Russell grand

GOOD news for Norwich City midfielder Darel Russell – his sister made it through the first live round of The X Factor last night.

While Russell was helping Norwich to a 1-0 victory at Carlisle on Saturday, his sister Sharlene was preparing to sing in front of a TV audience of millions. (Which begs the question: Which is more intimidating – an away trip to Brunton Park or a performance in front of Simon Cowell? Discuss.)

Sharlene made it through to The X Factor’s final 12 as part of all-girl group Miss Frank, which whom she performs under the name Shar Alexander. On last night’s elimination show, the group avoided finishing in the bottom two when all the public votes were counted up, and thus steered clear of the sing off, which eliminated fellow all-girl group Kandy Rain.

Miss Frank have got the full support of Sharlene’s brother, who has appealed to the people of Norfolk to get behind her, with a bit of help from the Norwich Evening News.

“I’m going to call on all the people of Norfolk and Norwich supporters to try and support my sister over the coming weeks,” Russell told the Evening News.

“She goes under the name of Shar Alexander but she’s Sharlene Russell, and hopefully everyone enjoys her performances over the coming weeks and hopefully it matches some of the success we have on the pitch.”

Like Norwich, Sharlene had a bit of a ropey start, but has bounced back well. Her ‘7-1 home defeat by Colchester’ stage came when she was facing elimination from The X Factor’s ‘boot camp’. Her ‘get rid of Bryan Gunn and bring in Paul Lambert’ stage came when she got together with fellow contestants Shanice Davis and Gratziella Affinta to form Miss Frank, and the three of them impressed enough to stay in the competition. And her ‘five game unbeaten run to climb into League One’s top six’ stage came with the group’s subsequent progress to the live finals.

I would make a comment here about both Norwich and Miss Frank aiming to be No. 1 at Christmas, but I fear I’ve already stretched the analogy beyond breaking point.

Sharlene is certainly more adept with a microphone in public than Norwich’s joint majority shareholder Delia Smith. Although I, for one, will definitely vote for Miss Frank if at any point Sharlene grabs the microphone, strolls up to Cowell and shouts ‘Where are you?’ in his face. (I wouldn’t suggest doing that to Cheryl Cole, though, as she scares me.)

Should Miss Frank make any kind of serious progress in the live competition, perhaps Sharlene’s Norwich City connection will come out more. At the very least, we should get Holly Willoughby having a cosy chat with Darel backstage on The Xtra Factor on ITV2. At most, we might get a Miss Frank performance with Grant Holt, Wes Hoolahan, Gary Doherty and Adam Drury on backing vocals in full Norwich kit.

According to Darel, his sister is not a big football fan, though. And in any case, perhaps the Norwich connection shouldn’t stretch too far, as it might turn Ipswich fans against Miss Frank. And that might mean they start voting instead for the dreadful John and Edward, a kind of male Irish version of the Cheeky Girls. And if those two win, then The X Factor will lose any right to call itself a talent contest.

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