Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Palacios brother kidnapped

The 15-year-old brother of an international player at Birmingham City Football Club has been kidnapped.

Edwin Rene Palacios, the brother of Honduran midfielder Wilson Palacios, was snatched in the central American country on Tuesday.

Officials in Honduras said the parents were tied up after kidnappers stormed into a home in La Ceiba, which is north of the capital Tegucigalpa.

The club said the midfielder has decided to remain in the UK for now.

It said the international could return to Honduras at any time if he wanted to.

Benitez would let Fowler score

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez says he would be happy to let former striker Robbie Fowler score for Cardiff when the sides meet in the Carling Cup at Anfield on Wednesday.

Benitez said: "Maybe we can leave him to score a fantastic goal in front of the Kop, but at the end of the game, if we have scored three."

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Riise's pay slip

Liverpool ace John Arne Riise's whopping £30,000 a week wage slip has been posted on the internet.

Reds fans got the chance to see if the full-back really is value for money after two photos of his salary appeared on the web.

If the slip is genuine, it means the Norwegian earned a massive £139,000 with bonuses.

However the taxman gobbled up £55,000 for the Exchequer.

The slip, dated September 2006, reveals just how lucrative it is to play in the Champions League.

Riise picked up £15,000 extra for his appearances in Europe's premier club competition.

However, perks do not seem to include free attendance to games - he had £36 deducted from his wages for match tickets.

Celtic Cup

A Celtic Cup featuring Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland could start next year, according to Scottish Football Association chief executive Gordon Smith.

Representatives from the four national associations met this week to discuss the plan.

Smith said: "We had another meeting in Cardiff on Monday and are getting some answers on the issues surrounding a tournament like this, in terms of dates, sponsorship and TV."

Smith claims there are "positive vibes" from each nation and Scotland boss Alex McLeish has given his approval for the proposed tournament, which could take place in alternate years.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Angel voted one of the sexiest

New York Red Bulls forward Juan Pablo Angel is featured in the October 2007 issue of People en Espanol as one of the 10 Sexiest Men in the United States for 2007.

Angel, 31, is in the midst of his first year with the Red Bulls and has already matched the team goal scoring record of 16, set in 2000 by Adolfo Valencia.

Already established as a MLS Most Valuable Player candidate, the two-time MLS Player of the Month and Player of the Week was also named the MVP for the MLS All-Star Game on July 19.

"It's an honor to receive such a distinction especially from a magazine as important as People En Espanol," said Angel.

"More important to me is the success of the team, after that if the awards come to me, I would welcome them."

Sheva gets speed training

Andriy Shevchenko has been receiving a helping hand to rediscover his pace — from Team GB sprinter Darren Campbell.

Despite initial denials from Chelsea, Campbell has confirmed he has been working with Shevchenko this season.

And now that Avram Grant has replaced Jose Mourinho, the Great Britain ace believes Sheva is finally finding his feet.

Campbell said: "The club asked if I would work with Andriy and I said it would be a pleasure.

"While Mourinho was at Chelsea he was a bit funny about anybody from outside working with the players.

"So for the first sessions I had to do it on Andriy's tennis court. Now he's gone I can do it at the club.

"That's how serious he is about sharpening up."

With Campbell's support, Shevchenko is gradually showing Grant he still has what it takes to be a hit at Stamford Bridge.

And the Ukrainian did himself a huge favour by ramming home a last-gasp goal as Chelsea thrashed Manchester City 6-0 on Saturday.

Alonso gets tips from Fabregas

Xabi Alonso has revealed how he shares Premier League secrets with Arsenal rival Cesc Fabregas.

And he admits the swap ideas on other opponents.

He said: "Cesc is a nice guy and we have a lot in common.

"We speak to each other regularly and we will ask each other, 'How was this opponent?' and 'What are they good at?'"

Referee charged for swearing at Wise

Referee Danny McDermid has been charged by the FA after he was alleged to have sworn at Dennis Wise, the Leeds United manager.

Wise claimed McDermid used bad language after a stormy match between Leeds and Gillingham at Priestfield on September 29.

Wise has also been fined £5,000 and given a three-match touchline ban for using abusive and/or insulting words towards McDermid during half-time at the same game, the FA confirmed.

Robbie Williams to be consulted about Port Vale manager

Pop star and Port Vale's majority shareholder Robbie Williams is set to be consulted by the club's chairman, Bill Bratt, over the appointment of a new manager.

Bratt said that Williams, who owns £249,000 of the club's shares, hadn't expressed a preference for a candidate.

He added: "The directors are here to run the club so it will be decided by the directors. Obviously we will be in contact with Robbie to let him know the situation and I hope he approves."

Stadium plans sunk by the Royal Navy

Plans for Portsmouth's harbourside stadium have been sunk by the Royal Navy as they are using the land as a base for military aircraft.

The club have been forced to re-locate and have announced new plans to build a waterside stadium on Horsea Island.

Chief Executive Peter Storrie says that the plans include at least 1,500 new homes to be built next to the M.O.D's diving school, building a new access road & bridge across tipner lake and possibly the building of a new railway station for Paulsgrove.

The new stadium itself will be built on the 15-acre site next to the diving school and the design will be similar to the one planned in the harbourside

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Dion Dublin breaks back

Dion Dublin has found out he has a broken back.

Norwich’s ex-England ace, 38, who broke his neck with Aston Villa and a leg at Manchester United, thought an injury sustained against QPR was just bad bruising.

But Canaries caretaker boss Jim Duffy revealed: “Scans have shown he has actually broken one of the smaller bones in his back.”

Minnows unlikely to advance

East Timor, whose stadium has been deemed unfit to play in, have kept hopes of a shock World Cup qualifying victory alive, trailing Hong Kong by a single goal -- which they accidentally scored themselves.

Ranked joint bottom at 200th in the FIFA rankings and without a victory in international soccer, a place in history awaits the Timorese if they can turn around their 3-2 first leg defeat in Hong Kong.

If the minnows are to qualify for the 2010 World Cup, they must get through three more knockout rounds and two group phases and must win most of their 20 matches.

Premiership games in the U.S.

West Ham United's non-executive chairman Eggert Magnusson thinks that taking the Premier League to the USA would be 'good for the game' and would boost soccer's global profile.

