That was the weekend that was

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The Independent Online
Ghost of Nelson haunts Blackpool

Exorcising the ghosts of the past - or rather trying to - is nothing new to Blackpool, but it's not the likes of Matthews and Mortensen which concerns the Bloomfield Road club but someone else with a reputation for sinking the opposition - Lord Nelson, of Trafalgar.

The old ground, steeped in memories of the glory days of the 50s, is reckoned to be haunted. At least, this is the chilling theory of the stadium manager, John Turner, after being repeatedly woken at dead of night by the unexplained setting-off of the boardroom alarm system.

"There is never anything out of place and the alarm company are baffled," Turner said, adding that his labrador, Stella, has only to enter the room to start howling mysteriously.

The popular guess of local spook sleuths is that the suspected spectre is Lord Nelson, venting his anger at the club over a 100-year-old grievance. When a former Nelson flagship, the Foudroyant, beached off Blackpool in 1897, the club used wood from the ship to panel the boardroom walls.

"It is an old maritime superstition," Turner said, "that sailing folk take exception to anything on their ships being touched, which could explain these strange events."

Knockback for Knighton

Seven years on from his notorious Old Trafford juggling stunt, Michael Knighton, the once would-be owner of Manchester United, is struggling to keep the balls in the air in his ambitious plans for Carlisle.

Knighton's bold target of "the Premiership in 10 years" has taken a knock this season with United, runaway champions of the Third Division last year, struggling to keep pace in the Second Division and now facing the loss of his coach, Mick Wadsworth, who missed Saturday's match amid reports that he is joining Norwich.

Knighton's commitment to developing a futuristic stadium at Brunton Park has left the club short of funds for team building and vulnerable to predators as the products of Wadsworth's youth scheme begin to flourish.

But the chairman has a plan to put his dreams back on course. Having failed to spark interest in a bond scheme, he now intends to generate new cash by selling the club to the fans. There are promises of seats on the board if the plan attracts sufficient response - which is where Knighton seems to be taking a significant risk. If all offered shares are sold, the supporters would own a 51 per cent controlling stake - enough, one assumes, to vote him out!

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