Condescending southerner David Green (he’s Manchester-based) has a piece on the Beeb listing the delights that await Rivaldo when he finally signs for Bolton Wanderers. What many people this morning find difficult to understand is why Rivaldo can’t be arsed to travel those extra 10 miles up the A666 to the Anchor Ground, home of Darwen FC.

Darwen, after all, was the first English club to welcome genuine foreign players (Scots); unlike Bolton, it has a decent chance of promotion to the UniBond League at the end of the season; and the women’s team recently beat Man U 4-3 in a cup thriller. However, even Darwen doesn’t have the magic of continental, nay, of Belgian football.

“On the evening before a European Cup match,” recalls Fi van Hoof, Aad de Mos’s assistant at KV Mechelen, “the youngest player had to crawl under the table, imitate a dog, and bite someone’s leg. Superstition, but we won everything.”

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