The Sweeper: Sir Bert evasive over 2006 pledge

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THE PUBLICATION of Graham Kelly's memoirs about his time as the chief executive of the FA has re-ignited the debate over whether Germany was promised England's help for its 2006 World Cup bid and whether England has subsequently reneged on the deal.

The Germans have always maintained that the former FA chairman, Sir Bert Millichip - a close personal friend of the president of the German FA, Egidius Braun - told the Germans that they should have the tournament. He also allegedly said that England would support Germany for 2006 in return for Germany supporting an English Euro 96. Most Uefa countries think of this "gentlemen's agreement" as fact and will support Germany's 2006 bid, not England's.

In his book, Sweet FA, Kelly is at pains to stress, several times, that Sir Bert never once told him of such a deal and writes: "I don't think he made any commitment which should have bound the FA in any way at all." But Kelly also writes: "It has to be said that whenever we talked about the World Cup bid in front of him, Sir Bert was a little uneasy."

Enough of this uncertainty, thought The Sweeper. We'll ask Sir Bert himself to confirm once and for all whether he ever made any promises to the Germans about the World Cup. What could be simpler than saying either "Yes, I told my old mates in Frankfurt that we'd step aside for them" or "No, I can say with complete confidence that no such deal was ever done and the current English bid is therefore not stained with dishonour and shame"?

"Sir Bert," The Sweeper asked this week (thank you, German FA, by the way, for providing his phone number), "can you clarify the situation about 2006, please?"

"No I can't, I'm sorry," Sir Bert said, obviously not keen to discuss it. "When I clarify it, I shall clarify it to the FA." With that he hung up, leaving the issue no more resolved than the day that he struck (or did not strike, depending on who you believe) the gentlemen's agreement. When the FA hears from Sir Bert, we're sure they'll let us know.

KELLY TELLS some amusing yarns in Sweet FA, including one about the 1995 FA Cup final, when Prince Charles tried to give the FA Cup to the losing captain, Steve Bruce of Manchester United, instead of Everton's Dave Watson. "Bruce led his team up first as the losers and the Prince of Wales immediately reached out for the trophy to give to the losing captain, despite the blue and white ribbons and the instructions on the procedure given to him beforehand," Kelly writes. "For a moment we wrestled with the famous trophy - as I held firmly on to the top of the Cup to stop him giving it to Bruce - before he realised what I was about."

The tale continues: "Last up the stairs was successful Everton manager Joe Royle and when the Prince congratulated him, Joe could not resist telling him that he was a member of his family but the Prince, not having the vaguest clue who he was, totally ignored the comment Joe passed. I could not help but remark that it was another one which had been totally wasted."

IN AN article in the new Chelsea magazine there is talk of "cutting- edge flair", "infectious success", "the spirit of adventure", "iridescent twists and slubs" (whatever slubs are), "neat dimensional weaves" and "an undercurrent of revolution". The piece also says "the shock of the new has restored the style of the old". Not that any of this has anything to do with Gianluca Vialli or his players of course. The phrases appear in a Christian Dior advert. Very cred in the Shed, apparently.

THE MANAGERS of the Premier League Hall of Fame have created a hazardous situation in the gents at County Hall, London, where the exhibition is located. It would be all too easy to relieve yourself in one of the wall- length metal troughs - as found at football grounds - before realising that some of the troughs are slightly shallower than others. And have taps.

HISTORY WILL be made tomorrow when Shrewsbury's Third Division match at Cheltenham is shown live on Sky TV. Shrewsbury are the only team of the current 92 English professional league sides never to have had a game screened live on television. At the end of last season, there were two sides still waiting for the cameras to call, but relegated Scarborough have since been struck off the "must visit" list.

AS ENGLAND battled for a point in Warsaw on Wednesday, it seemed that the home crowd were chanting the name, over and over again, of an England midfielder. A closer listen revealed that they were not supporters of a certain ginger-haired Mancunian, but were actually shouting "Pol-ska, Pol-ska".

Scarborough

No battle, no victory

... and a suggested update

`League status? No'

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As You Were

As the new millennium approaches, The Sweeper gets all nostalgic and looks back each week at a different decade of the 20th century. Today, the match that changed the face of English football. On 5 November, 1953, the mighty Magyars, led by the legendary Ferenc Puskas, arrived at Wembley and became the first overseas opponents to beat England on their home turf. The Hungarians, who were the Olympic champions and on a run of 29 unbeaten matches, played a flexible 4-2-4 against a soon to be outdated 2-3-5 and ran out 6-3 winners. Things were never to be the same again for England, who were captained on that day by Billy Wright and were flattered by the score. Six of the home team, including Alf Ramsey (fifth in the line of England players above) never played for their country again Photograph: Hulton Getty

The Price Is Right

RYAN GIGGS, what are you doing, son? Not only playing for Wales, but scoring? And Billy Dodds? Thanks a lot, pal. The bare facts are grim - no winners so far, leaving The Price Is Right Academicals lying stone bottom of the Professional Punters' Premiership and facing relegation to the Mug Punter's league at the end of the season. But that hardly tells the whole story - we were just two goals from a three-figure pay-out on Saturday. The fact that the Academicals' chairman was spotted down the local betting shop, accosting drunken tramps and trying to get one of them to sign a contract, is no reason for The Sweeper to feel his unassailable position has become assailable. There are four cracking draw bets to be had this weekend so let's perm them in four trebles. One treble is enough to go into profit and if we get all four, it's game over in one bookie- bashing hit. Liverpool could be in for a morning draw with Manchester United; Arsenal, disappointing at Anfield, can be held to a draw by Aston Villa at Highbury; struggling Sheffield Wednesday may only draw with Everton; and, today at the Stadium Of Light, Sunderland may gain no more than a point entertaining tough Leicester.

