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Last Updated: Friday, 3 February 2006, 07:13 GMT
Hat-trick hero still going strong
By Chris Bevan

Dennis Bailey (l) takes on Man Utd's Paul Parker
Dennis Bailey (l) takes on Man Utd's Paul Parker

David Bentley's hat-trick for Blackburn Rovers against Manchester United on Wednesday night was the first Premiership treble to be scored against Sir Alex Ferguson's side.

Southampton striker Egil Ostenstad thought he had scored three times against United in a thumping 6-3 win for the Saints in October 1996 - but one strike was later credited as a Dennis Irwin own goal by the Football Association's dubious goal panel.

In fact you have to go back to New Year's Day 1992 for the previous time a player managed the same feat in the top-flight, when Dennis Bailey hit three for QPR as they thrashed United 4-1 in the old Division One.

Despite being in the days before wall-to-wall television football coverage, Bailey's goals were seen by millions as the game was shown live to a shocked evening audience.

It is nice when people do remember and mention your name as one of the few people to do it previously
Dennis Bailey

"Without a doubt that was the highlight of my career," Bailey told BBC Sport.

"United were unbeaten at Old Trafford, in a race for the title - and the whole country thought they would win.

"But the QPR team really hit it off that day and we could have scored six or seven. For me to get a hat-trick made it a great occasion for myself and the club."

Since Bailey, only one other player has scored a hat-trick at Old Trafford - Ronaldo, who bagged a treble for Real Madrid in the Champions League in 2003.

"I am in quite good company," Bailey added.

"It was great for someone like Ronaldo to do it, and again now Bentley has scored three it brings back some great memories. It is nice when people do remember and mention your name as one of the few people to do it previously."

Bailey is now 40 and in the final year of a sports and community studies course at Birmingham University.

But he is still putting on his boots every Saturday for his 19th senior club - Stratford Town of the Harvey World Travel Midland Football Alliance - and he is still recognised for his Old Trafford hat-trick.

Pete Doherty has a rock and roll lifestyle but I would give the same advice to young players and kids in how to get on in life
Dennis Bailey

"You do come across the odd United fan who will tell you they remember that day clearly," he said.

"I have also had a few meetings with Manchester City fans and also Leeds fans. They won the title that year and I think it was pleasant viewing for them.

"I am still playing and still enjoying it - but the body isn't! This could be my final year as a player but I haven't made my mind up yet."

Bailey puts his long playing career down to being a born-again Christian - not the usual response from a footballer.

He said: "My lifestyle has definitely helped prolong my career. It's been the main factor in my life. It's helped me to be disciplined and basically keep my feet on the ground.

"I probably appreciate the gift I've got a lot more - it's brought me a lot of pleasure myself and also to share that with others."

As well as studying and playing, Bailey has also coached school children with an organisation called Sports Pursuits.

"It's great going into school and teaching kids not just football but other sports as well and helping them on the discipline side of it and the values of sport - hopefully that can be take on into their schoolwork and into their general lifestyle."

But he has also given help to some unlikely recipients - namely controversial Babyshambles singer Pete Doherty, a QPR fan who wrote to Bailey last year.

"He has a rock and roll lifestyle but I would give the same advice to young players and kids in how to get on in life, not to be distracted by things and to make the most of what you've got," Bailey said.

"Whether you're a rock star or an ordinary person on the street, basically I would say whatever talent or gift you've got or whatever your dream or goal is - I would always say give 100% - work hard at it and try and do what's right."




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