The news branch of the Back of the Net wiki.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Italians 'not at all sure' where World Cup Trophy is

Italian officials are facing a race against time as they try and locate the FIFA World Cup Trophy in time for next Friday's 2010 group stage draw in Cape Town.

Football's men in suits are preparing to travel from every corner of the globe at huge expense to solemnly watch a series of numbered balls be drawn out of a pot and Italy's representatives are expected to bring the World Cup Trophy that they won in 2006 by dint of being the best of a very bad bunch.

However, once the celebrations died down in July 2006, Italian officials admit that they "kind of lost track of the trophy".

An emergency meeting of the Italian parliament concluded that FIGC officials should "try and remember where they last had it" but assured that it would "turn up as soon as they stopped looking for it."

It has since emerged that the accurately titled World Cup Trophy was last seen in Rome in August 2006 being carried in a bag for life by Prime Minister / AC Milan patron / national embarrassment Silvio Berlusconi but the priceless silverware seems to have dropped off the radar since.

Confidence in the Italian Football Federation's ability to recover the Cup is low with the mystery of who stole the entire Italian squad's clothing during the 2006 World Cup Final still unsolved (pictured).

Although the FIGC took swift action, ordering the Azzurri players to coat themselves in baby oil and pout, their handling of the situation has been criticised and the latest crisis won't help restore public confidence.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Wiley won't sue Fergie for 'unfit' jibe as trip to post box is 'such a schlep'

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson won't face a defamation suit for labelling referee Alan Wiley 'unfit' after the respected official admitted defeat in his bid to find a post box within comfortable walking distance of his Staffordshire home.

Serial moaner Ferguson ripped into Wiley after United's 2-2 draw with Sunderland at the start of October, claiming the result had been due to the ref's inability to keep up with the action.

Fergie took exception to Wiley spending nearly six minutes over a booking, making several decisions using binoculars and asking a fan behind the goal whether a late Patrice Evra effort had been deflected or not.

The criticism hit a sore spot for Wiley, who is fiercely committed to maintaining a high level of fitness, and he considered taking legal action. But it has now been confirmed that there will be no defamation suit as Wiley didn't send in the necessary paperwork.

"I had it all filled out and ready to go off but my car was being repaired in the garage," a breathless Wiley explained.

"I went all the way down to the main road but there wasn't a post box there. I think there's one down by the station but that's miles away. I guess the big managers are untouchable these days."

FIFA address goalline controversy with new 28-referee system

FIFA have taken swift action to calm the troubled waters of world football after the Thierry Henry scandal, announcing that from next year, all top-level matches will be refereed by a taskforce of twenty-eight officials. The system, secretly trialled at the last World Cup (see picture above), could be in place as early as January 2010, if two million new referees can be trained in time.

The authorities have been widely expected to approve calls for two new officials - one on each goalline - after successfully experimenting with such a system during this season's otherwise pointless Europa League. However, speaking from one of his palaces, FIFA President Sepp Blatter revealed that the changes would be more sweeping than anyone had anticipated. 'As well as the referees, assistants, 4th official and guys on the goallines,' Blatter told journalists, 'each player will be followed around by his own referee. Each of these referees will sit down with his personal player at various points during the match to take an audit of any shots, passes and tackles they have made. The 22 referees will then report back to the main match officials, who will collate the final score within a week of the end of the game.'

'With this simple system,' Blatter concluded, 'we hope to eradicate debates such as the one that followed France's match with Ireland, when Thierry Henry allegedly used his hand several times to control the ball, although it was very difficult to tell for certain.'

Blatter confirmed that FIFA were discussing further measures to address potential controversies. These are thought to include placing a CCTV camera inside the ball which feeds pictures back to a taskforce of MI5 and Interpol operatives; issuing each player with a PIN which he has to input into a card reader before taking a shot at goal; placing customs officials at the edge of each penalty area to ascertain the reason for players' visits; and chopping off Thierry Henry's hands.

However, Blatter said that FIFA were still reluctant to introduce video referees to check action replays of disputed goals: 'we do not feel there is any need for action as drastic as that'. Blatter added: 'Offside! Offside! Fuck's sake!... no, to be fair, he was just about level. I'm always getting those wrong.'

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Cassano denies rift with pie

Sampdoria striker Antonio Cassano has denied reports of a bust-up with a delicious pie, insisting that his relationship with pie remains as strong as ever.

