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

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

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.

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
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve