Sport Brighton midfielder Andrew Crofts

A look ahead to this weekend’s FA Cup fourth round match at Vale Park

Football / Coca-Cola Cup: Older heads see United through

Manchester United. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

Football / Coca-Cola Cup: Scholes in class apart for United

Port Vale. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Non-League Football: Sterland's quest

IN HIS 15-year professional career, Mel Sterland played many FA Cup ties for Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds United, but he will be treading new territory tomorrow.

Football Kicks Off: Swindon back in the swing

Swindon Town. . .2

Football: Palmer signs for Leeds

CARLTON PALMER signed for Leeds United yesterday in a pounds 2.6m move from Sheffield Wednesday. The 28-year-old England international agreed a four-year deal with the Elland Road side. Palmer will be asked to play in defence by the Leeds manager, Howard Wilkinson. 'It's nice to be wanted to play in one permanent position,' he said. Last season Palmer did not see eye-to-eye with Trevor Francis, the Hillsborough manager, about his role in the Wednesday side.

Football: Taylor unveils new staff

GRAHAM TAYLOR yesterday unveiled two new recruits to his staff at Wolverhampton Wanderers - but dismissed reports linking the First Division club with Aston Villa's Paul McGrath.

Football: Fan's Eye View: Play-off insanity prevails: No 71: York City

IN MORE sedate times, I used to say that the fractions of a second that surround a York City goal were the occasions of my truest sanity. Nowadays, each such event, riven with emotional intensity, might test the most balanced of minds.

Football: Cantona wins approval as the Players' player: Phil Shaw on who won what at last night's PFA awards

ERIC CANTONA'S status as a joueur sans frontieres was underlined once more last night when he was named Player of the Year by his contemporaries, the members of the Professional Footballers' Association.

Football: Rudge in the market for another spur: Port Vale's manager is arming his big game hunters to cull the Wolves. Phil Shaw reports

ONE OF the mysteries of managerspeak is the phrase: 'We set our stall out.' For John Rudge, who guides Port Vale into Saturday's fourth-round visit from his home-town team, Wolverhampton Wanderers, experience transcends the expression.

Almanack: Making waves

TROUBLE at the Press Association, where the computer system has undergone a metaphor overload. The following report was transmitted last week: 'Southampton, the once proud flagship of South Coast soccer, are now a rudderless wreck and sinking fast. A new man at the helm is urgently needed to navigate a way to safety through the perilous relegation waters of the Premiership. Southampton's season is already washed up. All that remains is a battle to stay afloat in the top fleet. Hopes of charting a course to calmer waters through Cup success ran aground at the aptly named Port Vale. The 1-0 FA Cup third-round replay defeat against the Second Division side followed a Coca- Cola Cup exit to minnows Shrewsbury. It has been all hands on deck since the departure of Ian Branfoot last week but still the tide has not been turned . . .' etc etc. Sixteen or so maritime metaphors, and not a parrot in sight: presumably it was feeling seasick.

Tankard raises cheers for Vale

Port Vale. .1

Sports Letters: Hooliganism's curse

Sir: In response to Mark Newman's comments (Sports Letters, 20 May), I also attended the Blackpool v Port Vale game on 8 May. I am a Blackpool supporter. I, too, was seated in the Blackpool stand behind the goal, like Mr Newman, yet saw the events unfold from a different perspective. Port Vale's allocation was sold out so it was inevitable that the home ranks would be infiltrated by a few Port Vale fans. However, it was not '10 or so Port Vale supporters' as Mr Newman puts it, who celebrated their team's goal. It was about 40, who didn't appear to be 'supporters' at all. For a start they had congregrated together in a professional, organised-hooliganism manner. While I certainly do not condone football hooliganism, I do feel that the trouble was certainly Port Vale's fault as much as Blackpool's, if not more. In addition, there was a 'Port Vale fan carried off on a stretcher' as Mr Newman pointed out, but there was also a Blackpool steward who was badly injured and required medical treatment, and a female Blackpool supporter who needed treatment. I have attended every home game this season and have never witnessed scenes like that. While I am not saying that the trouble was all Port Vale's fault, I feel that the facts in Mr Newman's letter were not accurate, and that I felt a responsibility to correct them. Finally, for the record, Blackpool's Second Division status was secured due to Preston losing the week before, and not Exeter dropping two points against Port Vale, which Mr Newman stated.
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