The Third Leader: Comeback kids

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The Independent Online

He's back! At last, one of our greatest sporting heroes returns, looking as if he has never been away. Suddenly, the despair is transformed by this talisman into a new mood of vigour, purpose and triumph.

Twickenham on Saturday was followed by the astonishing feat of our cricket team not only winning again, but making the one-day finals. Miraculous. The Soccer Señors of Spain, as sportswriters used to put it, must now surely be shaking in their boots at the prospect of facing our boys at Old Trafford tonight.

And he's not even playing. But Roy of the Rovers, making his comeback in a football fanzine, doesn't need to. Roy has always been more than just a fantastic player: a nation that is publishing Roy is a sunny nation that still believes the impossible can happen as regularly as it does in sport. One thinks, for example, of the try that wasn't really a try scored on Saturday by the earnest young fellow at fly half to whom he bears a remarkable resemblance.

I must confess that I haven't kept up as well as I might - until yesterday, I didn't know that Tubby Morton had been replaced in the Melchester goal by Charlie "The Cat" Carter in 1974 - but that's not as important as knowing Roy's there, although my admiration has been increased yet more by learning of a personal life chequered by upsets rivalled only by Ken Barlow in Coronation Street.

So: Roy; Jonny; Vaughany; Nolly (Edmonds); even, I read, Whitney (Houston). Remarkable. Enough, perhaps, to give the Prime Minister pause. Pause. Anyway, good luck tonight, lads; and remember Roy!