“I’ve had my problems in the past, with managers, referees, journalists, even with my own team-mates” admitted the 27-year old. “But with pie? Never. Pie has always been my good friend. These stories are simply false.”

According to reports in the Italian press, Cassano has been unhappy with the way that pie is frequently flaky, with an insufficiently moist filling to compensate for the dryness of the outer crust. Fan forums have linked the striker with a move for a tray of macaroons, while Twitter was recently abuzz with rumours of a link-up with baklava.

But the former Real Madrid and Roma man insisted he was happy with the pie on offer at Sampdoria, and was in fact making plans to extend his belt.

“I’ve spoken with the manager and the chairman, and with my agent, and before Christmas we’re all going to sit down together and sample a huge selection of pies. But I’ve made it clear that I can see myself eating pie at the Stadio Ferraris for the rest of my career, as long as the pie on offer remains the right pie for me.”

Sources close to pie were also quick to deny the rumours. “Anyone who suggests there are problems between pie and Antonio knows nothing about pie,” a spokesbiscuit told reporters yesterday. “These allegations are as baseless and insubstantial as a meringue.”

A return to the national team for Cassano looks unlikely, though, as Italy boss Marcello Lippi still blames him for the disappearance of all the after-dinner biscotti following a clash with Norway in 2005.

Citing Wigan refund as precedent, fans take beloved clubs to cleaners

Wigan Athletic's decision to refund fans who travelled to their 9-1 humiliation at White Hart Lane has brought about a devastating domino effect as supporters across the country have pushed for compensation payments ranging from £6.50 to £500,000.

After falling victim to Harry Redknapp's new strategy of scoring nine goals, Wigan captain Mario Melchiot declared that his side would be refunding the Latics fans who made the 6,000 mile trip to North London to watch their heroes get flayed by a fairly good side.

Sadly, this well-meaning gesture has had a huge knock-on effect as fans all over the country have submitted invoices to their clubs for past indignities.

Portsmouth face a bill of £6m to pay back the Fratton Park faithful for their dire start to the campaign and the entire crowd for August 29's Blackburn-West Ham bore draw have claimed back their hard-earned cash.

Mr Kevin Ardley, an elderly Grimsby Town fan, has delivered an 8,000-page report to Blundell Park in which he outlines his grievances and demands a settlement of nearly £500,000.

At the other end of the scale, Ian Kirwin of Milton Keynes - a Manchester United fan since 1996 - claimed £35 for "this time my uncle took me to see United play some shitty little team [Exeter City] in the FA Cup and they only drew."

The smallest claim of all was £6.50 from a Tottenham fan demanding compensation for "the 42 minutes when it was only 1-0 and we were missing loads of chances" during the 9-1 win over Wigan.

A few clubs are reportedly considering a "pay as they play" system to combat unforeseen refunds where a collection plate would be passed around after each goal, near miss and punch-up.

Dismay as Brownitez survive again

Public surprise was turning to anger last night as Phil and Rafa came through another judges' vote to remain in the Premier League, despite the pair's increasingly shambolic performances.

Sky Sports have received nearly 3,000 complaints after it was revealed that for the fifteenth consecutive week, no contestant was to leave the network’s top-rated entertainment programme. This is after Phil [above right] and Rafa yet again failed to take enough points to guarantee their safety during Saturday's programme, the latest in a series of fiascos to befall the orange-tinctured calamity twins.

The two had been tripped up earlier in the series by the Defending Set-Pieces task, the Don’t Gamble Your Season’s Transfer Kitty On A Famously Crock-Prone Midfielder challenge, and most notoriously the Brtiney Spears round, when a rendition of the star’s 2000 hit ‘Lucky’ turned into a call-and-response rap about controversial refereeing decisions in previous shows.

A Sky spokesperson defended the decision to stick with the goateed duo. “There is a loveable quality to Phil and Rafa,” she said. “Viewers can tell they’re out of their depth but they just keep plugging away. Everyone watching at home likes the idea that you don’t need to be successful or talented to get your face on the telly.”

She refused to be drawn on rumours, reported last week in Heat magazine, that glamour model Jordan is set to replace the troubled contestants as soon as she completes her UEFA Pro Licence.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Cunning Redknapp strikes gold with 'score nine goals' gameplan

Master tactician Harry Redknapp was basking in the glory of Spurs's biggest win of recent times today, after his plan of scoring eight goals in the second half proved too much for his opposite number Roberto Martinez, who had instructed his Wigan players to score 'one goal, maximum'.

