THANKS to our man at Herriot-Watt University, a cutting from The Scotsman arrives concerning an unscheduled post-match press conference at Cappielow Park, Greenock.

Morton had lost 4-0 to Falkirk and had two players sent off. It wasn't to separate referee from fans than a phalanx of police was formed, however, but to keep one of his own players off Morton chairman Mike Peden.

Remember Mike Peden? He was Darlington's chief executive until May 1999, the man at the helm when the club ran up debts of £5m

So the abrasive Mr Peden is to be in today's column. So is former Quakers general manager Steve Morgon and Billy Bubbles - who could forget Billy Bubbles? - whose time on the Feethams stage was fleeting, nonetheless..

Master Bubbles has now blown into Morton, too. "It's a bizarre and very complex situation here," says Roger Graham, sports editor of the Greenock Telegraph. They used to say much the same at Darlington.

The Morton media, at any rate, were awaiting the usual post-match platitudes when midfielder Andy Brownrigg pushed forward and demanded Peden appear on camera.

Brownrigg, signed from Kidderminster Harriers in August, claimed not to have been paid for eight weeks. "I've not done anything wrong and my life has been made hell," he told the press pack.

"My wife has walked out on me and I have final demands for bills I cannot pay."

Mr Brownrigg, not entirely surprisingly, is no longer at the club. Matt Boswell, a goalkeeper who had been training with Sunderland, has also withdrawn his services from Morton amid claims of non-payment.

"Peden's troubled reign at Coppielow just seems to go from bad to worse," observed The Scotsman.

He arrived as Darlington's chief executive in 1997, proclaiming his intention to buy the club - though accounts a year later showed the owner still to be the Guernsey based St Philip's Trust, run by the ubiquitous Reg Brealey.

When Peden left the club was probably days from receivership, saved by new chairman George Reynolds's decision to meet all debts.

This summer Peden re-appeared at Greenock, a former shipbuilding town on the Clyde, and again talked of buying its football club. The owner, however, remains Hugh Scott - a gentleman of reputedly equal charisma.

Steve Morgon, apparently by coincidence, was briefly Morton's chief executive under Scott, an associate of Brealey.

"I wouldn't like to call myself a hatchet man, a friendly butcher would be a more pleasant expression," Morgon once said of his time at Feethams.

Allan Evans, brought in as manager by Peden, was the Quakers' assistant manager under Brian Little. The club is third bottom of the Scottish first division; the takeover hasn't been completed.

"We know his history and are in very close contact with people at Darlington," says Andy Morrison, co-editor of the Coppielow Bugle fanzine.

"We don't know why they are doing it. It's obvious there's no money in football at this level and Coppielow has been allowed to become an absolute disgrace under Scott.

"We're just worried that Peden will leave us in the same mess that Darlington got into. After 126 years of football here, our worry is that we'll go into liquidation."

Andy also refers us to their website. "It'll take two days to read, but start at the 'Rumours' page first."

Part of Peden's game plan, apparently, is the development of something called Soccerama - at Darlington there was Soccerdome - and the re-launch of Billy Bubbles.

"The way they talk, he'll be bigger than the Tellytubbies," says Andy.

At Darlington, however, the bubble quickly burst. Launched at the Worthington Cup tie against Manchester City in December 1998 - a club spokesman had promised a major new signing - his outfit was filled by comedian Sean Flynn, for a fee of £258.

Until Flynn found it no laughing matter and went to the press, the club refused to pay him on the grounds that his bubbles were too small.

Danny Goodwin, who only blows the Coppielow Bugle, is equally anxious about Morton's plight.

"At the moment it appears that Peden can't raise the finance to buy out Scott; it seems a similar situation to Darlington and all we hear about is Billy Bubbles and everything he's going to be involved in."

The mascot's outfit was for a time consigned to a Feethams stock cupboard. Now, however, he has re-emerged - same rig-out - as the Quaker Kid.

"He runs around with Mr Q," says Darlington director Luke Raine. "He's bringing us a bit more luck than Billy Bubbles ever did."

STILL further afield, Allen Nixon - the Stokesley Stockbroker - sends a copy of the Daily Nation, Barbados. "I read it for the cookery column," he insists.

What now catches his eye is news that the World Council of Domino Federations holds its three day annual meeting in Georgetown, Guyana - constitutional changes and "additional disciplines" on the agenda - this month.

Did you know, asks Allen, that Garfield Sobers once claimed that his greatest sporting triumph was winning the Barbados domino championship?

The annual meeting had previously been held during the world championships, but spokesman Charles Lovell (whose name rings insistent bells) reckoned the sessions were "sometimes interrupted, or lost focus."

The same thing happens with the brainless Britannia B.

The last event was held in Dominica; home advantage, the hosts are now world champions. Latest score: Britannia A 2 Britannia B 6.

DOUG Grant, 36, has just scored three for Shildon. In 1986-87 he hit five hat tricks for the Railwaymen, each rewarded with a colour television from a local dealer in a novel sponsorship arrangement.

This time, reports the Albany Northern League magazine, grateful officials bought him a Coke, instead.

A RUSTLING down by the docks: after all this time, it's Hails of Hartlepool. "Forgive me," he writes, "I must have nodded off at the end of the cricket season."

Ron was stirred by the reference in Tuesday's column to Hartlepool United's great escape in 1971-72, a miracle upon which he once composed a monograph.

By Christmas 1971 Pool's position was "absolutely desperate", another re-election application unlikely to succeed. Come the new year, however Pool started to win matches, and attract fans, under manager Len Ashurst.

With two games remaining - Darlington and high flying Southport, both away - they needed two points for safety. Around 6000 of the 8809 Feethams crowd on Monday April 24 had travelled from Hartlepool.

Colin Sinclair scored first, for Quakers. Desperate measures needed, Ashurst withdrew leading scorer Ron Young, brought himself on and pushed Malcolm Dawes into midfield.

Big Bill Green equalised after 70 minutes. With four minutes remaining, Dawes chased a wild pass, crossed to the far post and Willie Waddell - for whose transfer the bairns had raised jumble sale money - smashed the ball home. "The roar of delight and relief," says Ron, "threatened to demolish Feethams."

THAT reminiscent rabbit was started by the admirable Arthur Pickering, long the Hartlepool Mail's man in the Victoria Park press box but now on a loftier station with Tyne Tees Telly.

Ron Hails, who helped him - "Hartlepool's own Henry Rose" - recalls a match against Sheffield United at which the Sheffield Star gazer had a young assistant.

The paper had an ongoing industrial dispute: Arthur - the Don Corleone of the Hartlepool press gang - was enthusiastically NUJ, the youngster distinctly non-U. Finally he could stand it no longer.

"If you're one of those blackleg sods from Yorkshire you can get yourself out of here," he exploded.

The youth looked vainly to his mentor for support before leaving, shamefacedly.

"He's probably sports editor of the Yorkshire Post now," says Ron, "but he'll never forget his first game at the Vic."

NOT just the column, engaged elsewhere, will miss the North East Durham Cricket League's annual do tomorrow night. So will League chairman Brian Barrass, whose slightly loquacious speeches have become both an annual highlight and subject of a heavily subscribed sweep. Brian may still have something to say, however: "I'm sending them a tape recording," he insists.

WHAT Jon Lewis of Durham and Peter Bowler of Somerset had in common (Backtrack, October 31) is that both scored centuries on their debuts for two different counties.

Brian Shaw in Shildon: what popular catch-phrase originated from the live radio broadcasts of football which began in 1926-27?

We're given another airing on Tuesday