(Higson. From Norwich. Eats a lot of porridge, etc.)
The draw for the third round of the F.A. Cup was held yesterday, and while the prospect of a Tamworth visit to Norwich City brings to mind the natural Nick Drake v. Charlie Higson rivalry, the Times’ Gary Jacob is a little too sophisticated to mention it.
Already into the next stage of the Champions League, Chelsea were handed a favourable FA Cup draw, at home to Macclesfield Town, cut adrift at the bottom of the Football League. Paul Ince, the Macclesfield manager who will be eligible to play in the tie, played for Manchester United against Chelsea in the FA Cup Final in 1994 and has already begun bantering with Frank Lampard on the telephone. A trip to Stamford Bridge is likely to provide his club with a windfall of more than £500,000 from gate receipts and television income.
œI was buzzing, as a manager, to draw Chelsea but then I started thinking that I can play, Ince said. œI™m not too sure what the lads would think about me putting myself straight in for a game like that but it™s something to think about. This is a great draw for us but I™ve got to say that the main priority is to stay in the league. It™ll help the club this year and next year and it™ll be great for the fans. But you™ve got to be realistic and no one will give us much of a chance.
Several Premiership clubs face tricky away ties, notably Tottenham Hotspur, who travel to Cardiff City, and Charlton Athletic, who will play away to Salisbury City or Nottingham Forest. But, after the mishap in the draw for the first round when the normally unruffled Sir Trevor Brooking misheard a number, there were no hiccups yesterday. Amir Khan, the Olympic silver medal-winning boxer, breathed a sigh of relief when he drew his side, Bolton Wanderers, to play away to Mansfield Town or Doncaster Rovers. œI would have got whipped when I got back to Bolton, had I picked a bad draw, Khan said. œI am nervous doing TV, I would rather be in the ring. Let™s hope we make the Uefa Cup so I can get more holidays!
Ricky Hatton (above), who was drawing the home teams, could have ended up playing football for Manchester City, where he still has an executive box at the City of Manchester Stadium. œDeep down in every City man™s soul is that this competition gives us a chance of silverware, Hatton said, before ending the rehearsal by asking: œDon™t I get to punch someone?
The Guardian’s Dominic Fifield reports that Liverpool are on the brink of being sold for £450 million to a company owned by Dubai’s ruling Maktoum family. Though I’ll admit I know very little about their history, I will presume that no matter what, His Highness Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum gives a better speech than Robert Kraft.
Prior to Sunday afternoon, the last time Falkirk beat Rangers, the former’s side included a certain Alex Ferguson, and T-Rex’s ‘Electric Warrior’ was on top of the album charts. Things have worked out a little better for Sir Alex, but he’s never been covered by the Dead C.