Local boy made good veteran singer Tony Christie visited the Doncaster Rovers training ground bedecked in Red & White this week for BBC's Football Focus which can be seen this afternoon. Villa fans will be only too aware of the last time they met Rovers in a Cup competition when they were dumped out of the Carling Cup in the 2005/06 season and left Belle Vue to the tune of Christie's classic "Is This The Way To Amarillo" with the words rearranged to taunt their more illustrious but vanquished visitors with "Is This The Way To 'Ammer Villa."
Well the venue has changed with the Keepmoat Stadium the new home of Rovers and you can get 4/1 with Stan James that Villa exit the competition this afternoon. Villa minus Ashley Young are 8/13 with the draw priced at 5/2. Villa are 2/11 to qualify for the 5th Round with Donny 10/3 with Stan James and Villa are into 8/1 from 12s for the FA Cup although I remain unconvinced that it is a priority for Martin O'Neill's side.
Blues travel to the Seaside and their rearranged Championship game with Blackpool. Every week we say this is a must-win game for Alex McLeish's side but the Tangerines today and home to Derby County on Tuesday are games that the Blues must win if they are to win automatic promotion. The visitors are 11/10 to add three points to the haul of rock they are likely to smuggle onto the Team Bus en route back from Bloomfield Road today with the hosts and the draw both priced at 11/5.
Manchester United look good things against what manager Harry Redknapp insists will be a much-changed Spurs side this afternoon but Stan James are offering 16/5 that the Big Four all win their respective ties this weekend. It will be interesting to see what side Senor Benitez fields at Anfield against Everton with the brilliant Steven Gerrard likely to get the day-off following his guest appearance at North Sefton Magistrates Court yesterday. Liverpool are 4/6 to beat Everton with the Toffees 5/1 and the draw 12/5.
Ahead of the Ashes the Australia v South Africa Test Series was a wonderful reminder of how great the five-day game is and the quality cricket has been transferred to the shorter format. The Springboks need to win one of the last two ODI's in Adelaide on Monday morning and Perth next Friday morning to add the ODI to their Test Series success.
Stan James bet: 4/6 Australia and 6/5 South Africa for Monday's 4th ODI and 1/2 South Africa and 13/8 the Baggy Greens for the Series. Don't put it past the Aussies to fight back on Monday and a small wager on them to win the Series at 13/8 is the call.
The critically acclaimed Film4 production Slumdog Millionaire is the 8/15 favourite with stanjames.com to land the coveted Oscar for Best Picture on February 22. The money has come, however, for The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button and we have cut the movie where Brad Pitt plays a man born in his eighties and then gets younger from 8/1 into 4/1.
Latest prices on the Oscars from Stan James: Best Motion Picture
8-15 Slumdog Millionaire
4 (from 8s) The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
14 The Reader
Evens Kate Winslet - The Reader
15/8 Anne Hathaway - Rachel Getting Married
6 Meryl Streep - Doubt
12 Melissa Leo - Frozen River
12 Angelina Jolie - Changeling
10-11 Mickey Rourke - The Wrestler
13-8 Sean Penn - Milk
8 Frank Langella - Frost/Nixon
12 Brad Pitt - The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
16 Richard Jenkins - The Reader
The weather should relent suffice to allow a cracking card at Cheltenham to go ahead today. It is over two years since Alan King's Halcon Genelardais got his head in front but the former Welsh National winner deserves a change of luck and he receives weight from many of his rivals this afternoon. I've always felt there was a big race in That's Rhythm of Martin Todhunter and he looks overpriced at about 20/1 for the 3.25 Doncaster although connections have expressed concerns over the forecast soft ground. In Ireland on Sunday Jayo will appreciate underfoot conditions more than Forpadydeplasterer although the latter will come into his own in the spring on better ground.