WIN pounds 100 A WEEK TREBLE CHANCE

Four pounds 4 trebles with Coral: Arsenal to draw with Aston Villa (12-5); Sheff Wed to draw with Everton (11-5); Sunderland to draw with Leicester (12-5); and Liverpool to draw with Man Utd (9-4).

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TODAY'S BET: pounds 16 STAKED.

Fan Power

Your chance to reclaim the game

DESPITE A dire England performance against Poland in midweek and the fact that England fans were pelted with Polish flares, it is still the intention of the Football Supporters' Association to run a fans' embassy at next summer's European Championship.

After much negotiation, the government has agreed to give supporters pounds 15,000 towards running a service for fans next summer, with another pounds 5,000 if one of the home nations qualify. Things are looking good for Scotland, at least. Whatever happens, the FSA will be there to offer travelling football fans helpful advice on food, accommodation, where to get your black market tickets (almost anywhere, probably) and where to get a decent drink (in the Netherlands and Belgium, almost anywhere too).

FSA reps have recently been to Eindhoven to offer advice to the Dutch and Belgian authorities on what fans need, and to discuss the possibility of international embassies. Even if we haven't got the home nations to watch, there'll still be plenty of football on offer, and we believe lots of British fans will still be going.

Those with their ear to the ground will know that disgruntled England fans are planning an impromptu fans' friendly to be held next summer in Miami. You heard it here first.

Football Supporters' Association: PO Box 11, Liverpool, L26 1XP. Telephone: 0151 737 2385. Web: www.fsa.org.uk

Coalition of Football Supporters: Telephone: 0113 237 4545. Web: www.cofs.co.uk

Unsung Heroes

No 6

RON HOCKINGS: The club historian at Chelsea has followed his team for 52 years. He first became passionate about them because they rivalled train spotting as an interesting pastime. "I used to go to Clapham Junction as a kid," he tells the October edition of the Chelsea Official Magazine. "It was a busy station and I'd note down the numbers of the steam locomotives. Soon after, I started keeping reports of the Chelsea games I went to.

"I've been to 2,320 Chelsea matches. I watch a lot of other teams as well - Belgium, Germany and Holland are my usual stomping grounds. I've seen 15,000 non-Chelsea games and been to Wembley 270 times."

In the past 14 years, Hockings has written nine books, including a history of Chelsea's first 90 years. "My wife and I enjoyed our first date at Stamford Bridge, December 1952, a 0-0 draw with Stoke," he recalls with the fervour of a true blueblood. "It was freezing and there was a fog like your generation have never known. Wherever the wife and I go, there seems to be a game on... although the missus doesn't come to the Bridge that much, she will come to matches when we're abroad."

Ron's top three players of all time are Charlie Cooke, Peter Osgood and Roy Bentley.

Do you have an unsung hero to recommend? Someone who holds a "one club for life" record perhaps? An octogenarian groundsman? A hospital radio team? A super tea lady? Let us know.

Sign Of The Times

From The Sweeper's autograph collection from the late 1970s and early '80s. Who are they?

ONE OF these imports to the North-east was a wild-haired Antipodean, the other a Yugoslavian striker who scored 16 goals in his one season in England. The latter died in 1993.

Answers next week. Last week: Nottingham Forest's Peter Shilton and Martin O'Neill.

Just Imagine...

... roles for the supporting cast of "Intensive Care," the new soap starring Dr George Graham and hospital CEO Kevin Keegan.

n Darren Anderton, season-ticket holder in the right wing of ward number seven.

n Nicolas Anelka, hospital PR manager.

n R Keane and P Viera, psychiatric nurses.

n Peter Shilton, hospital treasurer.

n Stan Collymore, head stress counsellor on the women's ward.

n Dr Sepp Blatter, consultant specialist in the Alzheimer's disease investigation unit.

For next week, readers are invited to imagine ways that England can persuade Sweden to try to win their Euro 2000 qualifier against Poland.

In T'net

Found on the Web: Nationwide football.

NO WONDER the England team play as if they don't know what day it is - their main sponsor's site was headed this week with the message "Today is 7 February". The site has all the usual news and features you'd expect but is most useful for its extensive Conference links.

http://www.football.nationwide.co.uk/

Read Of The Week

SWEET FA - A FASCINATING INSIGHT INTO FOOTBALL'S CORRIDORS OF POWER by Graham Kelly; Collins Willow, hardback, pounds 16.99

WHEN GRAHAM KELLY had to rather abruptly clear his desk following his enforced resignation as chief executive of the FA, the general view seemed to be that he'd not consistently been on the side of the angels anyway. This is his chance to put his side of the case, and he provides a painstaking account of what it was like at the sharp end of British football over the last three decades. It's loaded with intrigue and machinations from Parliament to the dressing rooms, as Kelly gives his take on the key moments inside the upper echelons of the game. It may be a rather ponderous read, but it's certainly not without interest.

Courtesy of Sportspages Bookshops, 94-96 Charing Cross Road, London, 0171-240-9604; & St Ann's Square, Manchester, 0161-832-8530. Website: www.sportspages.co.uk

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