The Joe Royle column

THERE are not too many footballers who have plays written about them but I happened to be sitting on the top table next to one on Monday.I was at the 1995 Everton FA Cup winning side's reunion in Liverpool with none other than Alex Young by my side.

THERE are not too many footballers who have plays written about them but I happened to be sitting on the top table next to one on Monday.

I was at the 1995 Everton FA Cup winning side's reunion in Liverpool with none other than Alex Young by my side.

Alex has two nicknames on Merseyside, one is 'The Golden Vision' which is what the play by Neville Smith about Alex was called, and the other is quite simply 'God' – that is not meant in any way in a blasphemous way, it is just how he is regarded by Evertonians.

Ironically enough he was the man I replaced on my debut as a 16-year-old for Everton and it was brilliant for me to be presented a cut- glass vase by Alex to remember the 1995 FA Cup final when we beat Manchester United.

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While football is very much about the present and the future, nostalgia in football is a great thing.

About 600 people turned up to pay homage to that 1995 side and even though a few were missing for football reasons it was lovely to see those that came.

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It was good to see Barry Horne, Neville Southall, Anders Limpar and, of course, Willie Donachie.

They were the so-called 'Dogs of War' team and it was quite a side which I took over almost a third into the season with just eight points. But we went on a run to finish mid-table and then beat United in the final.

The following season we went on to finish sixth and won the Charity Shield.

Anders was telling me he is now a manager of a team in Sweden and hates telling players they are dropped, which is rich coming from him.

The comedian was a guy called Micky Finn, who was a great friend of my father's, and even though I have seen him perform for 35 years he still makes me laugh.

Of course being an Evertonian reunion some of the talk was about Wayne Rooney and an England shirt of his made nearly £1,000 for charity.

It was a great night organised by Roger Kenyon, my old mate who I was an apprentice with.

It was an arduous two days going to the north and then back down to London to meet up with the Ipswich team, but it was worth it.

I CAN understand Newcastle United's frustration regarding Craig Bellamy's knee injury, which has raised the question once again about whether countries should pay clubs for their players when on international duty.

Quite simply there are too many football associations around the world who just could not pay today's wages. The likes of Kanu and company, for example, would bankrupt the Nigerian FA in one international.

Perhaps there is a case for a contribution by some FAs but one can only guess what the salary of the England starting XI would be, for example, and how long our FA could afford that.

I still feel the answer is to play far fewer internationals. Having so many friendly games, especially when players are only on for 45 minutes, devalues caps for a start.

When I played there were not that many games and when you look at that you realise how great an achievement it was for the likes of Billy Wright, Bobby Moore and Peter Shilton to get 100+ caps.

Sven-Goran Eriksson's record speaks for itself so I'm not going to argue. I'm also still grateful for the 5-1 win in Germany which is high on my all-time list of great games. But I can't see the value of using next month's international date for a friendly. To pacify top managers he will only use players for 45 minutes and I can't see what will be gained.

WE are all expecting the FA's decision on Rio Ferdinand's missed drugs test today and I'm hoping he does not get a lengthy ban. His biggest sin is ignorance as it seems there was no ulterior motive to him missing the test other than stupidity.

But you can't flout the laws and there is one thing for certain – he will turn up for the next one.

THE surprise result of the season so far, in any division, has to be Wimbledon going to West Brom and winning 1-0.

Well played Stuart Murdoch and his boys. To go to the Hawthorns and into that game with their record must have been daunting but it is the kind of result which could kick-start them.

This Wimbledon side may not be the Crazy Gang of old but they have a youthful exhuberance about them and despite all their troubles I would hate to see them relegated.

Stuart Murdoch is one of the game's nice guys and hopefully there is a place for them in this division.

But it was one of the shock results and it shows in this division teams are still jockeying for position, but there are only one or two who can stake a claim and I would put us in that category now we have made up for lost time.

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