Outside Edge: Rudolph the Red party-pooper

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The Independent Online

Footballers' Christmas party time is nearly upon us. Happy memories: who can forget the heady sophistication of the Chelsea bash in 1994, complete with a pub lock-in and dwarf-tossing? Or Liverpool's four years later, featuring Jamie Carragher dressed as the Hunchback of Notre Dame, lashings of whipped cream and an assortment of strippers? Still quiet so far this year, though little Jermaine Jenas of Spurs got into the festive mood last week by placing a snowman on the front seat of his team-mate Alan Hutton's car. What larks; Edge hopes that it wasn't the snowman reported stolen by a woman in Chatham, Kent, who thought its disappearance merited a 999 call because she had used £1 coins for the eyes and her best spoons for the arms. If the Manchester United team wish to play Secret Santa at their shindig there's just the thing in the club shop: a Pooping Reindeer, decked out with a team scarf, which dispenses candy balls from its rear end. Coming soon: Man U manure?

3,248

The number of football "fans" served banning orders from clubs during the 2009-10 League season. Leeds United topped the list with 152 miscreants, followed by Cardiff City (125) and Millwall (100). The old traditions are best.

Knitter on Twitter not bitter

Hard to believe that anyone who tweets as @theashes wouldn't be avidly following events Down Under, but it transpires the name belongs to a woman in Massachusetts whose preferred tweeting topic is knitting. Suddenly inundated with cricketing messages, she initially responded: "I AM NOT A FREAKING CRICKET MATCH!!!" before cautiously inquiring: "what the hell is a wicket?" She'll soon be able to find out: she's been offered a free sponsored trip to watch one of the Tests. Marcus Trescothick is also in line for sponsors' largesse next season; if the Somerset opener can hit a ball over the Lord's pavilion with a long-handled Mongoose bat, the makers will pay him £1m. The only person to have done this so far is an Aussie, Albert Trott, in 1899. He ended up playing for England against Australia, but there's no chance of Tresser hopping on a plane to help out Ricky Ponting's beleaguered band.

Good week

Zinedine Zidane, French football legend earned £9.5m for helping to promote Qatar's successful World Cup 2022 bid... Chris Hoy, took gold in the keirin at the World Cup cycling event in Melbourne to add to his GB team gold in the men's sprint... Frida Wallberg, the 27-year-old Swedish boxer beat Olivia "The Predator" Gerula from Canada to win the women's WBC lightweight title... and Madron FC of the Cornish Mining League, who lost only 22-0 last weekend after a 55-0 drubbing the week before.

Bad week

Chemmy Alcott, the British No 1 women's downhill skier broke a leg after crashing in practice at the Lake Louise World Cup course in Canada... Herschelle Gibbs, the 36-year-old Test batsman had his contract with Cricket South Africa cancelled "by mutual consent"... Nico Hülkenberg, the Williams driver from Germany replaced by Venezuela's Pastor Maldonado for the next Formula One season... and Giovanni Trapattoni, the Ireland football manager and his backroom staff have agreed to take a pay cut.

Plenty to chew on for US college kids

Following last week's mention of the Quidditch World Cup, more college sports news from across the pond. At the University of Maryland, Keith Solomon has founded the United States' first collegiate competitive eating club. More than 30 members have signed up so far, and Solomon is trying to persuade other colleges to set up teams of their own to provide competition. His degree course? Environmental studies. Save the planet – eat more pizza. Down at the University of Alabama, a part-time employee has been fired for his choice of pre-game music before Alabama faced Auburn in American football's Iron Bowl. The Auburn quarterback's father, a pastor, has been accused of touting his son around various colleges on a pay-for-play basis, so Auburn were not amused when "Take The Money And Run" and "Son Of A Preachin' Man" blared out over the PA. As nothing has been proved so far, "God Only Knows" might have been more appropriate.

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