All in the game

 

Compiled by MARY HANNIGAN

Travelling light: One supporter, a policeman and three security guards!

SOLE SUPPORTED:A FEW weeks back English non-league club Histon made a six-and-a-half hour round trip to play Wrexham, but, alas, didn’t bring a single supporter with them. This, inevitably enough, prompted Wrexham chants of “you’re all very quiet over there” towards the empty away section.

What could be worse than having no supporters at a game? “Having one,” Tor Jorgen Svanberg might argue. Yes, Tor, was the sole Sandefjord fan to make it to their Norwegian Premier League match against Aalesund, his only company in the away stand a policeman and three security guards. Just in case he started rioting.

It also happened Tor earlier in the season when Sandefjord played Tromso, but there was an excuse that time, namely Iceland’s volcanic ash which prevented other Sandefjord diehards from travelling. “It was a bit special, yes,” he said of the experience, “it would have been worse for the club if no one was there. I hope it’s the last time something like that happens.”

Tor was saluted after the game by club director Oystein Ulsnaes, who has invited him to Sandefjord’s end-of-season party (hopefully he won’t be the only one to show up). “I think it is touching dedication,” he said, “watching the players go over to thank him after the match moved my feelings to the highest level”.

At least Tor was rewarded with a couple of Sandefjord goals – they drew 2-2 – but you’d have to assume he didn’t celebrate by hollering “GIVE US AN S!”.

Road to Rio's: Bon appetit

GOOD to hear that Sunday Times’food critic AA Gill enjoyed his trip to Manchester (“This is a city that drinks first and eats after, with its mouth open”) when he reviewed a meal he had in Rio Ferdinand’s restaurant Rosso.

While he didn’t seem to enjoy Rio’s langoustine bisque (“a horrible waste of what had once been a good bit of fish”) he was particularly taken by Rosso’s clientele. “Groups of girls, all done up with trowelled make-up . . . strutting and pouting with tarantula eyes and Siamese breasts, showed off hooker frocks. They drank heroically fast and laughed like they were trying to turn their faces inside out”.

Bon appétit.

Tasty train: And St Pauli girl

WURST WAGON:THE most blessed football supporters on earth? The St Pauli folk who occupy the 10 VIP seats in the German club’s Millerntor- Stadion. Why? Because a little train delivers freshly cooked sausages from the kitchens to their seats every five minutes. Seriously.

And under each seat is a mini beer keg. And in front of them is a monitor that replays key moments in the game. This is called dying and going to heaven.

Straight talking: Paddy prefers not to hang around

EXCHANGE OF THE WEEK (1)
Ivan Yates (Newstalk):

“Alex Ferguson’s achievements are all really in the past tense . . . Paddy, listening to you . . . you’re in denial . . . the manager could be past his sell-by date.”

Paddy Crerand

“Listen, if you’re not going to talk sense, if you’re doing one of these Eamon Dunphy things, I don’t want to talk to you. We’re talking about a serious subject here . . . you’re going on about Manchester United being in the past? What are you on about?”

Yates

“I’m on about the debt situation . . .”

Crerand:

“Ah, don’t talk crap for God’s sake. We’re on here to talk about whether Wayne Rooney is going to play for Manchester United and you’re going on with this rubbish. Look, thank you very much.”

Hangs up.

White liquid: Rafa's message in a bottle

EXCHANGE OF THE WEEK (2):
Rafa Benitez

“I was really sad after the defeat (Liverpool losing the Merseyside derby). We have a saying in Spanish, which is, ‘White liquid in a bottle has to be milk’.”

Reporters:

“Pardon?”

Benitez:

“It means that after 86 points and finishing second in the league, what changed? The Americans, they chose a new managing director and everything changed . . . so, white liquid in a bottle: milk. You will know who is to blame.”

Reporters:

“Pardon?”

Benitez:

“White liquid in a bottle. If I see John the milkman in the Wirral, where I was living, with this bottle, I’d say ‘it’s milk, sure’.”

Reporters: “Err.”

Chat up lines: Tractor boy testing his pulling power

WORD OF MOUTH:“Are we close? You could speak to a bird all evening but still end up in the taxi on your own.”

– Roy Keane on his efforts to make a loan signing for Ipswich. He’s still chatting up his target, but there’s no guarantee they’ll get it on.

“Wayne’s 24, he’s still a kid at heart, maybe mentally as well.”

– Paddy Crerand – before that new contract was signed. Their next meeting in the Old Trafford VIP section should be good craic.

“I don’t think we need foreign managers running the national sides. I’ve got nothing against foreign managers, they are very nice people. Apart from Arsène Wenger.”

– Stoke manager Tony Pulis. No end to the love-in.

“I moved to Manchester and stayed at (Paul) Stretford’s house, he made me part of the family. I thought it was a generous gesture. I later found out that he had been deducting rent from my earnings.”

– Andy Cole on his big-hearted former agent (who now represents Wayne Rooney).

“It wasn’t just on the field that Strachan let himself down, during post-match interviews he became an embarrassment to himself, the club and the fans. He was arrogant, obnoxious, sarcastic, cutting and rude. He came across to me like a man who was on the borderline of insanity.”

– Bernie Slaven bids a fond farewell to the now ex-Middlesbrough manager.

Go to Jail: Do not pass Go

A few sizzling cheeks at Manchester City after they took delivery of their new Monopoly game, “City’s perfect gift for the whole family that will hit the shop shelves next month just in time for Christmas”.

The game features the faces of “Blues stars past and present”, so at a time when they’ve been busy paying tribute to former boss Malcolm Allison, who died last week, it’s unfortunate he doesn’t appear at all. James Milner, who’s been with the club two months, takes pride of place on the cover. And they mixed up Colin Bell and Joe Mercer. Other than that the production went well.

It's the way she tells 'em: Sister doing it for herself

LIDER AT A LOSS:
KIDNAPPINGS of footballers’ family members have, unfortunately, become a regular occurrence in recent times. Lider Marmol, a Paraguayan with Mexican club Atlante, was the latest to get word that he had fallen prey to the nasty business.

It was Marmol’s sister, Perla, who disappeared. His brother, Robert, received a call three days later demanding the player pay a ransom of $40,000 for her release.

Atlante gave Marmol permission to return home to Paraguay to deal with the crisis, but he’d hardly arrived when a rather sheepish Perla reappeared admitting that she’d staged the whole thing in the hope of getting a bit of loot out of the fella.

Hats off to him, he took it all rather well. “We must take the positives out of this, my sister’s life was not at stake. From the beginning I thought this was a serious kidnapping. I don’t know what happened in her head, but she is not a bad person.”

Perla, though, has been charged with the offence and faces up to five years in prison.

Wonder will she ask the brother to pay her legal fees?