ON St George's Day it pains the Diary to ask: is York unpatriotic, or just apathetic?

Well done to those few loyal souls hosting English celebrations around the city, and the scouts who will parade in the name of Saint George this weekend.

But it doesn't reflect well on our levels of national pride that York has no apparent involvement in the Royal Society of St George.

The society champions the cause of England and Englishness. It has branches across the country and all over the world.

Alas, Yorkshire is letting the side down. Although there are branches in Barnsley, Sheffield and Bradford, there is nothing in York.

Yorkshire's seat on the national council of the St George society remains unfilled.

"With respect, I don't know what's up with Yorkshire," sighed John Clemence, who chairs the Royal Society of St George from his home in East Sussex. "It's been dying on the vine up there."

He has a theory why there is a problem. "I assume you have quite a bit of pressure on you at the moment about these new regions.

"There may be a desire for some people who want to be the new regional representatives to suppress Englishness."

Elsewhere, there is a revival in the spirit of St George, he said. But our corner of this green and pleasant land still lags behind, despite the inauguration of a Leeds branch of the society on Sunday.

In Mr Clemence's experience, "Yorkshiremen are usually the most patriotic of the lot".

So he is encouraging anyone interested in getting involved to ring the society on 01303 241795.

HOW brief our idols shine. Searching for something in the cuttings archive, the Diary came across a letter from redoubtable correspondent Heather Causnett, published last May.

"I am sick of reading derogatory articles about David Beckham," Mrs Causnett began.

And after lauding the England football captain for his clean-living habits, our Heather concluded: "Also, despite armies of female followers (who would love to lure him into a broom-cupboard like the unfortunate Boris Becker to grab the lucrative results) David stays very much a one-woman man, a good son, husband and father."

WHAT'S in a name? Whole shades of trouble, it seems, if you call your rugby team the All Blacks.

There's a trans-continental storm brewing between New Zealand's world-beating giants and little New Earswick All Blacks rugby league club.

The Antipodean stars have apparently taken exception to their trade-marked name being adopted by a team of amateur interlopers. Because Earswick market their own shirts, the Down Under doyen fear there may be commercial implications.

You can almost see the stock market trembling as the former world champions' share price slides off the scale.

So, ever the international arbiter, the Diary has a solution to this David and Goliath battle for survival.

Instead of the lawyers making a fortune fighting it out in court, we suggest the old-fashioned way.

Rugby balls at dawn, winner takes all (and the All Black rights).

The New Zealanders are hereby invited to New Earswick to play for their very name. And because of the differences between rugby league and union, we suggest teams of 14 men. Either that or the first half is a union game, the second is rugby league.

To make it worth their while, we can guarantee New Earswick's usual turn-out of village supporters, orange slices at half time, and a cup of tea and a sandwich in the clubhouse afterwards.

We could even sell them a few authentic All Black shirts.

For dinner, we would have wined and dined them in a small York restaurant named After Eight - except that had to change its name some years ago after getting the hard word from Nestl lawyers.

Updated: 11:11 Friday, April 23, 2004