Horseracing may be the sport of kings, but to many, football is the king of sport. Roger Wright takes a light-hearted look at some bizarre stories all of them true! associated with our favourite spectator sport

MY sports editor, Kevin Impey, and I have one thing in common. We both know a bit about betting. As someone once told him: If it moves son, somebody will bet on it.

There have, of course, been recent scandals about betting on football. The real problem is trying to make the allegations stick.

But betting on soccer is not a recent phenomenon, according to Graham Sharpe, Media Relations Director for William Hill. It has been going on since 1872, when the first FA Cup final was played at Kennington Oval.

The Royal Engineers were 4-7 to win, but they became the games first beaten odds-on shots when, ironically, a man called Betts scored the winner for the Wanderers.

And still on the subject of betting, there is the tale of Jason Perritt, from Newbury, Berkshire. The 24-year-old was delighted with his £500 win on Littlewoods Spot the Ball competition in 1994 particularly as he is blind!

Graham, who has written many best-selling books on the bizarre side of horseracing and gambling, is a great collector of sporting snippets. People kept asking me if I was going to do a football book, he said. So I started collecting some crazy facts. After all, they do say its a funny old game.

Certainly is. Take the case of nine-foot tall Cyril the Swan, the mascot of Swansea City. He made history as the first swan to be charged with bringing the game into disrepute after running onto the pitch to join in goal celebrations, when Swansea scored against Millwall in the FA Cup.

Referee Steve Lodge took a dim view of the incursion and reported the incident. Cyril, who turned up in person at the hearing, earned his club a £1,000 fine from the Welsh FA, who banned him from the touchline while players were on the pitch.

And then, when Swansea were narrowly defeated by Derby in January, The Sun named Cyril as its man of the match.

Then there was the tragic case of Toby, the (real) sheep mascot for Greenock Morton before the First World War, who was left in the changing room after a match and sadly drowned in the players bath.

And what about the fans of French club St Etienne. They chose an unusual mascot from their team last season porn star Elodie Charie, who claimed to have supported the club since she was sex ...... err, I mean six.

If goalies need anything (apart from luck), then they need hands. But there are always exceptions. Northern Counties East League side Maltby Main boast probably the only one-handed keeper in the game Darren Bonnington who was born with just a little finger and a thumb on his left hand.

And what about Allistair Langs extraordinary record, achieved while he was playing for Northbank against Spittal Rovers in the Northern Alliance League in September 1998? Allistair scored with a header from 60 yards! The FA told the 22-year-old that their records showed that the previous longest scoring header was 35 yards, by Peter Aldis for Aston Villa against Sunderland in 1952.

Most of us have ordered takeaway food, but you would be hard-pressed to compete with a group of 10 Scottish fans who were in Bordeaux in south-west France to support their side in the 1998 World Cup.

They spent £600 on a takeaway order of curry and lager from the Eye of the Tiger restaurant in Bournemouth, and then spent £800 on a charter flight to deliver it! It was no wonder the boss of the restaurant, Mustafa Aolad, said: We support Scotland now.

Two of Grahams favourite anecdotes are the true story of John Roddy, who was baffled when he went to watch Everton play Sheffield Wednesday in April, 1998.

John could not see the ball, Graham said. He was red-green colour-blind and could not follow the action because an experimental yellow ball was being used.

Then there were the thieves who raided changing rooms while a game was going on at Brampton FCs ground near Huntingdon last year. They soon realised they had made a big mistake when they were pounced on by 23 policeman, who had been playing in the game between Cambridgeshire Police and the Mets NW Division.

The final word goes to Rangers goalkeeper Lionel Charbonnier. Asked about a plan to stage the World Cup every two years, he commented: It is like a woman, the longer you wait for one, the more you appreciate it. Every four years is fine.

Graham Sharpes The Book of Bizarre Football, published by Robson Books, is on sale priced £8.99.