That was the weekend that was

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Runcorn, Royle

and royalties

If Joe Royle finds his desk piled high with letters postmarked "Runcorn" this week, there will be a simple explanation. The Everton manager is keen, or so the rumour mill suggests, to add Nottingham Forest's pounds 3m- rated Ian Woan to his squad this summer and Runcorn have every reason to encourage him to do so - reasons, indeed, that may be brought home to them with particular clarity next season, especially if Hayes take their place in the Vauxhall Conference.

Runcorn were already relegated before Saturday's home defeat against Telford, while Hayes can still pip Enfield to the ICIS Premier League title - with a Conference place as the prize - despite dropping points at home to Yeovil.

Should Hayes pull it off - and they trail only on goals with two games left - they will thank their most famous old boy, Les Ferdinand, whose move to Newcastle netted them pounds 600,000 from a sell-on clause agreed with QPR. "Without that money it would have taken us 10 years to be where we are now," the Hayes chairman Derek Goodall admits.

So what does that have to do with Runcorn and Woan? Quite a lot, actually. When Brian Clough signed the Cheshire side's young winger for pounds 80,000 in 1990, clever Runcorn slipped in a sell-on clause as well - worth a rather handy one-third of any future profit.

A Rokerman by

any given name

Blackburn's Shay Given can be forgiven if he is finding himself confused over where his loyalties lie as the season approaches its conclusion. The 20-year-old from Donegal has established himself as one of the brightest goalkeeping prospects around with a run of 12 clean sheets in 17 games. He won his second cap for the Republic of Ireland in Prague last week.

The only trouble is that Given has made his name not in Blackburn's colours but on a three-month loan to Sunderland, a loan which, agonisingly for him, ran out just before the Wearsiders clinched promotion and then the First Division title.

Little wonder then that he asked Ray Harford if he could be at Roker rather than Ewood Park on Saturday. "I'll treasure the memory of my time at Sunderland and I just wanted to join in the celebrations," he said.

Back at Blackburn, he is still regarded as third string behind Tim Flowers and Bobby Mimms and, not surprisingly, wants a quiet word with Harford about his future. Reid is poised, as they say, to end his nightmare. Surely, however, Blackburn will not make the same mistake as Celtic, who let them have Given for nothing in 1994, a decision that the veteran Parkhead goalkeeper Pat Bonner, now overtaken by his former protege in the Irish pecking order, finds baffling to this day.

Well,

obviously...

'Peter should have had 30 goals this season, but he hasn't. This was a bit of a pay-back' - Ron Atkinson on two-goal Coventry hero Peter Ndlovu.

'I don't even know if it was going in. I just closed my eyes' - Steve Lomas, whose deflected shot kept Manchester City alive.

'Mark Lawrenson said we had no battlers, no players who wanted to scrap and I'd like to thank him because he did us a wonderful favour' - Alan Ball, with a manager's message to a doubting pundit.

'In your first season you make changes, the second year you hope to progress and in the third year you hope to win something. But if you do not do well in your first season you sometimes get a rough ride' - David Pleat, acknowledging that his popularity at Sheffield Wednesday may be wearing just a little thin.

'It's great to get my hands on a trophy again and go up as champions. I find it hard to believe that we have done it' - Peter Reid, after an emotional Saturday on Wearside.

'I wanted to stay on the pitch for ever' - Ian Rush, equally choked on Merseyside.

'I suppose it was appropriate. A doctor must be used to giving out bad news' - Ray Wilkins, after club doctor Neale Fraser had relayed the results that meant QPR were down.

'There will be major surgery - and some of it will be painful' - Lennie Lawrence on the facts of life at relegated Luton.

Rumours

Fact and fiction from the Sunday papers

Ruud Gullit could step up as manager of Chelsea should Glenn Hoddle quit Stamford Bridge to be England coach, according to the Sunday Mirror, who quote the Dutch star as saying he would "have to think about it" were such an offer to come his way. The People, however, beg to differ. They say that Gullit "does not fancy the job", which is just as well because their information is that George Graham has been lined up to succeed Hoddle, who, they say, will make Ray Wilkins his England No2.

