The Sweeper: Liverpool suffer trip from hell

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The Independent Online
THE UEFA Cup favourites, Parma, may have envied Liverpool their journey to Kosice last week while they had to travel to the inhospitable likes of Istanbul - where they lost 1-0 to Fenerbahce - but the journey home for the Merseysiders, after their comfortable first-leg victory, was more like the trip from hell.

England's infamous Cathay Pacific flight back from Hong Kong before Euro 96 was sweetness and light compared to Liverpool's Monarch flight from Slovakia, however this time the troublemakers were not players but fans.

Liverpool have always prided themselves on the affinity which they enjoy with their supporters, many of whom have flown all around Europe with the club during the last three decades, but after the behaviour of a small group of them on this flight the club is unlikely to ever allow fans and players to travel together again.

Drunken supporters insulted air hostesses, vomited in the aisles and were guilty of lewd behaviour. The pilot threatened to call the police upon arrival at Speke airport, where the press and fans were made to stay on the plane until the players had left the terminal.

"A group of supporters were drinking beer from their own supply and had to be warned by the crew," said Geoff Hall, the chief pilot for Monarch airlines yesterday. "The comment from the debriefing that it was a small minority among the 235 people on board who were causing trouble but the football team themselves were very pleasant and well behaved."

AS KENNY DALGLISH will no doubt concur, things are not always quite what they seem at St James' Park. An expectant father was given a standing ovation during the match against Southampton recently when it was announced that his wife was about to give birth at Royal Victoria Infirmary. In fact, it was a set-up, the "dad-to-be" in question was actor Jonathan Spence and the crowd of 36,000 were unwitting extras in a film portraying life in the North-east called Life Is a Roller Coaster, in which surprisingly Dalglish was not asked to star.

Not all such announcements at St James' have been fakes, of course, although it must have taken some believing when, last May, Geordie fan Garry Fawson was informed that his wife had given birth to a 12lb baby girl. Likewise, Ronnie Stephenson who was called from the ground to be told by his wife that has forgotten the bread and milk.

THE REBIRTH of the Blues has been a long time coming and it's sweet music to the ears of Trevor Francis. Or at least it is now that he has changed Birmingham City's anthem. Francis has added a new talent to his portfolio: that of disc jockey. Stirred by the sound of Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet on a recent visit to Sunderland's Stadium of Light, Francis decided to inject a little mood music of his own at St Andrew's and ended up with something somewhat less classical.

"I've listened to a load of different songs because we felt we needed something more upbeat when coming out on to the field," he said. So he went for a mix of the club's standard, Keep Right On and The Jacksons' Can You Feel It?. After last Saturday's unscheduled home reverse against Grimsby he must wonder whether it was worth it.

WHEN IT comes to Premiership passion few can rival Hans Deroon, who fell in love with Sunderland after watching them win the FA Cup final in 1973. The trouble was Hans lived in Rotterdam and found supporting Sunderland from afar "unbearable", so he did what any self-respecting fan would do: he took early retirement, moved to England and rented a house near Roker Park. He came for a year and has stayed for four. Next month he returns to the Netherlands to pursue his other love: jazz. But he will take the 14-hour ferry trip from Amsterdam to Newcastle for every Sunderland home game.

WALTER SMITH'S clandestine deals this summer during which the Everton manager made Continental swoops for John Collins, Olivier Dacourt and Marco Materazzi, are reminiscent, we are told, of his covert operations at Rangers. During one pre-season tour of Scandinavia he was replaced at the daily media conference by his assistant Archie Knox, now No 2 at Goodison Park, who was asked: "Where's Walter?" Knox replied in his typically gruff Glaswegian: "Flu". Far from being tucked up in bed with a hot water bottle, Smith had travelled to Chile to sign Sebastian Rozenthal. When confronted with this revelation the next day, Knox replied: "I was telling you the truth. I said he'd flu. I didn't say where he'd flew to!"

IT APPEARS that the next stop for former Mancunian footballers is the North Western Trains League. Following an announcement that Paul Stewart, the former Manchester City and England player, had joined Workington comes news that Lee Martin, who scored Manchester United's winning goal in the 1990 FA Cup final replay, has signed for Glossop North End while another more distant Old Trafford hero, Gordon Hill, has taken charge of Cheadle Town's youth side.

As You Were

JOHN GREGORY started his career as an apprentice with Northampton Town in 1972. He moved to Aston Villa in 1977 (above, left) where he cut a dashing figure with his graceful poise and fancy footwork. He stayed at the club for two years, during which time he cultivated some lovely moustaches and a fine hairstyle (above, top). After Villa, Gregory moved to Brighton, Queen's Park Rangers and Derby, and then had a short spell as the coach at Portsmouth. He resumed his playing days, briefly, on a non-contract basis at Plymouth and Bolton, and eventually ended up as Brian Little's assistant at Leicester. In November 1994, the pair moved to Aston Villa. Gregory left Villa again, to chance his arm as the manager of Wycombe Wanderers, only to return and end us as the manager when Little departed this year. Gregory nowadays (above), clean shaven and neatly coiffured, is thriving in his job.

The price is right

BIER-HOFF, BIER-HOFF, Zola-Zola- Zola! Modest in victory, gracious in defeat. That is Sweeper's way. There is therefore a reluctance to point out last week's investments yielded a dividend of two first goal scorers. There would have been a correct score too if Milan's apology for a goalkeeper hadn't left a gap the size of Bournemouth between his wall, himself and half his goalmouth for Salernitana's late free kick riposte. Leeds, who can be relied upon to bore the wedding tackle off a baboon, and Spurs can provide today's `bore draw'. Internazionale should outclass Empoli tomorrow, while West Ham can paste Southampton on Monday.

