WHILE Sunderland stumble, Martin Birtle in Billingham has gloomily been perusing the message boards. Several have a worst player/worst team theme; some name Wayne Entwistle.

Remember him? The former England youth international moved to Roker Park from his native Bury for £30,000 in 1977. Scored 14 in 49 appearances including the fourth when Gary Rowell hit a memorable hat-trick in the 4-1 win at St James’ Park.

His real claim to fame, says Martin, is that he played for a record eight different FA Cup winning clubs – Bury, Bolton, Burnley, Wigan, Wimbledon, Leeds, Sunderland and Blackpool.

At the end of his career, in 1989, the Lancashire lad also made a couple of appearances for Hartlepool, though there is no record of Pools having won the FA Cup.

Sunderland superfan Paul Dobson confirms the claim, sends a website link to a story that, back in Bury, Entwistle went on to run Wayne’s Farm Fresh Foods, specialising in cooked meat.

“He also spotted a gap in the market,” the piece adds, “the post-eucharistic cooked meats stall.”

After church, it’s said, the lad would adjourn to the parish hall to sell stuff to the faithful over coffee and biscuits. “It was the only social life that some of the lonely old dears had all week.”

Wayne’s now 59. Last that Paul heard, he’d given up on cooked meats to work at Manchester Airport.

EVER faithful, Paul duly caught the train a week back Tuesday for the 5-2 defeat at Ipswich Town. Fevered brow sorely in need of soothing, he was cheered a little by this NHS recruitment poster spotted in the Suffolk town. Grammarians, conversely, may nurse a sore head.

THE annual beer and music festival at the Scarth Hall in Staindrop started at 7pm last Friday and was officially opened, by me, getting on 18 hours later. Some stuff had been supped in the interim.

They asked for half an hour, opportunity to recall some of the many pubs thereabouts that long since have thrown in the towels.

Places like the Brown Jug, forever Sally’s, up the road at Kinninvie. Like the Queens Head in Gainford where once they kept a monkey in a cage in the passage, like the dear old Welcome at Cockfield, so traditional that even the regulars knew the licensees as Mr and Mrs Robinson, and like the Raby Hunt at Burnt Houses, just outside Raby Castle’s walls.

It was to Burnt Houses that the column had escaped on the evening of Friday May 26, 1989, the occasion of the epic encounter between Liverpool and Arsenal that was to decide the first division championship.

The Raby Hunt was one of the few pubs, even then, that didn’t have a television. The Gooners needed to win by two clear goals; watching would have been unbearable.

It was decided with 38 seconds remaining – “Thomas: it’s up for grabs now” – and if that were one of the great moments in sport, then another arrived later last Saturday with news of Shildon’s magnificent FA Cup victory at Banbury.

The next round’s in October 14, away at Guiseley. Last time the column was there, September 2002, Darren Mowbray – Tony’s kid brother – scored a hat-trick for Guisborough Town in an entertaining 3-3 draw. Whatever happened to him?

STILL with the Gunners, a sale of Supermac memorabilia takes place at an auction house in Essex on October 13.

It includes the shirt in which the former Arsenal (and Newcastle United) striker hit five for England against Cyprus in 1975 – estimated at between £4,000-£6,000 – and his tracksuit from the 1978 FA Cup final against Ipswich, which some of us would rather forget. It’s already attracted a bid – two quid.

Malcolm, now 67 and living in Seaton Delaval, also includes a pair of unworn 1940s/50s vintage size 10 “Cert” boots, sent to him “with a rude note.”

Since the rude note isn’t included, the top offer so far is £20.

John Garbutt, further coincidence, forwards the electronic newsletter of Saltburn Athletic, a thriving youth football club in east Cleveland. Its masthead is graced by Arsene’s wisdom: “If you do not believe you can do it, then you have no chance at all.”

THE golfer Ian Poulter’s twisting about cameras and things distracting him up at Close House last weekend reminded Ian Wright of Billie Jean King’s advice to the young John McEnroe when similarly querulous. What you need to worry about is when you don’t hear them: then you know you’re finished.

….AND finally 

Last week’s sausage-seasoned column sought the identity of the former England cricketer known to team mates as Banger. Paul Symons was first of many to name Marcus Trescothick, 42 on Christmas Day and already signed a new contract for Somerset.

The incorrigible Baz Mundy in Coundon was simply reminded of the old boy in the club moaning about the price of a pint. “Beer should cost the same as sausage, 80p a skinful.”

Paul Hewitson today invites readers to name the eight Republic of Ireland players who’ve scored in the World Cup finals.

  • More finals thoughts, the column returns next week