With the NFL playing their first regular season game away from home, a debate has opened up over whether the Premier League should follow suit and take English soccer to the US.

'I can see that happening sooner rather than later. It would be good for the game,' Magnusson said.

Arsenal's American shareholder Stan Kroenke added: 'There is probably a good chance of getting a game to go over there because both owners could agree to it,' he said.

'I think there is a reasonable chance it could take place in the future.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Given's linguistic slip-up

Newcastle United's Brazilian defender Claudio Cacapa was delighted to score his first goal for the club in the 3-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur on Monday but he was rather less enamoured of his goalkeeper Shay Given's linguistic skills.

Given has been learning Spanish in an effort to improve his communication with a new defence which also includes the former Villarreal full-back José Enrique.

But the Irishman only managed to confuse Cacapa, who scored with a second-half header against Spurs, when he tried to put the lessons into practice.

"A few of the new lads don't speak much English so I've been trying to learn Spanish to help communicate with them," Given said.

"Unfortunately I tried to speak to Cacapa in Spanish as I'd forgotten they speak Portuguese in Brazil. He just gave me a blank look; I don't think he was very impressed. It wasn't my finest moment."

Are WAGs good role models ?

Instead of thinking of footballers’ wives as vacuous, vain and greedy, education experts reckon they are actually good role models for young women, with most having decent qualifications.

Learning and Skills Council bosses say girls envy their lifestyles without realising many worked hard to build their own careers first.

Becks is the manliest man

This week, David Beckham was ranked first in an online poll asking who was the ``manliest man'' on earth.'s Top 49 Men of 2007 list was drawn up after over one million Internet users cast their votes and expressed their opinions as to which male star deserves to be called "the most masculine male".

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Didier Drogba has promised Chelsea he will ’bee-have’ — after getting his mojo back.

The striker borrowed a line from shagadelic secret agent Austin Powers to describe the Blues’ current form.

Despite last week admitting his intention to quit Stamford Bridge over Jose Mourinho’s departure, Drog wants to go out on a high.

And he aims to continue the sharp-shooting form he showed against Valencia in the Champions League three weeks ago to prove it.

The Ivory Coast international said: “Even before any of us consider what kind of challenge Schalke offer, it’s vital for the players and fans to realise that the 2-1 win in Valencia really got our mojo working.

“It staked a genuine claim for us to be seen as Champions League favourites.

Beckham to play in 4 countries

David Beckham is to play post-season friendlies in four different countries for LA Galaxy.

The injury-hit former England captain returned to full fitness only last week but could not prevent Galaxy’s play-off hopes being dashed.

But in November and December he will play for them in Canada, Australia and New Zealand, as well as the USA.

Puerta's former partner gives birth

The former partner of Sevilla soccer player Antonio Puerta gave birth to his son on Sunday, two months after the player died of heart failure.

Spanish media said Aitor Antonio and his mother Mar Roldan were both in good health and that Sevilla president Jose Maria del Nido was among the well-wishers who visited the Sagrado Corazon hospital in Seville.

Puerta, one of Spain's most promising young players, collapsed on the pitch during Sevilla's season opener against Getafe. He died three days later, aged 22, after a prolonged cardiac arrest.

Baby Aitor has already been enrolled as a season ticket holder of the club, whom his father helped to win back-to-back UEFA Cups and the King's Cup.

Galaxy are like a ‘pub team’

David Beckham's LA Galaxy have been labelled as a ‘pub team’ — by their own goalkeeper, Joe Cannon.

Galaxy missed the MLS play-offs after losing 1-0 to Chicago Fire, despite sub Becks playing for half an hour.

Cannon said: “I’ve not faced that many shots for a long time. “We were like a pub team and Chicago were like Chelsea.”

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Berbatov bust-up

Martin Jol was plunged further into danger on the weekend — and had a bust-up with striker Dimitar Berbatov.

Bulgarian Berba appeared to snub Jol’s orders to go on as a second-half substitute and had to be told three times to get ready.

Jol denied clashing with Berba and said: “There is no problem with Dimitar. He knows the schedule.”

Berbatov also shunned Jol’s hand at the final whistle but the Spurs boss was more concerned with his shaky backline after losing 3-1 to Newcastle.

David Beckham's season lasts 360 minutes

David Beckham is likely to embark on an intensive training programme with an English club side during the months of December and January, particularly if the national team secure qualification for Euro 2008.

Beckham's disjointed first season in America ended on Sunday, after a total of 360 minutes on the pitch, when the Los Angeles Galaxy failed to reach the playoffs.

The former England captain now faces the possibility of more than five months without competitive football before Major League Soccer resumes next April.

Several English clubs have already been in touch, however, with offers to allow him to train with their first-team for several months during the winter.

"I'm a person who likes to train and work every day. I've never had more than three weeks off in the summer," said Beckham.

"I'm not going to know what to do with myself. I'll be keeping on training and keeping fit no matter what. That's the way it's been through my whole career, for the last 15 years."

The oldest club in the world

A dinner tomorrow to celebrate the founding of Sheffield FC, 150 years ago, will feature Sepp Blatter, the president of Fifa, in the same room for the first time as many of the key figures who may use the occasion to persuade him to bring the ultimate and richest prize in football to England in 2018 - the World Cup.

The irony is not lost on Richard Tims, the Sheffield FC chairman.

His club might be the oldest in the world – set up by pioneers who wrote the modern laws of the game in a garden shed – but it is also one of the smallest, playing on a pitch that, until recently, belonged to a pub.

“To think that a club like ours, with a few hundred fans up in Sheffield, will be the centre of attention for that one night is amazing,” he said.

As well as Blatter, guests at the celebratory dinner will include Ramón Calderón, president of Real Madrid, as well as Sir Bobby Charlton and Sir Bobby Robson.

Crucially, though, Geoff Thompson, the FA chairman, will be there alongside Richard Caborn, the former Sports Minister, who is Gordon Brown’s ambassador for the 2018 World Cup bid.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Klinsmann lining up England

Jurgen Klinsmann will join the race to be the next England manager after telling friends he is keen to take his next job in London.

The German has his eyes on possible vacancies at England and Chelsea but neither Roman Abramovich nor the FA could land Klinsmann for less than £5million a year.

