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No Alf measures from true Brit John.

HE may be a committed xenophobic but John Gregory still doesn't deserve to be compared to television bigot Alf Garnett.

Gregory (right) has such an aversion to Johnny Foreigner that he has assembled an all-English XI which continues to defy the odds at the Premiership summit.

However, the astute Aston Villa boss is no silly moo. He should be commended rather than condemned by the London media for his trust in Anglo-Saxon reliability.

"Having 11 Englishmen in the side gives us something others don't have," declared Gregory. "We're a British side and we don't carry any passengers."

Gregory conveniently overlooked Mark Bosnich, a first class passenger even by British Rail standards.

But you can't disagree with his sentiments.

The plethora of ordinary, indolent, temperamental foreigners sweeping through our game has reached breaking point. Where once there were Smiths and Joneses there are now Bakayokos and Caballeros.

The influx of overseas stars like Ginola, Bergkamp and Petit gave the British game a massive fillip.

But enough is enough.

We've now got over 200 of these unpronounceable nonentities making a small fortune out of playing in the Premiership.

Arsenal and Chelsea barely have an Englishman on board, cosmopolitan Derby are a cornucopia of foreigners and Newcastle have more players from Timbuktu than South Shields.

Here's the Roast's A-Z of foreign flops. Can you spot the four I've had to make up?

A-Arphexad , B-Beck or Bonalair, C-Charvet or Clement, D-Darcheville or Dacourt, E-Ekoku, F-Friedel, G-Garde or Georgiadis, H-Hiden or Heggem, I-Ilic, J-Jonk, K-Kvarme or Ketsbaia, L-Ljungberg or Lundekvam, M-Margas or Madar, N-Nevland, O-Omoyimni, P-Pis tone or Perez, Q-Quasimeedos, R-Ribeiro, S-Schnoor or Stefanovic, T-Thome or Tramezzani, U-Uberetski, V-Vivas or Vega, W-Wreh or Wijnhard, X-Xautha, Y-Yostic, Z-Zagorakis.

PDAVE Horlick has been welcomed back with open arms by Blackburn Rovers after influencing referee Dermot Gallagher to send off Villa goalkeeper Michael Oakes.

PHorlick adjudged Oakes had handled the ball outside his area in the Boxing Day clash at Ewood Park.

PHowever, the short-sighted liney made a quick reappearance in Blackburn this week to talk on the art of officiating - and Rovers fans were only too happy to roll out the red carpet.

PThe evening was sponsored by Vision Express!

England put in a right Stew

ALEC Stewart must be sacked pronto as captain of the English cricket team and replaced by Nasser Hussain or Mark Ramprakash.

This is not a knee jerk reaction at the loss of another Ashes series - but one stemming from common sense.

Stewart stood up manfully to his triple responsibility of captain, batsman and wicketkeeper. But with the World Cup on the horizon, the time is now right for England's action-man to step aside.

One of his roles must certainly go, and Stewart, a sorry failure as captain of Surrey, has proved to be a better batsman and wicketkeeper than skipper.

His static leadership has left a lot to be desired and from a tactical sense he has been something of a disaster.

When things were not happening for England, we rarely saw any flashes of inspiration in bowling or fielding changes.

PFIRST thought was to send the turkey down the Trent after Forest's appalling handling of Dave Bassett's sacking. But having Barbados beach bum Ron Atkinson on board, I suppose, is sufficient punishment.

PInstead I've awarded it to ITV for their childish point-scoring exercise to stage the FA Cup fourth round draw while two third round games were taking place (one of which was being screened by Sky).
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Author:Skidmore, Roger
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Jan 10, 1999
Words:577
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