That was the weekend that was

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Glasses raised to

Barrowclough

It seems there is no stopping these Newcastle boys, new or old, nowadays. Stewart Barrowclough, who failed to make the Geordies' team in the 1974 FA Cup final, has finally made it to Wembley after all - as manager of Grimethorpe Miners' Welfare and Social Club in the Carlsberg Pub Cup, the competition which has found fame in its sponsors' television advertisement.

From an entry of about 400 teams and after several rounds - of football, that is - the Barrowclough boys from Barnsley will now achieve the ambition denied countless professionals.

And to make their semi-final victory against Travellers' Joy, from Telford, complete for Barrowclough it was secured at Anfield, the home of the side who beat Newcastle in 1974. They were also toasting success long into the night at Dawlish Town Social Club who beat Barfield Arms, from Batley, Yorkshire 2-0 at the same venue on Saturday. The winners will meet on 12 May, the same date and place as the FA Carlsberg Vase final.

Grimethorpe's victory was hard-earned, winning 5-4 on penalties after a goalless finish, which the late introduction of an opposing substitute couldn't alter. His name? Steve Heighway - no relation, however, to the one who tormented Newcastle back in 1974. Barrowclough must have enjoyed that, too.

The hot seat is

cooling down

If 1994-95 was the season in which the managerial merry-go-round went completely off the rails, this has been one of relative sanity for the occupants of football's most precarious job.

In the English leagues, some 52 failed to last the course last season. This term, the number of changes has been half that figure, with only one in the Premiership. John Aldridge, who has a three-match unbeaten record as Tranmere's new manager after Saturday's draw at Port Vale, is the season's 26th new appointment.

History tends to suggest that, more often than not, the chairman who hits the panic button and sacks his manager is wasting his time, but this season promises an unusually high level of self-congratulation once the issues are decided. There are some smug looks in the boardrooms of Crystal Palace, Leicester, Bradford, Bury, Darlington and Wigan.

If the smartest appointment was Dave Bassett at Palace, is there a stronger candidate for the worst than Mark McGhee? The man who was talking of a play-off place when he arrived at Molineux in December now admits "the threat of relegation must be taken seriously". Not that it is his fault, of course. "It is scandalous after the money invested here," he said on Saturday. "Responsibility is shared throughout the club."

Well,

obviously...

`To be honest, I did not know what was happening. I hadn't realised we could be promoted today' - Peter Reid, the triumphant Sunderland manager, temporarily baffled when fellow spectators at Darlington on Saturday suddenly offered congratulations.

`Everybody in football wants Jim Smith up there where he belongs in the Premiership' - Barry Fry, after his Birmingham side's draw at the Baseball Ground threatened that possibility.

`It just means we must beat Crystal Palace next Sunday. At least we know now what we have to do' - Jim Smith, trying to look on the bright side.

`I wish I could say I had some secret. If I did, I would be worth millions' - Dave Bassett, whose Palace revival continued at Wolves.

`Maybe it's the Charlton way to keep everyone hanging on as long as possible' - Alan Curbishley, trying to hide his nerves behind humour after his suddenly goal-shy promotion-seekers failed to score for the fourth game in a row.

`If we had played like that over the last few weeks, who knows what might have happened'- Ronnie Whelan, after his mid-table Southend side belatedly found the form to dent Ipswich's play-off hopes.

`Burnley must lose all their games, we have to win ours and score nine goals, so it couldn't be tougher' - Jimmy Case, overseeing Brighton's unlikely attempt to avoid slipping into the Third Division.

Rumours

Fact and fiction from the Sunday papers

Chris Waddle is willing to launch a Bosman-style legal action that could wreck the domestic transfer system, according to The People. The former England winger, out of contract in the summer, is reported to be furious at Sheffield Wednesday's demand for a pounds 250,000 fee, reckoning it could scupper his hopes of a move.

The People says he has taken legal advice and may be willing to be the subject of a test case that could see the quashing of cross-border transfer fees extended to domestic markets, too.

