THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

A small portion of despair and enlightenment delivered to your inbox every Friday
12 March 2010 ~


Sam Allardyce is clearly enjoying his big spat with Rafa Benítez which was reignited by Blackburn's match at Anfield two weeks ago. Yesterday he stirred things up again saying: "Obviously, I get under his skin but for me that is part of the game. I've managed to psyche out one or two here and there." His fondness for a rumble makes it even stranger that he failed to take the promised legal action against the BBC following 2006's Panorama investigation into football corruption. He was probably just too busy with other feuds.

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Badge of the week
You see, this is what we badge-fanciers have to put up with in the main. Hundreds and hundreds of clubs with no visual imagination whatsoever. Repeatedly one will be presented with the club's name and colours on a shield surrounded by decorative foliage or simply the club colours and "Est. 1926". And this one takes the absolute biscuit. For a historic fishing town surrounded by lava fields and home to the famous Blue Lagoon volcanic spa and Icelandic Salt Fish Museum, this badge is a ringing mockery. The letter G, somewhat enlarged, is apparently all the designers could come up with. It would be understandable if this were Mansfield, situated just off the M1 with an oldish market square and numerous pubs, clubs and nightclubs, but this is Grindavik with its bubbling, fractured moonscape and much sought after Atlantic views. A missed opportunity. Cameron Carter

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from Carl Richard
"Kevin-Prince Boateng recently admitted to having bought three cars in one day – he spent £185,000 on a Lamborghini, a Hummer and a Cadillac – to console himself when he was dropped by Spurs in 2007. 'I had an enormous hunger to buy things out of frustration,' he said. I'm sure the 85 staff recently laid off by his current club, Portsmouth, would sympathise. I know the feeling, though, as I'm trying to buy three vehicles just now: a couple of 1960 Dinkys and a Matchbox Routemaster bus on Ebay. Not in the original boxes, of course – I'm not made of money."

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Getting shirty
Notable kits of yesteryear

Fulham home, 1999-2000
"Come on you lilywhites!" A chant from a distant era often heard in my favourite netherworld of the Stevenage Road Enclosure. You can't go wrong with a white shirt, can you? Well yes, fairly often actually. Since the commercial era kicked in, Fulham's traditional "lilywhite" has been emblazoned with stripes, bars of black across the shoulders, curvy black inlaid panels – all sorts of nonsense in fact. And I'm still getting over the embarrassment of our newly promoted team entering the Premier League with Pizza Hut plastered all over the shirts.

This effort, created at the turn of the last decade, looked like a worrying development but fortunately for it, and Adidas's stripe fixation department, it quickly developed into a key symbol of the classic 2000-01 season. Who cares what your team wears when it strides almost nonchalantly to 101 points and the Championship title? Jean Tigana's majestic team, containing the talents of Louis Saha, Luís Boa Morte, Chris Coleman, Steve Finnan and Lee Clark, had an almost metronomic ability to dominate games. The sharp stripes and functional look perfectly reflected the precision and style of the team – even the odd under-arm blocks of black colouring didn't look too odd when worn.

In retrospect too the old club badge inspires a touch of nostalgia and affection towards this shirt. Not long afterwards a marketing wheeze led to the creation of the current brutalist and disturbingly fascistic FFC badge, which has still not won over the majority of Fulham fans to this day. Neil Hurden

Buy this shirt and hundreds of others at Classic Football Shirts

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from Gavin Duenas
"During England v Egypt last week, Clive Tyldesley talked mockingly about Mohamed Zidan's father/agent having the gall to suggest that the player was a target of both Manchester United and Barcelona. Tyldesley's reaction was something along of the lines of 'My dad thinks that Manchester United and Barcelona want to sign me too'. Imagine my delight when, only minutes later, Zidan gave Egypt the lead. And it was genuine delight – the fortunes of the national team were secondary to Tyldesley being embarrassed.

In England's opening match of Euro 2004, after leading for most of the game against France, Tydesley's gloating became so unbearable that I found myself hoping for a French equaliser, just to teach him a lesson. Of course, France ruined it for both of us by scoring twice in the dying minutes to win the game.

Can I request that Clive Tyldesley just commentates on the match, as he is paid to do, rather than mocking the aspirations of a footballer who was talented enough to score twice against Brazil in the Confederations Cup last year? And please, Clive, you don't have to tell us how happy we are when England win and how sad we are when they lose. Likewise, gloating about victories before they actually happen has a terrible habit of making one look like a fool, not that you need much help in that department. If you could at least remember to adhere to these rules when there is a player named Zidan(e) involved, it would be a start."

