Outside Edge: Not exactly a barrel of laughs

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The Independent Online

It's bobbins. The Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust have branded the traditional Hallowe'en game of apple-bobbing "dangerous", with consultant opthalmologist Parwez Hossain warning that "at the extreme end of the scale you could end up losing your sight". The hospital had to treat three people for injuries caused by this hardcore activity last year, including scratches on the cornea from stalks, which they suggest should be removed beforehand. They also warn against eye infections picked up from bobbing in dirty water, and recommend that children use their hands instead of their mouths to retrieve the apples, or at least wear goggles "where there is a chance of a high-velocity impact, for example with an apple". Alex Crossland-Robins, a 10-year-old from Oldham who hopes to swim at the 2020 Olympics, has been told by the local council that he is not allowed to wear goggles in the pool because he must "get used to eye contact with the water". Let's hope there's no fruit floating around.


Spooky! To show football's going to hell, this is the number of Shrewsbury Town fans who travelled to Chesterfield last Saturday – out of a crowd that fortunately totalled 7,777. If that doesn't scare you, two days later 666 Middlesbrough fans went to Nottingham Forest. Next week: Damned Utd.

Germans have a lot left in the tank

Suspicion is growing that the West Germany team that won the 1954 World Cup were not, as officials previously claimed, given injections of Vitamin C but were doped up with a methamphetamine called Pervitin, which was given to soldiers during World War Two. Against Hungary in the final they came back from 2-0 down after eight minutes to win 3-2. But cover-up of the week goes to the British-born former New Zealand defence analyst Stephen Wilce, who has been exposed as a fantasist after saying he raced against the Jamaican "Cool Runnings" bobsleigh team at the 1988 Winter Olympics, played rugby for Wales and swum at the Commonwealth Games. He also claimed he was chief executive of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron in the America's Cup when in fact he ran their restaurant and bar. Waiter, there's a lie in my soup.

Good week

Hollie Walcott, sister of footballer Theo, wins the United States' National Bodybuilding Championships in Washington DC in the Under-35 "Short" category – in her first competition outside the UK... Matteo Manassero, Italian golfer, becomes youngest to win a title on the European tour, aged 17 years and 188 days, at the Castello Masters in Spain... Lloyd de Boltz-Miller, of Staffordshire University, breaks record for the greatest distance covered in a go-kart in 24 hours, 801 miles in 1,151 laps of the Whilton Mill track in Northamptonshire.

Bad week

Yoan Gouffran, the Bordeaux winger, discovers he is allergic to grass – his manager Jean Tigana says, "for a footballer, it's embarrassing"... Lider Marmol, Paraguayan footballer who plays for Mexican club Atlante, discovers that his sister Perla has been kidnapped and he must pay $40,000 for her release, then hears that she has faked the kidnapping in order to extort money from him... Australians, named as the most obese people on the planet with 71.1 per cent of the population deemed to be overweight – Britain comes fourth in the world, but takes the title of fattest in Europe.

The bravest of runners – by a distance

Inspirational tales from the world of long-distance running. Nicky Combs of Norwich has completed the Twin Cities Marathon in Minneapolis-St Paul in the United States, 10 years after undergoing surgery to correct scoliosis, or curvature of the spine. Her spine was at a 50-degree angle and was putting pressure on her ribcage, causing breathing difficulties. She took up jogging when she became a medical student, and is now four years down the long road to becoming a doctor herself. Lance Corporal Tom Neathway, 26, will be taking part in today's Marine Corps Marathon in Washington DC despite having lost both his legs and an arm in Afghanistan. He will be joined by four other British Army soldiers with combat wounds, his commanding officer Captain Mike Kerrigan, Corporal Pete McCoombe, Private Keiron Dry and Private Jaco van Gass. A team from the Army's Rifle Regiment will also take part, and the ever-competitive Neathway said: "We'll smash 'em."