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5 February 2010 ~
The outcry over John Terry's affair has centred on the fact that being England captain involves certain symbolic responsibilities. That's absolutely right. Arrogant, money-obsessed and feckless, he is the perfect representative of top-level English football in 2010.
Badge of the week ~ FK Baku
We had reason to upbraid an Azerbaijani team last week for not putting the effort in on their club crest, yet here we are again with the same issue arising. FK Baku's resident designers have cast their eyes over the topography, landscape and history of the local area and come up with a sleeping dog interrupted by someone entering the room. At least they have incorporated a special effect, however. True, it is a scrolling duplication effect of the type last seen sometime in the mid-to-late 70s in the opening titles to We Are The Champions with Ron Pickering but even so, it is at least an attempt at livening up proceedings. At the time of We Are The Champions and Multi-Coloured Swap Shop it seemed that effects could be taken no further than this fantastic innovation. Yet here we are living in an age where each episode of Hustle, for example, is actually planned round stop-start shots of the cheeky grifters walking along a corridor (the plot and dialogue are added at the last minute). Perhaps the FK Baku club motto is "Let Sleeping Dogs Lie – But When They Wake Up Take Them Out Quickly For A Piss". Sensible advice indeed but nothing whatsoever to do with football to British ears. Cameron Carter
from Peter Newbitt
"I'm not sure Thomas Cook picked the right football club to help them promote package holidays to South Africa. I received this email as a season-ticket holder at Cardiff City."
Guarantee your England tickets!
Following the FIFA World Cup™ draw, England will play in Group C. With matches across South Africa, Thomas Cook Sport have a range of packages based in Cape Town & Johannesburg, to provide a once in a lifetime football trip.
Getting shirty Notable kits of yesteryear
Bury home, 1990-91
Bury began the first season of the 1990s in something looking an awful lot fresher than they had finished the last. Made by Ribero ("Suppliers of England schoolboy kits" as the programme advert had it, the ultimate in hollow playground boasts), the shirt continued the club's ill-informed dalliance with navy, rather than royal blue and white.
A button collar suited the likes of Charlie Bishop and Tony Cunningham more than the previous season's elasticised V-neck and the interesting addition of a hint of red on the sleeve diamonds was a dangerous yet aesthetically pleasing decision. But perhaps the loveliest feature of the shirt is the "Bury FC" woven into the body. It's a level of attention that has never been replicated with any other manufacturers of Shakers shirts, from Diadora and Le Coq Sportif to Matchwinner and Voi.
The shirt was used in what proved to be a frustrating season at Gigg Lane. Big summer spending came back to haunt the club as financial meltdown loomed large, though the squad reached the Third Division play-offs for the second successive season where they lost to Bolton over two legs. James Bentley
Buy this shirt and hundreds of others at Classic Football Shirts
from Nick Pepper
"A few years ago I was working in a restaurant in Stoke that catered for large events. We had a physiotherapists' conference on, mostly consisting of women wearing combat trousers. One man who did stand out though was the Russ Abbott look-a-like and former Stoke goalkeeper Mark Crossley. When he came to the bar, I said the obvious: 'You're Mark Crossley.' I was fairly certain of this as he'd just played for Stoke. His reply however was negative. I wouldn't take that for an answer and told him that actually he was Mark Crossley. Eventually I asked to see some ID to prove that he wasn't Mark Crossley.
He revealed his credit card with the name 'Mark... Prudhoe'. Yes, Russ Abbott look-a-like and former Stoke goalkeeper Mark Prudhoe. A legend to me at the time. Needless to say I was pretty embarrassed, but I think I got back in his good books by working out the title of the George Michael song he was singing to impress some woman."
Long players The glorious history of football's full length recordings
Goal: Depth Charge (Vinyl Solution, 1990)
Trip-hop's daddy J Saul Kane liked to splice his high-energy techno with samples from kung fu and porn flicks, but on this three-track 12-inch release he opted for football instead. On side one, First Half uses a Spanish commentary to culminate in the retroactively obvious cry of Goooooooool, while on the flipside there is little football content to Second Half besides some bursts of crowd noise, though the track is better off for it. By the time you reach the final number, Extra Time Sudden Death Penalty Shootout, accompanied by John Motson's commentary during the spot-kicks from Brazil v France at the 1986 World Cup, you realise that the juxtaposition of the music and the sport is pretty much fortuitous. It's like when you're at home on your own and you indulge in cultural multi-tasking by turning on the game with the sound off and listening to music at the same time (other people do this too, don't they?). Separately, it's easy to appreciate the merits of both the music and the game but in this context a connection between the two is a rarity at best. Ian Plenderleith
from Chris Holmwood
"Speculation that Robbie Keane would leave Spurs on deadline day led to some frantic editing of his Wikipedia page."
Stickipedia A mine of information constructed from sticker cards
Steve Bull, Wolves Panini Football League 1996
If Steve Bull had not played once as a substitute for relegation-bound West Brom on April 12, 1986, he would have equalled a record that is unlikely to be broken. That match was his only appearance in the old Division One. Without it Bull would have been only the second player in the post-war era to have been picked for England while never playing at the top level. That record was set by another centre-forward, John Atyeo of Bristol City, who was first capped in 1955 and went on to score five goals in six international matches including the equaliser against Ireland in May 1957 that sealed England's qualification for the following year's World Cup finals. Atyeo turned down interest from clubs in Division One because he wanted to remain part-time while keeping his other job as a maths teacher at a local school.
Bull had scored twice in three appearances for Albion in Division Two the following season when their manager Ron Saunders decided to let him go. After joining Wolves in November 1986, he went on to win promotion from the fourth and third level then spent seven seasons in what is now the Championship. He was still a Division Three player when scoring on his England debut, a 2-0 win over Scotland in May 1990, and picked up 13 caps in all, including four appearances at that year's World Cup. Bull continued to turn down offers from top-flight clubs through the 1990s, finally retiring in 1999.
Three other third-level players have been capped by England in the past 70 years. Coventry goalkeeper Reg Matthews in 1956 was followed five years later by Crystal Palace forward Johnny Byrne, then another Palace player, winger Peter Taylor, in 1976.
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