Outside Edge: Oh no, not that old chestnut

Last week Edge pointed out that the World Conker Championships were being held today near Oundle in Northamptonshire and that French competitors have proved far too proficient in recent years. Frankly, it's not surprising that William the Conker has been pulling the strings given all the nutty health-and-safety fears over here. Bury St Edmunds council in Suffolk have put up a sign on a horse chestnut tree which reads: "Beware falling conkers. Please proceed with care" after two people complained of being hit on the head by them, and in Nottingham the local authorities have stripped a tree of all its conkers after a branch fell on a girl's head. We must learn to conquer our fears. Meanwhile, the charity Cancer Research UK has said it was "very upset" after an annual charity cycle ride in Milton Keynes was disrupted by an environmental health officer who hid in the bushes to monitor sound levels after complaints were received about the noise made by the PA system. It's time someone spoke out.


The number of video game-related injuries sustained in the US in the past five years – 92 from using Wii – including "bystander injuries". Teesside University want to get workingmen's club members to keep fit by boxing against computer-generated opponents. Let's hope they're pint-sized.

Tales from the undressing room

Kansas City Chiefs' Shaun Smith, appropriately a defensive tackle, will appeal against a $10,000 fine imposed by the NFL after he was accused of grabbing the genitals of opponents twice in consecutive weeks. American football can be a murky world, as Sarah Jones, a Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader and high school teacher, can testify; she won damages of $11 million from the website Thedirty.com after it said she had contracted sexually transmitted diseases from players. And Karen Owen struck a low blow against sweaty jocks at Duke University in North Carolina by writing an "unofficial senior thesis" about 13 college athletes she slept with, mostly lacrosse players, and ranking them in a PowerPoint presentation called "An education beyond the classroom: Excelling in the realm of horizontal academics". Report to my study immediately.

Good week

Roy Halliday, a pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies, throws only the second "no-hitter" in 106 years of post-season baseball during the first game of the National League Division Series against the Cincinnati Reds... Barbara Buttrick, the 4ft 11in "Mighty Atom" flyweight from Cottingham in Yorkshire, becomes the first woman to be inducted into boxing's Hall of Fame at the age of 80... Bess the boxer dog has been awarded life membership of Havant Rugby Club in Hampshire after retrieving more than 180 lost balls.

Bad week

Mark Poulton, manager of Chichester City FC, was sacked by mobile phone during the second half of the club's Sussex Charity Cup match against Redhill... Maria O'Sullivan, mother of snooker player Ronnie, is fined £35,000 for operating an unlicensed sex shop in Kings Cross, London... Darren Cubberley, from Dudley, West Midlands, released his racing pigeon Houdini in Guernsey for its first race across the Channel, only for it to fly 5,200 miles to Panama City.

Going down with a case of bended knee

More news from the nether regions, and much was made of the Bolivian president Evo Morales reportedly kneeing an opponent in the groin during a football match against the mayor of La Paz's team. The civil servant who was on the receiving end was sent off – two players from each side were red-carded – but no action was taken against Morales, who eventually held a press conference to apologise. The capital's mayor, Luis Revilla, remarked: "The president told us he has never lost a match." It may not be a bad idea to send the game's official to Colina in Chile, where the local nick has set up a programme to train inmates as football referees in order to teach them about justice – as if they didn't already have a pretty good idea. In Brazil, the former striker Romario has been elected to the lower house of parliament as representative for Rio de Janeiro. Impressive, till you hear that a clown called Tiririca ("Grumpy") was also voted in. Could it be Gordon Clown?