That was the weekend that was

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The Independent Online
Walsall's loss is Malaysia's gain

The name of Scott Ollerenshaw may not mean much to readers outside of Walsall - or even to readers in Walsall, for that matter, given the brevity of his acquaintance with Third Division football.

The Australian striker started only eight games for the Bescot club after his arrival in the summer of 1992, a slightly surprising statistic, perhaps, since he scored four goals.

But if Walsall did not see Scott at his best, maybe the climate was to blame. With a little sun on his back, he has become a huge success - in Malaysia.

With 22 goals last season, Ollerenshaw is Gary Lineker as far as Malay crowds are concerned. Last year's effort won him the country's Golden Boot award and he was far and away the star turn when his side, FA Cup champions Sabah, met Malaysia Cup winners Selangor in the Malaysian Charity Shield on Friday evening.

Bold predictions preceded the match. "I have a good record against Selangor," he told local reporters. "Last year, I scored four against them - two in the FA Cup and two in the League. A goal or two tonight will be a great way to start the season."

Alas, the magic deserted him. Selangor won 2-0, set on their way by a goal from another, slightly more familiar name - the former Chelsea, Swindon and Millwall striker Dave Mitchell.

Further grounds for complaint

Stevenage Borough's victory over Kidderminster Harriers on Saturday increased the likelihood that, for the third successive season, the club finishing bottom of the Third Division will survive to fight another Endsleigh League season.

Like Macclesfield last year and Kidderminster themselves 12 months earlier, Stevenage cannot be promoted from the Vauxhall Conference because their Broadhall Way ground did not meet the conditions for entry by the 31 December deadline. Guarantees of readiness by next August -when pounds 1m of improvements will be complete - have, as in previous years, made no difference.

No consolation for Borough fans, then, in being six points clear of Hednesford with a game in hand, nor in the knowledge that their progressive club is also outstripping Endsleigh League opposition on the Internet.

A visit to "Virtual Broadhall Way" on the World Wide Web found a report on the victory over Kidderminster impressively in place by 6.45 on Saturday evening. By comparison Torquay's web page was still carrying nothing more recent than last Tuesday's draw with Gillingham even yesterday afternoon.

Intriguingly, the Torquay page has a link to a section entitled "Stevenage Watch", presumably where fans can console themselves in defeat.



'The only time in my life I have seen timekeeping like that was at Super Bowl' - a distraught Ray Wilkins, after Eric Cantona's 93rd-minute equaliser at Loftus Road.

'They're fighting for their lives and the natural thing is to waste time. I thought the referee was justified' - Alex Ferguson, seeing it rather differently.

'It was a disastrous result. We could end up needing to beat the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool to stay up. If the players did not know they have a mountain to climb they do now' - Ron Atkinson, assessing Coventry's growing crisis.

'We are not under pressure because no one expects us to do it. But the players have got the bit between their teeth' - Colin Todd, seeking to explain Bolton's late revival.

'It was just the usual performance' - Ray Harford, taking Alan Shearer's fifth hat-trick of the season for granted.

'If a back four allows the ball to be overhead-kicked from the half-way line, bounce once and lets Shearer clean through, there has to be something wrong' - Gerry Francis, apportioning blame after the loss of more points.

'From where I was sitting it was the cleanest tackle of the game' - coach Luther Blissett on the penalty award that spared Derby's blushes against struggling Watford.

'I've seen the replay on TV and it was never a penalty' - Derby's Jim Smith agrees.


Fact and fiction from the Sunday papers

Leeds are already smoothing the way for Tomas Brolin to invoke the "get- out clause" in his contract, according to information reaching both the News of the World and the People. Both papers report that two Premiership clubs were sounded out last week with the Swedish international's agent not having to lift a telephone - it was Leeds themselves making the approach.

The People says the Elland Road club will accept a pounds 1.5m loss if someone is prepared to take Brolin off their hands, placing a pounds 3m price on his head. The News of the World predicts a bigger shock in store for Leeds fans, with the club prepared to part with Gary Speed at pounds 3.5m. Everton apparently wish to be kept informed.

