Football Diary: Heysel meets its end

Mark Burton
Friday 09 September 1994 23:02

THE Heysel Stadium is no more. Bulldozers moved in this week to flatten the site of one of football's worst disasters. More than nine years after the tragedy at the European Cup final between Liverpool and Juventus, workmen and surveyors stood on the spot where 39 spectators died and began a pounds 12.5m rebuilding project to give Brussels a new professional sports ground. The name will be changed, probably to the King Baudouin Stadium.

Professional football has not been played since the disaster, but the 1930-built Heysel has hosted athletics events. The redevelopment will incorporate the latest safety features with seating to replace the terraces and a roof covering up to 40,000 spectators. The rebuilding work means an end to visits by ghoulish tourists to view the scene of the tragedy. Even as bulldozers dug into the terraces, a coach drove up to the entrance to let sightseers catch a last glimpse.

DAVE BASSETT, 'sent off' during a stormy Anglo-Italian Cup match with Udinese, found himself in a potentially sticky situation when he returned to the manager's desk at Sheffield United. Yorkshire TV had shown Bassett shaking a hand, with thumb and forefinger joined, at a red-carded Udinese player. This prompted a letter from the Hallamshire Hospital asking if he would care to contribute to their sperm bank. Bassett politely declined, explaining that he had in fact been suggesting the pitch needed watering.

A CERTAIN failed Brentford trialist and member of the Tartan Army (Hollywood Jet Set Platoon), has christened his son Liam McAllister. Mrs Rod Stewart, the model Rachel Hunter, should perhaps be thankful her husband's favourite players are not Paul Stewart and Stuart McCall, or she could have ended up with Stewart Stuart Stewart.

TALKING of matters Scottish, the first book of utterances on football north of the border 'Scottish Football Quotations'* will be out soon in paperback. It contains entries on every Scottish club and from all the famous figures in the game. It must have been hard work to compile - it even contains a line or two from Kenny Dalglish, who has turned taciturnity into an art form.

*Mainstream Publishing, pounds 6.99.

THE youth team Red Hall Rangers, from Darlington, are definitely improving. After losing their first match against Esh Winning Under-18s 25-0, they managed on their next outing to restrict West Auckland Juniors to only 24-0. A team spokesman said that while the players had not expected to set the Auckland and District League alight, no one had prepared them for the disasters. However, he insisted there was 'nothing wrong' with goalkeeper David Dean. He was being let down by the defence.

RYAN GIGGS has impeccable left- wing credentials but he won't be at tomorrow's Politics of Sport conference, at the University of London Union, in Malet Street (10.30am- 5pm). Organised by Labour Briefing, the voice of Labour's independent, unrepentant left, it will tackle political issues in relation to sport. They might want to discuss why left-wingers are dying out, and not just in football. The modern idea of pushing one up front who looks the part and leaving the rest to scrap in midfield anonymity seems to be catching on everywhere.

THE selection of a Legal XI took people on a journey through the world of fiction, for Ironside and (Insp) Barlow, prisons and courthouses. The winner of the Wild Turkey bourbon, Lyn Alun Richards of Gwent, stuck to the bench, accepting no substitutes for judges.

Legal XI: Sir Ralph Kilner (Bill) BROWN; Sir Sebag (Graham) SHAW; Lord Elwyn (Rob) JONES; Lord (Dave) MACKAY; Sir David Bruce (Billy) McNEILL; Sir Thomas Brian (Terry) NEILL; Sir Thomas Henry (Billy) BINGHAM; Sir John Patrick (George) GRAHAM; Sir Thomas Michael (George) EASTHAM; Sir Frederick Horace (Tommy) LAWTON; Sir Frederick Maurice (Ted) DRAKE. Manager: Lord (Graham) TAYLOR.

Next week: A Socialists XI. Entries to: Sports Diary, The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB.

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