Though many column inches this morning will be devoted to today’s World Cup qualifiers between Wales and England, Scotland v. Italy (12:30 pm EST, Setanta Sports USA), Sweden v. Bulgaria (11 am EST, Fox Soccer Channel) and perhaps even USA v. Mexico (7:30 PM EST, ESPN Classic), the Guardian’s Harry Pearson casts a keen eye on the lower divisions and gives a deserving young hopeful his moment in the spotlight.
There was much merriment in the tabloids last week at the tale of Hartlepool striker Adam Boyd who had been forced to flee semi-naked across a “posh estate” after the ex-boyfriend of the woman he was in bed with at the time had turned up drunk from a stag night and assaulted him. It was in many ways a fitting means for Boyd to come to national attention for, if there is anyone out there determined to disprove the age-old cry that there just aren’t the charac ters in the game any more, he is that man.
There is an air of Frank Worthington about Boyd (above). He is tall, stands erect and has uncommon skill – a huge repertoire of feints and dummies, shoulder drops and swerves. Not since Farrah Fawcett has one person possessed quite so many flicks. There is no doubt in my mind that, if the 23-year-old could cover 10 yards even a split-second faster than a fully laden milk float, he would be very famous indeed. Pace, though, is not his strong suit. In possession Boyd is elegant but he runs as if his knees are welded, leaning backwards like a nervous child on roller skates.
Middlesbrough and Sunderland have sent scouts to Victoria Park to look at him. He is valued at £1m but no offer has yet come. There may be other reasons for this beyond a lack of speed. According to newspaper reports, Boyd’s marked improvement last season came after he had lost weight following manager Neale Cooper’s advice to “lay off the pies”. In Hartlepool Boyd’s fondness for pies is well known. Rumour has it that some evenings he goes out and has a dozen or more pies, so many in fact that he is often seen late at night staggering about from the sheer weight of all the meat and pastry.
(UPDATE : Hartlepool 0, Yeovil Town 1)