Despite the hooliganism in Dublin and Bruges, I took my seven-year-old son to his first professional match a couple of weeks ago. He had a great time. I had only one difficult moment all afternoon, and that was trying to explain why a policeman was pointing a video camera at people getting off the train. This week the value to police of such filming became clear in the Court of Appeal, with the upholding of convictions based on the use of pictures of fans arriving at a match to aid identification of people later seen on less clear video shots taking part in a brawl.
But the clampdown on hooligans has another side. Some Cardiff fans travelling to Plymouth never reached the game because police, apparently acting on information, stopped their coach, took them to three different police stations, and held them for some hours before releasing them without charge.
It is that sort of incident that rouses campaigners against the Criminal Justice Act. That doesn't impress me, but forgive me if I'm not too sympathetic. Like many other people, I'm torn. After all, I saw what happened again in Spain on Thursday, but my son is itching to go to his next game.
If the Turkish club, Galatasaray, which once had the former Germany coach, Jupp Derwall, at the helm, is scouring England for a replacement for their sacked coach, Reinhard Saftig, then managers here might be interested to know what awaits the new man in Istanbul. Last week, a fan stormed into the dressing-room after their 0-0 draw with Denizlispor, shouting: "Is this the great Gala-tasaray?" Two players, Saffet Sancakli and Hakan Skr, reportedly punched the fan, and others joined in. Police and club officials managed to stop the fight before there was any serious injury.
Surely, says David Mead of London W6, Eric Cantona should not be punished by trying to improve the basic skills of young Mancunians who seem to know how to play (namely Butt and the Nevilles). Would it not be more of a punishment to try to teach such skills to Leicester or Ipswich? Mr Mead still lets him off easy. See you in the away end at Craven Cottage this afternoon, Eric. Try dispensing your words of wisdom from there.
Was there any significance in the fact that on the day this week that Brighton announced a £475,000 loss for the year, the winner of one race at the local racecourse was called Credit Squeeze?
Having dropped one romance in favour of his love of Sunderland, Hans de Roon, the Dutch fan who moved from the Netherlands to be near Roker Park, is planning to head home because the lads are, well, not so good in the flesh. The man who gave up his job, girlfriend and home to cross the water said: "I wish I had known before I left that they were in their worst period for more than 100 years. Most of the players are very poor."
Some, like Becky Sampson of Nottingham, went for that famous piece of broadcasting with: "Sommer people Irons the Pitcher, May Spink Ince Ball Overson. . . it is Gow," by Kenneth Polston-Holmes. But the Wild Turkey goes to Antonio De Paola of Preston for:
BROADCAST XI: BusinesS PRAKEfast; Desert Island DICKS, OprIR-WINfrey, The WARNOCK-lock News, RaJOE MERCERside, Steptoe HANSEN, RadiOR-LYGSSONbourg, Songs of BARESI, PELE for Today, FRANNIE LEE Fortunes, Antenna YEBOAH.
Next week: Horse racing XI. Entries to: Team Spirit, Football Diary, The Independent, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL.Reuse content