A few months back, our Off The Ball column saluted the achievement of 80-year-old Manchester United FC supporter Norman Windram who had not missed a home game since 1926. At the time, we thought his unbroken run of 76 years of loyal support were unbeatable. We were wrong. Bert Higginbottom, a 92-year-old Oldham Athletic FC, has now emerged to claim the 'long-suffering supporter' crown after not missing a home game since 1924, giving the English second division club an unbroken 78 years of support. Gordon Lawton, publishing manager at Oldham, said: "It's absolutely magnificent to see someone of Bert's age still coming to watch the team every home game." The pensioner from Rochdale, meanwhile, could only think of the money that his passion for the club had cost him. "I bet I've bought the club twice over with the amount of money I've paid at the turnstiles over the years," he said.
Sexual energy fires Spain’s first couple
The saga of Milene Domingues - AKA Ronaldinha - and her move to join her husband Ronaldo in Spain goes on. Last week, uefa.com reported that the former Monza FC player had joined Real Madrid CF's local rivals Club Atlético de Madrid. Well, she changed her mind, and now has joined another Madrid side, Rayo Vallecano. Well, nearly. Domingues is still awaiting clearance before she can make her debut for Rayo and claims she will continue to commute to Monza to play competitive games while training in Madrid. Meanwhile, the Spanish media's almost ghoulish interest in the young couple's private life has taken another strange twist with Ronaldo's revelation on a late-night television show in Spain that - contrary to popular wisdom - sex was the perfect prelude to a football match. "Sex a couple of hours before the match is the key to success," said Ronaldo. However, as Ronaldinha may have found to her cost, Ronaldo does place certain conditions on his belief. "If the player is too active during sex, then he is wasting energy which he will lack later on during the match," he said. "The man has to be rather passive and just enjoy the experience. This relaxes him and makes him happy, which in turn gives him a whole load of energy."
Coppa Italia returns to Torino
There was good news for Italian football this week as one of the holy grails of Serie A returned to its rightful place. A representative of Torino Calcio bought the 1943 Coppa Italia trophy at an auction in London, finally bringing the memento of the brilliant but tragic Torino side of the 1940s back to the club. The all-conquering Toro side were killed in an horrific air crash in 1949, but it took until 2000 for the club to realise that the trophy that symbolised so much of their extraordinary domestic success in the 1940s had gone missing. Natalino Fossati, who had captained Torino in the 1970s, had placed the trophy in an exhibition of club memorabilia, but decided to sell it to raise money "for a friend who was having financial problems". There was outrage in the Italian press when the trophy turned up at auction, but after paying €73,000, Torino have now reclaimed the priceless keepsake.
Hell hath no fire like a woman scorned
Liverpool FC goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek has been offered an unusual challenge after making an unfortunate comment to reporters following his side's 2-0 UEFA Champions League defeat at Valencia CF. The Polish goalkeeper complained that his side had "played like girls" at the Mestalla stadium, prompting local ladies side Wallasey Wanderers FC to challenge him to take them on in a penalty shoot-out. "We have quite a few Liverpool fans in the teams and even they were angry about what Jerzy said," explained manager Gary Halls. "It is not an issue of being politically correct. It is just wrong to suggest that girls can't play." Wanderers have challenged Dudek to face them in a shoot-out with the goalkeeper giving €160 to charity for every penalty he concedes against them.
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