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Tranmere's Dave Challinor
In action against Newcastle in the quarter finals of the FA Cup
 real 28k

Friday, 25 February, 2000, 13:02 GMT
League throw out the towel


Tranmere captain Dave Kelly and Challinor (c) celebrate Rovers' semi-final win over Bolton


It does not sound the most potent of sporting weapons.

But the Nationwide League's decision to ban the use of towels at Sunday's Worthington Cup Final between Tranmere Rovers and Leicester at Wembley could have a significant effect on the outcome.


I don't consider myself a freak, but I must admit I can't really explain why I can throw the ball so far

Dave Challinor
Especially if it rains.

Rovers' Dave Challinor holds the world record for the longest throw in football and it proved a lethal weapon in several of his side's victories on the way to the final.

He uses a towel to wipe the ball dry to get added purchase, but is undeterred by the ban.

"It makes me laugh really what people have tried to do this season to us over my throws, it shows we have got teams worried.

"One of my proudest moments has been beating Andy Legg's world record throw a couple of years ago in a special challenge set-up at Prenton Park that earned me a place in the Guinness Book of Records.

Long throw: Challinor can throw the ball up to 40 metres
"But setting up a winning goal at Wembley with one of my throws would eclipse that."

Tranmere's opponents have tried all sorts of spoiling tactics to protect themselves.

Defeated semi-final opponents Bolton were so concerned about Challinor's throw-ins they moved advertising hoardings closer to the touchline and shut the gaps between them to impede his run-up.

But when Tranmere are at home the League allowed the club to give each ball-boy a towel to help Challinor - as long as the towels were also made available to the visiting team.

A Challinor monster throw contributed to Tranmere's first goal in Sunday's 3-2 FA Cup quarter-final defeat by Newcastle.

Challinor's throw is in the Guiness Book of Records
Though the use of towels to wipe the ball is only a realistic option at home, where Prenton Park's ball-girls and boys are well briefed on the need to keep up a constant supply to Challinor, the Nationwide League are taking no chances at Wembley.

"The fourth official will be informed that towels must not be used in the final," said a league spokesman.

Tranmere will also be barred from placing any towels around the Wembley pitch.

Challinor cannot explain what enables him to throw the ball such great distances - almost half the length of the putch.

"I don't consider myself a freak, but I must admit I can't really explain why I can throw the ball so far.

"I'm 6ft plus but not massively built so it's not down to physical strength.

"Grip is important and I feel it's the speed that I release the ball behind my head.

Defenders nightmare

"Frankly, my throws are hard to defend against because defenders struggle to get a clean header with any power on the ball because it is dropping out of the air and has travelled so far."

Challinor, though, insists there's more than just his throw-ins to Tranmere's success.

"We have absolutely worked our socks off and clubs facing us now respect us.

"There's a fear factor from teams because sides know they have to match our effort and commitment before they earn the right to play their football."

Despite Challinor's secret weapon, Tranmere remain the underdogs to last year's beaten finalists.
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