THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

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


David Sullivan was inclined to wear bright blue suits during his time in charge of Birmingham City. So it was no surprise to see him in a claret jacket at the press conference called to announce his takeover at West Ham with partner-in-porn David Gold. Their arrival has been greeted with almost universal acclaim in the tabloids, always keen to extol attention-seekers with a knack for crass soundbites. Yet in all the fuss over the two East End boys' "return home", there has been relatively little said about the fact that Birmingham City have done rather well since they left and are currently on a club record unbeaten run. Indeed, it's almost as though a weight has been lifted off the players and manager Alex McLeish. How to explain it.

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Badge of the week
It's not immediately obvious this one, but when you've been analysing club crests as long as I have you develop what I call a "second sight", in this case enabling me to identify the central image here as a garage forecourt in Turkey's principal city. Some, of course, will curl the lip at a petrol station used in football iconography, questioning its relevance to the game. People will accept owls, swans, griffins (as we have seen recently) and satanic figures wielding tridents, but a petrol station would seem perhaps overly prosaic. And yet surely Istanbulspor's badge designers are saying something more profound here. Depicted in this image is the Cycle of Life, reminding us how we all journey from our starting points to Tesco, for our shopping, then to Tesco Express petrol station for our petrol and then back home. Probably to watch television or have a nice meal. None of us, whatever our individual qualities, can escape this cycle. A deeply affecting image, then, and a welcome reminder that, in these advanced times, we can purchase petrol and marshmallows and Twiglets from garages during the night time too. Cameron Carter

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from Chris Peters
"To my mind the best friezes are those depicting cruel but innovative Assyrian kings hunting lions. Wimbledon's 1988 FA Cup victory might lend itself to representation in this style but I'm not sure whether this new artwork, commissioned by Merton Council and Barratt Homes, quite captures the event. According to the artist, Sam Burford: 'The surface of the artwork is immensely detailed. Looking closely you can see the moment Princess Diana met the players, Laurie [sic] Sanchez scoring the winning goal, the referee blowing his whistle and the proud moment captain Dave Bessant [sic] raises the FA Cup.' You'd have to look more closely than I'm able to – but perhaps it really comes alive in situ."

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Getting shirty
Notable kits of yesteryear

 York City home, 1992-93
York City's equally loved and mocked "Y-front" kit of the 1970s was a pioneering design that stretched the limits of what could be achieved with two colours of cloth and some thick stitching. But it was sadly dropped, along with most of the squad, after the club were forced to apply for re-election to the Football League. Chastened by the experience the directors stuck to the traditional plain red shirts and blue shorts for almost two decades afterwards.

When the early 1990s saw other clubs adopt eye-watering designs it was felt that York needed to be in on the act with a modern style better suited to a club on the up. But rather than select colourful material with an intricate pattern they simply took the old design, drew a diagonal line across the top-left corner and filled the partition with the letters "YC", irregularly placed in a variety of sizes and printed in a proto-Wordart font.

This endearing but half-baked attempt at sprucing up the traditional design was rushed into production for a debut at the 1993 Division Three play-off final against Crewe. The FA granted special dispensation to change shirts and so this kit made its debut at Wembley as part of York's last promotion to date. Two years later the club switched back to the old design in time to fall through the leagues and into the Conference. This shirt still turns up on away trips today – but at the likes of Hayes & Yeading rather than the national stadium. James Waterson

Buy this shirt and hundreds of others at Classic Football Shirts

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from Tim Vickerman
"The Wikipedia entries on Liverpool's current owners are often locked but the page for former chairman David Moores is available to be tweaked."



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For any Man Utd fans who collect mementoes related to their current owner, there's still time to snap up this:



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In the build-up to thousands of England fans flying out to South Africa in June the independent fans group London England Fans will be organising monthly travel forums. The first of these takes place at 7pm on Thursday January 28 (food from 6pm) at Offside, 271 City Road, London EC1V 1LA (nearest tube Angel). Each one will be themed, beginning with "World Cup Organisation". The panel comprises Owen Gibson, sports news correspondent for the Guardian, Harpreet Grewal, FA Head of englandfans, Edward Griffiths, chief executive Saracens RFC and UK based representative of the World Cup Organising Committee, and Kajal Jadeja, Foreign Office sports planning desk officer. All welcome.

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Long players
The glorious history of football's full length recordings

Stranger Than Tannadice: The Hits, Misses and Own Goals of Serious Drinking (Workers Playtime, 1990)
This compilation of early 1980s punk-parody Peel favourites Serious Drinking contains two songs about football – the band's signature tune Love On The Terraces and a live version of Bobby Moore Was Innocent. In the tradition of Kitty Wells to Hank Thompson, McCartney to Lennon or Mackenzie to Morrissey, Love On The Terraces is a call and response song to the Cockney Rejects' War On The Terraces. It's OK in a choppy, anthemic, mock-geezerish way, like most of SD's material, but it's hard to make out any of the words apart from the chorus. The LP takes you back to a crackly transistor in a draughty, rented room when you laughed effortlessly at the idea of a mythical Herbert movement that allegedly duped Garry Bushell at Sounds and a good number of its readers too. Now you might strain to hear the comic phrase, while your kids ask, "Dad, what were terraces?" Ian Plenderleith

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In last week's Howl we said that Merthyr Tydfil are one of three Welsh clubs in the English non-League system. In fact, as several readers have pointed, there are four such clubs – we forgot Colwyn Bay of the Northern Premier League, Division One (North).

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Stickipedia A mine of information constructed from sticker cards

Fred Pickering, Blackpool Wonderful World of Soccer Stars 1970-71 & Trevor Whymark, Ipswich Town Soccer Stars 75-76
Fred and Trevor have a few things in common. As well as being strikers who had brief England careers, they both featured in FA Cup final line-ups printed in the official programme – but didn't play in the match. Pickering scored five goals in three games for England, including a hat-trick on his debut in 1964, a year after he'd joined Everton from Blackburn. He missed Everton's FA Cup semi-final in 1966 due to a cartilage injury but was fit in time for the final. However, manager Harry Catterick decided to stick with his replacement, Mike Trebilcock, who went on to score two goals in the final which Everton won 3-2. (During the broadcast, BBC commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme invented a new pronunciation of Trebilcock's Cornish surname, which should be said the way it's written. Instead, Wolstenhome decided that it was "Tre-beel-coh" possibly because he didn't want to have to say "cock".) Fred left Everton for Birmingham in 1967 but had one more season at the top level with Blackpool in 1970-71.

Trevor Whymark was a regular goalscorer in Bobby Robson's Ipswich side of the 1970s, getting one England cap against Luxembourg in 1977. He missed several months of the 1977-78 season due to injury but had recovered by the day of the final and was listed in his customary No 10 shirt in the programme. David Geddis played instead, however, with Ipswich beating Arsenal 1-0. Asked for her opinion after the game, the FA's guest of honour, opposition leader Margaret Thatcher MP, famously commented that "I thought Whymark played well". An understandable mistake if you only had the programme to go on but you'd think someone might have told her. Or else they did and she didn't listen.

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from Dominic Hinde
"With reference to Preston's tubby strikeforce, as mentioned in last week's Stickpedia , I would like to contribute a story which to my knowledge is entirely true. A friend of mine's fiancee is a life-long Preston fan and knows enough people at Deepdale to be able to wander round fairly freely. Jon Parkin once tried to chat her up by saying 'I bet you don't know many lads who are as tall as I am', to which the girl replied, 'Actually, my boyfriend is 6ft 3ins'. Not to be outdone Parkin came back with, 'Aye, but I bet he's not as fat as I am'."

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