A Different Week – Turf wars at Oxford, Dortmund fans in a huff with Hoff and Hearts-break Hotel for Spurs

It may not be the most famous of footballing rivalries, but trust us when we say that Swindon Town and Oxford United really, really don’t get on. Don’t let the rather rubbish name ‘The A420 derby’ fool you; Oxford and Swindon is one of the fiercest grudge matches in British football and this weekend will see the two sides lock horns for the first time since 2002, following Swindon’s relegation to League Two. The game is being held at Swindon’s County Ground, still a couple of Town fans decided to get in there first and make a trip to Oxford’s Kassam Stadium – at 5:30 in the morning – and burn the initials ‘STFC’ into the turf of one of the penalty areas. This is assuming, of course, that it was Swindon supporters and not fans of Sawbridgeworth Town, Spennymoor Town, or possibly even Strathspey Thistle, although workers from the Science and Technology Facilities Council and fans of the 1996 film, ‘Star Trek: First Contact’ can’t be ruled out either. The attack, which was probably facilitated by the fact that the Kassam only has 3 stands, with one end opening out onto a public car park, is the second act of vandalism that Oxford have suffered this year. In January, the bronze statue of an oxthat stands just outside the stadium was covered in bright pink paint. Reporting on this latest incident, which will no doubt add a little more spice to Sunday’s encounter, BBC Radio Oxford’s Nathan Cooper said: “It looks like they have almost set fire to the pitch.”

Meanwhile, they were having problems with a different kind of pitch in Germany, where Bundesliga side Hoffenheim have issued an apology after a club employee admitted using a high-frequency sound system to play a high-pitched whine in an attempt to drown out Borussia Dortmund fans after they began singing songs targeting Hoffenheim’s main investor, Dietmar Hopp. The shrill pitch was designed to disrupt the chants, which the employee felt were insulting to the seventy-one-year-old billionaire, who has been criticized by German fans and media for ploughing money into Hoffenheim to transform them from a small amateur side into a strong Bundesliga club, apparently making them one Hoff that isn’t popular in Germany. A Dortmund fan made an official complaint of bodily harm to police and the employee came forward after photographs taken during the game showed him wearing headphones and sitting in a tunnel underneath the away stand with two speakers. “An employee came forward and admitted that he had put in the equipment,” said a club statement on Tuesday. It continued :“He was unaware of the seriousness of his action which was mainly supposed to be humorous.”

Talking of high-pitched squealing, moving from Tottenham to LA Galaxy would be a disappointing step down for most players, but not, it seems, Robbie Keane, who apparently has always dreamed of making the move across the pond. After joining Los Galacticos on Monday, Keane shrilled: “I have always wanted to come and play in MLS so it’s the perfect combination for me and a dream come true.” Sound familiar? Here’s Keane on signing for Liverpool in 2008; “It’s absolutely fantastic, a real dream come true for me…I’ve been a Liverpool fan all my life…” And here he is on signing for Celtic in 2010; “I am a Celtic fan…I always wanted to play for Celtic.” Keane sounds like he was one confused kid. Goodness knows what would happen if Liverpool, Celtic and Galaxy all entered into an Emirates Cup-style pre-season tournament. The poor lad would probably implode.

Meanwhile, Keane’s former club Spurs had suffered a fresh disruption to their season, after a surge in demand for accommodation from performers and visitors to the Edinburgh Fringe left them unable to get a hotel in Edinburgh before yesterday night’s Europa League victory against SPL side Hearts, meaning they had to stay 50 miles away in St Andrews, an hour and a half away from Tynecastle. Spurs have already had their opening Premier League fixture against Everton postponed in the wake of the London riots, a topic which was the focus of the ever-outspoken Leeds United Chairman Ken Bates in his programme notes for their game against Hull. Fresh from labelling the hundreds of Leeds fans who protested against his controversial tenure as “Morons”, Bates went on to suggest the following steps as a remedy for the problems in British society; “Let us leave the EEC, abolish human rights laws and take the TV sets and pool tables out of prisons,” he meekly ventured, “Bring back corporal and capital punishment, slash benefits and put single mothers into hostels instead of giving them council flats.”


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