THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

A small portion of despair and enlightenment delivered to your inbox every Friday
13 August 2010 ~


Following England's poor World Cup, the tabloids have identified the sort of talented player the national side will need to revive their fortunes. He's 35, lives in Los Angeles and hasn't played since March but he's willing to fly in whenever required. The fact that the manager doesn't seem prepared to take a gamble is indicative of the unimaginative thinking that is holding back English football.

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Badge of the week
There are many crests that have as their centrepiece a castle or fortress. These are generally bold, towering, confrontational castles, situated on steep hills so that you're pretty puffed out even getting to within firing range. FK Radnicki, on the other hand, do not have one forbidding edifice. They have a cluster of starter-castles for the first-time buyer in an accessible location with very little trouble from marauders since the redevelopment of the wharfside. Students of symbolism will note that here is a team whose home ground is not a fortress, but a comfortable little residence with no authentic link to its surrounding environment. Here the opposition will not encounter warriors bursting forth to defend their territory, but young professionals finding their way in the world on a limited budget. Bad symbolism, Radnicki Nis, poor psychology. Cameron Carter

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This artist's impression of Southampton v Plymouth may become a regular feature of match reports from St Mary's, as the text explains. The artist needs to do more work on crowd exclamations, though. There should be at least one "Lummee!" and someone pointing out that "The mystery kid on the wing is playing in bare feet!"

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from Topias Kauhala
"Places where you don’t expect to meet professional footballers, number 34: a jazz festival. It had just started raining at the Finnish festival Pori Jazz (which is not really a jazz festival any more, but for any music with even a bit of rhythm) and the field was starting to get slightly muddy. Who should walk past but Peter Enckelman, the Finnish goalkeeper whose promising Premier League career went gradually downhill after that particular Second City derby and who was at the time of the festival without a club. While the crowd was gathering in front of the main stage to see Massive Attack, Enckelman walked the other way. Maybe it was a Cardiff City/Bristol City thing. Massive Attack's Robert Del Naja supports Bristol City, whereas Enckelman spent last season on the bench for Cardiff. Enckelman has since got a contract with St Johnstone.

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Getting shirty Notable kits of yesteryear

Hartlepool United home, 1993-95
IThere are plenty of Pools shirts you could choose that avoid strange "seagull splatter" design flaws and also conjure up more obviously happy memories than this one. The broad blue stripes of the "nearly beating the Busby Babes in the FA Cup" shirt and the blue chevrons down the sleeve of Cyril Knowles's promotion side would both do the trick. Even the plain blue round-necked shirt that survived so many re-election campaigns as the 1960s turned into the 70s has a bit of "never-say-die" nostalgia and vintage cotton clothing appeal about it.

But this one, despite the sartorial handicap, is the shirt that matters most. It saw the departure of owner Gary Gibson and the dawn of a new era. In his last season Gibson flogged good players like Andy Saville and Paul Cross to anyone who could come up with quick cash, but the winding-up orders still arrived. Under his stewardship the club had been promoted but the finances were in chaos. Even the cheque for Knowles's widow, generated by a fundraising match against Spurs, bounced. Pools plummeted to relegation in 1994 and after 86 years, mostly of struggle, the club looked unlikely to survive much longer.

Then, over the summer of 1994, a fan buyout took place. Unusually enough, it only involved one fan. Harold Hornsey, who had made his money through a chain of hardware shops, saved the club and the terraces he stood on every other Saturday. The recovery on the pitch was slow but Hornsey settled debts and funded signings. He didn't have unlimited resources though and in 1997, having run his own fit and proper test, he sold to the current owners IOR. Since then Pools have endured numerous play-offs, secured two promotions and made third-level football seem the least that the fans should expect. This shirt offers a reminder that it used to be something we could only dream of. Ed Parkinson

Buy this shirt and hundreds of others at Classic Football Shirts

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from Joe Hampshire
"With Jim Beglin unable to do the co-commentary on the Holland v Uruguay World Cup semi owing to illness, there was a pathos to Clive Tyldesley's solo performance. His opinions on the game's events and individual performances were left hanging in the air, as if he were a widower who has half-forgotten there is no one now to say 'Yes, dear' reassuringly to him. But it made for a much better commentary than the usual banter fest, so much so that the TV networks should seriously consider dropping co-commentators for selected matches during the season. I'm sure the viewers would be interested to find out how certain commentators would cope without a friend to talk to for 90 minutes. I think that Martin Tyler, for example, would manage quite well but that Jonathan Pearce and Peter Drury would both be chuckling nervously, and possibly humming, within a very short time."

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from Johnny Chapman
"Normally stories about trophy cabinets are of the 'we opened it and Lord Lucan rode out on Shergar' variety but the mighty Boston United have come up with a different take. Judging from the view I had of the play-off vase back in May, the replacement would only cost a fiver from Argos."

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from Andrew Thomas
"Shortly after finding out about Martin O'Neill's resignation, I checked his Wikipedia page which stated, a little confusingly: 'On 9th August 2010 Martin O'Neill resigned as manager of Aston Villa with immediate effect. He is a breaded Bol.'

Does anyone have any idea what this means? In the absence of any explanation, I'm assuming that a Bol is a kind of mushroom, which means O'Neill resigned because he was a starter at a suburban dinner party, which I don't think makes sense."

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Stickipedia A mine of information constructed from sticker cards

Phil Parkes, QPR The Wonderful World of Soccer Stars 1974-75
Having received a first call-up from Fabio Capello for this week's friendly with Hungary, Paul Robinson promptly announced his international retirement saying "I don't see myself as a number three or four keeper". There's a dearth of goalkeeping options for England managers now but they used to be spoilt for choice. In the 1970s Phil Parkes was a regular reserve in the international squad until he tired of watching from the stands and withdrew from selection. Parkes's role as the training partner of the big two, Peter Shilton and Ray Clemence, was then taken up by Man City's Joe Corrigan, who got more opportunities than his predecessor with nine caps in total. Although he was selected by three England managers, Parkes only got one cap, being picked along with five other debutants in Sir Alf Ramsey's final match in charge, a 1-1 draw in Portugal in April 1974.

Parkes began with Walsall, having also qualified as a woodwork teacher, then spent nine years with QPR and a further 11 with West Ham where he won his only major medal, in the 1980 FA Cup final. He's also remembered for having done a series of adverts for Cossack hairspray, in which he demonstrated that a luxuriant tonsure could keep its shape matter how much diving around you happened to be doing.

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