IT’S a general rule in newspapers that, if a headline appears in the form of a question, the answer to it is “no”.
(The Daily Mail automatic headline generator on the Qwghlm blog will give you an idea of what I mean.)
So it was with a story which appeared in the Derby Evening Telegraph a couple of days ago.
“Does Pride Park stadium have a lucky ghost dog?” asked the headline.
That’s Pride Park, home of Derby County, who have played 17 league and cup matches at home this season, and won one of them. That one win was against Newcastle in September, a match shown live on Setanta, who managed to miss Derby’s winning goal because they were showing a replay of another incident at the time. I don’t really think “lucky” is the word.
Anyway, the accompanying story in the paper told about a new book about various alleged sightings of ghosts in and around Derby, written by an astrologer called Philip Solomon. (What is it about this blog and astrologers at the moment? Russell Grant yesterday, Philip Solomon today. Spooky.)
Solomon has collated a few of the tales sent to the magazine Psychic News (yes, yes, I’m sure they heard all the jokes about their name). In opne of these tales, it was claimed that a “ghost dog” – rather than, say, Derby’s players or then-manager Billy Davies – might have helped the club to promotion via the play-offs last season.
“When Derby beat West Brom in the play-offs, some of the staff at the football club told me about a very strange experience,” Solomon told the Derby Evening Telegraph.
“They said that, throughout that season, one or two people had reported an unusual black dog hanging around outside the ground.
“Some say they saw it at Pride Park, jumping around excitedly and doing somersaults.
“One girl believes it is a lucky ghost dog and is welcome at Pride Park any time.”
Hang on. One or two people throughout the season? The people of Derby are hardly coming out in their droves to claim they’ve spotted this dog, are they?
Oh well. I can only assume the dog is on a year-long sabbatical. I hope it has gone somewhere nice.
Tonight’s final match: Derby 0 Sunderland 0
Commentator: John Roder
There’s no disguising that this was a poor match, low on excitement and devoid of goals. No disguising it, that is, unless you work for the Hartlepool Mail’s website, in which case you can use that age-old journalistic technique of making up a different scoreline:
That good fortune really does follow Derby around, doesn’t it? Even when they draw, they don’t get credit for it. (Admittedly, the introduction to the Mail’s report does rather give the game away about that made-up scoreline.)
Anyway, a disturbing amount of the talk in the build-up to this game centred around Robbie Savage’s car.
According to several reports (I’ll pick out the one on Sky Sports’ website, for the sake of argument), a club insider lambasted Savage for turning up at training this week in a £160,000 Mercedes, when his performances since arriving from Blackburn in January have been on the mediocre side of shocking.
“The so-called insider is right when he says I haven’t had a decent game since arriving from Blackburn,” Savage said in The Sun.
“But I could be driving a Robin Reliant and I would still be playing the same.”
Whether Derby boss Paul Jewell had that in mind when he decided to rest Savage today, only player and manager will be able to tell you. The match report on Derby’s official website simply stated that “there was no place for Robbie Savage”, a phrase which manages to say an awful lot by saying very little.
And there was very little to say about the match.
Still, at least Derby have reached 10 points for the season now; both in the Premier League and on the Gubbometer.
Speaking of which, there was this little exchange between commentator and Derby manager afterwards.
John Roder: Paul, will you have any complaints if this game is last on Match of the Day tonight?
Paul Jewell: It was like watching paint dry. I’m not even sure this will be on Match of the Day. We might be on with the midnight movie instead.
That lucky ghost dog – wherever it may be – was unavailable for comment.
1. Derby: 10 (Gubba difference: +1)
2. Wigan: 7 (GD: +1)
3. Fulham: 6 (GD: +1)
4. Birmingham: 6 (GD: 0)
5. Reading: 5 (GD: +1)
6. Bolton: 4 (GD: +1)
7. West Ham: 4 (GD: 0)
8. Gubba: 3
9=. Aston Villa: 3 (GD: 0)
9=. Chelsea: 3 (GD: 0)
9=. Sunderland: 3 (GD: 0)
12. Portsmouth: 2 (GD: +1)
13=. Millwall: 2 (GD: 0)
13=. Walsall: 2 (GD: 0)
15=. Everton: 1
15=. Middlesbrough: 1
15=. Newcastle: 1
15=. Cardiff: 1
15=. Wolves: 1
15=. Bury: 1
15=. Workington: 1
15=. Huddersfield: 1
15=. Grimsby: 1
(NB. Where teams are level, positions are decided by Gubba Difference; the number of times a team is on Match of the Day last with Tony Gubba commentating.)