As exercises in deflection go, it was Lord Ferg-esque in its genius. With the clock ticking down and the jig almost certainly up for Chelsea, Eden Hazard hit upon a splendid wheeze to divert attention away from his side's limp Milk Cup semi-final exit at the hands of Swansea. By hoofing an uncooperative ballboy in the ribs and getting sent off, the Belgian ensured all talk after the match would be about that particular incident rather than the listless Big Cup champions being humbled by Swansea, who had just qualified for their first major final in ... ah, what's the use: LOOK! EDEN HAZARD KICKED A BALL BOY!
It was one of those incidents that we're supposed to pretend we don't like to see in the game, when in fact it is one of those incidents everyone secretly loves to see in the game: an uncooperative ballboy getting hoofed in the ribs by a player who needed the ball in a hurry. He wasn't hurt, kind of deserved it and the player got sent off to think about what he'd done and after the match they apologised to each other and both shook hands.
Those who were either entertained and amused, or outraged and ready to burst with pomposity at the horror of it all, got their money's worth. Hats off, then, to the inevitable bozo who felt compelled to report the matter to the police; we can only hope the officers consequently assigned to investigate it were diverted from their duties while en route to stop a burglary in progress at the hand-wringer in question's house [FIVER STOP PRESS ED – Swansea have confirmed the ballboy, Charlie Morgan, will not be pursuing the incident with the police].
It got better. It turns out the hero of the story, Morgan, was in fact 17 years old (Eden Hazard is 22 and smaller than him) and actually a reluctant former ballboy who had been lured out of retirement for one last job, possibly because the match kicked off after the usual ballboy's bedtime. "The king of all ballboys is back making his final appearance #needed #for #timewasting" he had tweeted prior to the game. And in a story with parallels to Unforgiven and many other movies, he shipped one in the ribs while taking care of business like William Munny, but lived to tell the tale. Of course only time will tell whether or not he will move to San Francisco and set up a prosperous dry goods business, but if he chooses to do so, the Fiver wishes him well.
After a magnificently entertaining night and day of nonsense in which young master Morgan earned his bunk in next year's Celebrity Big Brother house, Glenn Hoddle labelled an impulsive teenager "bent", the internet threatened to melt like Major Toht's face in Raiders of the Lost Ark and the normally sane Pat Nevin went on the national news (the national news!) to demand an end to ballboys, and the FA has now announced it will review the incident before deciding how long the obviously contrite Hazard should spend on the naughty step. The only way this could have been more entertaining is if it had been Luis Suarez administering the hoofing.
"On my way to Newcastle, having medical then sign a 4 years contract. Thank you all for your support you've been outstanding !!!!" – Reading's Jimmy Kebe uses Twitter to announce his own transfer. But wait! Just minutes later...
"Oups i thought if you're french and play football u just pop in to Newcastle and sign a contract. Not a chance of leaving #LoveReadingFc#" – it turns out the Reading winger was making a pithy comment about the recent transfer activity at Le Parc du Saint Jacques.
Final score: Jimmy Kebe 2-0 Journalism.
"If only it was Fernando Torres who chased the at ball against Swansea: he would have ended up hitting the advertisement boarding instead of young Mr Morgan" – James Lavelle.
"With regards to the apparent time wasting in last night's Swansea game: what we should all remember is that Charlie Morgan is not that type of ballboy" – Simon Lea.
"Dulwich Hamlets fans must be complete imbeciles if they don't have a better array of chants than Chelsea (yesterday's letters). Non-league chanting is far better than its Premier League equivalent. "You're not very good, you're not very good" to a warming up substitute has added pathos at non-league level, because it's true; and "dodgy keeper" is always better when the keeper can turn around and give as good as he gets" – Stephen Yoxall.
Send your letters to firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you've nothing better to do you can also tweet the Fiver. And to placate certain readers, the Fiver awards prizeless Fiver letter o' the day to: Simon Lea.
We keep trying to point out the utter futility of advertising an online dating service "for interesting people" in the Fiver to the naive folk who run Guardian Soulmates, but they still aren't having any of it. So here you go – sign up here to view profiles of the kind of erudite, sociable and friendly romantics who would never dream of going out with you.
Wilfried Zaha is set to have a medical at Manchester United ahead of his move from Crystal Palace. Given that they signed Owen Hargreaves and Michael Owen, he should be OK.
Real Madrid's reserve goalkeeper Iker Casillas is likely to be out of the Big Cup tie with Manchester United after breaking a bone in his hand. By The Fiver's count, it's now Jose 427-0 The Dressing Room.
West Ham's Dan Potts will remain in hospital today for further tests on the head injury he suffered during last night's 5-1 shellacking by Arsenal.
West Brom's sporting director and scourge of vampires, Richard Garlick, says QPR target Peter Odewmingie is going nowhere this month. "We don't have to sell any of our players," he roared. "It's well documented about Peter. We had an offer and we don't intend to sell any of our players."
Newcastle manager Alan Depardieu has completed the signing of Yoan Goufrann from Bordeaux.
Huddersfield Town have sacked their manager Simon Grayson after a so-bad-it's-bad run of no wins in 12 games.
Leeds believe Luciano Becchio's transfer request is financially motivated and have been told him he won't be doing one in the near future.
And some big news: Sylvain Distin has signed a new one-year deal with Everton.
The glory of Roberto Mancini (the player), computer game nostalgia and various ballboy incidents feature in this week's Classic YouTube.
Jonathan Wilson knows so much about the Africa Cup of Nations that he can recite the entire Cape Verde squad backwards while juggling in a Gervinho-branded blindfold. So listen up when he tells you why Algeria's manager is seeking redemption at the tournament.
AC Jimbo and the pod squad discuss ballboys, Bradford and something else starting with B. Let's say the B-FA Cup in Football Weekly Extraaaaaaah.
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