The Diary: Youth of Newcastle in full cry

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The Independent Online
IT WAS not only Sky Blue defenders who were given a sleepless night by Newcastle United's romp to a 4-0 win over Coventry in midweek. Mothers and babies in the maternity unit at Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary, which is only a long throw from St James' Park, had their rest disturbed. 'The babies were waking up every time the crowd roared, and that was quite often on Wednesday night,' a hospital source said. 'As soon as they got back to sleep United would score again. Some mums were getting annoyed, but others seemed happy Newcastle were doing so well]'

THE first Portuguese import to British football, Jose Dominguez, has had a similar impact at Birmingham City to the one made a decade ago across town at Aston Villa by the first Frenchman, Didier Six - ie barely discernable. Barry Fry, who bought the former Benfica winger for pounds 180,000 this year, summed up his contribution to date with characteristic bluntness in a Sports Argus interview. 'Jose? I love him, the crowd loves him, everybody loves him,' Fry enthused. 'But when you analyse what he does, his final ball is crap. Full stop.'

FACED with a temporary player shortage for their Konica League of Wales match at Porthmadog last weekend, Barry Town called up their physio, Craig Gill, and duly won 4-1. When one of the team was injured, referee Howard Ellis took a look and told player-coach Terry Boyle that the physio could come on. Boyle, of course, told him the physio already was on. 'You could say that the referee gave me a bit of a funny look,' Boyle said.

THE Tanju Colak Story, part 2. Colak, the one-time European Golden Boot winner, has finally accepted a less glittering prize - 22 months in a Turkish jail - after being extradited from Macedonia to serve a sentence imposed for handling a hot Mercedes. Colak had ambitiously assumed he would be pardoned on the grounds that he was a national hero. At about the time Colak was heading for a prison cell, Fifa, the world game's governing body, was demonstrating that even the 'Hand of God' was not above being cuffed.

IS the Pope Catholic? The new Celtic manager Tommy Burns is, devoutly so, adding spice (and doubtless spite) to today's first Old Firm meeting of the season at Rangers. Burns, who is reputed to attend Mass daily, even dedicated his autobiography, Twists and Turns, to Our Blessed Lady the Virgin Mary, signing his thanks 'Your servant'. And they say football's a religion in Glasgow . . .

MASCOTS seem to be all the rage this season with Crystal Palace unveiling a new Eagle and Arsenal parading Gunnersaurus Rex. Aston Villa, of course, still have Nigel Kennedy. There seems to be no end to his fanaticism. The violinist has asked an instrument maker, Tony Revell, to produce him an eight-string acoustic mandolin in claret and blue. Revell, who has a small factory in Powys, is hand-crafting the instrument for Kennedy at a cost of something over pounds 1,000. That makes the replica kit, the mug, the scarf, the autographed poster, etc. seem like giveaways.

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