Football shows its good heart

THE football family has once again showed it has a far bigger and better good side than bad, with a wonderful show of support for Dale Roberts' Testimonial Dinner on Monday.

THE football family has once again showed it has a far bigger and better good side than bad, with a wonderful show of support for Dale Roberts' Testimonial Dinner on Monday.

It was a pleasure to talk to the many stars who had gathered and the tributes were genuinely heartfelt for a man who I knew for just a few years. I found that Dale's gruffness to a journalist belied a man of considerable warmth and humour and he was a great help to me.

So, although tinged with sadness, it was one of my more worthwhile jobs to get people's thoughts on Dale.

You will have got a feel by my report yesterday with Darren Ambrose and George Burley summing it all up.

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On top of that, I can say the generosity shown by clubs throughout the Premiership and the diners on the evening, was astounding.

Peter Reid said in his speech how wonderful it was to see so many current players at the do and staying right to the end; they were there because they wanted to be and not because they felt it was their duty. The likes of James Scowcroft and Matt Bloomfield, for example, had fair distances to travel for training in the morning, which also meant no relaxing drinks.

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And people dug deep with a signed Arsenal shirt going for £2,000, a framed Newcastle shirt with the signatures including Sir Bobby Robson, Titus Bramble, Kieron Dyer and Darren Ambrose fetching £850 and Thomas Gaardsoe's white Ipswich shirt going for £650.

A Henry Cecil print, personalised in Dale's memory, was sold to Town director Holly Bellingham, who swiftly donated it to the family.

Even a Norwich City shirt raised £600 after Town's chief executive Derek Bowden decided to re-auction it.

It was a wonderful night, a terrific tribute to a great man.

A golf day is also planned and a testimonial match between Ipswich Town and Newcastle United has been provisionally set for Wednesday, July 28.

IF something sounds too good to be true – then it usually is. But Coventry City chairman Mike McGinnity admits he is keen to listen to the proposals of Sky Blues fan Jojar Dhinsa.

The former Coventry schoolboy has announced plans for a close-season take-over of City – claiming he is backed by five Russian oil tycoons. Dhinsa, estimated to be worth around £40million, has announced he is in the early stages of arranging a multi-million pound takeover package.

The 29-year-old financier grew up in the Foleshill area of the city, where the club plan to relocate to a new £35million stadium.

ARE the FA seriously saying it is okay to stamp on someone, never mind in such a personal and sensitive area, as Robert Huth quite clearly did on Alan Shearer?

The German defender may claim he stumbled and could not get over the Newcastle United striker, but that is not what it looked like to me.

DOOMED Walsall will bitterly regret what they did to Colin Lee and it will cost them doubly when, as I'm sure they will, they get relegated and then probably have to pay out hefty compensation to the man they sacked so hastily.

It doesn't appear Jeff Bonser and his mates thought it through too carefully and as great a player as Paul Merson was, a manager he will struggle to be, especially when he comes out with stuff like he did in his programme notes, complaining that some days he didn't finish work in the office until 3pm.

One of the good things about going to Grimsby is the fish and chips near the ground. Now the Mariners have winkled out a lucrative two-year sponsorship deal with local sea-food company Young's.

Grimsby have tied up a contract which will see Young's named as the Mariners' kit sponsors, as well as the club's major promoters.

Maybe U's fans will get fresh prawns should Grimsby stay up.

THINGS are not going Millwall's way at the moment. After hearing that Danny Dichio has failed to get a red card rescinded, and so will miss the FA Cup final, the Lions have now lost their fight to increase their ticket allocation for the final against Manchester United.

Lions chairman Theo Paphitis met Football Association chief executive Mark Palios on Monday to complain about the arrangements.

But while the FA conceded Millwall should have been consulted, United will still receive 7,000 more tickets at the Millennium Stadium, with safety concerns blamed for the discrepancy.

United should beware – you know what a wounded lion gets like.

PREMIERSHIP promotion is vital to all but should West Ham fail then it could lead to blood on the boardroom carpet.

The current chairman, Terence Brown, and his cronies, are already under intense pressure to step down and now rebel shareholders are appealing to West Ham's creditors to put the squeeze on the club as part of a £20million campaign to remove the board.

The Whistle group have so far failed to win enough support among the club's larger shareholders for an internal coup, but are now seeking the backing of its lenders to help force Brown out.

West Ham's bank debts are believed to have risen to almost £50million since they were relegated from the Barclaycard Premiership last May – despite a sell-off of players.

But Whistle claim around £20million has been pledged to them by anonymous investors willing to buy into the club via a share issue if major lenders like Barclays Bank can force Brown to step down.

The group claim West Ham have sold all the crown jewels – Joe Cole, Jermain Defoe, Glen Johnson and David James for example – and Brown has failed to address the debt situation.

Brown received a letter from Whistle this week demanding answers to 180 questions about the club's finances.

These include embarrassing queries into the club's transfer dealings, debt management, directors' salaries and spending on a dining room in the West Stand.

Whistle also sent copies of the document to the Football Association, Football League and the Department of Trade and Industry in the hope of an investigation into the club's finances.

DERBY striker Marcus Tudgay has signed a new two-year deal with the relegation-threatened club.

Having started the season on a month-to-month rolling contract, Tudgay made a full recovery from a knee injury and was signed up until the end of the current campaign, which sees the Rams hovering just one place and one point above the relegation zone.

Now, having contributed six goals in 28 appearances, the 21-year-old has been rewarded with an improved deal which will keep him at Pride Park until June 2006.

SUNDERLAND have entered talks with Portsmouth over a permanent move for midfielder Carl Robinson.

The Black Cats have already secured an extended loan deal to keep the 27-year-old at the Stadium of Light should they qualify for the Division One play-offs.

But boss Mick McCarthy has been impressed by the Wales international and is keen to keep him on board.

CRYSTAL PALACE goalkeeper Matt Clarke has been forced to retire because of a knee injury.

The 30-year-old joined the Eagles from Bradford in a £1.35million transfer in September 2001, but he spent most of last season sidelined after an operation to repair ligament damage.

SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY manager Chris Turner has confirmed his desire to sign former Southampton midfielder Chris Marsden.

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