Ex-Tottenham striker Klinsmann, 43, based in California, has been out of work since leading Germany to last year's World Cup semi-finals but is ready to return to management.

The appointment of a German to manage England would always be a controversial decision, especially as his only experience of competitive management came at the World Cup finals in his homeland.

But with former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho not interested in the chance to succeed Steve McClaren, Klinsmann will become a leading contender when FA chief executive Brian Barwick starts to look for a new manager as soon as England's Euro 2008 fate is sealed.

Hamann banned

Manchester City footballer Dietmar Hamann was today banned from driving and fined nearly £8,000 for a series of motoring offences.

Hamann, a former German international and Liverpool player, lost his licence after his £70,000 Porsche Carrera crashed into a fence last year and he refused to tell police who was driving.

Macclesfield magistrates heard two police officers stopped the 34-year-old running from the scene of the crash, which happened in the early hours of October 31, but did not breathalyse him.

"They asked him if he was the owner of the car and he answered 'No, I couldn't drive like this,'" Nicola Roberts, prosecuting, said.

"He smelt of intoxicants and said he had been to the Honey Bee [pub]."

The two police officers, who suspected Hamann was the driver, left him to see the crash scene.

They were unable to find him when they returned.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Drogba too taxed

Didier Drogba must have a lot on his mind - scoring goals, slagging off his club - to deal with the DVLA.

After jetting back from Middlesbrough on Saturday night, the Chelsea striker was spotted leaving London's Embassy nightclub in a Porsche Cayenne with a tax disc 21 days out of date.

Scotland Named Dirtiest Team In Europe

Scotland have been tagged the dirtiest national team in Europe.

Alex McLeish's men have one more game to play in the European Championship qualifying campaign and a win at home to Italy next month would take them to the finals.

But official UEFA statistics have put Scotland top of a table they didn't want to win - they have committed more fouls than each of the 50 other teams in Europe.

Records show 175 fouls in their 11 games so far - an average of almost 16 a game. That's three more than Estonia in second place and 30 ahead of England.

And Scotland have given away 95 more free-kicks than Euro 2008's cleanest team Spain.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Stan the actor

Stan Collymore starred in Basic Insinct 2 as Sharon Stone's boyfriend.

They spend the opening scenes having it off in a speeding car, before Sharon kills Stan by crashing the car into a river.

The couple did their own stunts for the scene, and it was during an experience when Stone’s stiletto got jammed in the submerged car that started Sharon Stone blowing Stan’s trumpet. So to speak:

"Working with Stan was extraordinary. He is the loveliest, most chivalrous, most charming and most professional person.

"And because of that, when this incident happened, I felt really confident that we would get out of it…

"We were each other’s life support to make that scene work and to survive what was a really dangerous stunt. There’s no one I would have felt safer with than Stan."

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Tevez's double

Carlos Tevez's younger brother Miguel has joined Manchester United on a 2½-year deal.

Miguel Tevez impressed on his two-week trial at Old Trafford during the international break.

Miguel, 17, was brought to boss Alex Ferguson’s attention by his assistant Carlos Queiroz. The midfielder began his career with Argentine side Boca Juniors - his brother’s first club.

FA to make reluctant Jose Mourinho prime target

Sources close to Mourinho said he is not interested in managing England, despite there being nothing in his severance agreement with Chelsea to prevent it, instructing friends to spread the word that his next job will be in club football.

But there will be a clamour for the Portuguese to take over if McClaren is dismissed and it remains to be seen whether public opinion can change his mind.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The £1 billion blunder

If England fail to qualify for the 2008 European Championship finals, the economy could miss out on up to £1bn of extra spending.

The Centre for Economics and Business Research predicted before the World Cup that consumers and advertisers would spend up to £1.25bn extra during the competition, which is likely to be repeated if England qualify for Euro 2008.

The Football Association could also face reduced replica shirt and other merchandise sales, though television rights and sponsorship revenue would be largely unaffected.

The biggest problem would be the damage done to the England team's global "brand image".

Adu struggling to get playing time in Europe

Freddy Adu has been mainly a spectator with Benfica since arriving in Europe.

The 18-year-old American transferred to the Portuguese club last summer from Real Salt Lake and has played just 64 minutes over 2½ months, appearing twice as a substitute.

Now he's training with the U.S. national team ahead of Wednesday night's exhibition game at Switzerland.

"Freddy is a great talent," said U.S. midfielder DaMarcus Beasley, who had similar problems getting playing time during stretches when he was with PSV Eindhoven.

"He just needs to keep his head straight and not get too down on himself, and when he gets his chances to take them."

Since former Spain coach Jose Antonio Camacho took over, Adu's only appearance was in the final 11 minutes of a league match against Sporting Lisbon on Sept. 30.

1021 minutes without conceding a goal

Rio Ferdinand had gone 1,021 minutes without conceding a goal for Manchester United and England before Russia scored their first goal.

His next spell lasted four minutes.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Pub team

When Curtis Davies likened his recent Aston Villa debut to the performance of a pub player, he knew what he was talking about.

For not only is the former West Bromwich Albion captain intelligent, honest and, on a given evening, capable of playing rubbish, he has actually turned out for a pub team.

“I did once, when I was about 17, for The Antelope,” Davies said.

“It was my brother Danny’s team in London and they were short. It was before I broke into Luton Town’s first-team squad. In the first half, I was dribbling round everyone so I went in goal for the second half; I nearly saved a penalty as well. I realised I shouldn’t be taking anyone’s place out on the field.

Leeds in the clear

Leeds have escaped punishment for the pitch invasion which marred their final Championship home game of the season in April.

The Elland Road club, docked 15 points after going into administration when their relegation to League One was confirmed by the 1-1 draw with Ipswich, will not be censured for the scenes which saw the game delayed for 30 minutes.

An FA spokesman said: "It has always been our policy to punish the people who committed the offences rather than clubs themselves."

West Yorkshire Police released photographs of those fans who ran on to the pitch and have made 17 arrests.

One of the four fans who have already been before the courts was handed a five-year ban from all football grounds.

Another eight people have been charged with offences relating to the pitch invasion, while the remaining five fans arrested have been released on police bail.

Football's no fun

Harry Redknapp believes football was far more fun in the old days and the game appears to have lost its true working-class identity.

The Portsmouth boss claims the multi-billion-pound industry is run like a business and the pressure to succeed on and off the field has become intolerable.