Both papers agree, however, on Everton's interest in Merseyside-born Ian Woan, rated at pounds 3m by Nottingham Forest, who could spend pounds 400,000 on Oxford's Chris Allen (Mirror) and might be tempted to cash in on Steve Stone, whom the News of the World reckon is a pounds 5m summer target for Manchester United, as well as Mark Crossley, a pounds 2m possible for Leeds.

The Mirror's assertion that Ian Rush will become assistant manager of Sheffield United rather than stay in the Premiership is supported by the News of the World, who reckon that Middlesbrough's interest has switched from Rush to Fortuna Cologne's 22-year-old Danish international Mikkel Beck.

Turn back

the clock

As the queue of clubs eager to extend his career grows longer, it is difficult to imagine there was once a time when good judges were unsure whether Ian Rush would make the grade.

Rush made his first League appearance in the Third Division as a 17-year- old apprentice wearing a No4 shirt on 28 April 1979, when Chester held Jack Charlton's relegation-threatened Sheffield Wednesday 2-2.

Five months later he earned a second game, on 15 September and - wearing 11 - scored, against Gillingham, also a 2-2 draw. When they gave him the No 9 shirt, against Wimbledon on 3 November, it was as if some mystical force had been released. The next 19 games brought him 13 goals. Chester rose to third in the Third Division and reached the fifth round of the FA Cup.

Liverpool signed him the following May, Bob Paisley seeing off Malcolm Allison, who fancied him in a Manchester City shirt, with a bid of pounds 300,000, a record for a teenager. Naturally, he was not allowed near the first team. It wasn't until the 1981-82 season, out of favour and fearing obscurity, he asked Paisley what he should do. The essence of his reply was simply: "Just score goals."

10

reasons why...

Manchester City fans should be particularly nice to Liverpool this week

1 The Reds might take pity and spare them the ignominy of relegation next Sunday.

2 Alan Ball needs no encouragement to go for a complete set - relegation with just about every club he has managed.

3 Stoke fans might be spared from crossing his path again.

4 As might Portsmouth's.

5 Liverpool could save their energies for the other half of Manchester a week later at Wembley.

6 Otherwise Maine Road masochists would be denied further beatings by the team they love to hate.

7 The Merseysiders did, after all, let them have a quality midfielder in Nigel Clough.

8 The First Division, with all due respect, is no place for the likes of Georgiou Kinkladze.

9 Francis Lee would be left with egg on his face after backing Ball without reservation.

10 And Brian Horton would have the opportunity to embarrass him still further - unless Huddersfield should pass them on the way up.

Relegation hits any team hard in the pocket but some harder than others. Owner Sam Hammam claimed that it would cost Wimbledon pounds 4m a year if they went down and threaten their very existence. As it is, they lose pounds 1.5m a year, even after doubling their gates since leaving Plough Lane.

Red card

THE LUNATIC FRINGE

Take a bow

JIM SMITH

Missing person

CHRIS SUTTON (Blackburn Rovers)

One five-minute appearance as substitute represents the only first-team action the other half of the SAS (right) has seen in four months. Although his problems are now compounded by injury, the pounds 5m striker's fall from grace has rather more to do with one goal in 14 starts this season, compared with 21 last term. His last full game, at Coventry in December, was in his one-time Norwich role as centre-half. Blackburn lost 5-0.

Watch out for...

DAVID CONNOLLY (Watford)

Whether Watford's brave impersonation of Houdini comes off or not, the Luther Blissett-Graham Taylor regime can at least boast of one success, having given rein to the talents of the 18-year-old striker David Connolly. The 5ft 8in London-born forward claimed his eighth goal in five games with the penalty that paved the way for Saturday's win at Norwich and has been called into Mick McCarthy's Republic of Ireland squad.

Programme notes No 21: Wolves

Price: pounds 1.50. Pages: 40. Plenty of club news, striking action photographs and a comprehensive guide to the opposition, but the programme sometimes fails to make best use of the space available. Informative columns by the manager Mark McGhee and the chairman Jonathan Hayward.

Verdict

7/10

PREMIER XI

TEAM OF THE WEEKEND

IMMEL

MAN CITY

KEOWN

ARSENAL

MONKOU

SOUTHAMPTON

HENDRY

BLACKBURN

WISE

CHELSEA

BARKER

QPR

SHERWOOD

BLACKBURN

KANCHELSKIS

EVERTON

WRIGHT

A VILLA

COLLYMORE

LIVERPOOL

NDLOVU

COVENTRY

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