SUFFERING soccer tags. York City is to be rebranded as a soccer, rather than a football, club. It is a move that has divided opinion here in our luxury offices in downtown Walmgate. Deputy sports editor Tony Kelly is dead against, and chief sports writer David Stanford asks: why not?

No doubt their disagreement will spill over from our back page into the gladiatorial combat known as the Evening Press five-a-side game. That will set the metatarsals flying.

This column, meanwhile, is firmly in the Kelly camp. Stanley Matthews, Pele, George Best, Michael Owen and Gregory's Girl all played football, and so should York City.

Soccer is just wrong, as a quick flick through the reference books confirms. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, soccer derives from Assoc., short for Association Football. It is therefore used to distinguish the game from rugby football, or "rugger".

So people who use the s-word are on the same lowly rung of the evolutionary ladder as the blazer-wearing, chin-lacking, rude song-singing gumballs who bray about rugger.

It gets worse. The dictionary informs me that the players of soccer are known as soccerites. Can you imagine anything worse than the Minstermen becoming the City Soccerites? And then the Football Writers' Footballer Of The Year would be rechristened the Soccer Writers' Soccerite Of The Season, which is tough on the tongue.

Why do we need this silly nickname? "Football" is a ruthlessly efficient word, describing in two syllables a game about feet and balls.

If only some of our other games were named with such simplicity. Then we would watch stickball instead of snooker, batball instead of tennis and tedious-men-in-slacksball instead of golf.

Maybe City chairman John Batchelor is right, and we traditionalists are wrong. Maybe the new name will make the club "fun and cheeky". But in the end it should be up to the fans.

Are York's football fanatics up in arms about watching "soccer"? Indeed, are the stay-at-home supporters up in armchairs? It's hard to tell.

Mr Batchelor has suggested the change as part of his campaign to boost crowds to 5,500 a week. Judging by the immediate, subdued reaction, he might need to do something even more radical. Like buy some new players.

Rousing the York sports public is not always easy, however. Listening to Radio FiveLive on Monday, I heard a plug for the station's Any Sporting Questions the following night. "Normally tickets for the show are like gold dust," said the puzzled presenter. "But this time, we have some left for the show at the Acorn Rugby Club in York..."

CHARITY begins at home - usually with a direct marketing campaign. But it is a tactic that doesn't always work. York mum Laura Seammen has left the National Eczema Society in disgust after its mailshot backfired. The charity sent her a copy of a genuine eczema sufferer's letter saying the illness had made her suicidal. With it was a pre-written reply to the victim with a space left blank for Laura to fill in her donation.

Laura's understandable reaction was disgust and she is not renewing her membership of the society.

Such tactics seem to be the norm for charities these days. Good causes are lavishing too much of their money on the young men in braces who run advertising agencies. Their only tactic seems to be to shock their client's way into the headlines.

Charities now press us for our cash by post, over the phone, on the street and on our doorstep. It is the high-pressure strategy of the time share shark, and it will backfire.

Updated: 11:13 Wednesday, May 22, 2002