Redknapp said: "I'd be a total liar if I said football wasn't far more fun in the good old days.

"Sure, there's loads of money in the game, but where's the real passion and desire coming from?

"In my day we didn't give a damn about the money, we just wanted to play football.

"We were driven by the desire to succeed. We lived within earshot of the grounds, used public transport and drank in the same pubs as the punters.

"I accept the game has evolved and you have to change and adapt to the times.

"But if you ask any footballer from my time and before they'll say it was a lot more enjoyable. Managers didn't come and go in a flash either.

"Clubs notoriously stood by their own, but the days of a manager lasting 15 or 20 years have long gone.

"Fun has given way to intense pressure, intolerable pressure at times. People say the money has compensated for that, but I don't agree."

Lineker's emotions

The Match of the Day panel may boast 202 international caps between them - but Gary Lineker candidly revealed that, despite all that experience, their emotions are as volatile as any fan's.

It was a contrite admission from the 80-times-capped Lineker after he presided over an incredibly negative buildup to England's qualifier against Israel last month.

Lineker confessed he and his three-man team of Alan Hansen, Alan Shearer and Ian Wright are as guilty as any supporters in the Wembley stands of dramatic mood swings.

Lineker confessed: "We tend to get carried away with England - they are either the worst team in the world or the best."

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Biking to games

57-year-old Cambridge United fan Peter Woor is a keen cyclist as well as football aficionado and likes to combine his two passions by cycling to his team's games - both home and away.

This means that Woor has travelled over to fifty-six different grounds in support of his team.

'I do 10,000 miles a year and compete every year in a cycling event in Italy,' Woor says of his unusual habit.

'It's amazing how far you can get on a bike.'

Indeed, his latest trip took him 168 miles on a 12 hour ride to Altrincham. However, rather than being able to enjoy his side's 3-0 triumph over the Cheshire side in the relative comfort of the ground, Woor found himself arriving late and locked out.

'It's a sorry tale,' he said. 'I was really upset because of the 3-0 win I missed. It was very windy and slow going. I got lost in Leicester on the one-way system and didn't reckon on how hilly it was going to be.'

'I started out at 7.45am and got there at 8.20pm, going on half time,' Woor continued.

'No-one was around. They usually open up the gates at half-time but they must keep them banged up in there - it's a rum place. It was deserted outside so I started shouting over the walls. No-one heard me or they thought I was a mad Altrincham fan, so I went to a pub across the road. The locals were amazed by my tale and bought me a pint.'

Woor eventually got into the ground twenty minutes from full-time, but, if an Altrincham spokeswoman is to be believed, he could have got in a whole lot earlier.

'We have a late gate which closes approximately 20 minutes into the game and we open the exit gates 20 minutes before the game ends. We do have a bell on the main gate and someone who watches the game and keeps an eye on the gate. He should have got in.'

Robson to resume chemo

Former England manager Sir Bobby Robson said on Tuesday he would resume chemotherapy treatment next week in his ongoing fight against cancer but that he hoped to remain involved with Irish soccer.

The 74-year-old, who is Ireland's national football adviser, has battled the illness for a number of years. "I am doing alright. I think the word is I am fighting," he told Irish public broadcaster RTE.

"I am coping with it and I am getting on with my life. I am not sitting at home vegetating," he said.

Robson was brought in as a consultant to the Irish squad in 2006 to offset the inexperience of national coach Steve Staunton who, despite being a veteran of three World Cups as a player, had never coached a team by himself.

Moscow weather

England fans who prefer to watch their team shirtless will be pleased to hear the weather will not be too cold in Moscow.

Temperatures can dip below freezing at this time of year but the forecast is expected to be around three to four degrees at kick-off at 4pm.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Soccer urinal

Inter stand closed for offensive banners

Part of the San Siro stadium will be closed for Inter Milan's next Serie A home game as punishment for offensive banners their fans displayed during Napoli's visit 10 days ago.

'Fans of the host club grouped in the second tier of the north stand showed large banners with statements insulting to the rival fans and, above all, their city of origin,' the Italian Soccer League said in a statement on its website.

'In the second half chants of a similar derogatory tone were heard from the same sector of the stadium.'

One of the banners read: 'Naples, Sewer of Italy'.

As a result the second tier of the San Siro's north stand, the Curva Nord, will be empty for Genoa's visit on Oct. 31.

Inter were also fined 30,000 euros.

Le God may not have made the first team

Matthew Le Tissier was so good at Southampton he was nicknamed “Le God”, but he claims that if his career started now, he might never even make the first team at an English club because of the current focus on fitness.

“If I was coming through the ranks now I would probably have to be a lot fitter than I was,” he said.

“I wasn’t the fittest bloke in the squad but I was fairly fit. I was not unfit. The fitness side of things was very difficult for me. I did not have a great lung capacity naturally.

“I am not sure I would even make it through to a first team because I wasn’t an athlete, because I could not do the 100 metres in under 11½ seconds and it would be very difficult to break through on talent alone. It is horrific, but that is the way it is going.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Babel axed for oversleeping

Liverpool's Ryan Babel was axed from the Holland team that lost 1-0 in Saturday's Euro 2008 qualifier with Romania because of oversleeping, according to coach Marco van Basten.

Van Basten picked Real Madrid's Arjen Robben in place of Babel as a punishment after the Anfield player twice missed team meetings.

Van Basten said: "It was the second time that Babel overslept on a match day. That should never happen.

"That's why I left him out of the team. Robben trained hard and he is fit, so he played instead."

The coach added: "It is very likely that Babel feels disappointed. The first time he arrived too late, he settled the matter with a joke. The second time he joined us too late for the meal and that was a bit too much. He has to appear on time, just like all the others."

Babel, 20, came on as a 78th-minute substitute.

Giggs nearly swapped football for rugby

Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs has revealed how close he came to swapping football for rugby league.

The son of former Welsh Rugby League star, Danny Wilson, Giggs is close to breaking Sir Bobby Charlton's appearance record for the Reds.

But he admits: "I loved rugby league just as much as football."I played for my school team and for other junior teams in Salford and Langworthy.

"And I'd just played my first game for Lancashire when United signed me as a schoolboy.

