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Monday, June 11, 2001 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Sideline Chatter

A pub team is a drubbed team

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Not since the "Animal House" Deltas burst in on Otis Day and the Knights has a road trip gone so startlingly awry.

An English tavern soccer team, thinking it would play similar competition on a season-ending exhibition swing to Italy last month, instead wound up playing two second-tier pro teams because of a scheduling mixup, and got waxed 16-0 and 15-2.

The touring ragtag lads from Petersfield's Red Lion pub took to the pitch and knew something was up when they were introduced as the F.C. Petersfield Lions of the English Second Division.

"It was only when we took a second look that we realized they meant us," said pub player Richard Kates. "We didn't even have matching socks. When fans started to fill the ground we lost our bottle (nerve) altogether and locked ourselves in the changing rooms.

"Our manager persuaded us to come out but refused to let us kick the ball about because there was no way we could compare with the way the Italians were knocking it around."

It didn't take the Italians long to figure it out, either.

"They were all so young and - I don't want to upset anyone - but technically they were appalling," said Francesco Scalabri, a Villafranca club official. "They couldn't really pass or trap very well and they were all over the place.

"The first goal went in after a few minutes and from then on it was a goal fiesta. You have to remember, we had only scored 15 goals all season, so to get as many as we did was a surprise.

"Some of our players wanted to swap shirts. But Petersfield said they were the only shirts they had with them."

Wrestling with politics

Our governor can beat up your governor. Iowans could soon start woofing if native son Dan Gable, the gold-medal wrestler and 15-time national-championship coach, makes like Minnesota's Jesse Ventura and runs for governor.

"It can't do me any harm to see what's going on out there besides wrestling," said Gable, who won Olympic gold in 1972 and coached the Iowa Hawkeyes for 21 seasons before retiring in 1997.

Gable has one thing in his favor: The only wrestler who ever beat him - the Huskies' Larry Owings, in the 1970 NCAA finals - isn't registered in Iowa.

Russian into production

Looks like Sean Connery has the makings of a second career portraying Oleg Korneev, the Russian pitcher signed by the M's.

Connery hasn't even finished filming "From Russia, With Glove" yet, and Seattle reader Dan Barry has already thought up the sequel: "The Hunt for Red Mr. October."

Taken to the dry cleaners

Romania's gymnasts, who normally go for the gold, right now would gladly settle for just some cold. Water, that is.

"The girls had to go to bed without taking a shower," said Octavian Belu, the team's coach, whose training facility got its H2O shut off last week.

Local officials are raising a stink with the gymnastics training school, which produced the team and all-around champions at the Sydney Olympics, because it won't come up with any gold for them. The school in Deva, 187 miles northwest of Bucharest, owes $70,000 in electrical bills.

M... I ... E... N ...

The Minnesota Twins plan to honor 13-year-old Sean Conley, the National Spelling Bee champ from Anoka, Minn., but it could turn out to be a working holiday for him.

Said Twins executive Patrick Klinger: "We'll see if he can spell Mientkiewicz."

-- Dwight Perry, The Seattle Times

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