WHEN it comes to feuds between managers and officials, the one involving former Major League Baseball umpire Ron Luciano and ex-Baltimore Orioles boss Earl Weaver takes some beating.

The history between them stretched right back to when the pair first crossed paths in the minor leagues in 1965, with Luciano ejecting the notoriously combustible Weaver in all four games of a four-game series.

Things became so bad in the Majors that midway through the 1978 season, Luciano was transferred from duty whenever his umpiring crew were appointed to an Orioles game for the rest of the year.

There has never been anything quite on that level on this side of the pond, although the increasingly deep-seated enmity which seemingly exists between Arsene Wenger and Mike Dean might come close to it.

Of course, plenty of Arsenal fans already buy into the conspiracy theory that Wirral-based official Dean holds a long-standing grudge against their team.

So when Gunners boss Wenger was revealed this week to have repeatedly told the 49-year-old he was "not honest" after awarding a penalty against them in the 1-1 draw with West Bromwich Albion, many would have concluded he was just saying what they are all thinking.

Leaving aside the appalling slur against Dean's integrity – implying any referee is a cheat is pretty much the worst thing you can say about them – the fact he admitted to referees' chief Mike Riley he got said decision wrong would suggest a high level of honesty, contrary to Wenger's belief.

And while the honking geese of Arsenal Fan TV and their like might imagine him as a 'man on the grassy knoll'-type bogeyman trying to bring them down, Dean is actually someone whose presence in the Premier League we should cherish.

You only have to watch him in action on a match-day to see why, from his elaborate gestures, knowing winks, what-did-you-expect-was-going-happen shrugs and general air of disdain for the idiocy and ignorance of the Laws Of The Game of some top-flight footballers.

Indeed, in much the same way the late Luciano – best remembered for his own eccentric actions on the field – would be if he were around today, Dean has gained something of a cult following on social media.

After all, you just have to look at the amount of videos featuring his highlights on the Celebrity Refs Twitter account compared to his colleagues.

Being Tranmere Rovers' second-most famous fan after Half Man Half Biscuit 's Nigel Blackwell, it would be a surprise if Dean does not end up featuring in one of their songs at some point in the future too.

And on top of all of that, he is actually a pretty good referee who just calls it as he sees it without worrying what anyone thinks.

A familiar touchline refrain is that nobody pays to go and watch the referee. After all, one of things which most infuriated Weaver about Luciano was he felt his antics detracted from the players.

But Dean is arguably the exception which proves the rule and, whether you think it or not, will be missed when he hangs up his whistle.

GIVEN the Eurocentric nature of Formula One, and the dominance of NASCAR and IndyCar in their homeland, it is little surprise few Americans have made an impact in the sport.

Dan Gurney, who died this week aged 86 from complications of pneumonia, was one of those who bucked the trend though and, along with being a race-winner, left a legacy of innovation.

It was Gurney, for example, who was the first F1 driver to wear the now-standard full-face helmet at the 1968 German Grand Prix.

And as a team owner, he invented and developed the Gurney flap, which helped increase downforce when placed on the rear wing of his cars.

On the circuit, he remains the only American to have won a Grand Prix in a car of his own, driving the fondly-remembered Eagle T16 to victory in the 1967 Belgian race.

But perhaps the ultimate accolade to be paid to Gurney though was by contemporary and all-time F1 great Jim Clark, who once told him he was the only other driver he feared on track.

THE Lakeside crowd and those watching on television were served up a final for the ages when the 2018 British Darts Organisation World Championship reached its conclusion last Sunday.

The Frimley Green venue had arguably not seen two players going throw-for-throw and leg-for-leg in the manner Glen Durrant and Mark McGeeney did since the memorable clash between Phil Taylor and Mike Gregory in 1992.

Ultimately, it was defending champion Durrant who prevailed 7-6 after McGeeney missed darts for the match in the final set, followed by the Middlesbrough man winning on a tie-break.

There was little time to reflect though, with attention straight away switching to which players would be moving to the rival Professional Darts Corporation.

That has been the case for a number of years now, but it seemed to loom even larger over the Lakeside than before this time around, with rumours going around throughout the week.

Last year's runner-up Danny Noppert was one of the first to announce his intention to head to the PDC's European Q School in Germany after crashing out in the second round to McGeeney.

But perhaps the biggest surprises were that Darryl Fitton and Tony O'Shea, two of the mainstays of the BDO over the past 15 years, would be heading to qualifying in Wigan this week in an effort to win a two-year PDC tour card.

Even if they fail to earn one over the next four days, they along with the hundreds of others aiming for a shot at glory will be able to play on the PDC's second-tier Challenge Tour for this year and possibly enter the professional qualifiers for the UK Open.

The trade-off is that makes them ineligible for next year's Lakeside under BDO eligibility rules, so it is not something that is without undue risk.

At least the beleaguered BDO were handed a boost with the news Durrant would stay in their system for the rest of his career if he at least reached the semi-finals of the Lakeside.

And who can blame him? A place in the last four guaranteed a spot at next year's World Championship and there is no reason he cannot go on to be the face of the organisation in much the same way as cult hero Martin 'Wolfie' Adams was.

But with the TV contract with Channel 4 up and more talent draining away, there are plenty of challenges for the BDO to face first.