"Part of the deal was that I couldn't play any other sports, which was disappointing because I loved my rugby league. If I hadn't been spotted, maybe I would have gone the other way."

All-singing, all-dancing player

Charlton striker Chris Dickson, currently on loan to Millwall, has show-business aspirations.

"I went to The Brits Performing Arts School in Croydon and was in the same year as Leona Lewis, who won the X Factor last year," he said.

"Her win was an inspiration to me. It convinced me nothing would stop me from doing what I wanted to do.

"Amy Winehouse and Craig David went to The Brits School before me. I got two A-levels in performing arts there.

"We did singing, dancing and acting. I had to sing songs from the musicals, and also did some R'n'B stuf f, but it's not something I talk about much, in case people think I'm soft.

"Going into the music business is definitely something I'll think about once I've finished playing. Simon Cowell looks pretty scary on TV, but he's not as scary as my manager at Charlton, Alan Pardew."

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Rooney doesn't like the attention

Wayne Rooney does not enjoy all the attention he gets.

"Anyone who knows me knows I hate that. I'm really a quiet, family man. I tend to go round to my auntie and uncle's a lot to be around the family. I've only just started playing golf, playing a few rounds. I'm not the best, no. I play on my computer a bit. I play a bit of pool."

"When I've finished training, I just go home and most days I just watch TV."

He is intrigued that the country is fascinated in Rooney the person, as well as Rooney the footballer.

"Yes, but of course people out there want to know. When I was a young lad there were professional footballers and I wanted to know about them because they were my idols. For me now, as it has turned around, I understand the attention a bit more. But I don't think there's anything too interesting to find out."

Tagged hitman Pericard arrested again

Stoke striker Vincent Pericard has been re-arrested by police after his electronic tag fell off for a second time.

The tag, which first came loose after training earlier this week, fell off again after the 25-year-old made a goalscoring return for Stoke's reserves on Wednesday.

The tag is supposed to be fitted 24 hours a day to ensure Pericard observes a curfew between 7pm and 7am, and its removal is believed to have been an accident on both occasions.

The curfew was lifted temporarily on Wednesday evening to allow him to play for the reserves at the Britannia Stadium, but the tag was supposed to remain fitted throughout to monitor his return home that night.

Pericard was released early from prison a fortnight ago after serving nearly five weeks of a four-month sentence for falsely claiming he was not the driver of his speeding car.

He was ordered to wear the electronic tag for a three-week period after his release.

Outrage over escort agency sposorship

An Italian football team has scored a controversial winner - by signing a sponsorship deal with an escort agency.

Trentino 1921 have received 10,000 euros (about £7,000) in the agreement which sees the name of the escort agency, Casa Bianca or White House, posted on the club's official website.

By clicking on to the logo - a white rose - surfers are taken to the Casa Bianca website, which warns it contains material of a sexual nature and users must be more than 18 years old.

The agency is based over the Austrian border in Innsbruck and describes itself as the "home of pleasure", adding that Casa Bianca is a "sensuous place to get everything you want".

France want Faroes postponement

France will ask for their Euro 2008 qualifier to be postponed after the squad's plane was unable to land in the Faroe Islands.

"The federation will ask for the game to be postponed because these are extraordinary circumstances," said a source from the French Federation.

The team plane was diverted to Bergen in Norway due to bad weather.

Les Bleus will either fly to the Faroes on Saturday morning or take a ferry to fulfill the Group B fixture.

Uefa rules state that a team have to arrive at the match venue 24 hours before kickoff, which was scheduled for 1500 GMT on Saturday.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Deportivo Wanka

Peruvian football team Deportivo Wanka has been giving Manchester United a run for its money in the replica kit market, although the Huancayo-based outfit has no idea why more than 1,000 British fans might want to sport a Deportivo Wanka shirt.

The team is named after the Wanka tribe which once occupied Huancayo.

A spokesperson said: "It is very strange. Everyone in Britain seems to think we have a funny name."

The team's ignorance of the true meaning of its name was confirmed by Subside Sports, which sells the kit online.

"The club just doesn’t get the joke," the e-commerce operation admitted.

The Deportivo Wanka shirt is currently sold out, although hard-core Wankas can pre-order now for March delivery.

Austrians petition to have team withdraw

Having the opportunity to host a soccer tournament as big as Euro 2008 should be a moment of pride for all of Austria come next summer. And it may be. But some Austrians have decided that they might have a better time without their own team.

Dismayed at their national team's poor performance, fans have started a petition to have their team withdrawn from the tournament.

Started by four fans aged 33-40, the petition has been signed by more than 4,000 Austrian fans since it launched less than a week ago.

Leeds 'sign' horse

Leeds United have unveiled 'Minus Fifteen', a racehorse owned by one of the club's fans, who named it in protest at their 15 point deduction for a breach of insolvency rules.

Southgate blocks charity donation

Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate has blocked his club's donation to a nursing charity, claiming it "bordered on blackmail".

The Mayday to Nurses' Hardship Fund urged players to hand over a day's pay. But it then published which footballers had given money and who still owed on its website, angering Southgate.

He accused the charity of "shaming" players and has pulled the plug on his club's donation, saying it did a lot for charity without publicity.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


Three referees

Fifa will experiment by using three referees in matches at the Club World Cup in December. The plan is to have two extra goalmouth officials, while goal line technology will also be tested.

Delia to quit

T.V. chef Delia Smith is ready to quit her role as Norwich’s main director.

One of football’s most famous boardroom personalities, Delia boasts £8million in shares.

But she is set to hand over the club within the next month to a couple who own a multi-million pound mortgage-lending company.

The celebrity TV cook, Norwich’s joint majority shareholder with husband Michael Wynn-Jones, has been looking for outside investment for the last year.

Currently filming her latest TV series, she is likely to remain on the Carrow Road club’s board but is keen to take a back seat along with Wynn-Jones.

Delia bailed out Norwich — currently third bottom in the Championship after Monday’s 1-0 defeat at fellow strugglers QPR — just 48 hours before the club went into administration in 1996.

She has been a fierce critic of overseas investors and insisted she would never sell to someone who did not have the interests of the club at heart.

But Canaries supporters Andrew and Sharon Turner, who own finance firm Central Trust, fit the bill.