Spurs marksman Jermain Defoe, who bagged no fewer than five goals in Tottenham's amazing 9-1 romp, gave the credit to boss Redknapp for a tactically astute half-time team-talk. 'The gaffer noticed that we was only winning 1-0,' revealed Defoe, 'and he told us that obviously if we could get some more goals, it would be harder for Wigan to catch us up.'

'We was thinking maybe two or three, but the boss says to us: 'no, let's have a whole load of goals. Try and get eight. If you get eight, we'll have nine and that should easily be enough to win the game.' Some of the lads wasn't convinced it would work, but obviously, the scoreline speaks for itself.'

A spokesman told Back Of The Net that Redknapp was unavailable for comment today, having been called away to Monte Carlo to settle some debts, but an insider revealed: 'Harry came up with the plan a couple of weeks ago after the Arsenal game. He told the players to try and concede two or three goals in that game, and obviously the result was disappointing. So in the week following that, he got the calculator out and hit on the scheme of scoring a shitload of goals against Wigan.'

Redknapp's spokesman was understandably tight-lipped on the question of whether the Spurs boss would employ the successful tactic in their next game, against Aston Villa. But with rumours circulating that Villa supremo Martin O'Neill is instructing his own side to win 4-3, fans are bracing themselves for a classic.

Sky forced to rename 'Super Sunday' after Stoke-Portsmouth clash

Sky Sports face the threat of legal action this morning after describing yesterday's bill of Bolton v Blackburn and Stoke v Portsmouth as a 'Super Sunday'. Trading Standards authorities launched an investigation when hundreds of viewers complained at the poor fare, and a panel of experts ruled that not one minute of the 180 could accurately be described as 'super'. Around thirty minutes were 'good, honest toil', seventy minutes consisted of 'attritional stuff', and the remainder was classified as 'total dogshit'.

'Originally, I had no intention of watching Stoke-Portsmouth,' said one disappointed viewer. 'There was a 'Friends' marathon on T4 and those guys' antics never get boring. But then I saw the trailer for the football and when they announced it was a Super Sunday, well, I felt I couldn't miss it. There were all these slow-motion shots of Ricardo Fuller and some of Paul Hart looking worried on the touchline. And that man who does the voiceover sounded genuinely excited.'

Another Sky subscriber was up in arms after missing his sister's wedding in order to take in Bolton-Blackburn. 'This was a huge deal for my family,' lamented the viewer, who did not want to be named, 'but when I got a text saying Super Sunday was on, I was forced to pull out and get to a television. If I'd known I'd be watching players like Kevin-Prince Boateng and Rory Delap, I would never have missed Polly's big day. Sky should be more careful advertising matches as 'Super' when they're between two functional Lancashire outfits who can hardly put a pass together.'

Richard Graeme, head of media and communications, confirmed that Sky would be reviewing their advertising policy. 'We have already re-classified December 2 as a 'Workmanlike Wednesday', and December 6 [when Sky show matches involving Scunthorpe and Everton], which was going to be a Super Sunday, will now be billed as 'The Best Sunday We Can Manage, Given That Our Contract Forces Us To Share Airtime Around Between Some Dreadful Clubs''.

'Still,' Graeme added, 'it's not like Spurs-Wigan would have been any more exciting, is it?'

While Sky backtracked over their adverts, the man who does the wildly excitable voiceover denied that he had deliberately misled viewers. 'I. JUST. REALLY. LOVE. FOOTBALL,' he boomed from a recording studio, over slow-motion footage of Hull against Fulham.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Keane 'generally enjoyed trip to Paris'

Republic of Ireland striking star Robbie Keane insists he had a "grand time" in Paris in spite of his side's heartbreaking World Cup 2010 qualification play-off defeat.

Hampered by the loss of their trademark luck, the Irish were denied a trip to South Africa by a William Gallas goal, scored after Thierry Henry had tossed the ball from hand to hand like a pizza chef flipping dough.

Amazingly, none of Henry's 19 handballs were seen by referee Martin Hansson and Robbie Keane's first-half goal proved insufficient to prevent despicable clown Raymond Domenech and his charmless underachievers reaching the finals.

But the disappointment at the Stade de France didn't seem to ruin culture buff Keane's enjoyment of the French capital.

