That was the weekend that was: Football news

Houchen well on target to

break Hartlepool's record

Veteran strikers John Aldridge and Kerry Dixon continue to leave First Division audiences open-mouthed with their defiance of the ageing process - but there are others elsewhere displaying admirable longevity.

Take Keith Houchen, for example. At 35, the Middlesbrough-born forward is in his 19th professional season. Yet, clearly, he still has what it takes: on Saturday, he opened his account for 1995-96 with his 159th League goal - and he has a record in his sights.

In a seven-club career, Houchen has made an indelible mark on the game, most notably in the FA Cup. In January 1985, it was with his penalty that York City beat Arsenal 1-0 at Bootham Crescent. Two years later, Houchen headed a spectacular second equaliser at Wembley as Coventry City beat Spurs 3-2 in the final.

Now he is back where it all began, with Hartlepool, who gave him his first taste of League football in 1977-78 after he had been freed as a junior by Chesterfield. Top scorer last season with 13 goals, he was appointed player-manager in April.

In between times, he has served Leyton Orient, York, Scunthorpe, Coventry, Hibernian and Port Vale. The record that would wrap up his career nicely seems well within his compass - Saturday's goal against Darlington was his 87th in the League for Hartlepool, leaving him just 11 short of the club record set by Ken Johnson, who hit 98 between 1949 and 1964.

Turn back

the clock

Bolton were bottom of the First Division, where they had been since mid- November and where they were to stay, but won a point from their mid-table visitors in a 2-2 draw with goals from their Polish midfielder, Tadeusz Nowak, and leading scorer Neil Whatmore. Middlesbrough's goals came from Micky Burns and David Hodgson, who has, since May, been employed as the grandly titled director of coaching at Darlington, a position he holds jointly with another team-mate from that match, goalkeeper Jim Platt.

On the same Tuesday evening, Liverpool were beating Derby County 3-0 at home on the way to their 12th League title, while their conquerors on Saturday, Wimbledon, were locked in a run of 14 matches without a win, which left them to contemplate relegation to the Fourth Division.

Poll king of the card sharps

Saturday's Premiership programme contributed only two dismissals to a total of 14 in the English leagues, which made it a relatively quiet day. Another 28 yellow cards, however, brought the Premiership's total bookings to 166 in only five rounds of matches, raising yet more protests that referees are becoming just too card-happy. But some, it seems, are somewhat card-happier than others.

Contrast the Darlington official, Robbie Hart, for example, with Graham Poll, from Tring, in charge at Goodison Park on Saturday. By our reckoning, Hart has shown his yellow card thrice in two matches, compared with Poll's 19 from three (plus two reds). Or how about Keith Cooper, from Pontypridd (six yellows, three games) alongside Steve Lodge (Barnsley), 17 yellows in three games? Others whose cards must be looking dog-eared include Keith Burge (16 yellow, one red), Paul Danson (14, 2) and Mike Reed (15).

Red card

GRAHAM TAYLOR

Denials, denials

We have shown absolutely no interest in Rene Higuita. We've got a keeper with a better trick - he stops the ball with his hands

Blobby ready, willing and...

The treatment room at Port Vale could be mistaken for the set of Casualty. After losing the captain, Neil Aspin, and a newcomer from Ajax, Jermaine Holwyn, for the entire season, as well as their top scorer, Martin Foyle, for 10 weeks, the latest victim is the manager, John Rudge.

After snapping his Achilles tendon, Rudge turned up for Saturday's 2- 0 home defeat by Portsmouth on crutches and with his right leg in plaster.

The Vale board, pleading lack of funds, have told him he can hire only a temporary coach to assist him.

On Saturday, the figure dressed as Mr Blobby who throws sweets to the Vale Park crowd wore a sign pinned to his costume. "Rudge's new assistant," it said pointedly.

Take a bow

MATT LE TISSIER

Torn off a strip, No 1: our first weekly award for the most ghastly kit of the week is shared by Wales (right) and Moldova, who met in Cardiff last Wednesday in a European Championship game. Not even Tom Jones, in his pomp and prime, wore anything on stage quite as tacky as that Wales strip...

Rumours

Fact and fiction from the Sunday papers

Premiership leaders Newcastle could face a fight to keep Kevin Keegan as manager, according to the People, which claims that the Tyneside hero's former German club, Hamburg, want him to return as coach.

According to the paper's report, Hamburg are fearful of dropping out of the Bundesliga for the first time after a poor start to the season, and will bid to buy out what remains of Keegan's 10-year contract for pounds 3m when the former German World Cup star, Uwe Seeler, takes over as club president in November.

The same paper says that Southampton's Matthew Le Tissier has turned down a pounds 6m move to Tottenham and that the former Liverpool full-back, Steve Staunton, may go from Aston Villa to Everton for pounds 3m.

Celtic are about to embark on a flurry of transfer activity, according to the News Of The World. They have their sights on a pounds 1m move for Newcastle's Swiss right-back, Marc Hottiger, and will compete with Sunderland for Chris Waddle, who has been told he can leave Sheffield Wednesday.

The News Of The World also suggests that Spurs are to bid pounds 2m for the Birmingham midfielder Jonathan Hunt, providing Barry Fry with cash for a pounds 750,000 offer for Coventry's Paul Cook.

TAGGART

BOLTON

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £30,000+

£16000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are looking for individual...

Recruitment Genius: IT Project Coordinator / Manager

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Mortgage Advisor - OTE £95,000

£40000 - £95000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Inspectors / Purchasers

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Inspectors / Pu...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy