Twelfth Man: Boot boys hit Old Trafford

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The Independent Online
HAD IT happened at the other Old Trafford, the shock would probably have taken another 26 years to get over but the footballers of Lancashire CC are phlegmatic about having their title taken away from them.

Formed this year, the team would have completed an Old Trafford double had they not had six points deducted for fielding an ineligible player. Peter Marron, Old Trafford groundsman and, he says, 'president, chairman and the man who collects the subs' for the footballers, explained: 'We played one of our bar lads who was registered with another team. It's all a bit technical and nonsense really but we still had a good season and we've told the cricketers they'll have to match us.'

It will take some doing. Despite the penalty, they gained promotion from the Manchester & District League's Third Division, won the divisional cup and, at Cheadle Town tomorrow (KO noon), take on First Division Salford in the League Cup final.

The team is made up mainly of catering, ground and bar staff with bar manager Derek Southern playing the part of Alex Ferguson complete with 'lucky coat'. The cricketers watched them last week and several have expressed an interest in playing next season, including county captain Neil Fairbrother, although he hopes to have overseas cricket commitments.

Fairbrother and fellow Red Michael Atherton spent much of England's winter tour checking United's results then ribbing City fan Philip DeFreitas. Millwall (John Emburey), West Ham (Graham Gooch) and Chelsea (Alec Stewart) were among other eagerly awaited results.

FANCY a day at the cricket? Got pounds 280 to spare? That's what 120 people (or their companies) have each paid to fill this summer's most expensive cricket seats at the final Texaco Trophy match tomorrow. You can't actually see the game from the complimentary bar or dining table in the Harris Garden Resturant (a 'stylish' marquee) but a seat is reserved to catch an over or two from the Mound Stand. Alternatively you could watch a very similar one-day match at Trent Bridge, Horsham or Bristol tomorrow for pounds 274 less, which leaves a fair whack over for a pie and pint.

GLOUCESTERSHIRE'S visitors at Bristol will be Durham, usually one of the best supported counties. There are unlikely to be many travelling fans, however, as Durham supporters are the worst affected by the new Sunday noon start. OK Coaches, who operate the county's away travel, had to cancel tomorrow's planned trip due to lack of interest. Durham's poor start doesn't help but, though the pounds 23 fare for a near 600-mile round-trip seems reasonable, a 4am start clearly does not.

The longest trip, matches against minor counties and countries apart, must be Somerset's to Hartlepool on the last Sunday of the season. Somerset are not planning a coach, though if they reach 19 September a win away from the AXA League title it could be a good opportunity for any New Age travellers who haven't got around to moving their converted double-decker buses on from Glastonbury.

AFTER Harry and Larry, who will be the next Aussie with a warped sense of humour? Tour coach Bob Simpson said Allan Border and Craig McDermott were 'as happy as Harry' after their showdown at Taunton while team manager Des Rundle described Border as 'happy as Larry' after he'd abused the media. The Lord's gatemen should watch out for Barry tomorrow.

SATURDAY SURFIE (A weekly series introducing the touring party) No 1: Merv Hughes' moustache. Contrary to popular opinion, Merv was not born with his moustache and was clean shaven when he appeared for Essex II's in 1983. But with his top lip developing rising damp through constant immersion in glasses of XXXX Merv grew the mo to hide the fungi. Almost immediately it catapulted him on to the Test scene and no one has ever looked at his top lip since.

Merv's mo, Q & A: Biggest influences on career: Dennis Lillee, John Newcombe, Fu Manchu. Biggest rival: David Boon's mo. Opinions on cricket: Sightscreens should not be allowed to advertise Wilkinson Sword. Opinion on Sylvania Waters: Not enough moustaches. Favourite TV show: Magnum. Career highlight: Playing the lead role in the XXXX 1989 Ashes advertising campaign. Do you surf?: No, dislike water and foam.