THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

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26 March 2010 ~


"I apologise to every supporter," said David Sullivan in his open letter to West Ham fans after their fifth successive defeat against Wolves on Tuesday. As you might expect, Sullivan's attention-seeking blather has annoyed the players. "I wouldn't say from a player's point of view that it helps," said captain Matthew Upson. In fact Sullivan should now issue another letter apologising to West Ham fans for the embarrassing publicity caused by his whiny missive.

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Badge of the week
After last week's club crest, which warned of the dangers of non-segregated beaches, this week's, from Portugal, gives us another socially responsible warning. Here the young mother, out on a shopping expedition, would clearly like to change her baby. Yes, there are public toilets behind her – male and female – but conspicuous by its absence is a baby-changing area. This means she has no choice but to cram herself and the baby into the poky ladies' lavatory and change the nappy over a rusty sink the size of a soup bowl. Sporting Braga have generously elected to devote their badge to the advertising of the fact that there simply are not enough baby-changing areas in Portuguese town centres. It would be a better world, perhaps, if more clubs dropped the bravado and pseudo-military call-to-arms of their crests and instead publicised municipal shortcomings. Could Chelsea possibly adopt the image of a disabled man failing to gain access to his local library? Could Manchester United not replace their Red Devil with a small boy being offered cigarettes and heroin in a playground? Football should be more relevant to the society of today, I agree with Sporting Braga on this. Cameron Carter

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from Keith Wilson
"Film fans may have seen a story this week about a proposed remake of Escape To Victory, with David Beckham cast in the Bobby Moore role as captain of the team of POWs. A bad film remade as a bad film does make some sort of sense I suppose. The idea seems to have come from Vinnie Jones who has allegedly been in contact with the stars of the original, Michael Caine and Sylvester Stallone, about taking cameo parts. If Vinnie is intent on pitching ideas for remakes of football films, I think he should try getting Al Pacino interested in The Love Match , in which Arthur Askey starred as a football-obsessed train driver. They could shift the action from Lancashire to the LA barrios with a role for Vinnie as a laconic, crackshot bail bondsman who can also play great soccer. In fact, I'm working on the script right now."

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Getting shirty
Notable kits of yesteryear

Blackburn Rovers home, 1988-89
Although Blackburn are of the few teams to retain their original shirt design it has been through many changes over the decades. In the 19th century the blue switched between left and right several times and changed shades from dark to light and back again (as it did in the 1990s). Only over the last 30 years has red been added although the traditional yellow or red and black away colours have remained surprisingly constant in recent times.

It's over 20 years since this shirt was worn but it might as well have been a century ago, so different were the game, the players and the club. In 1988-89 Rovers striker Simon Garner walked his kids to school by my parents' house smoking a B&H and was a regular in our local pub, while Colin Hendry mooned the Blackburn End as part of his pre-match ritual without any fans reporting him to the police. Supporters even played cards during games so boring was the football on offer (well, perhaps not that different then).

This season climaxed with the team cheated out of play-off final promotion as referee George Courtney bottled the decision to stop the match against Crystal Palace as their fans encroached on to the pitch (he made amends in 1992, giving Rovers two questionable Wembley penalties against Leicester in his last ever game). The real significance of this season, though, is that Jack Walker had secretly begun putting cash into the club, funding the transfers which would lead to the Premier League title – and start the inflation of fees and wages seen today. Bruce Wilkinson

Buy this shirt and hundreds of others at Classic Football Shirts

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While the FA is beset by strife and looking for yet another chief executive, their commercial department is beavering away giving licences to England-related flummery. Such as this "little fella". A snip at just £19.99, "he loves his team as much as he loves dear old Blighty" and looks precisely like the sort of football supporter you'd never want to be sat next at a match, or indeed anywhere else.

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

In the olden days when you felt strongly about an issue you didn't start a Twitter-rush, you got a bunch of mediocre indie bands to put out a compilation LP. Those worthy folk at a magazine called When Saturday Comes backed this effort to raise money for the Football Supporters Association in its campaign against the Tory initiative to introduce fan ID cards for stadium entry. There's a surfeit of forgettable, post C-86 guitar scratchers (Waltones, Corn Dollies, Too Much Texas, Dub Sex); some dated rant poetry (Porky the Poet – aka Phill Jupitus – and Attila the Stockbroker, who always showed up on these things); and bands that former students in their twenties would tell you were hilarious, only to discover that when you listened to Half Man Half Biscuit's I Was A Teenage Armchair Honved Fan and I, Ludicrous's Moynihan Brings Out The Hooligan In Me, the best thing about the songs were their titles. The surreal humour of Frank Sidebottom is timeless, at least. And in the end there were no ID cards, so there you go – result. Ian Plenderleith

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from Mike Innes

"The 2010 J-League season got underway at the beginning of March and a key area of media attention at the start of the campaign was the addition of a new member club. Giravanz Kitakyushu have their roots in a team based at a Mitsubishi chemical works, but when coming out of direct corporate ownership in 2001 they adopted the sensational name New Wave Kitakyushu.

On promotion to J2 this was sadly abandoned, new moniker Giravanz being a portmanteau of girasole and avanzare, Italian for sunflower (a local symbol) and advance. But the change also brought about the need for a new name for the club mascot. Wavy the Bird is what he used to be called, and 163 fans ended up making suggestions that led to his new name: Giran. Here he is, with an expression pitched exactly halfway between cheeky and complacent."

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Stickipedia A mine of information constructed from sticker cards

David May & Jesper Blomqvist, Manchester United Merlin Premier League 1999
If you had to list the members of Man Utd's 1999 Champions League squad, Swedish winger Jesper Blomqvist and utility defender David May would probably be the last two names to come up. In fact Blomqvist played a significant role on the night, not for his performance but for the fact that he was substituted for Teddy Sheringham who went on to score the injury-time equaliser. David May didn't get on to the field until after the final whistle, but he made up for that by being the post-match MC, carrying the trophy to the centre circle and calling up each team mate to lift it to the crowd.

Blomqvist signed from Parma in 1998 and was only an active player at United for that one season – he missed the next two years with a knee injury then returned to Sweden after short spells with Everton and Charlton. Although he had played international football early in his career – he was in Sweden's 1994 World Cup at the age of 20 – Blomqvist suffered from low self-confidence. At Old Trafford he tried to address this by writing down his good qualities when preparing for a match. "You are faster than the rest, you are in good shape" was on his list before the Champions League final in which he played due to the absence of the suspended Paul Scholes and Roy Keane.

It was after United's title-clinching victory at Middlesbrough in 1996 that David May first heard the song dedicated to him, and mocking Newcastle who had blown a 12-point lead that season: "David May, superstar, he's got more medals than Shearer." The pair had played together in Blackburn's 1993 League-winning team before May, who'd been a boyhood Man City fan, moved to Old Trafford a year later. He won two titles and two FA Cups in nine seasons but played in only 85 League games, moving on to Burnley aged 33 in 2003. "Everyone thinks I’ve been injured for the past few years," he said plaintively. "But I haven’t, the manager just didn’t play me."

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