ON the eve of tonight's football thriller at Ewood Park, Graeme Souness yesterday was once more using fine language to describe his team, their devotion to good football, and what you might think, listening to him, is a form of ballet which Blackburn Rovers play under Souness.

The moment did, therefore, seem an ideal time to recall what are often canonised as The Great Souness Maimings, which have scarred the beautiful game down the years. I hope Souness or any other Rovers supporter won't mind me mentioning some of the Souness-inspired bleaker football nights which have left people slightly crippled.

In no particular order of injury, incapacity, or just plain maiming, I thought it educative to recall the following footballers:

Lica Movila (Dinamo Bucharest). The most overlooked of all the Souness hatchet-jobs. In the semi-final of the 1983 European Cup, and behind the referee's back, Souness actually broke Movila's jaw in two places before the Romanian was carted from the field in agony.

''It was the best punch I delivered in my life,'' wrote Souness, celebrating his love of the beautiful game, in his autobiography years later. Movila's Dinamo team, he said, ''were easily the nastiest team I'd played against.'' Well, Souness would know about that.

Iosis Rotariu (Steaua Bucharest). It is hard to know if Souness actually had something against Romanians, but most observers at Ibrox on the night of March 16, 1988, agreed that Rotariu was fortunate still to have both his testicles attached to his body after the assault Souness made dangerously close to the Romanian's scrotum area.

It was, arguably, Souness' most X-rated tackle, his boot going in high above the knee, with studs acting as fangs as they sank into Rotariu's upper thigh. Even Ibrox froze at such a moment of butchery. It remains the moment most incompatible with Souness' endless preaching about beautiful, sophisticated football.

Siggi Jonsson (Iceland). About enough said. After this maiming the 21-year-old Jonsson, with a blossoming career ahead of him, was never the same again. While in Reykjavik last month more senior members of the Scottish press corps looked out across the park and vividly recalled the moment when Jonsson, having just nut-megged Souness in 1984, saw the moustachioed assassin turn in wrath and, in the parlance, ''fix'' the young midfielder.

Jonsson never understood the phrase ''the beautiful game'' ever again. But he knew what a hammer-thrower was.

Peter Nicholas (Wales). Many missed this incident in the 1985 World Cup qualifier in Glasgow. Just two facts were known. Scotland were visibly toiling against Wales, who scored through Ian Rush. And Nicholas, their midfield inspiration, was left writhing in a heap, with reports of a moustachioed assailant running from the scene.

Please, let's not mention the others. Tonight at Ewood may we have, to use Souness' phrase, ''teams who like to play football'', and not, for fear it would appal the Rovers manager, anything resembling maiming, butchering, or any other acts of hammer-throwers.

Famously, while Souness was at Rangers, he doled out one of the great humpings inflicted in an Old Firm match, when poor Julie Andrews of Celtic watched five zip past her in 1988, among them a fine header from Kevin Drinkell.

At least, Drinkell himself claimed that his name was Kevin Drinkell. It is recalled, when the striker scored, that one or two at Ibrox, unable to come to grips with the name, would quietly mutter: ''Well done, Billy Drinkell.''

To my knowledge, though, no Rangers publication has quite arrayed the list of their humpings in the way that the Celtic fans' magazine, The Alternative View, is currently doing. The word ''humpings'', some argue, is unbecoming of the historic hermeneutic, but this hasn't stopped the distinguished football historian, David

W Potter, from continuing his series, Great Rangers Humpings, in the pages of the AV.

Potter is currently up to No.8 in a moving series, though others have told me they find this ridiculing of Rangers quite distasteful.

I must say I was appalled last week at Stuart Cosgrove's open insinuation in the Daily Record - indeed, outright allegation - that Tam Cowan, the delightfully rotund comedian, derives much private pleasure through pornography.

I thought Cosgrove's claim, alleging that Cowan reads saucy magazines for a sort

of sickly, disease-ridden pleasure, contained inaccuracies. Indeed, Cowan is about to move into Glasgow's leafy west end and is even considering occasional visits to a Baptist church in the area, an attitude which simply wouldn't prevail if Cosgrove's sick allegations were true.

What is of much greater intrigue to me remains the question: which red-top was it which offered Tam one hundred grand for a weekly column?