Although Chelsea remain favourites to sign Ian Wright, the Sunday Express says that Ossie Ardiles - now based in Japan - has apparently offered the striker a pounds 1.75m salary to join J-League club Shimizu S-Pulse.

Meanwhile, the People believes that Alex Ferguson, long-time admirer of Trevor Sinclair, will allow Newcastle an unchallenged bid for the QPR striker, provided Kevin Keegan sells Keith Gillespie back to Manchester United. It also noted Ferguson's presence at Leicester recently, checking on the promising Emile Heskey.

Turn back

the clock

The idea of wealthy footballers taking strike action in support of less fortunate colleagues might be at odds with their common portrayal as greedy mercenaries but the cancellation of the weekend's Serie A programme is only the latest show of strength by Italy's players' union.

It has a history of militancy - usually with successful results. Their record of industrial action goes back to May, 1969, when an attempt to dock wages - anyone playing less than 20 games in a season was to have their salary cut by 40 per cent - sparked a rebellion. A strike was proposed and the clubs backed down.

Since then, barely a season has passed without at least one threat of action, although this weekend's stoppage is only the second to be carried through.

The millionaires leading the strike have been likened to latterday Robin Hoods by the more poetic Italian commentators, although sympathy with their cause is by no means universal.

To fill the gap in television and radio programming, Port Vale stepped in to fill the gap left by Maldini and company. State-run RAI broadcast live the Anglo-Italian Cup final at Wembley. The Potteries side lost 5- 2 to Genoa.


reasons why...

Howard Wilkinson shouldn't be offered the England job

1 We don't want the England team to be prefixed with "dour and uncompromising"

2 He bought Brian Deane

3 He sold Eric Cantona for half the price of Brian Deane

4 Carlton Palmer would play for England again

5 Anyone with flair wouldn't

6 Do we want another manager from the the North-East who likes the sound of his own voice

7 Leeds fans have started chanting "Wilko for England"

8 He's more defensive-minded than Don Howe

9 He can't even get the defence right (Liverpool 5-0, Sheffield Wednesday 6-2)

10 If you think Wembley attendances for internationals are low now, give him a few games in charge

(S Sabourin, Bushey, Herts)

n Those of us who always thought that the secret to footballing success was good feet have, apparently, got it all wrong. Big bottoms, that's the answer if you want to improve your skill and speed. After months of trials it has been decided that a broader beam produces a better performance - if you happen to be a plastic Subbuteo player, that is. John Waddington, the makers, believe the wider bases - the first change since Subbuteo was introduced in 1947 - will make for a better game. They plan to introduce the new teams to coincide with Euro 96.

Red card


Take a bow


Missing person

MARK ROBINS (Leicester City)

Once the golden boy of Old Trafford, 26-year-old Robins still seeks the right opportunity to fulfil the promise of youth. After an unspectacular spell at Norwich, he dropped a division to join Leicester but now, 14 months on from a pounds 1m move, finds himself marginalised again, at the back of the queue among City's strikers, behind new signing Steve Claridge, Welsh international Iwan Roberts and the emerging Emile Heskey.

Watch out for...

ANDY GRAY (Leeds United)

Not Sky's voluble video-mixer making a comeback but a boy with famous connections nonetheless. This Andy Gray, who made his full debut against Queen's Park Rangers this month, is the 18-year-old son of former Leeds defender Frank, although it is Uncle Eddie's favoured position on the wing he is hoping to make his own. Made his first start at home against Everton yesterday and should make the bench at Wembley next Sunday.

Programme notes

No 15: QPR

Price: pounds 1.50. Pages: 36. Many football clubs call their programmes match magazines but QPR's is one of the few to be magazine-sized. The A4 shape continues a history of idiosyncratic programmes - 20 years ago the cover design was of small coloured squares. "Hoops" is glossy and colourful with good features and pictures.