The pair, believed to be worth around £300m, bought a small number of shares in the summer and gave the club a £2m loan. They are now ready to significantly increase their stake and take charge of the East Anglian outfit.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Pele to visit Bramall Lane

Sheffield United have announced that Brazil legend Pele will be the guest of honour for their home game against Ipswich on November 6.

The massive coup comes as the south Yorkshire club attempts to strengthen its links with Brazilian Giants Sao Paulo. Pele will also attend Sheffield FC's 150th anniversary game against Inter Milan at Bramall Lane on November 8. United director Simon McCabe told the club's official website:

"This is fantastic news for Sheffield United, all our fans, the city and, of course, Sheffield FC in their anniversary year.

"As a club we have made remarkable progress in the last few years and have become a truly international footballing organisation with links in China, Africa, the Caribbean and now South America. Pele's ears have been twitching about Sheffield United as we have developed our relationship with Sao Paulo.

"He has heard so much about United that he now wants to see the club first hand and at the same time take time out to visit the first soccer club in the world - Sheffield FC."

Split-squad for World Cup qualifiers

Faced with the prospect of playing two World Cup qualifiers at very different altitudes in the space of four days later this month, Bolivia will take the unusual step of splitting their squad in two.

Ahead of games away to Uruguay - to be played at sea-level - and home to Colombia - at high altitude - Bolivia will allow all foreign-based players to train in the lowlands while domestic-based players will prepare in the highlands.

Beckham buys houses for ailling Dad

David Beckham has vowed to buy his sick dad Ted a new house in England plus an apartment in California in a bid to heal the rift between them.

Friends say the football superstar is determined they'll make a fresh start as Ted, 59, recovers from his near fatal heart attack 11 days ago.

Last Sunday we revealed how Becks felt guilty and blamed himself for his dad's brush with death. Now, as well as promising Ted two new mortgage-free homes, David has offered to pay for a full-time carer for a year to nurse him back to health.

And the former England captain pledged to visit regularly so Ted can build a real relationship with the family, especially with his three young grandsons Brooklyn, Romeo and Cruz.

Ireland withdraws again

Manchester City midfielder Stephen Ireland has withdrawn from the Republic of Ireland's squad to play Germany and Cyprus in Euro 2008 qualifiers.

Ireland has claimed he "would not do his country or himself justice" in the wake of his controversial withdrawal from the last qualifier against the Czech Republic in September, when he claimed his grandmother had died, a statement which was later found to be not true.

He later admitted he made the story up in order to be with his girlfriend, who had suffered a miscarriage.

"I have thought long and hard about whether I would do my country and myself justice if I joined up with the squad," said Ireland.

"Unfortunately, I don't believe I would on this occasion. The support I have received from Steve Staunton and the FAI has been excellent and everybody at Manchester City has also been superb. However, I do not believe I can make a positive contribution to our efforts to qualify."

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Player threatens to boycott Chile match

Chile defender Arturo Vidal on Monday threatened not to play in this month's two World Cup qualifiers because of a pay row going back to this year's Under-20 World Cup in Canada.

Vidal said the members of the under-20 squad were still waiting to receive a bonus of £5,000 each for finishing third in the tournament in July.

'I'm going to speak to the coach because they have to pay us this money,' the Bayer Leverkusen player told reporters. 'We've been waiting two months and there's no solution.'

'I think we'll take drastic measures to get paid.'

The Chilean federation say the money has not been paid because they are investigating an incident following the semi-final defeat against Argentina, when players brawled with Canadian police.

All 21 members of the squad were briefly detained after the game in Toronto. Witnesses said police used pepper spray and electric-shock guns against the players.

Jewish group wants player dropped

Germany's leading Jewish organisation has called for an Iranian-born player to be dropped from Germany's under-21 national soccer team for withdrawing from an upcoming match against Israel.

Ashkan Dejagah, 21, withdrew on personal grounds from Germany's European Championships qualifier against Israel, to be played in Tel Aviv on Friday, the German Football Association (DFB) said on Monday.

But the player was quoted in Monday's edition of tabloid daily Bild as saying his decision not to play was politically motivated.

Dejagah, who plays for Bundesliga club VfB Wolfsburg, was born in Tehran, but moved to Germany with his parents. He holds both German and Iranian passports.

Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iran has refused to recognise Israel's right to exist and Iranian citizens are forbidden from travelling to Israel.

Argentine barra bravas

In Argentina, not only do fans of opposing teams clash, but so do fans of the same team, as the main barra bravas have different factions that are constantly fighting for power.

These gangs are professional organizations that deal with large amounts of money, and normally consist of between 100 to 300 members.

One of the biggest groups, Boca Juniors' La Doce ("The Twelfth Man") -- whose leader, Rafael Di Zeo, was imprisoned in March -- is said to consist of around 2,000 members.

As Argentina's main national newspaper, Clarín, recently declared, "Not only do club directors and players fund the barra bravas, but so do celebrities and politicians." (Many clubs deny any association with the gangs.)

Most barra bravas have similar roles. On Sundays, they attend their club's matches and set the scene in the terraces, chanting for their team while creating an intimidating atmosphere for the opposition in the middle of the stands behind the goals.

But their roles change during the week. Some members of barra bravas are also well-paid employees of their club.

Warnock's hint to return to work

Former Sheffield United boss Neil Warnock's wife Sharon gave him a hint to return to management last week.

He walked into his kitchen to see her cutting a 10% off voucher from a packet of cereal and he said: "I know I am out of work but that is a bit over the top, isn't it?"

Monday, October 08, 2007

Dida faces Uefa inquiry

Uefa has opened disciplinary proceedings against AC Milan and their Brazilian goalkeeper Dida after the Champions League game at Celtic.

Dida collapsed dramatically after a fan appeared to strike him near the end of Milan's 2-1 defeat on Wednesday.

The 34-year-old was stretchered off but has been criticised for overreacting.

WAGs to blame for loss of form - coach

Dynamo Kiev's coach blamed his players' girlfriends and wives for the team's performances this season and ordered the squad to a training camp away from any distractions, the club's website said.

Dynamo, last year's champions for the 12th time since 1992, have started the season poorly, spending most of August and September languishing in the bottom half of the 16-team league.

On Saturday, their recovery continued when they beat Zarja Lugansk 2-1 to move to third behind arch rivals Shakhtar Donetsk and Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk.

