Sport In a stew: Downing is counting on a Cup win to build confidence

Being known as a "Cup team" is a mixed compliment, implying the ability to raise your game for one-off occasions, but never to sustain it. If Wigan Athletic, FA Cup winners relegated within a week, are newcomers to the genre, West Ham United have been at it rather longer.

Hurst strikes vexed note in oddball show

Mike Rowbottom finds the 1966 World Cup roadshow having some trouble attracting a crowd

Ethelred ready to save England's day

St George's Day came and went last week and the backlog of unslain dragons continues to grow. This applies particularly in sport where he has long neglected his work and the thought is irresistible that if only England hounded their patron saint like they do their managers they might get some results of a more encouraging nature.

diary : Free grog ... Lord Lumberjack ... spot the ball

Ahoy! Today the Captain brings you more exciting news from New Labour, the party for patriots. You may remember a certain lofty derision on the Left at a Tory suggestion that May Day should be replaced as a bank holiday by Trafalgar Day. But that was then. Now, and it warms an old Captain's heart to tell you, Nelson is New Labour. So much so that John Spellar, the shadow defence minister, has demanded to know what plans the Government has for 2005, the bicentenary of Trafalgar. And the scandalous answer: none. Spellar, mindful of "this great historical figure", demands that something be put in train before it is too late. He is open-minded about what. When the Captain puts forward his Big Idea - a free shot of grog for every man, woman and child in the country, he does not entirely rule it out, which no doubt means Mr Tony Blair will be on the blower shortly, telling him off. Meanwhile, in the interests of truth and curiosity, I telephone Labour HQ at Walworth Road to discover what plans the Party has to celebrate May Day this year. And the interesting answer: none. I'm finding it a bit difficult keeping up.

England closer to goal

Ian Ridley says that criticism of Terry Venables is both unfair and unhelpful

Hand over at Waterloo reunites Hurst and ball

Geoff Hurst was reunited yesterday with his hat-trick ball from the 1966 World Cup final. Unless, of course, it wasn't.

World Cup ball bounces back from '66

In a move that would delight every Euro-sceptic, England's World Cup winners of 1966 are asking the Germans: "Can we have our ball back?" With the 30th anniversary of English football's most famous day fast approaching, a frantic search has been launched for the ball with which Geoff Hurst scored a hat-trick when Alf Ramsey's team beat Germany 4-2 in the World Cup final.

Hitch-hiker's guide to the Channel

Getting a lift via Le Shuttle is the easy part. Landing in France is another story. By Simon Calder

TELEVISION 999 (BBC1)

Michael Buerk knows all about rescues; 999 saved his career.

Bruno's flashback to the future

Harry Mullan questions the Briton's belief that he can alter the course of history

Tranmere lead chase for Rush signature

Tranmere Rovers, of the First Division, are preparing to move for the Liverpool striker Ian Rush.

The global village people down at Upton Park

Norman Fox assesses one club's attempts to stay ahead in a game of changing rules

CHRISTMAS radio Trumpton Riots

Trumpton Riots

England move with the times

INTERNATIONAL VERDICT: Venables' vision takes shape n Brown's basic appeal n Republic on the rocks n Wales await new blood

ENGLAND'S CAUSES FOR CONCERN; FOOTBALL

While the country's rugby union team continues to evoke national pride, its cricketers and footballers are still subject to endless speculation. After a topsy-turvy weekend, Independent writers test the temperature of our national games; Glenn Moore says poor technique and defensive confusion led to downfall of Vena bles' team at Wembley

Is Scargill the one to save the British apple? apple farmers

MY FRIEND Ken has been bemoaning the fate of Britain's apple farmers. Six thousand acres of orchards have been grubbed out this year, and the Cox has all but disappeared from southern England.
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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor