(Germany’s Michael Ballack, back in the lineup and a big “Karate Kid” fan, though not this big)

While Poland and Germany have just kicked off in Dortmund, there have been reports of some 100+ arrests earlier today, presumably of the hooligan variety and not persons on Jason Grimsley’s Buddylist. With this nasty vibe in mind, The Guadian’s Marina Hyde took the time to investigate a carefully planned, pre-World Cup get-together amongst rival supporters.

At first glance, Biegener Hellen appears something of a service station idyll. It is small, clean, and set in green fields dotted with poppies, just beyond the shadow of a small, dense forest. And yet, this wood – Kersdorfer Schleuse – takes on a distinct air of menace the minute one learns that two months ago it was the setting for a pitched battle between hardcore German and Polish football fans.

Two hundred German hooligans had thrown down the gauntlet to 200 of their Polish counterparts, and over several hours they fought a bloody war beneath the trees. It’s safe to assume that if you’d gone down to the woods that day, you’d have been in for the big surprise (teddy bears not included).

“They organised it over the internet,” explains customs policeman Thomas Simon, who is stationed pretty much in the forecourt of Biegener Hellen services until Germany’s clash with Poland tonight. “You know, each side had even brought their own doctor.”

Not exactly paintball, then. Indeed, whoever these medical practitioners were, you have to think that in the annals of bent quacks, they supplant those Hollywood doctors prepared to write limitless drug prescriptions for the likes of Winona Ryder.

“The battle was very violent,” continues Simon. “But although the local people telephoned the police when they discovered it, they did not get there till it was over because it is very remote.”

Who won? “The Poles,” comes the grim reply. Their turn to catch a break on this border, perhaps.

Peter Taylor was appointed the new manager of Crystal Palace yesterday, an occasion that gave Palace chairman Simon Jordan (above) yet another opportunity to moan about the nature of previous gaffer Iain Dowie’s departure. From the Times’ Gary Jacobs.

“When Dowie was appointed, we needed a jack of all trades rather than a master of one. I want a manager who can manage players. With Peter, we have the bonus of someone who can coach. Peter has all the contacts to help the club. Iain didn™t have a black book.

Jordan has agreed to pay compensation of about £300,000 to Hull, where Taylor has been manager for 3½ years, and he wants Charlton to do likewise for Dowie. Jordan has served a writ on Dowie for œfraudulent misrepresentation in obtaining a release from a contract. The Palace chairman claims that he was willing to release his former manager from his contract because Dowie said it was proving a strain being separated from his family, who live in the North West.

œI do things properly, don™t go through the back door, and have paid it, he said. œI don™t try and nick managers, maybe other people do. If I agree to pay money, then Charlton should pay money to me for Iain. I am many things, but I am not a fool. Why would I waive compensation for Dowie to then go seven miles down the road to enhance his salary? So I can pay for someone else? The spirit of the agreement of the compensation was very clear. Whatever happens, the reality is that I was lied to.”