IN the red corner Goliath Gascoigne; in the blue corner David Beckham. It would be the perfect showdown to decide which of them deserves the greater headlines.

In the week when Boston's player-coach quits and tells us he doesn't want to be known as Gazza, or even Paul, Becks counters with an even bigger surprise by trying to convince us he's not thick.

Ensuring a suspension kicks in while he is out injured hardly qualifies him for Mensa. Those of us not born yesterday are well aware that this sort of chicanery goes on in the immoral world of football without the England captain being stupid enough to admit it.

There were shades of Gazza's self-destructive tendencies in the wild challenge which earned Beckham his injury. Perhaps it's the glare of publicity which drives them to such rash extremes, so the David v Goliath showdown is the logical conclusion. I'm sure the man formerly known as Gazza could be persuaded to re-christen himself Goliath Gascoigne. It has a certain ring to it.

TWO more men who flew by the seat of their pants, but in a much more laudable fashion, sat alongside each other on the obituary pages this week. Had Superman come along 30 years before Christopher Reeve assumed the role, Australian cricketer Keith Miller might have been tailor-made for it.

He is above all others - even Bradman - the one cricketer I would have loved to have seen in his pomp. Tales of how he drank and danced the night away then went out and performed astonishing deeds on the field may partly be apocryphal, but if they are even half true he did very well to make it to 84.

Miller and Ray Lindwall were a legendary pair of fast bowlers, but Miller could also bat. He would not, apparently, bother to flog bowling which had already been well pummelled, but when the going got tough he got going.

Reeve, who insisted on performing his own stunts, was an adventurous horseman, which led to the accident which wrecked his life. Miller's first ambition was to be a jockey and he retained a love of horse-racing which befitted the gambling spirit of a man whose priorities were shaped by having flown as a fighter pilot in the war. He was said to be enormously popular, but didn't get on with Bradman. Chalk and cheese, apparently.

WAYNE Rooney might be the next Superman, but what a desperate shame that through little fault of his own he cannot escape being surrounded by grubby dealings.

The battle to be his agent ended up in Warrington Crown Court this week amid accusations of intimidation in a hotel room. But the case was thrown out when it became clear the court had been misled by Paul Stretford, who is said to have earned £500,000 for his work in securing Rooney's signature for Manchester United, which included first persuading Newcastle to show an interest.

Stretford is executive director of a company called Proactive, in which Kenny Dalglish is a major shareholder and string-puller. No-one emerges from this smelling of roses.

I COULDN'T give a caber-toss about Scotland being unable to beat Moldova, especially as their rugby brethren are putting up two more fingers at England by trying to offload the three matches they were awarded for the 2007 World Cup.

They got these games by siding with the French bid to stage the event, which triumphed over England's vastly superior plan. The Irish, shame on them, did the same but have handed back their three-match allocation to France because of the rebuilding of Lansdowne Road.

What happened to that rugged race of porridge-eating, whisky-drinkers north of the border? Despite devolution, they will still blame us, but the only thing they're any good at these days is women's curling. And the latest rumour is that Goliath Gascoigne wants to work there.

WELL, that's torn it - I'll never get past Hadrian's Wall again, which is a shame as I had the good fortune to spend a day last week sampling the splendours of the latest St Andrews golf development. There are two courses and a sumptuous hotel at St Andrews Bay and the latter was packed with celebrities during the Dunhill Links Championship.

I met Rory Underwood and Paul Casey in the lift, spotted Redgrave and Pinsent having breakfast with former South African cricketer Barry Richards and could go on name-dropping off the bottom of the page.

But the locals are not impressed. Even though it's free on the first three days, they show little interest in watching celebrities hack round their courses.

Dunhill, of course, will be more concerned about the publicity they generate in return for their massive outlay, and it will be interesting to see if the event survives.

Oh, and I really should mention it was won by a Scot, Stephen Gallacher, which was no doubt a small consolation for a marvellous country which needn't concern itself with winning at all.