That was the weekend that was

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Todd and Royle hark back to the good old days

For a football fan, there is no surer sign of approaching middle age than to be watching your team's latest young hopeful and to suddenly realise you remember seeing his father play.

It is an affliction that will have claimed another clutch of victims at Bolton the other day, when the 21-year-old Andy Todd celebrated his first League goal. His dad, the 1970s star Colin who is now coach at Burnden Park, was watching from the bench.

There will be some casualties, too, at Salford City in the North West Counties League. Their new centre-forward bears a striking resemblance to Joe Royle. Hardly surprising - it is the Everton manager's 21-year- old son, Darren, on loan from Altrincham.

The middle one of three Royle boys, Darren has played for Oldham's youth team and Rochdale reserves, but his football is strictly part-time, fitted in when study for a maths degree permits.

"I've insisted on that," says Joe, "so that there is something to fall back on. But he's always played at a good standard and maybe still has thoughts of being a professional.

"I wish I could get to watch him more, but it is only on weekends like this, when there is no Premier League, that I ever get the chance."

Turn back

the clock

So far, so good for the giant-killers of York. The 1-0 win over Wrexham was their fourth Second Division victory in a row, and their only defeat in seven is the one inflicted by You-Know-Who in the Coca-Cola Cup last week.

Ominous? They're hoping so. York last reached the fourth round of the League Cup in 1973/74, losing to Manchester City in a replay. It sparked a run which lifted them above their current station for the only time in their history, with promotion to the old Second Division.

Putting out Manchester United is York's biggest achievement since the defeat of Arsenal in the FA Cup in 1985, and is on a par with 1955, when they reached the quarter-finals by beating Tottenham. Neither feat did much for their League form, though. In 1985 they finished mid-table and in 1955, beset by fixture congestion in the Third Division North, they paid for Cup glory by missing promotion.

Balmer's bravery rebounds

Charlton fear that their defender Stuart Balmer will be out for a month after being taken to hospital with cracked ribs and a partially collapsed lung during the surprise 1-0 home defeat by Grimsby.

Astonishingly, Balmer played on for five minutes after sustaining the injury - despite anxious enquiries about his health from the manager, Alan Curbishley, and other Charlton staff on the touchline.

But his bravery backfired when he could not react to the threat of a determined run by Paul Jewell, who burst through to score Grimsby's winner and end a five-match unbeaten run in which Charlton had scored 15 goals.

Hospital reports yesterday described Balmer's condition as "comfortable", but just when Charlton were on the crest of a wave after the midweek Coca- Cola Cup triumph over Wimbledon, they are now set to lose a key player for a long spell.

























Maradona back with a bang

Maradona went back to his roots at the weekend and was soon up to his old tricks. The disgraced one played his first match for his old club, Boca Juniors, since completing a 15-month ban for drug abuse.

Sporting a yellow streak in his hair to match the team's colours, he collected a yellow card in the match against Colon for complaining to the referee about a free-kick awarded for a foul by his former Argentina team-mate, Claudio Caniggia.

The stadium was festooned with Boca flags, but the fiesta atmosphere threatened to turn sour. The capacity crowd started to jeer their team as it appeared that Boca would be held to a fifth consecutive draw. Then, in the final minute, a typical piece of the old magic from the 34-year- old Maradona created the winning goal for Dario Scotto.

To prove he really had turned over a new leaf, Maradona voluntarily took a drugs test after the match.

Question: Do you recognise the bald pate (above) receiving the hands-on warmth of his team-mates on Saturday?

Answer: It's Yordan Lechkov, scorer of the goal that knocked Germany out of the 1994 World Cup, celebrating Bulgaria's first goal in a 3-0 victory over Albania in Sofia, a result that virtually guarantees their qualification for Euro '96. His admiring team-mates? Hristo Stoichkov (left) and Luboslav Penev.

Red card

The Czech Republic

Before their victory over Belarus, they refused to stay in the hotel arranged by their hosts and insisted on bringing their own food and chef with them. Given that the Czechs' standard of living is nothing to write home about, this was a definite case of the pot calling the kettle black.

Take a bow

Dover Athletic

The struggling GM Vauxhall Conference team are under new management, with the former Tottenham winger, Peter Taylor, in charge. They travelled to Kidderminster, the Conference leaders, fearing a tenth consecutive defeat - and came home with a point.


Fact and fiction from the Sunday papers

Arsenal are about to swoop for a Brazilian, according to the Sunday Express, which claims that Bruce Rioch's reported bid for Juninho was merely a smokescreen for his real target, FC Porto's pounds 3.5m-rated playmaker Emerson.

The People reports that Alex Ferguson is checking up on Alen Boksic, the unsettled Lazio striker, and is prepared to spend a large chunk of his pounds 8m transfer fund on the high-scoring Croatian.

Manchester City are about to risk a terrace revolt by selling Garry Flitcroft, if the Sunday Mirror's information is correct. Alan Ball apparently wants pounds 4m for the England Under-21 international to fund his rebuilding plans, with pounds 1m earmarked for Nigel Clough. The News of the World says that Uwe Rosler is ready to commit himself to Maine Road - but will keep a get- out clause in his contract enabling him to move for just pounds 1.2m if City are relegated.

The People says Jack Walker is so determined to add Matthew Le Tissier to his Blackburn stable that he will spend pounds 10m and lay on a private jet so that the Southampton star can continue to live in Hampshire. But Walker is heading for a showdown with Ray Harford, who cannot see how Le Tissier will fit into his plans.

Excuses, excuses

'Football is a cruel game. That's the biggest hiding Rangers have had for many a game, but we just had no luck... the result is a travesty.'

Vital statistics


Tony Adcock's career League goals tally, boosted by his 102nd for Colchester on Saturday.

The number of red cards shown in the Endsleigh League on Saturday, the first clean sheet of the season.