"I had a terrific time," he beamed at bemused journalists. "On Tuesday night we went for a walk along the Seine and then had dinner at Les Deux Magots. Just to be in the same seats that the likes of Hemingway, Breton and Camus frequented was a humbling experience.

"And before the game we managed to squeeze in a visit to the Louvre and the Musee d'Orsay where I was lucky enough to get a chance to discuss the work of Edouard Vuillard with Guy Cogeval himself.

"Obviously the game didn't quite go as planned with the failure to qualify as a result of cheating and that, but still Paris was grand."

Manager Giovanni Trapattoni was also keen to stress that he "couldn't remember the last time he had been to Paris" and described the mid-week trip as "an unexpected joy at my age."

Monday, 16 November 2009

Luck of the Irish ran out in 2003, officials discover

The famous 'Luck of the Irish', an unexplained cosmic loophole which traditionally allows the Republic of Ireland to overachieve at international football tournaments, expired several seasons ago, it was revealed today.

The Irish have enjoyed considerable success by invoking the rule, most famously when they used it to progress to the quarter-finals of the
1990 World Cup without winning a game in normal time, forcing a corner, or completing any passes. The LOTI also secured Ireland's passage to the knockout stages in 2002 after they had been outplayed by both Cameroon and Germany. It has been one of the most popular cliches for commentators sentimentalising Irishness, second only to constant mentions of 'pints of the black stuff flowing' every time the men in green lose by fewer than four goals.

This year, however, Ireland look set to miss out on qualification despite generally strong performances, thanks to a brutal draw which has pitted them against both Italy and France. After a fortunate deflected winner in Saturday's first leg with France left the Irish with a mountain to climb, FoI President David Blood launched an informal inquiry. He discovered, according to insiders at Croke Park, that the Luck of the Irish was not renewed in time for Euro 2004, and has been discontinued. 'We wondered what had happened to all those scrambled goals from dubious corners, and qualifying groups full of joke teams like the Faroe Islands,' Blood lamented. 'Turns out
we no longer have our ancient right to skank our way through competitions with functional set-plays.'

'Feck!' added Blood.

It has not yet been established why the Luck of the Irish was rescinded. One theory suggests that the Irish gods were upset by the appointment of non-Irishman Mick McCarthy as manager, but this seems unlikely to have been the cause, as the 1990 World Cup squad was famously managed by an Englishman and contained as many as eight players who had never been to, or heard of, Ireland. Others think the LOTI may have been transferred to Ireland's rugby team, who won the Grand Slam this year after Wales's Stephen Jones missed a decisive last-second penalty.

'But to be honest,' Blood admitted, 'we might have just forgotten to send the forms back after the party to welcome back the 2002 heroes [from South Korea, where Ireland reached the last sixteen]. Now, there was a grand night with some great craic.'

This is not the first blow to Irish heritage in recent years. The legendary Blarney Stone famously lost its magical powers after being urinated on by members of an English stag party, and the nation's official nickname was changed to 'The Emirates Emerald Isle' after a sponsorship deal in 2007. But Blood promised fans that 'whatever happens in Paris, win, lose or draw, the black stuff will be flowing back home.'

Dozens irate as ancient Honduras-Latvia rivalry surfaces again

Honduras is recovering from a massive hangover after the nation's notoriously fiery football fans ran amok in Tegucigalpa in the early hours of Sunday morning to celebrate Los Catrachos' 2-1 win over Auld Enemy Latvia.

Tensions between Honduras and Latvia are centuries old and many questioned the decision to bring the former Soviets over 6,000 miles to the hostile environment of Central America.

Over 30,000 fans turned up to the so-called friendly with many wearing t-shirts or sporting banners with anti-Latvian slogans such as "Death to those with plural names" and "Astafjevs sounds like a type of biscuit".

The atmosphere was fraught throughout the contest but the dismissal of Dzintars Peas angered the seven-strong travelling support and a last-gasp winner from headline-writer's friend Georgy Welcome brought things to boiling point.

Honduran fans spilt onto the streets of capital Tegucigalpa in frenzied celebration after vanquishing their hated foes. Police reported serious damage to several shops and hotels in the Latvian quarter of the city and several men were arrested for inciting racial hatred.

"We had no choice but to take them in," police chief Edgardo Villeda explained. "They were stood outside Georgys Pajtars' All-Night Latvian Food Emporium openly mocking Latvia's 159 non-marine molluscs.

"I have to say that I question the choice to play this friendly, everyone knows that a Latvia shirt is like a red rag to a bull in these parts."

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Premier League to Old Firm: "Do a little dance"

The prospect of Rangers and Celtic joining the Premier League hinges on whether the two Glasgow teams are prepared to dance for the amusement of their English counterparts, it emerged yesterday.

“We are confident that all legal, financial and scheduling issues can be swiftly overcome,” announced Wolves supremo Steve Morgan, speaking on behalf of the twenty Premier League chairmen.

“We are seeking assurances from representatives of both clubs, however, that they are prepared to pull a series of far-out shapes—as dictated by us—to demonstrate their commitment to the English game.”

The ‘do a little dance’ condition was passed by a 14-6 majority after chairmen rejected other suggested terms, including that the Old Firm ‘shine our shoes’, ‘eat a tablespoon of cinnamon’, and ‘demonstrate a willingness to engage with questions of security and policing’.

Peter Lawwell, Celtic chief executive, was upbeat about his club’s chances. “We have to be satisfied with the outcome of these discussions”, he told reporters. “I’m looking forward to getting out there and busting my most extreme moves.

“It’s a historic challenge for this football club, obviously, but one that we’ll approach with the same spirit, resolve, and slinky thighs of the Lisbon Lions in 1967.”

Rangers chairman Alastair Johnston, who replaced notoriously uncoordinated butterball David Murray in August, was similarly confident. “We feared they’d want us to eradicate sectarianism or something equally ridiculous, but this is far more feasible,” he said.

“Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to play Dance Dance Revolution Hottest Party 2 on Ally McCoist’s Wii.”

Accoring to reports, Johnston and Lawwell will be made to wear kitten heels and skin-hugging leotards chosen by Portsmouth FC non-executive chairman Sulaiman al-Fahim. Reports that al-Fahim is merely a front for a consortium of unnamed Abu Dhabi-based designers have been strenuously denied by all parties.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Confused Vassell to support Vampire Weekend on February tour

Darius Vassell's incomprehensible spell in Turkey is drawing to a disappointing conclusion, but the decent-enough striker's agent has pounced to secure him a high-profile return to the UK, supporting Congolese influenced American indie outfit Vampire Weekend on their forthcoming tour.

After a career of modest achievement, described in his recent autobiography 'Darius Vassell: Respectable Player, Reasonable Life', the diminutive frontman shocked the football world last summer by joining Turkish minnows Ankaragucu.

An uneasy Vassell was given a hero's welcome and briefly became President of Turkey but the bubble burst when Ankaragucu realised they had spent every penny they had (and several million pounds they didn't have) on the England international.

Overnight Ankaragucu folded with the club rebranding itself as a meat-packing enterprise, but Vassell's agent Michael Lowe moved quickly to spare his client from an early morning tripe packaging induction and book him in as the support act for Vampire Weekend on their February 2010 UK tour.

"I just made some calls to a few people and after several hours we had a deal," Lowe enthused. "This is a great switch for my client and I'm sure we'll see the real Darius Vassell in England."

While his representative seems upbeat, Vassell was a little more cautious as he left the Crowne Plaza Hotel, still cramming bottles of shampoo into his backpack.

"I guess I'll give it a go, but it's not really what I had in mind when I suggested a move back to England," he admitted.

"There are some tough tests ahead with trips to Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham in quick succession - that will be an important period for me."

The Vampire Weekend are known to be long-term admirers of Vassell and a source close to the band insisted they are "thrilled" to have been given the chance to play alongside the pint-sized predator.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Crouch on red alert as victorious Haye looks for more tall people to hit

Tottenham striker Peter Crouch is among a group of Premier League footballers fearing for their lives, it was revealed today, as new WBA Heavyweight World Champion David Haye - fresh from his conquest of 7ft 2in Nikolai Valuev - seeks the next victim in his devastating spree of lofty-people-punching.

Haye, now among the hottest property in the sport, was widely expected to tackle American John Ruiz next, eventually moving on to veteran brothers Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko. But in a typically outspoken press conference yesterday the London-born slugger announced that he 'can't wait that long to hit another tall bastard' and 'has his people on the lookout for a lanky streak of piss to knock around'.

'I hate people taller than me,' roared Haye, who was picked up by TV cameras screaming 'fucking beanpole!' as he went toe-to-toe with his Russian opponent on Saturday. 'I hate the way they can reach things down from shelves and they're always standing in front of me at Glastonbury. And I hate the way they always get a flick-on when a corner comes over, and are surprisingly good with the ball on the deck.'

