All in the game


Compiled by  MARY HANNIGAN:

Screen idol: Heskey in view

Confession: there was much chuckling when the Guardian reported last week that Fox Sports in Australia were promoting their “Heskey Cam” ahead of Emile’s appearance for Newcastle Jets against Melbourne Victory: “One camera, one hero; every pass, every run, everything Heskey does on the pitch, you’ll see it first with the Heskey Cam, the dedicated broadcast providing a rare insight into what makes Heskey so good.”

Removing all the coffee spray from the computer screen was a heckuva job.

The Jets won 2-1. And who scored both their goals? The fella starring on the Heskey Cam. “You’re not chuckling any more,” he’s more than entitled to croon.

Colour me stupid: Brown sees red over orange man

Former Hull City manager Phil Brown has had quite a bit of ribbing over the years over his sun tan, one he has often, miraculously, maintained through winter. It was an issue he raised while chatting to BBC radio’s Victoria Derbyshire during a discussion on racism in football debate. He did, seriously.

“So you’re confused about the definition of racism,” Derbyshire asked him. And off he went. “I’ve been called sunbed. I’ve been called, you know, orange man, I’ve been called . . . and it’s not as serious as what these guys are claiming because it’s, you know, from their past and where I’m concerned it’s a level of abuse at my skin colour. I don’t class that as an abuse, so I get on with it.”

As the unkind commenter under the YouTube video of the interview put it, “Let’s kick sunbeds out of football”. Brown wasn’t done. On the issue of Rio Ferdinand refusing to wear the “Kick it Out” T-shirt: “I’m not too sure what point he’s trying to make – if he’s not going to wear a Kick It Out T-shirt is he not wearing it to bring it back?”

Em . . .

Scot free: Mbia's lost

“Marseille told me they needed to raise money, but I never thought I would come here to QPR. I thought they were in Scotland.”

– Stephane Mbia, having, presumably, left out the “Rangers” when he Googled “Queens Park”.

“I only shot three or four players in the dressing room.”

– Roberto Mancini on his serene response to that Champions League defeat by Ajax.

“I would give half a goal for a set-play and a full goal for open-play goals.”

Is Roberto Martinez somehow lobbying for Stoke City’s relegation?

Picture imperfect: Porto's phantom photograph gets a rational explanation

So, did you hear about the ghost spotted at Porto’s Champions League game against Paris Saint Germain earlier this month?

It was seen in the crowd as James Rodríguez celebrated his winning goal, and to be honest, it did look decidedly spooky.

Google “Porto, ghost” and you’ll find too-many-to-count blogs analysing the apparition, most of them quoting a source that declared: “According to spiritualism, many of these lost souls can be found in homes, in shopping malls, on beaches, in public buildings such as offices and prisons, and – why not if they loved football? – in stadiums where games are happening.”


The mystery appeared to be unresolved that is until David Hills in yesterday’s Observer, who first quoted experts describing “a dark figure in clothes from another era with an outdated haircut”, directed us to a photograph from a different angle that simply showed the ghost was, in fact, “an old person”.

Worse, having been described as a “he” by the paranormal investigators since the game, it turns out it was an elderly woman.

Clothes from another era with an outdated haircut? Sue them for all they’re worth, Missus.

Agent's glee: Cruel on Cruyff

There’s rarely a dull moment with Mario Balotelli, but, by the sounds of him, his agent Mino Raiola, is a lively enough character too. He also, incidentally, represents Zlatan Ibra’himovic, so the fella clearly likes a challenge.

Any way, quoted by during the week, Raiola offered his views on Johan Cruyff, with whom, it would seem, he doesn’t enjoy the warmest of relationships: When Cruyffs talking, everybody else stops thinking. If he says the worlds flat, everybody agrees with him. But nobody wonders what the senile bastard actually means.”

Gaffer tapes: Vacant job

After sacking manager Alan Adamson a week ago, Scottish Division One, Dumbarton invited applications for the vacancy.

It might have been better if they announced they’d a short list and weren’t looking for anyone else.

“Ive had dozens and dozens of applications and it takes a while to shift through the CVs of people who have won the Champions League on Fifa 12,” said chief executive Gilbert Lawrie.

“Probably 75 per cent of the applications so far are from people who have taken a team from a low ebb to great heights on a computer screen, which is a great achievement for them but perhaps not what we are looking for at this time Mind you . . .

Oranges are not the only fruit: Pardew finds young Ferguson so very a-peeling

“I think that a rebel is someone who is out of the box but, in so doing, brings home the important results. Pinochet was a rebel, Fidel Castro also. Both have gone down in history for better or for worse. These are the rebels.”

– Eric Cantona on Mario Balotelli. Beyond that, can’t help.

“I spoke with Marcus (Evans) yesterday and he wants me to stay. I’ve got a fantastic and open relationship with him. If he wants to sign another manager he would tell me – it’s as simple as that. Do I think he’s spoken to other managers? Having spoken to him yesterday, no.”

– Ipswich manager Paul Jewell on Monday after a chat with the club’s owner. Wednesday? Guess what?.

“He has a left foot you could peel oranges with.”

Newcastle United coach Alan Pardew waxing lyrical about the club’s young Northern Ireland international Shane Ferguson.

Greek bus: Long trip

You might have read about Arsenal’s 15 minute flight to Norwich for their Premier League game the weekend before last. Well, Greek club Veria aren’t quite in the same luxurious position, AFP reporting that, to avoid the cost of an overnight stay, they made an 800km round-trip by bus for their visit to Tripolis to play Asteras in the league.

“That meant leaving early in the morning for the eight-and-a-half hour drive to reach Tripolis, losing the match to Asteras 3-0 and then getting back on the bus for the return trip, a total of 17 hours in transit. The team arrived back at their home base at 5am on Monday morning.”

Apart from that, it was a fun trip.

Sahin's mini: Kid's play

You possibly have too much money when . . . you buy your toddler a matching Mercedes SUV. And then you tweet the photos to prove it, as Liverpool’s Nuri Sahin did.

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