THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

A small portion of despair and enlightenment delivered to your inbox every Friday
8 January 2010 ~


It seems that every day a new winding up petition is issued against a football club. Today it is the turn of Cardiff City. Their chairman, Peter Ridsdale, insists that there is no cause for concern. After all he should know a real crisis when he sees one.

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Badge of the week
Las Palmas are a Spanish team that do not go in for simplicity of image. There are no fewer than five crests-within-a-crest here, in the lower section, as well as the central image of two black dogs hanging around by a castle and a lion who has clearly left the iron on. If this club were on Facebook it would have 200 friends, a constant stream of uploaded party photos showing it being embraced by several beautiful people at once and a regular status notice of "Las Palmas saw the Manic Street Preachers last night in a guerrilla gig at the Pelican & Chainsaw, with a surprise guest appearance by Richey Edwards! How cool is that?!" Or something along those lines. And just in case other clubs weren't feeling the one-upmanship, there's a great big crown on top to finish the affair. Friends of royalty, you know. It is possible to over-embellish, Las Palmas – have a word with yourselves. Cameron Carter


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"You may have heard that Phil Neville's new hobby is taking photographs of clouds from his home in Manchester's tallest apartment block, the Beetham Tower. Somehow this feels exactly right as a match of a player with pastime. Everton's coach trips to away games must be enlivened immensely by Phil sharing his latest studies of cumulonimbus and nimbostratus, even if Tim Cahill always pretends to be asleep when the snaps are passed around."

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Getting shirty
Notable kits of yesteryear

Stockport County home, 1996-98
Stockport County were late arrivals to the replica shirt jamboree – we'd been scared away from the whole industry by adopting Argentina colours just prior to the Falklands War breaking out. But once we'd dipped our toe into the water, selling copies of a shirt that gained us promotion in 1991, the next few years saw us go nuts.

At the time Man Utd had a reputation for exploiting fans with the number of replica shirts they produced, but County had more, averaging almost three a year for the next decade or so. Many of them were godawful 1980s abominations, such as the one that's still referred to among fans as the "TV interference shirt".

The shirt featured is the one which adorned the backs of the team that won promotion to what's now the Championship in 1997, reaching the League Cup semi-final along the way and beating four Premier League teams, three of them on their own grounds. The design will be familiar to many as it was a standard Adidas issue with colours changed to suit both club and national sides worldwide.

However, due to Adidas having their northern office in the town, County's version of the shirt was awarded the rare accolade of having the faded stripes run over the shoulders and – get this – onto the back of the shirts. Lesser teams' stripes ended at the topmost seam. Such things matter. Dave Espley

Buy this shirt and hundreds of others at Classic Football Shirts

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from Carl Sampson
"These are bad times in Middlesbrough with the football team failing to raise the spirits of some supporters who have been laid off recently. So well done to Simon Bird of the Daily Mirror for connecting the two in his report on the home defeat by Blackpool: 'Gordon Strachan's Boro came out in sympathy with the 1,700 foundry workers made redundant on Teesside this week with a performance totally lacking in mettle.' The headline on the article was, of course, 'Lack Of Steel'. I fear that there will be several more variations on this theme in the rest of the season."

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from Mark Holme
"I happen to know that the former centre-forward Alan Gowling is still with us. In fact I'm not sure if any of these Wikipedia claims are true."



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Touching the stars Playing with or against footballers, or indeed a celebrity of any kind
Ever since the 1994 World Cup I'd had a bit of a thing about Hristo Stoichkov and was prepared to forgive all the conspicuously unpleasant aspects of his character in exchange for an overawed appreciation of his raking passes, cheeky tricks and audacious shots. I was excited when he signed for DC United in 2003, my first season covering the club as a journalist. And at one of his very first training sessions I was standing freezing on the sidelines with the other huddled hacks when, as the players were summoned from an exercise to the centre circle, Stoichkov knocked his ball over towards us. By the time it reached us at the edge of the pitch it had almost stopped, but I managed to shuffle a few paces to my left and take it under control.

Yes! I'd just taken a pass from Hristo Stoichkov, one of the greatest European players of all time! Sort of. No one else noticed and I didn't make a big thing out of it. And my admiration of The Dagger was blunted somewhat shortly afterwards when I saw him at close quarters, in a typical rage at a refereeing decision, breaking the leg of a college player in a pre-season friendly with a tackle that was at best malicious, at worst murderous. A few months later he glowered at me in the DC dressing room. Probably because I still hadn't returned the pass. Ian Plenderleith

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Stickipedia
A mine of information constructed from sticker cards

Brian Kidd, Manchester City Panini Football 79 & Owen Coyle, Bolton Wanderers Panini Football League 95
Brian Kidd's recent appointment as a coach at Man City may have seemed like a surprising move for someone who was famous as a Man Utd player and coach. But Kidd also had a highly successful spell at City in the late 1970s, scoring 44 goals in 98 League games while nurturing one of the best perms of the era. Brian's solitary spell as a manager at Blackburn seems to have convinced him that he is best suited to being a number two. But that brief stay at Ewood Park at least produced a memorable quote, when he declared that players suspected of not giving their all in Rovers' doomed fight against relegation were "rubber dinghy men", intent on plotting their escape. No chance of that at City – they'd use a top of the range speedboat.

Owen Coyle's surprising decision to move from Burnley to Bolton earlier this week has been talked up as a "return home" for the former Wanderers player. In fact he played just 54 games for Bolton in the mid-1990s, a brief stopover in a career otherwise spent in Scotland. However, Wanderers chairman Phil Gartside is so full of innovative ideas – Premier League II, Rangers and Celtic to play in England, an international cup competition for clubs called Wanderers – that an offer to join the Reebok Dream Factory may have been just too tempting.

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