SWEEPER'S STAKING PLAN

YOU'VE GOT TO SPECULATE TO ACCUMULATOR

(pounds 1 nine-timer with Coral): Aston Villa to draw with Derby (11-5); Charlton to beat Coventry (11-10); Chelsea to beat Middlesbrough (4-7); Everton to draw with Blackburn (9-4); Newcastle to beat Nottingham Forest (8-13); Arsenal to win at Sheffield Wednesday (6-5); Tottenham to draw with Leeds (11-5); Leicester to draw with Wimbledon (9-4); West Ham to beat Southampton (4-7).

(Return: pounds 1,993.31).

SATURDAY `DESMOND'

(Game expected to end 2-2)

Everton v Blackburn

(pounds 1 at 14-1, generally).

SATURDAY `BORE DRAW'

(Game expected to end 0-0)

Tottenham v Leeds

(pounds 1 at 8-1, generally).

SATURDAY `LIBERO' WAGER

A Villa v Derby: Wanchope to score first in 1-1 or 2-2 draw (50p at 40- 1 & 90-1, William Hill)

SUNDAY SKY MATCH

Leicester v Wimbledon

Score: 1-1 (pounds 1 at 11-2, generally).

First goal: Emile Heskey (pounds 1 at 5-1, William Hill, Stanley).

SUNDAY C4 `ITALIAN JOB'

Empoli v Internazionale

Score: 1-2 (pounds 1 at 15-2, William Hill, Stanley, Tote).

First goal: Ronaldo (pounds 1 at 7-2, Tote).

MONDAY SKY MATCH

West Ham v Southampton

Score: 3-1 (pounds 1 at 10-1, Coral William Hill, Tote).

First goal: Ian Wright (pounds 1 at 5-1, Coral).

ORIGINAL BANK: pounds 100.

CURRENT KITTY: ER...pounds 74.81.

TODAY'S WAGERS: pounds 10.90 (including 90p tax paid on).

ON THE BOARD

Name: Malcolm Asquith.

Position: Chairman of Huddersfield Town Football Club since June 1997; on the board of directors since the early 90s.

Form: Local businessman who made his money in property and developing.

Big Ideas: Befitting his trade as a developer, Asquith has brought stability and growth to the club. The McAlpine Stadium has been a major achievement, as has relative financial stability at the club. Before last year, when the struggle to stay in the First Division probably caused financial losses, there had been three consecutive years of operating profits. "Over the past two years we have been talking with financial institutions and working vigorously to bring money into the club," Asquith said recently. It appears that as he prepares to step down as chairman, to be replaced by the vice- chairman, David Taylor (an accountant and major shareholder in the club), Asquith may also be close to selling off the club to a multi-millionaire businessman. The man in question is Barry Rubery, formerly the joint chief-executive of Pace Micro Technology Plc, the company that led the way in making satellite receivers during the late 80s television revolution. Rubery sold his share of Pace for a reported pounds 50m, and has money to spend. Asquith is stepping down, and wants to ensure, in his words, that "any deal which might be struck will only be done for the good of the club, not for ourselves." Asquith has confirmed talks are progressing about selling the club, but will not confirm when it may be sold or to whom. "We are honouring our confidentiality agreements and will continue to do so until a deal is finalised."

MY TEAM

richard driscoll

millwall

Actor. Best known for playing the right-on Reverend Alex Healy in Eastenders

"My dad is a massive Millwall fan and he always used to take me over to The Den when I was a boy, in days of Harry Cripps and Derek Possee. My worst memory was Millwall losing 6-1 to Ispswich in the sixth round of the FA Cup in 1978. Ipswich went on to win the final, 1-0 against Arsenal. The greatest moment was when Millwall got promoted to the First Division in 1988. What a feeling. It's not easy nowadays to get down The Den on Saturdays and I have to say I find their recent performances pretty disappointing."

IN T'NET

Found on the Web: Man Utd jokes.

Q: How many Man Utd fans does it take to change a light bulb? A: 540,001. One to change it, 40,000 to say they've been changing it for years, and 500,000 to buy the replica kit.

Andy Cole is ill, so Alex Ferguson offers to go shopping for him. While in the local supermarket, he bumps into Roy Evans.

Roy: "Hello, Alex, what're you doing here ?"

Alex: "I'm getting some spuds for Andy Cole."

Roy: "Sounds like a fair swap to me !!"

http://www.geocities.com/Colosseum/

2336/manu.html

Seen But Not Bought

THE ABERDEEN FC kilt. Not content with replica shirts, the Dons have their very own tartan skirts, with a medium weight kilt costing a very reasonable pounds 250 and the heavyweight version costing pounds 325. For the dedicated supporter, the full `Prince Charlie' outfit (shoes, socks, jacket et al) costs pounds 675, while the `Argyle' version is a snip at pounds 575. Perhaps the best bet is to buy just an Aberdeen sporan. They start at pounds 127. Bargain.

They're Not all Dennis Bergkamp

Unsung foreign

legionnaires No 7

GIANCARLO CORAZZIN: The 26-year-old Canadian striker is currently playing for Northampton and came on as a substitute in this week's historic Worthington Cup aggregate victory against West Ham. Carlo, as he is known to his team- mates, has played for his country over 25 times. He started his career with the Vancouver 86ers and graduated to Cambridge United in 1993 for pounds 20,000. He played 100 times and scored 34 goals before moving to Plymouth in 1996 for pounds 150,000. International duties with Canada were given priority over the Pilgrims, but he still managed 84 games and 24 goals for the Devon side. His contract expired, and he moved to the Cobblers in July this year, for nothing on a Bosman. Scored with a free-kick on his debut and, who knows, could even be part of a memorable cup run.

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