THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

A small portion of despair and enlightenment delivered to your inbox every Friday
10 September 2010 ~


The saga of Wayne Rooney's three-month affair in the summer of 2009 has now been plastered across the press for several days in a row. But if the News of the World are looking for a real scandal to get their teeth into, they should investigate claims that the prime minister's communications director authorised phone tapping of various prominent figures when he was editor of....ah. Footballers have their uses.

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Badge of the week ~ Unión San Felipe, Chile
This is a nice one because it is so welcoming. See how the "U" of Unión is made to double as the road that passes directly past the nearest Holiday Inn, promising the weary traveller a competitively priced evening meal and a room with a choice of five different types of pillow. Holiday Inn really do have what they refer to as a "Pillow Menu" incidentally – this is not satire, this is 21st-century fact. And of course the red chef's hat with eyeholes and attached crucifix means that your meal will be cooked by an angry evangelical munchkin. Why a South American football club would want to have a low-rent Hotel California motif on their crest is not immediately obvious. Perhaps the Holiday Inn/Travelodge/Trust House Forte architecture is considered enough to depress the away team into wondering why they ever agree to go on these ill-considered business trips every other weekend. Cameron Carter

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from Eddie Hutchinson
"It's bad enough having the FA accommodate and nurture the pariahs at Milton Keynes, but recently it seems the BBC's Football League Show has joined in. On September 4, with no games in the Championship, the show could have taken the opportunity to cover, for example, the inaugural East End derby between Dagenham & Redbridge and Leyton Orient, or showcase a League Two game such as the through-your-fingers derby between Macclesfield Town and Stockport County. Instead, we were 'treated' to MK Dons v Hartlepool Utd.

Already this season, the programme has given the club coverage in their Potted History section (note to the BBC – there are 71 other clubs in the Football League with longer and more deserving histories to choose from) and, to cap it all, some bright spark has placed the club's chevron-on-a-stick logo in a prime studio location adjacent to Manish Bhasin's head, when it should be much closer to Steve Claridge's behind."

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Getting shirty Notable kits of yesteryear

Macclesfield Town home, 1997-98
Macclesfield fans love the 1997-98 home shirt (shown here as 1996-97), not only for its V-necked simplicity and classic all-blue, but for what it represents. For this was the shirt of our debut Football League season, often seen accessorised with an Efe Sodje bandana in honour of the defender who nodded in our first professional goal. This was the shirt of John Askey and Steve Wood, 30-something non-League stalwarts who were expected to struggle in the professional game. They thrived and we finished second, catapulting us upwards again into a division containing Manchester City, Stoke and Burnley.

Made by Super League, this shirt kicked off a ten-year trawl through the lower echelons of budget sportswear taking in five different companies – each with their own quirks of quality and freestyle sizing charts. The end came with the rare home kit of 2007-08 made by A-Line. Designed by a competition-winning supporter, it featured a large "S" motif so elaborate and expensive to produce that it almost sent the company's UK arm to the wall. Luckily, our replica shirt needs are now in the hands of a three-striped global monster and, despite losing a degree of originality in design, you'd probably risk one on a hot wash. Andy Fraser

Buy this shirt and hundreds of others at Classic Football Shirts

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from Lewis George
"On transfer deadline day, Neil Warnock gave perhaps the perfect reply to a perky geezer agent on ESPN's Between The Lines. Phil Smith was introduced to a discussion of the latest moves via the telephone. Before starting on his contribution Smith took time out to check in with Warnock: 'Hello Neil, long time no see!' Warnock's stony-faced response – 'I know' – would have wounded a more sensitive man."

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from Martyn Routledge
"The former England number one is preparing for a life outside football. But who's going to trust him with a pair of scissors in his hands, let alone a cut-throat razor?"

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from Chris Hill
"Past Howls have featured leagues with long-winded names of sponsors. So I thought I'd turn your attention to the Halifax Ziggy's Spice House League Division One, which not only is amusingly named, but also appears well worth following in terms of entertainment. In the last two weeks Sowerby Bridge have seen off their opponents with scorelines of 9-1 and 7-4. But the highlight of last weekend was surely Stainland United's 15-6 drubbing of Junction AFC. I've not checked the league's rules, but maybe it doesn't allow goalkeepers?"

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WSC Trivia ~ No 89
A few months ago a TV crew from Japan's state broadcaster NHK visited the WSC office to record an interview for a documentary about the veteran football writer Brian Glanville. This was for a series called Proposal for the Future which profiles various experts in their field, mostly academics (Noam Chomsky was to be their next subject, though we weren't asked to comment on him). We never heard any more about this programme so we'd be grateful if any Howl reader with a knowledge of Japanese could find out if it's due to be broadcast or indeed is available on NHK's website. We're braced for the disappointment of having been edited out.

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Stickipedia A mine of information constructed from sticker cards

Bradford City Merlin's FA Premier League 2001
The crowd of 10,824 that saw Bradford City lose 2-0 at home to Port Vale in League Two last Saturday was bigger than 16 of the 22 Euro 2012 matches played on the same day. Despite their popularity, the only club to have fallen from the Premier League to the bottom level are in trouble. If they are beaten at home by Gillingham tomorrow they could drop into the relegation places.

Ten years ago today former Scotland midfielder Stuart McCall gave Bradford the lead in a 1-1 home draw with Arsenal. The team won only one of their first 15 league games in 2000-01 – 2-0 against Chelsea in their second fixture – and were anchored to the foot of the table by the start of November. They won only four more matches and finished with 26 points, eight adrift of second-bottom Coventry. A year after their relegation Bradford went into administration, with the blame pinned on former chairman Geoffrey Richmond for reckless spending in transfer fees and wages during their two years at the top level.

In their relegation year, one of the big-name buys, Italian midfielder Benito Carbone, was top scorer with five goals. Romanian defender Dan Petrescu, signed from Chelsea for £1 million, also played in the first half of the season while there were brief cameos from fading stars Stan Collymore and Lee Sharpe. Bradford had struggled in their first season up, most of which was spent in the bottom four. But they kept relegation at bay by winning three of their last four games which included a three-goal victory over closest rivals Wimbledon and a 1-0 final day defeat of Liverpool. Aside from McCall, who spent three years as Bradford manager up to February this year, first team regulars in both seasons included winger Peter Beagrie and striker Dean Windass, club top scorer in 1999-2000 with ten goals. The club went down from the second level in 2003 and reached League Two four years later. Geoffrey Richmond was declared bankrupt in 2004.

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