Asked by a female reporter at a news conference whether the performance was shameful for the reigning champions, coach Josef Sabo said:

'Personally, I'm not ashamed because I see how in a short time they have made very good progress, because I have taken them away from their women, from their wives.

'We went to the (training) base, because women in football are a scourge. They do not understand that men need to work, that they have a hard job to do,' he said.

Overcharged by the police

Wigan Athletic are demanding the return of nearly £300,000 in charges it paid for policing its home fixtures. The club claims that Greater Manchester Police overcharged it for covering matchdays at the JJB Stadium.

The club's chairman, Dave Whelan has demanded the return of about £293,000 paid during 2003/04 and 2004/05. Michael Todd, Greater Manchester's Chief Constable, said the charges were reasonable and entirely lawful.

The High Court was told that Wigan used to be charged for special policing services it had requested inside the stadium. But the court heard that now GMP (Greater Manchester Police) also demanded payment for policing the area surrounding the stadium.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Scharner is The Spaceman

His team-mates call him The Spaceman, and Wigan defender Paul Scharner does a nice line in self-deprecation, chuckling: "They think I'm from another planet."

A glance at the blue streaks in his hair and thick fur coat was enough for keeper Mike Pollitt to confer the nickname on him when he signed from Brann Bergen.

Unorthodox scarcely begins to describe most of the methods instilled in him by Austrian mind coach Valentin Hobel, but he is adamant they work, all the same.

As match day nears, he bids farewell to his wife and two young children at the family home in Warrington and goes into solitary confinement, for anything up to 24 hours, to make sure he is "in the zone" when kick-off arrives.

To complete a character study that hardly fits the Premier League norm, he hangs on every note of Mozart's piano sonatas and sat enthralled as William Wallace, in the guise of Mel Gibson, delivered his address to the troops at Stirling in the film Braveheart, even if it was dubbed into German.

Manager banned for head-butt

Rushden & Diamonds boss Garry Hill has been suspended from all football for two weeks by the FA after butting Salisbury assistant manager Tommy Widdrington last month.

Having already been fined by his club, he was also fined £500.

Widdrington was left with a broken nose, while both clubs were also charged by the FA with failing to control the conduct of their players and/or officials.

Hill said: "I wish to apologise to the club and the fans."

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Fake fans

A new stadium built for next summer's European Championship finals is blasting fake cheers out of speakers during games because the real crowd can't be heard.

Twenty huge speakers were installed around FC Zurich's Letzigrund stadium in Switzerland following complaints about the accoustics and lack of atmosphere after it opened just over a month ago.

The master race

Sir Alex Ferguson raved about the results being achieved by Scotland's top club sides this week.

Speaking on MUTV Fergie said: "What a week it's been for Scottish football - the master race is back."

Friday, October 05, 2007

Celtic fan banned for life

A Celtic fan who ran on to the pitch during the Champions League game against AC Milan has been arrested for breach of the peace.

The 27-year-old has also been banned for life by Celtic after he made himself known to the Glasgow club.

He had rushed from the stand following Celtic's last-minute goal and appeared to strike Milan goalkeeper Dida. Chief executive Peter Lawwell told the club's website:

"It is satisfying that he has been identified so swiftly."

The impact from the fan's flailing arm appeared minimal, but Dida collapsed to the ground and was taken off on a stretcher after initially chasing the culprit for a few steps.

Personalised registration plates

West Ham are hotly tipped to knock Arsenal off the top of the Premier League of personalised registrations.

The numberplate WE57 HAM is for sale and expected to fetch more than the £36,000 that someone paid for AR53 NAL

Ronaldo "will be beautiful once again"

Cristiano Ronaldo chose to dismiss a tangle with AS Roma's Mirko Vucinic as an unfortunate accident, but he still tried to hide a small gash on his left eyebrow.

“I don’t like to look like this, but in four or five days I will be beautiful once again,” he said.

With that there was a disarming smile, in keeping with the United forward’s desire to project a softer image, a desire shared by his many commercial partners and, presumably, the publishers of his new book, Moments, which is less an autobiography than an extended plug for the Ronaldo brand.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Owen comeback

Michael Owen has made an amazing return to training – just three days after surgery on his stomach injury.

The England striker came through a secret session with Newcastle team-mate Damien Duff which will increase hope that he will be fit for England’s vital Euro 2008 clash with Estonia in 10 days’ time.

Owen had two operations in a German clinic, on Friday and Saturday, to clear a muscle complaint that Newcastle feared had turned into a double hernia.

But he had recovered enough to link up with specialist fitness coach John Green and fellow crock Duff for a private workout at Mottram Hall, near Manchester.

Wearing a blue training kit, Owen embarked on a series of shuttle runs and fitness work which suggests he is well ahead of schedule in his bid to return to full fitness.

At one stage he was sprinting half the length of a pitch – clearly at a far more advanced stage of rehabilitation than the light jogging which Newcastle had earmarked for him at this stage.

Online petition to revitalize career

For Patty Rodriguez, the Beautiful Game turned ugly when it took her boyfriend Michael Munoz – then of Chivas USA – 400 miles north to San Francisco and strained their relationship.

Munoz spent this season with California Victory of the United Soccer Leagues (USL) after Chivas released him following an ankle injury.

For Rodriguez, an assistant producer with the "On Air With Ryan Seacrest" morning radio program in Los Angeles, that meant months of long-distance telephone calls, fleeting visits to the Bay Area and countless tears.

After an emotional phone call last week, Rodriguez decided to take drastic action to get her man back to Southern California.

She took the remarkable step of starting an online petition aimed at convincing Chivas brass to allow Munoz to revitalize his Major League Soccer career.

She has already convinced over 800 well-wishers to sign up and although she admits to being a "hopeless romantic," she is determined to prove she isn't pursuing a hopeless cause.

First team to win every domestic trophy

Wolves were the first team to win every domestic trophy.

They completed the set when they won the (then) Sherpa Van Trophy in 1988.

Apart from four FA Cups (1893, 1908, 1949, 1960), three First Division championships (1953-54, 1957-58, 1958-59) and two League Cups (1974, 1980), the Wolves set also includes the Charity Shield (beating Forest in 1959), the FA Youth Cup (1958) and the Anglo-Scottish Cup (1971).

