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13 November 2009 ~
Premier League chairmen yesterday rejected a proposal to admit Rangers and Celtic to a two-tier league. That was one of several ideas suggested by Bolton chairman Phil Gartside. Others, including a 28-club league with no relegation, are to be examined during 2010. In the meantime there is another way for Gartside to realise his dream of playing the Old Firm – Bolton could apply to join the Scottish leagues. Gretna showed that it was possible to move quickly through divisions to the SPL and Bolton have 50 times as many fans. The fact that they'd be the only SPL club within a hundred miles ought to provide a host of marketing opportunities. Having a manager with ginger hair is a useful start and it shouldn't be too difficult to rustle up a Gartside tartan.
Badge of the week ~ Lille OSC
It is one thing to allow your dog to sleep in your bed at night but quite another to employ that image as a club crest. Here we see some kind of bulky labrador enjoying a rest, wrapped up tight in a white duvet with red trim. It's a warming scene of cosy domesticity but that is not normally what is wanted from a club badge. One would hardly expect competitive young footballers to endure images of elderly ladies in armchairs on their shirts or a small child waving through the window at the postman, so why would a dog in a duvet be acceptable as an image of strength in unity? It beggars belief. Also, while we're on the subject, it's all very well having your dog share the bed, but awakening to its sloppy great head two inches from your own is a constant and unpleasant surprise. Added to this, in this half-conscious state it is difficult to immediately discount the idea that you are perhaps a dog and this here is your life partner. A disconcerting and inappropriate badge.
from Rob Weston
"While visiting the megalithic stone circle at Avebury on a Halloween day out, my friends and I came upon a pagan wedding ceremony. At the end of his speech the presiding druid announced that cake and alcohol would be shared out and asked if anyone had 'words they wanted to say'. At this point a man in the crowd with a long plaited beard blurted out: 'Aston Villa!' This turned out to have been at the precise moment that John Carew scored his side's equaliser at Goodison Park, so I assume that he had a transistor radio secreted among his robes."
Getting shirty Notable kits of yesteryear
Middlesbrough home, 1988-90
During the Great Depression Middlesbrough's red shirt was adorned by a white yoke, possibly an echo of the epaulettes on military uniforms. Perhaps in a subconscious response to the economic gloom that engulfed Teesside during the Thatcher years the design was picked up again in the Boro shirts made in the wake of the club's 1986 bankruptcy. Because the recently insolvent club could not do a deal with a major kit manufacturer, the shirt was a home-grown affair, made in County Durham by a company called Skill. It also sported a new badge designed by a bloke who worked for the club's sponsors Dickens – a local "home improvement hypermarket" whose irritatingly catchy radio jingle was sung by George Melly. Festive food specialists Heritage Hampers succeeded Dickens as the name on the shirt front – seeing the word Hamper stretched across the chunky torso of Gary Hamilton providing chuckles for rival supporters. A version of the shirt minus the red stripes was produced to cash in on the 1990 Zenith Data Systems Cup final – the club's first ever Wembley appearance. Harry Pearson
Buy this shirt and hundreds of others at Classic Football Shirts
from Carl Hawkins
"The back page of the London business freesheet City AM has been carrying an advertisement for QPR. 'Loftus Road has never been a more appealing and luxurious place to watch football. With three new hospitality areas, a personalised service and the opportunity to network with some of the world's most influential business leaders, Queens Park Rangers now offers the ultimate matchday experience.' So when the new breed of QPR fan goes home after the match and is asked how it went he can say 'Great. I had a very useful chat with the world's 55th largest ball bearing supplier and we've been shortlisted for the Schleswig-Holstein waste disposal contract. Oh, and I think they drew or lost or something'."
from John Foster
"Steve Simonsen's goalkeeping career never quite took off – from the evidence on Wikipedia maybe he should have gone into politics."
from Neil Tague
"While I was at college in the late 1990s I worked part-time in Blockbuster Video, but no ordinary Blockbuster. No, this was Wilmslow, where Manchester's wealthy lay their heads and where every shift brought with it the tantalising promise of serving a Coronation Street actor or being insulted by some red-faced corporate executive. There were a fair few footballers too. I remember Scott Sellars and Mark Rankine as being nice blokes, sundry Georgians bought by City to keep Georgi Kinkladze company and Alex Ferguson appearing in slippers, jogging bottoms and a United V-neck to rent Donnie Brasco. My big moment was asking the membership card-less Andy Cole for some ID. To this day I can't decide if he was being arrogant for not even deigning to offer a name when he approached the counter or if I was being a stroppy pain in the arse. Probably both."
Stickipedia A mine of information constructed from sticker cards
Kevin Bond, Norwich City Panini Football 79 and Darren Ferguson, Wolves Panini Football League 1995
Just as teachers often don't send their children to the schools they work at, it used to be rare for football managers to employ their own sons. In the 1970s the Bonds were just about the only exception. Kevin Bond was a full-back for Norwich when they were managed by his father John, whom he followed to Man City in 1981. Bond junior stayed at City after senior was sacked and later played for Southampton and Bournemouth. In the two decades since the Bonds worked together there has been several instances of fathers signing up their offspring. While at Newcastle, Kenny Dalglish gave a League debut to his son Paul who'd had non-playing spells at two of his dad's former clubs, Celtic and Liverpool. There was also Gavin Strachan at Coventry, Stephen Clemence at Spurs and Lee Johnson who has played for his dad Gary at Yeovil and Bristol City.
Darren Ferguson's first starting appearance for Man Utd was in the same match that Ryan Giggs made his debut as a substitute, a 1-1 draw at Nottingham Forest in March 1991. He played 27 League games for United before moving to Wolves in 1993, then spent the bulk of his career with Wrexham, retiring aged 34 in 2007. Having been overlooked for the Wrexham manager's job, Ferguson took over at Peterborough whom he led to two consecutive promotions before leaving this week. Kevin Bond has also been a manager, at Bournemouth, but is currently a coach at Spurs under an old mentor, Harry Redknapp – as we mentioned a couple of months ago.
Readers have pointed out that last week's Stickipedia wrongly identified Blackpool and Forest as the only clubs to have blown two goal leads from the first leg of a play-off semi-final. We had intended to say that they were the only ones to have lost after taking two-goal leads away from home. Yes, that's what we meant.
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