Leeds, bracing themselves for the possible loss of Tony Yeboah as well as Tomas Brolin, are planning a pounds 3m summer bid for Ian Wright, according to the Sunday Express, putting up a pounds 10,000-a-week salary as bait for the Arsenal striker.

The News of the World, meanwhile, lists Leeds among three clubs ready to join in a pounds 4m scramble for Dion Dublin, who, they say, has rejected Coventry's offer of a new contract. Middlesbrough and Aston Villa are in the hunt, too.

The same paper says that midfield prospect Lee Bowyer has secretly agreed to leave Charlton for Liverpool in the summer.

Missing person

TONY DALEY (Wolverhampton)

Mark McGhee's plans for a summer clear-out may be bad news for the former England winger (right), who has not started a senior match this year. Signed for pounds 1.25m from Aston Villa in June, 1994, he played only 13 minutes' football in his first Molineux season because of knee injuries. Out of favour since being dropped in the new year, his hopes of making a belated impression upon McGhee were dashed by another knee injury last week.

Red card

GLENN HODDLE

Take a bow

BRIAN FLYNN

Turn back

the clock

It has been a weekend of euphoria on Wearside - but misgivings about Sunderland's prospects for a long life in the Premier League are not misplaced. The club turned around by Peter Reid have been one-season wonders in the top flight before, back in 1976 when they were Second Division champions but came straight back down.

And that was in an era when most promoted teams could give themselves a healthy chance of holding their own. In recent times the picture has changed dramatically - and statistics only underline how much the failure rate among clubs going up has rocketed.

There have always been short-lived success stories but in the last five seasons, five promoted Second or First Division teams have lasted only one season in the higher grade - six if Bolton join them. That is only one fewer than in the previous 15 seasons put together.

Between 1976 and 1980, only two promoted teams failed to survive at least two seasons in the First Division. Excluding Tottenham and Southampton, both of whom remain in the top flight, the average First Division life expectancy for teams going up in that era was 4.8 seasons.

Watch out for...

reasons why...

The North-east should have three clubs in the Premiership

1 If London has seven why shouldn't the most passionate supporters in the country have three

2 It would give Newcastle a real derby to get their teeth into (sorry, Middlesbrough)

3 Middlesbrough would have a better chance of staying up with some neighbourly help

4 It would give Steve Cram, Sunderland's most famous supporter, the most serious competition he's had since he was running against Ovett and Coe

5 Their derbies couldn't be as boring as Arsenal-Tottenham games

6 Peter Reid will have the opportunity to embarrass a few at Maine Road - that's if City are still in the Premiership

7 It will be good to hear the Roker roar in full cry again

8 There will be a more concerted effort to take the championship away from Old Trafford

9 Kevin Keegan would have a plethora of derbies to blame if he blows it again

10 Sunderland can show Newcastle they have two for the price of one in Lee Howey

n Father and son Arnor and Eidur-Smari Gudjohnsen will create history this week when they play for Iceland in a friendly against Estonia in Tallinn. Arnor, 35, plays for Swedish First Division side Orebro, while 17-year-old Eidur-Smari is on the books of Dutch club PSV Eindhoven.

ENDSLEIGH XI

TEAM OF THE WEEKEND

MIKHAILOV

READING

STEVENS

TRANMERE

STIMAC

DERBY

VONK

SHEFF UTD

BREEN

BIRMINGHAM

IZZET

LEICESTER

CROOK

NORWICH

BOWYER

CHARLTON

HESKEY

LEICESTER

TAYLOR

WBA

WALKER

SHEFF UTD

MUSTAFA IZZET (Chelsea)

Although yet to start a first-team match for Chelsea, the 21-year-old midfield player is rated highly by manager Glenn Hoddle, which comes as no surprise to Leicester fans. Since arriving at Filbert Street on loan on transfer deadline day, Izzet has made a major contribution to City's play-off push. The loan ends next Saturday but manager Martin O'Neill is hoping for an extension to take in City's final game of the season at Watford on 5 May.

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