This final comment seemed squarely aimed at Crouch, and the Met Police put the England target man under protection when an eye-witness report claimed that Haye had been seen in the vicinity of White Hart Lane, studying the Spurs squad through binoculars and muttering 'look at the bloody size of him'.

Other players over six foot three - Haye's own height - have been also advised to remain vigilant, with Zat Knight and Kanu among those put at risk by Haye's irrational hatred of the tall. Sunderland keeper Marlon Fulop was allegedly also lined up by Haye's management, but does not have the necessary profile to attract the estimated $120 million purse necessary for the boxer to 'totally beat the crap out of some great big lump'.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Gerrard secretly hoping for injury to get worse

Fed up with having to carry an entire team of under-achievers, long-suffering Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard is now actively seeking a worse injury than he already has, according to sources in the Anfield camp.

Despite being less than fifty percent fit, Gerrard limped off the bench last night to save a point for the inconsistent Reds, coolly slotting home a controversial penalty with his one functional leg. It was the latest in a series of heroic rescue missions by Liverpool's overworked talisman. Earlier this season he notched the winner at Bolton despite being unable to walk, diverting a Yossi Benayoun cross into the net with one of his crutches. And last year, the 29-year-old famously netted two goals against Real Madrid despite being in a coma, after boss Rafa Benitez picked him ahead of a fully fit Dirk Kuyt.

But an unusually frank interview after last night's disappointing draw suggests that Gerrard is coming to the end of his patience. 'I've had enough of playing alongside this shower of shit,' the Liverpool skipper told a startled press conference. 'It's all right when Fernando [Torres] is around, but the rest of them, I ask you.'

'I mean, who the hell is David Ngog? Is he even a professional footballer? It looks like some sort of anagram.'

There are fears among those close to Gerrard that he is now on a mission to collect a season-long injury, after Sky TV action replays showed him deliberately trying to get hit in the face by a Cameron Jerome shot, lying down in front of Sebastian Larsson in the hope of being trampled by the Birmingham player's studs, and leaping onto the bonnet of Albert Riera's BMW in the car park afterwards. An Anfield insider commented: 'We're all worried he's going to do something really stupid next, like swallowing poison, or playing in England's pointless friendly against Brazil.'

72 hours after Staines defeat, Simpson lets bedraggled players out of dressing room

Shrewsbury Town players today staggered out of the Prostar Stadium and described their three-day dressing room ordeal following a 1-0 FA Cup shock at the hands of Staines Town.

The League Two side were eliminated after a performance that so enraged manager Paul Simpson that he gave his men a 72-hour dressing down before the players broke free and returned home to their worried loved ones.

The alarm was first raised by defender Harry Hooman's mother who became anxious when her son didn't arrive back in time for tea and the police later received a call from Paul Murray's wife after the injury-prone midfielder failed to show up for his book club on Saturday evening.

West Mercia police acted swiftly to trace the missing men back to the Prostar Stadium where they had last been seen desperately hoofing a ball into the opposition box on Saturday afternoon.

"We found the dressing room door locked and feared it was a hostage situation, but then we heard Mr Simpson berating his side's set-piece defending and realised he was still giving his post-match bollocking. So we informed the families and left them in peace," on-duty officer Graham Farnham recalls.

Simpson's players finally escaped just after midday on Tuesday when the furious tactician fell asleep and they were emotionally reunited with friends and family, who had kept a vigil outside the stadium gates.

"At first the gaffer (Paul Simpson) just went apeshit," captain Graham Coughlan explained tearfully.

"But after we had weathered the first 24 hours, things changed a little. Every few minutes the gaff (Paul Simpson) would call someone a 'twat' but he was clearly getting tired.

"He ordered us to stay where we were while he had a sleep. And when he woke up he continued where he left off and let rip at us again - if anything he was angrier.

"By the third day he was obviously running out of steam and spent three hours repeating Homie (Harry Hooman)'s name in a silly voice.

"Eventually he seemed to fall asleep again and we decided to do a runner - he was shouting 'Staines!' in his sleep but we just unlocked the door and legged it. I think it's fair to say we're pretty determined to beat Torquay this weekend."

Monday, 9 November 2009

Northwich fan club chief hails historic day, bemoans Drury’s sickening commentary on historic day

The chairman of Northwich Victoria’s Supporters Club has admitted that, like much of the nation, he spent the last 10 minutes of the FA Cup win over Charlton half hoping for an equaliser to prevent a flurry of clichés from exasperating ITV commentator Peter Drury.

