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Wayne Harrison was not the most fortunate of footballers. Blessed with a sublime talent for sniffing out goal-scoring opportunities and converting them with consummate skill, he became the world's most expensive teenager when Liverpool – then the mightiest club in the land – paid Oldham Athletic £250,000 for his predatory services in the spring of 1985.

Outside the Box: Villa could be undermined by 'four and then no more' ruling

Confirmation comes from Uefa of a scenario to fill supporters of Aston Villa with dread: how Martin O'Neill and his team could finish fourth in the Premier League and still not even make the Champions' League qualifying round. That would happen if, say, Arsenal or Liverpool were to win the Champions' League but end up fifth in the table – just as Liverpool did in 2005. On that occasion they were eventually allowed into the following season's competition as well as the teams above them, including fourth-placed Everton. Now, however, in that situation the team finishing fourth would drop down to the newly named Europa League, an even more overblown version of the Uefa Cup, in which Villa last week felt compelled to field a reserve team. This is all part of the supposed democratisation policy of Uefa's president, Michel Platini. Or, as a Uefa spokesman poetically put it: "It's four and then no more."

Servicemen killed in Afghanistan named

Two British servicemen killed in southern Afghanistan were named today.

Let's strike gold in Abu Derby, says City great

Summerbee aims to have the last laugh over guffawing Ferguson today and reveals why he thinks Ronaldo will never be the Best

Letters: Town-hall economics

Financial crisis casts light on town-hall economics

FA issue charges

The Football Association have issued five charges relating to breaches of the organisation's Football Agents Regulations.

Fred Yates: Self-styled 'happy Lowry'

The painter Fred Yates used colour to break away from the early influence of L.S. Lowry, whom he knew in post-war Manchester art circles. Despite the local industrial landscape "school" Lowry spawned, there were as many canvases at inter-war Manchester Academy exhibitions of holiday beaches as there were of chimneys and smog. It was to this tradition of northern escapism that Yates, a self-styled "happy Lowry", belonged.

Rochdale 2 Stockport County 3: Dickinson strike sends Stockport into raptures

On this last day of the domestic English football season, Jim Gannon was able to claim a first of his own. In all four previous visits to Wembley in his decade as a Stockport player he had suffered defeat. Now, on this first appearance as their manager, the Irishman could claim his first win.

Owen to wear mask at Wembley

Stockport County's captain, Gareth Owen, will wear a protective mask in today's League Two play-off final at Wembley. The defender broke his cheekbone in the semi-final victory over Wycombe Wanderers.

Blatter aiming to placate Platini on foreigners quota

The president of Fifa, Sepp Blatter, will meet his counterpart at Uefa, Michel Platini, today in an attempt to settle their differences over Blatter's controversial plan to impose limits on overseas players.

Rochdale 2 Darlington 1: Rochdale ready at last for 'giant leap'

Footballing glory is not a phrase readily associated with Rochdale, but history beckons for the Lancashire outfit in the Coca-Cola League Two play-off final against Stockport.

Stockport County 1 Wycombe Wanderers 0: Dickinson goal signals change in fortune for Stockport

Two seasons ago Stockport County appeared destined to fall out of the Football League while striker Liam Dickinson was playing part-time for local non-league club Woodley Sports.

Rochdale 2 Darlington 1 <i>(3-3 aet; Roch. win 5-4 on pens)</i>: Spot-on Dale set up Stockport showdown

The Rochdale manager, Keith Hill, has urged his side to create history in the League Two play-off final at Wembley a week tomorrow. The Lancashire side have not won a promotion since 1969 and have been in thebottom tier of English football since 1974, the longest unbroken run in the Football League's basement division.

Rochdale take up arms to end lengthy wait

While the rest of the country tune into Wembley for this afternoon's 127th FA Cup final, four sides meet either side of the showpiece match, vying for the opportunity to follow Portsmouth and Cardiff to the famous stadium and earn a place in League One next season.

MK Dons win makes promotion a certainty

Keith Andrews, the League Two player of the year, scored the decisive goal for MK Dons in a 3-2 victory at Stockport which clinched a League Two automatic promotion place for Paul Ince's side. Stockport took the lead before Dons hit back a minute later through Mark Wright. Stockport went ahead again before Alan Navarro made it 2-2 and Andrews then stole the points for Ince's side when he smashed the ball home.

Leeds wait for verdict that may decide League One promotion

At this stage of the season the promotion and relegation issues are often complicated enough with fans taking calculators as well as radios to matches. In League One, however, the uncertainty principle applies to all computations as no one knows whether Leeds United's 15-point deduction is about to be confirmed, reduced or expunged.

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Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
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How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
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Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
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You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
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Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

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Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
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