They have also won the Second Division (1931-32, 1976-77), the Third Division (1988-89), the Third Division North (1923-24) and the Fourth Division (1987-88)

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Toad of Toad Hall

Crotch-grabbing celebration

Former Colombia striker Leider Preciado has been given a six-match ban for an offensive celebration after scoring his 100th goal for Santa Fe.

The Colombian league's disciplinary committee also fined Preciado 2.17 million pesos ($1,075.93) after he grabbed his genitals in a gesture aimed at the team's own fans during Sunday's 1-1 draw with Real Cartagena.

"It has come to the knowledge of this committee that Leider Preciado made obscene gestures at the public during the Santa Fe-Real Cartagena match," said a statement of the league's Web site.

The decision completed an unhappy week for Preciado after he arrived late for practice on Tuesday and was ordered to train separately.

Preciado, who played and scored in the 1998 World Cup, has apologised for the celebration which he said was in the heat of the moment after the team were barracked by the supporters.

Santa Fe are 15th in the 18-team Colombian championship with nine points from 10 games.

Worst match-fixing attempt ever

The worst match-fixing attempt ever has earned Cameroon side Bamboutos a double relegation after their captain Koss Roger gave an envelope containing cash to Federal skipper Nkouma Rim on the pitch - minutes later Rim let Roger score in his side's 3-2 win.

Die-hard fans

Clubs are always looking for innovative ways to squeeze money out of their fans, even when they are dead.

Plenty of them already sell club-branded coffins for die-hard supporters and German side Hamburg are going one further.

They are building their own club graveyard, near to their stadium and with an entrance designed like a goalmouth and plots arranged in a semi-circle on three levels to resemble a football stand.

"We'll have room for 300 to 500 graves," said Christian Reichert, a member of HSV's managing board, who said that 15 people had already made reservations.

"The oldest is 85 years old, the youngest 27."

81-year-old fan Ernst Schmidt is keen on being buried there, even though he is already supposed to be getting buried next to his wife: "I'm going to enquire whether it's possible," he said.

"I've been an HSV fan for 57 years. My life, it's only football."

Lazaridis still forbidden to train

Former Birmingham and West Ham winger Stan Lazaridis has finally been cleared to make his comeback in November after a 12-month drug ban, but he's still forbidden from training with his club Perth Glory in the A-League.

Nor can he take part in any of Western Australia's local leagues or, incredibly, even watch his teammates in action.

The 35-year-old ex-Socceroo remains in footballing limbo even though an Australian anti-doping tribunal gave him the shortest possible suspension - 12 months - after he tested positive for a banned substance he'd been prescribed for hair loss last year.

'It's a ridiculous situation and very unfair for a team sport player,' a Perth Glory insider said.

'Stan isn't a track and field athlete who can easily train by himself. He needs to be with his teammates.'

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

It's not often you let in 4 goals, and win

Boy hurt in Gerrard car collision

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has been involved in a traffic collision with a 10-year-old boy.

The boy suffered leg injuries when he was in collision with the England player's car near his luxury home on Grantham Road, Birkdale, Merseyside.

Onlookers said the 27-year-old sat with the boy before an ambulance arrived. A spokesman for the player said he had spoken to police and had been driving very slowly before the accident at 1515BST, when the boy ran out.

He said: "Steven was driving very slowly through an area of Birkdale when a young boy ran out and hit the side of his car."

"Steven comforted the boy until the paramedics arrived."

"The Liverpool captain was distressed over the accident and has been in contact with the boy's family to check his progress and plans to visit him in the next couple of days."

The child is suspected to have suffered a broken leg during the accident.

Grant walks around using his mobile phone a lot

A source at Portsmouth Football Club has given an interesting insight into the workings of Chelsea's new manager Avram Grant.

Grant was brought in as Pompey's technical director by co-owner Alexandre Gaydamak, much to the displeasure of Harry Redknapp.

During the time that they worked together, Harry used to ask exactly what Grant did as technical director. Others at the club said they were not sure exactly, but saw him walking around using his mobile phone a lot.

Unlike the man he replaces at Chelsea, he wasn't known as a great communicator although he did help put together a motivational video at Pompey.

He remained in constant touch with Abramovich during his time on the south coast and, when he finally came to leave for Chelsea, Harry offered to give him a lift up the A3.

Team of wimps

Brazilian side Botafogo suffered a 3-0 home defeat to Goias on Sunday to round off four miserable days, during which their coach quit and angry fans hurled women's underwear at players.

Having already forced the abandonment of Saturday's training session by brawling with club security staff, supporters showed their dissatisfaction by singing the club song with their backs to the pitch as the players ran on to the field.

They unfurled banners reading 'team with no shame' and 'team of wimps'.Fans protested again as the players left the stadium, chanting 'team of dolls'.

Highest coach turnover rate

Brazil, where the season runs from February to December, has one of the highest turnover of coaches in the world, and Corinthians manager Ze Augusto became the 33rd casualty of the season last week among the 20 first division clubs.

America-Natal, bottom of the Brazilian championship, are on to their fifth coach of the year while Juventude and Figueirense have both employed four, including the current incumbents.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Lyon president to feed player whiskey

Lyon chief Jean-Michel Aulas says he's going to feed Barry Ferguson whisky tonight.

Aulas' remark is a thinly-veiled attack on the alleged Ibrox drinking culture that ruined Paul Le Guen's reign at Rangers. The Stade Gerland president is a close friend of Le Guen who, he feels, didn't have a chance of succeeding in Glasgow because of the attitudes in the dressing room.

Aulas made no attempt to disguise the fact he feels Ferguson was ringleader.

And the cheeky chairman says he'll head for the skipper's hotel room tonight to ply him full of the hard stuff ahead of tomorrow's Champions League crunch.

He said: "We're going to take care of Ferguson before the match.

"I'm going to go up to the Rangers hotel and bring Mr Ferguson a little gift to show our admiration.

Mariah Carey related to Ashley Cole

Mariah Carey has revealed that she is distantly related to Chelsea football star, Ashley Cole.

Upon researching a possible link to American jazz crooner, Nat King Cole, Mariah discovered the family connection.

Mariah says: “It’s fascinating. My grandmother was a Cole before she married and it turns out she comes from the same area of Alabama as Ashley’s ancestors – the Deep South.”

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