For the first time in recorded history, a non-league side triumphed over a league side in an FA Cup tie as Northwich Victoria – a team made up of plumbers, taxi drivers and semi-professional footballers – harnessed the mystical magic of the cup to book a place in the second round.

While the exact nature of the magic of the cup is a closely-guarded secret, only available to members of the magic circle and plucky non-league sides, it is believed to be a trick of misdirection involving a boggy old pitch, a small crowd of frenzied yokels, a freezing afternoon in early winter and a plentiful supply of fate-tempting.

Always ready to take the side of the underdog, viewers across the country cheered on Northwich during their televised triumph, but their heroics were sadly soured by the pre-arranged, pretentious babblings of insufferable wordbag Peter Drury.

Drury spent the first 75 minutes of the contest stressing his incredulity that the people of Northwich were able to function as human beings and that the Conference North side had managed to “dress properly for the game with socks and boots and all”.

But after the minnows took the lead, Drury shifted up a gear and began to speak almost entirely in verse, summarising events in hyperbolic dactylic hexameter.

Having stressed that the FA Cup was “doing its thing”, Drury then proceeded to run through a dizzying medley of Cup clichés, which built to the bone-chilling crescendo of “Teenage kicks! Northwich victorious!”

“This is a fantastic, historic day for my club,” Northwich nut Peter Barton enthused.

“However, I have to admit that I was kind of hoping Charlton would equalise to take the wind out of Drury’s sails. We could all hear him from the terraces and he was putting off some of the players with his unconscionable boobery.

“I’m looking forward to the second round and Lincoln but if it’s televised it might be for the best if we lose 2-0 or 3-0.”

In light of Ferguson's complaints, Chelsea-Man U result amended to 0-0

Sir Alex Ferguson's latest attack on a refereeing decision bore fruit today, as the Premier League agreed to disallow John Terry's controversial winning goal against his side, and change the score accordingly to a 0-0 draw, almost fifteen hours after the end of yesterday's match at Stamford Bridge.

Few in football took much notice yesterday evening when the claret-cheeked United boss launched his usual tirade against referee Martin Atkinson, claiming that Chelsea's winner should not have stood because it came from a contentious free-kick, Wes Brown was fouled in the move itself, the sun was in some of his defenders' eyes, it wasn't fair to make United come all the way to London on a Sunday, and football was a stupid game anyway. However, after hearing Ferguson's grievances on Five Live while driving home, Atkinson dramatically decided to change his decision and alter the match result.

'Really, if managers want us to reconsider the result of a game, all they have to do is ask,' Atkinson explained. 'I mean, it's obviously unusual, and it causes a bit of hassle to the guys who work out the league table, but if Mr Ferguson feels the goal should have been disallowed, then I'm sure he knows what he's talking about - after all, it was his team involved. He wouldn't just be pointlessly bitching and whining after the event; it's not like he's the most ungracious loser in the history of association football or anything.'

'We're obviously disappointed,' said Chelsea captain John Terry, who thought his goal had struck a huge blow to the Blues' title rivals, 'but in all fairness I wasn't sure it was a free-kick in the first place, so if he [Ferguson] had a clear view of it, then we might as well trust him. I'm glad he spoke out, because all the lads feel that the whole 90-minutes thing is very limiting, and it's nice to have the option of agreeing on a result the next day if something like this comes up.'

Both teams involved in yesterday's suddenly-goalless showdown will be bracing themselves for a renewed challenge from Liverpool, after it was rumoured this morning that Rafa Benitez had written to the referees of the Reds' games with Aston Villa, Sunderland, Fulham and Chelsea and was 'hopeful of claiming back at least seven points'.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Spanish nurses prepare sympathy strike over La Liga tax hike

The people of Spain have rallied around their beloved La Liga stars after it emerged that top-earning foreign players may see their tax contributions doubled next year.

From 2010, those earning more than £500,000 per year may see their modest pay packet slashed by a tax bill of 43 percent, leaving some of Europe's most vulnerable workers struggling on the bread line.

Real Madrid and Barcelona stars are well known for their frugal lifestyles but this new measure could reduce top footballers' wages to the meager level of a judge or a partner in a law firm.

While the current crop of La Liga stars would be immune to the new law, the Spanish public have reacted with indignation at the idea that the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo may have to cut their monthly hot-pants budget in half.

