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A Diamonds fan forever

Wind up a minister about FE and the worst that can happen is he will walk away or, at worst, duck for cover behind a press officer who will give you every assistance short of actual help.

Mention the beautiful game, though, and things can turn ugly.

One of my colleagues asked skills minister Phil Hope which football team he supported.

"Rushden and Diamonds", came the reply. The team apparently, inhabits the basement division of the Football League, whatever that may be. "I support Leyton Orient, and I watched my team beat your team five-one earlier this season," the reporter replied.

The minister snarled and threw a mock head-butt, narrowly avoiding our reporter's nose.

Our reporter and the minister were at a publicity event to promote reading and writing tuition, attended by Charlie Oatway, captain of Brighton and Hove Albion (see page 5).

For an Orient fan, our man knows a thing or two about football, an obsession he has passed on to his son, who, during a university game, once took a shot at goal and missed, only to see the ball go on to crack the rear windscreen of a nearby car.

The car belonged to one Charlie Oatway.

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