A great night for British football

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The Independent Online
Another great evening of European football last night, though British sides had a mixed evening, with some teams going through, some falling by the wayside and one or two going missing altogether. Perhaps the best result was that of Premier Division strugglers M1 Wanderers, who held mighty AC/DC Milan to a draw in the boiling cauldron of Sirocco Stadium and thus ended the two-leg encounter in the European Cup-Losers Cup 0-0 on aggregate. The match went to penalties, but when this ended 0-0 after all players had missed or had their shots saved, the match had to be decided on the away-hotel rule.

"This is a seldom-used rule," says happy M1 Wanderers' manager Joe Supremo, "which says in the event of an otherwise drawn match, the team that settled its hotel bills quickest during their away leg shall be the winner. Luckily, we had paid in advance for our stay, while the Italian team still haven't settled their room bills from three weeks ago, let alone their bar bills in downtown Bromwich, so we breezed through on that one.

"But I think we deserved it. Our lads ran and grafted and covered every inch of the pitch, and although we never looked like scoring a goal nor, indeed, getting a shot on target, I think we did British football proud tonight. That'll be pounds 50 for the interview, plus VAT, ta."

Another happy bunch last night were the Manchester United Fan Club. Although their team was knocked out of the Cup by unknown Russian team Starting Handle Moscow, the Fan Club goes through to the next round on the away- aggro rule, and will be looking for a team to support come the next outbreak of hostilities.

"Football and success are not synonymous at Man U," explains the marketing manager, Jim Umbro. "In fact, they have very little to do with each other. Man U never seem to win a trophy and have a habit of being beaten by unknown foreign teams (and I include York City in that), but when it comes to basic off-the-field activities like changing our playing strip, there is no one to beat us. We at the MU Fan Club will be striding into the next round, heads held high and new supporters' gear at the ready. We'll be there all right! Where we will be is another matter, but we'll be there all right."

Lowly Scottish team Fife Philosophers are lucky to be still in the European Vase competition after they flew to Norway to meet the crack Norwegian team Sporting Anorak. Reason? They were not meant to be there. They were meant to be playing at home. A red-faced Fife team were met at the Sporting Anorak ground by closed doors and baffled Norwegian ground staff, with the news that the Anorak team had set out for Fife the day before. Luckily, they have persuaded the authorities to let them restage the match later.

"It all depends now if we can get home in time for the match," manager Jim Bruce told me on the phone. "Frankly, we had depended on our cut of the gate money to get our flight home, and right now it looks as if we can only afford a ferry. So whether we'll be back for the match is anybody's guess. That'll be a couple of quid, please. No, I don't qualify for VAT."

The oddest incident of the night? That occurred in the clash between Red Star Paddington and the Finnish amateur champions, Midnight Mushroom, when one of the linesmen was sent off. Apparently, it is the first time an official has ever been sent off in a European competition.

"That was a funny old moment," grins Paddington manager Archie Typal. "The linesman was from Romania and the Finnish team, who have nothing much else to do in their long winters, contained one or two players who had been teaching themselves Romanian. Well, their winger was disputing a line call and in his temper called the linesman something very nasty in Romanian and the linesman instinctively took a swing at him and knocked him out. So the ref had no option but to order him off. Don't worry about cash, but you can buy me a drink."

Red Star Paddington lost 0-1 on the night but went through on the away- fouls rule. Other results in brief:

European Sofa Cup

Chesterfield 1; Sporting Chaise Longue 1

Divan 1793 1; Empire Ottoman 1

Runners-up Cup

FC Burnand 1; Cosa Nostra (Palermo) 1

Single European Cup

Real Politik (Vienna) 1; Sporting Ecu 1

European Fruit Bowl

Sporting Nancy 1; Queens Cottage 1

1978 World Cup (pre-qualifying round)

UN Observers 1; Geneva Free State 1