DONNY NOGGINS GONE
Scotland were so good the other night that everyone wants in. Steve Clarke’s team got right up in Ukraine’s grille on Wednesday like the genetically spliced progeny of Valeriy Lobanovskyi and Irvine Welsh, and now the whole world wants to hitch its wagon to the runaway train that is Scottish football. One example of this craze – admittedly the only example, but trends have to start somewhere – is that of spanking new (est.2022) Sheffield & Hallamshire County Senior Football League Division Two side Doncaster City, who have made an application to the SFA to play in next season’s Scottish Cup and yes this is a slow news day even by the standards of your average international break.
City, who are backed by Mr 15% Willie McKay and sponsored by large-mug-and-other-tat vendors Sports Direct, have ambitious plans to build a “hub of football for the north of England” incorporating training pitches, accommodation, entertainment and a canteen. The hope is that big teams from the south, abroad, That London, etc, will fly into Doncaster Sheffield airport when playing up north and pitch camp with them. A sound business idea, we’re sure you and at least two other Dragons will agree, but they’re not going to stop there. City are also planning to do some football of their own, and to this end, ineligible for the FA Cup as a tier-13 side – only level nine gets into the velvet bag – they’re trying to wheedle their way into the SFA’s equally luxurious sack, arguing Donny is in fact part of Scotland.
This is indeed as stupid as it sounds, but nevertheless has a vague connection to reality. Back in 1136, King Stephen of England and King David I of Scotland stopped hoying clods of earth at each other’s head and signed a peace treaty. David was given Carlisle, Cumberland, Lancashire, that nice service station that has a farmers’ shop just off the M6 and Doncaster, and though nearly all of it was later taken back, Donny was never formally returned to English possession. So you can see where City are going with this. A smart plan, albeit one that appears doomed to failure, given their membership of the English FA means they don’t meet the entry requirements of the Scottish Cup. They could of course still do a Berwick Rangers, throwing their lot in with the authorities across the border, citing Steve and Dave’s 1136 treaty, and take things from there … but The Fiver advises them to keep their counsel for a couple more days at least. See how the Republic O’Ireland fare at Hampden on Saturday, for a start. Maybe the clamour to grab a piece of that hot Scottish action will have suddenly died down.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“They love to talk about the old days, the man are old like ‘Annie, are you OK?’, I prefer not to speak like I’m José” – Roma boss José Mourinho makes a natural progression into UK rap, bringing dad vibes to Stormzy’s video for new track ‘Mel Made Me Do It’.
“So, a few weeks on a Harvard business course qualifies Mark Noble as a new sporting director of West Ham (yesterday’s Quote of the Day). It now appears the Hammers finally have a long-range plan in place. Very long range, in fact” – John Weldon.
“As an Everton fan, I can only rejoice in the news of Hair Transplant Clinic sponsorship (yesterday’s Commercial Deal of the Day). Forget winning the league. But at long last it’s going to be possible to see the whole team, manager and coaches all sporting home-grown double Mohicans, perhaps reintroducing a mullet at the rear, and maybe knee-length beards, assuming the magic hair ointment works on chins. All tastefully dyed blue and white, obviously. It’s what we’ve all been waiting for. Although I do wonder if they will be ditching the club crest for a before-and-after bald eagle? Surely Crystal Palace would have something to say about that” – Steve Malone.
“If you don’t give Noble Francis one of the jobs you advertised recently, can you at least give him a prize? The poor lad’s been writing in every day and must be gutted when the letter o’ the day goes to someone else. Maybe we Fiver readers could start a whip-round and buy him a copy?” – Morgan.
Send your letters to firstname.lastname@example.org. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our letter o’ the day, who also scoops our final copy of Jonathan Wilson’s Two Brothers, which is also available to buy here, is … Steve Malone. Sorry Noble.
GOAL OF THE DAY
There’s downtown and then there’s downtown. Aaron Herrera, for Real Salt Lake, in their 2-1 friendly defeat to Mexican outfit Atlas.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
More than 1,700 Liverpool fans who suffered injury and trauma during the near-disaster in Paris last season have registered for potential claims to sue Uefa.
Fifteen members of the Spain women’s team have made themselves unavailable due to their worsening emotional state while Jorge Vilda continues as head coach. The Spanish Federation is being as masculine as you’d expect in its response, huffing that the players would not play again until they “admit their error and apologise”.
Gareth Southgate is sticking with Harry Maguire, whether you like it or not. “It’s important to back our best players. Whatever reputation I have, I’m putting it on [the line] there,” honked the England boss, perhaps overplaying the importance of Nations League matches.
Mansfield have changed the Saturday kick-off time for next month’s match against Walsall from 3pm to 1pm due to the ongoing energy crisis. “[This] will enable the club to discern whether significant savings can be made on floodlight usage,” said a suit.
Manchester United’s wage bill has hit a record high of £384.2m, with the club’s £200m summer splurge on shiny new players not helping.
And despite being harshly sent off in the win over Wales, Roberto Martínez is still focusing on how to spread those upbeat Bobby M vibes through the Belgium camp. “It may have been yellow, but never red,” he yelped. “[Eden Hazard] told me that, in Belgium, you have to pay for a dinner party with a red card. I will do that.”
A picture of Pep Guardiola painted on a house near the Etihad Stadium has been defaced with “MUFC” graffiti, a day after it was completed. Meanwhile, Jürgen Klopp’s massive face has been etched on to the gable end of possibly the last remaining terraced house in Anfield that had yet to receive the scouse fresco treatment. “Klopp’s the next best thing,” honked the owner, who said she’d have rather had Kevin Keegan on the side of her gaff.
STILL WANT MORE?
Form, formation and Phil Foden. Jacob Steinberg tackles the handily alliterative issues facing Gareth Southgate before the Human Rights World Cup.
Barney Ronay looks at the ongoing English delusion facing Gareth Southgate.
Speaking of which, here’s Pete Pattisson on the dismal state of things for migrant workers in Qatar.
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