The Diary

Reviving something in the Ayr

BABA MUSAH once captained Ghana's Under-16 side which included Abedi Pele and Nii Lamptey - now while they make their millions on the Continent, Musah is down to his last pounds 5 and living in Girvan, just along the shore from Ayr on Scotland's west coast. Up until last year, Musah's career was going as well as his illustrious compatriots': he captained the Under-21s and even picked up four senior caps. But then he sustained a knee injury against Morocco. The tall, 20-year-old centre-half had an operation on his medial knee ligaments in Ghana and was hoping to be fit to lead his country in the Olympics. But while Ghana were on their way to bronze in Barcelona's Nou Camp, Musah was at Somerset Park, the home of Ayr United, rebuilding his leg.

Musah had made friends in Scotland during the Under-16 World Championships, and returned to stay with them after his operation in Africa. The rehabilitation facilities are basic in a country where the top talents are already in Europe, cosseted by wealthy benefactors by the end of their teens. Musah turned up with dollars 150 ( pounds 80) three weeks ago and has been living at the home of a retired councillor. Ayr generously allowed their physio, Ian Cardle, to work with Musah.

'The scar on his knee after his operation in Ghana is about 10 inches long,' Cardle said. 'You should see it. It's ragged. It was done by a general surgeon and not a specialist. Two of my boys who had similar operations this summer are already back playing.' Musah is still two weeks away from even training with the Ayr players, whom he greets every morning with a smile and a handshake.

Musah's money has all but run out, and immigration gave him only a non- working visa. 'You would think that the Ghanaians would help him more having captained them,' Cardle said. Ayr, like other Scottish clubs, are unable to assist, having taken up their allocation of non- EC places, 'so he will have to go to England or Europe,' Cardle explains. Any club interested in signing an international, ball-playing centre-half can contact Cardle at Ayr.

Screwed up BASEBALL'S basics were clearly on show at a recent minor league game when Martinsville beat Johnson City. The winning pitcher was Steve Nutt with the save going to Sean Boldt. Clearly, a combination built to work together.

Fighting mode CHRIS EUBANK is an angry young man. And the object of the Brighton boxer's wrath is the very unthreatening Phillip Schofield. The presenter has upset the puncher by taking one of his cherished titles, one sanctioned by the BBBM - 'Britain's Best Dressed Man'. Eubank has thrown down a Galliano gauntlet at Schofield's well- heeled feet. 'When it comes to dressing I can't be beaten,' Eubank said, 'and I'm prepared to challenge Phillip Schofield to a duel on any catwalk, in any magazine or on television wearing our own clothes to see who dresses the best.' Eubank has put his money where his famous mouth is, wagering pounds 1,000 for charity, but added: 'at stake must be his title of Britain's Best Dressed Man'. Forget the catwalk, get them in the ring.

The Bates Motel THERE is a certain irony that more television viewers will witness Sky's Premier League commercial than the actual matches they are promoting. The commercial is pretty entertaining, though, and not because it has Paul Stewart centre stage in a Tottenham Hotspur tracksuit or Anders Limpar diving out of bed to the line 'You turn me on' from the Simple Minds' 'Alive and Kicking' soundtrack. The mass shower scene, with the original psycho, Vinnie Jones, holding court and the soap was not the easiest item to film. The water ran hot and cold thoughout, a reminder of what changing-room life is like for non-professionals. The final scene is intriguing - how did that long-haired character jump so high to head the ball? And is he the ideal replacement for Dion Dublin at Cambridge United? The answer is they used a trampoline, which might give the ever-inventive Cambridge manager, John Beck, a few ideas.

Insane incentive OF ALL the current challenges facing athletes, the sub-two-hour marathon is possibly the furthest from being achieved. The best time ever of 2hr 6min 50sec, set by Belayneh Densimo in Rotterdam, has stood for four years, but organisers of November's New York race have come up with an amazing package of incentives to encourage competitors to beat the Ethiopian's mark and even break the two-hour barrier. Bettering Dinsamo's time over the slowish Big Apple course will bring a reward of dollars 250,000. But this is Manhattan, where dollars are employed as the great motivator. A sub-2:06:00 would be worth dollars 300,000, the scale rising to dollars 1m for a sub-2hr. Fred Lebow, the charismatic race organiser who plans to run this year's event after recovering from cancer, predicted 10 years ago that the magical mark would be set before the turn of the century. The sponsors' money still looks safe though.

Little green men SPARE a thought for the finger-flicking designers at Subbuteo. Most people buying the mini teams - or life-size in Everton's case - are after Premier League sides, which causes a problem. Referees and linesmen will wear green, which not only renders a few chants redundant, but also the old wobbly miniature men in black. Officials in charge of Football League games will be in purple. Subbuteo says the changes are under consideration and, if agreed on, would be ready for the second half of the season.

Truck heads FRENCH truckers are coming to Northamptonshire tomorrow, but they will have a gendarme with them. From 'Allo 'Allo. Silverstone is staging a Truck and Track Show, to be opened by BBC gendarme Officer Crabtree. The highlights include trucks accelerating up to 100mph, before knocking over a cone, and an event called a 'van blow'. This involves the Pirelli Jet Truck revving up and when the flick is thrown, the afterburn sends the van behind it careering in the opposite direction for 400 yards. Entry is pounds 6.50 (accompanied children under 15 free).

Gunnell of love THE story about the farmer's daughter who beat Farmer-Patrick obviously stirred a few hearts, judging by the post-bag for the Sally Gunnell limerick competition (the last in the series as the diary becomes exclusively football from next week). Trevor Allan, from Birstall, Leicestershire, wins a bottle of Aberlour Malt for the following . . .

A hurdler from Essex called Gunnell,

Borrowed Linford's idea of 'the tunnel',

The gold medal she won,

Must weigh near a ton,

And be worth more than shares in the Chunnel.

JUST when you thought you had found a spare moment in the week when there was not a live football match on, along comes Screensport to scupper your quick nip to the pub. The satellite channel has just concluded a deal to transmit live Brazilian games, and hopes soon to be able to offer live Spanish fixtures.

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