And the Union of Spanish Nurses and Medical Support Staff has pledged to call a sympathy strike should La Liga's players decide to draw up picket lines.

"I don't know what kind of world we live in when a footballer, who belts a ball around a patch of immaculately cut grass for several hours a month, has to make do with around £1m a year," spokeswoman Gracia Jimenez declared.

"That represents a mere 50 times what we are paid for simply tending to the sick and dying."

The threat of a tax hike has already started to affect players considering a move to Spain.

Ajax striker Luis Suarez, a target for Barcelona, has reportedly started to tighten his belt by selling off his diamond encrusted spare boot bag and laying off forgotten pop star Natalie Imbruglia, who had been hired to sing to him in the bath on Sundays.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

United celebrate 10,000th last-minute goal

Manchester United are planning a pre-game ceremony ahead of their November 21 clash with Everton to mark the club's 10,000th last-minute goal, which secured Champions League qualification against CSKA Moscow yesterday evening.

A weakened United side struggled to grab a 3-3 draw against the fifth best team in Russia but an Antonio Valencia strike in the dying seconds proved enough to secure a place in the last 16 and escape a Group of Death that also contained seventh-placed German side Wolfsburg and Besiktas - one of the best three teams in Istanbul.

But it is the manner of United's qualification that has delighted the club's directors as the Red Devils benefitted from their 10,000th goal to be scored after the 90th minute of a match.

Sir Alex Ferguson's men have a rich tradition of jammy late goals and famously won the title five times in the 1990s without finding the net before the 88th minute of any game.

And in honour of their milestone, Manchester United plan to hold a ceremony on the Old Trafford pitch before their routine win over Everton on November 21.

A host of household names will be paraded in front of the fans, including referee Martin Atkinson, who played nearly four days in United's dramatic derby win over Man City in September.

However, mahogany-faced manager Ferguson wasn't in party mood after the CSKA draw. The Scotsman blasted the match referee for "two or three perfectly good goals" scored during the warm-down that weren't included in the final score.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Baffled by unpopularity, Ashley announces plan to piss on Newcastle shirt

In the latest in a series of PR measures designed to win over hostile supporters of Newcastle United, millionaire owner Mike Ashley today unveiled a plan to urinate on a Newcastle shirt in the centre circle at half-time during Saturday's fixture with Peterborough United.

Ashley has inexplicably struggled to warm the hearts of the Toon Army since taking control of the club in 2007, despite a host of crowd-pleasing gestures, which have included saddling the club with crippling debts, installing unpopular managers and a pointless Director of Football, allowing folk hero Kevin Keegan to leave, and eventually steering a shambolic, demoralised outfit towards the Championship. Even his latest olive branch to the fans - proposing to sell the name of the hallowed, centuries-old St James' Park to the highest corporate bidder - has failed to generate the expected goodwill from the club's sizeable, disgruntled fan base.

At a press conference today, Ashley acknowledged that the Newcastle supporters have been 'a tougher nut to crack' than he imagined, but confidently predicted that Saturday's stunt will be 'the most popular yet'. 'I'm going to get the shirt worn by Alan Shearer in the 1997/8 season and wee on it in full view of the Gallowgate end. Then I'm going to go up in a crane and scrub Jackie Milburn's name off the Milburn Stand. And if all this goes well, I've got an encore planned where I do this song about Bobby Robson being illegitimate.'

'If all that doesn't finally please the fans,' concluded Ashley, 'I'm going to start to wonder if they have it in for me, or something.'

Monday, 2 November 2009

Blue Peter presents Pogatetz the dog

It has been confirmed that the new Blue Peter dog will be named Pogatetz in honour of injury-prone Middlesbrough stalwart Emanuel Pogatetz.

Blue Peter is one of the longest-running children's TV shows in the UK and since 1958 the presenters have been joined by a string of pets including dogs, cats and horses.

On the eve of the newest pet's on-air introduction, it has been leaked that the Irish Setter-Dachshund Cross will be named Pogatetz after a viewer vote.

Nearly 10,000 texts or emails chose the Austrian stopper's name, which beat competition from popular choices Fluffy, Woofy and Sinama-Pongolle.

Emanuel Pogatetz becomes the second footballer to earn this unlikely CBBC honour. In 2005, a Blue Peter cat was named Vennegoor of Hesselink but it sadly lost popularity with the viewers after a string of forgettable performances.