, the West Michigan Whitecaps. They weigh in at 4lb – the bun alone is 1lb – with five patties, five slices of cheese and a cup of chili. Finger-achin' good.

Childish pastimes of the week

TIME FOR some more publicity-seeking surveys to fill up space. "Conkers voted greatest playground game," say Debenhams in a poll of 3,000 adults. But wait: "Hopscotch voted greatest-ever playground game," claim parenting advisors TheBabyWebsite.com after conducting their own poll. Curiously, neither Setting the Wastebins on Fire nor Smoking Behind the Bikesheds appears in the rankings, and no place either for Pooh Sticks, whose World Champ-ionships are being held today, at Little Wittenham in Oxfordshire (see pooh-sticks.com). If the Hanshin baseball fans are so keen on dropping things into rivers and seeing where they end up, perhaps they should enter a team.

Good week for

NICOLA SHAW, recalled to the England women's cricket team 30 minutes before the Women's World Cup final and took career-best figures of 4-32... Rafa Benitez, Liverpoool's manager, back in the Premier League title race after a 5-0 walloping of Aston Villa... and Kim Clijsters, the Belgian former world No 1 tennis player, announced her return to top-flight competition after two years.

Bad week for

LANCE ARMSTRONG (right), seven-time Tour de France winner, fractured a collarbone when crashing... Pete Drewett, sacked as director of rugby at Exeter Chiefs after missing promotion... Lee Smith, Leeds Rhinos rugby league winger, out for a month with an infected insect bite... and FK Pobeda, Macedonian football club charged with match-fixing in a 2004 Champions' League qualifier.

History men of the week

IN THE build-up to this summer's Ashes, the psychological warfare continues. Paul Campbell, an Aussie academic, claims that cricket, far from evolving from English children's games, was imported from Flanders by weavers in the 14th century. He has unearthed a 1533 poem which predates the previous first known written reference to the game by over 60 years, and seems to tell the Flemish weavers to bog off home: "Now shut upp your wickettes... A! Farewell, kings of crekettes." Apart from sounding as though it was written by Geoff Boycott rather than John Skelton, it does seem persuasive evidence. But don't bet on Belgium winning a Test series any time soon.