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

Sportchestra! 101 Songs About Sport (Agit-Prop, 1988)
This is a simultaneously brilliant but awful double LP, spawned by the Leeds soft-punk scene of the late 1980s. It has Chumbawamba written all over it, and that's good when it comes to the caustic and generally entertaining lyrical content (though don't expect subtlety), but less so when it to comes to the music. Each song is the apparent result of a Write A Song In A Minute competition held in a Headingley squat one afternoon when everyone was bored, and possibly drunk too. Given that it's pre-Premier League, the stinging attacks on any kind of commercialism and exploitation in sport can now count as prescient but unheeded warning shots, while other themes include the dangers of being a cop at Frickley Athletic, the life-scarring effect of failing to make the school team or memories of Peter Shilton "caught with his bottom bare", purportedly sung by "Gem", the woman from Bradford he was discovered cheating with in the back of a car several decades ago. And in Rip It Up – "Too many programmes/With too many adverts/Too much Matthew Engel bullshit/And not enough dirt/I could go on and on/But I've just bought the latest When Saturday Comes" – comes the only known celebration in song of WSC. Wait around another three years and they're sure to issue a Deluxe Double CD Jubilee edition. Ian Plenderleith

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from Dan Newbold

"An excellent idea, the manager-detectives as mentioned in last week's Howl. How about Terry Neill and Don Howe as a mismatched duo (Terry Neill is a ladies' man who likes a drink and doesn't mind cutting the odd corner. Don Howe is the studious partner who goes by the book and lives with his mother (possibly played by Brenda Blethyn in a grey wig). They have lots of arguments about the best way to solve problems – such as how to beat a depleted Coventry City team at home in the spring of 1982. And Terry Neill wears tan playboy suits and Don Howe is always in a tracksuit. Don Howe resents Neill because he breaks the rules but gets results (not against Coventry at home, mind) and gets lots of women. Terry Neill resents Don Howe because – no, Terry Neill doesn't resent Don Howe."

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from Steve Nicholls
"Did anyone else spot what might have been an attempt at humour by Jim Rosenthal and ITV during the FA Cup semi-final draw? Jason Cundy was asked to talk about his work for a testicular cancer charity and he finished off with: 'We're trying to get the message across to young men to check themselves and if there's any problem, then go and see your GP.' At this point, Rosenthal asked Cundy to check the balls were in the bag before emptying them into the drum. I've tried to find footage online to support this (and link to it) but I can't find any. But it definitely happened."

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Stickipedia A mine of information constructed from sticker cards

Paul Robinson, Newcastle Utd Merlin Premier League 2000 and Lee Clark, Newcastle Utd Merlin Premier League 94
It often happens that footballers end up playing for the local rivals of the team they supported as a boy. A famous example in the north-east is Chris Waddle. Having had an unsuccessful trial at Sunderland – the team he followed – Waddle signed for Newcastle in 1980. Although there were only two Tyne-Wear derbies while he was at St James' Park, the fact that Waddle was injured for both of them gave rise to an urban myth. It has been claimed, mostly on Wearside, that Waddle had it written into his contract that he wouldn't play for Newcastle against Sunderland.

Striker Paul Robinson only made 11 League appearances in the black and white stripes, his career highlight coming on August 25, 1999. Ruud Gullit decided to drop Alan Shearer and Duncan Ferguson for the home game against Sunderland and start with a lone striker – the Sunderland-supporting Robinson. Although he set up Kieron Dyer's opener for Newcastle, Robinson refused to celebrate due to his boyhood allegiance. The match, played out in torrential rain, finished 2-1 to Sunderland and Gullit resigned five days later. Robinson moved to Wimbledon in search of regular football but only played four times as his career took an 11-club slide down the divisions. In January 2007, while playing for Horden Colliery Welfare, Robinson was declared bankrupt and he announced his decision to retire from playing football to become a full-time coach.

Newcastle fan Lee Clark left his boyhood team for Sunderland in 1997, becoming a key part of the side that reached the play-off final in 1998 and claimed the Championship title with a record 105 points. A year later in May 1999 he attended the Newcastle v Man Utd FA Cup final where he was photographed wearing a T-shirt claiming his employers were "Sad Mackem Bastards". Clark never played for Sunderland again but went on to make 149 appearances for Fulham. He is now manager of Huddersfield Town, currently just outside the League One play-off places. There he is assisted by Kevin Keegan's perpetual sidekick and betting slip collector, Terry McDermott.

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