THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

A small portion of despair and enlightenment delivered to your inbox every Friday
16 October 2009 ~


Football history has shown that good footballers don't necessarily make good coaches, but club owners and national associations constantly seem to forget this – Diego Maradona's near-disastrous World Cup qualifying campaign with Argentina being the latest case in point. So we can only extend our best wishes to football fans in Thailand where the FA have made the brave move of putting their 2014 hopes in the uncertain hands of Bryan Robson.

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Badge of the week
How do these countries get away with it? Not needing a U after the Q? It must add months to each individual's life, while also relieving the Q-anxiety suffered by Scrabble players when they pick the letter late on in the game. Anyway, Qormi play in the Maltese Premier League and have a club crest that, in terms of composition at least, flies in the face of badge convention. The swooping curves, alternating colours and patterns plunge one into a netherworld where anything is possible. The peach section even overlaps with the section bearing the club name to create a deliberate just-got-out-of-bed look. Perhaps Malta is a country where everyone turns up to work at about ten, eats chocolate before lunch and there are no SAT tests for seven-year-olds. The badges are certainly not designed, as it were, with hospital corners. The only jarring feature here is in the image of the two lads playing football on the left. The figure making the defensive lunge appears to either be sporting a flyaway pigtail as a fashion statement or has some kind of chisel embedded in his cranium. But you probably wouldn’t feel the pain so much in Malta, not with the free-for-all colour schemes everywhere and erotic cascading curves. Cameron Carter

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The match report of the season so far, spotted by Stephen Farrow. If Radio Five are ever to replace Stuart Hall, here's his successor.

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from Adam Powley
"If you thought the away ends at Brighton and Oxford were bad, check out what visitors to Znicz Pruszkow have to put up with." Thanks to Football Spotter



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from Todd Green
"A few weeks ago I was on a stag do in Croatia. It was about 4am and we were stumbling around a Dubrovnik beach bar when I spotted Ahmet Brkovic, Luton's ex-Croatian Sensation, body-popping in white jeans and a slightly-too-tight black T-shirt. Unperturbed by the doubts of my friends, I strode purposefully over, tapped him on the shoulder and asked if my hunch was correct. 'Yeah, I am Ahmet Brkovic – but how did you know that?' Labouring a little under the influence of the local brew, I may have dented his pride: 'I'm a Luton season ticket-holder – how the hell else would I have known you?' He took it on the chin though and we discussed the FA's 30-point deduction and the club's prospects for the non-League season ahead. I'm sorry to say that he demurred when I took the liberty of inviting him back to aid the promotion push."

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Getting shirty
Notable kits of yesteryear

Leeds United home, 1976-80
Leeds adopted their "smiley" badge in the early 1970s and abandoned it after they stopped wearing this shirt in 1980. The badge wasn't an attempt to soften the team's ferocious image but a highly stylised LU, although you could stare at it for a while before that becomes clear. The blue and yellow trim has featured on nearly all of Leeds' home shirts since this strip debuted in 1976. It harks back to the club's original colours, based on the municipal crest and worn by their predecessors, Leeds City, who were wound up in 1919 for making illegal payments to players. In 1962 manager Don Revie brought in all-white strip modelled on Real Madrid. Ten years later he arranged a kit deal with manufacturers Admiral which led to Leeds becoming one of the first clubs to sell replica shirts to supporters.

Buy this shirt and hundreds of others at Classic Football Shirts

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from Harry Pearson
"Football has made a sudden and unexpected appearance in The Archers. For decades I have wondered why the game is never mentioned in the every-day story of country folk, then lo and behold a month or so ago we suddenly discovered that there is a local professional outfit called Felpersham City. City's star striker Lee Mason promptly books in for a 21st birthday party at posh hotel Grey Gables and ends the evening by punching gay Northern Irish chef Ian in a homophobic frenzy. Jolene the pub landlady has since been teased by her former husband about the time when somebody mentioned Everton and she said (heh heh heh) "I thought that was a toffee". What I would say is the last time The Archers acknowledged the existence of the modern world was when Roy Tucker chose to play Oasis's Roll With It at John Archer's funeral. And look what's happened to the Gallaghers since."

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from Steve Raywood
"The Wikipedia story of how US rockers Health chose their name seems fairly unlikely to me."

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Stickipedia A mine of information constructed from sticker cards

Abel Xavier, Everton Merlin FA Premier League 2000-01
"Read your history books, it's King Neptune," said Mark Lawrenson when seeking to describe Abel Xavier's tonsure at Euro 2000. Thousands of footballers have dyed their hair but Abel Luis Da Silva Costa Xavier may have been the first to tint his beard too, a trend copied by Djibril Cissé among others. Euro 2000 ended in disgrace for Xavier as his last-minute handball gave France a winning penalty in the semi-final. Chaotic scenes followed with most of the Portugual squad storming on to argue with the officials.

A central defender or full-back, Xavier left Benfica in 1995 for a tour of Europe, becoming one of only five players to have appeared in the Premier League, Serie A, La Liga and the Bundesliga (although the latter involved just five matches with Hannover 96 in 2003). He joined Everton from PSV in 1999 and subsequently became only the second player in 50 years, after Nick Barmby, to move from Goodison Park to Anfield where he made 14 appearances in two seasons.

That Euro 2000 semi was Xavier's last contribution to a major game, although he made headlines five years later when failing a drugs test while with Middlesbrough. After serving a one-year ban he spent two years with the LA Galaxy before retiring aged 36 in 2008. He still dyes his hair.

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