THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

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


Humourist Tom Lehrer said that he gave up writing comic songs when Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize, arguing that no satire could top that. We had a similar feeling today with the news that Robbie Savage's column in the Daily Mirror has won the sports category in the Plain English Campaign Media Awards. It must have been one of those secret ballots we've been hearing so much about.

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Badge of the week ~ East Riffa Club, Bahrain
As the proprietor of a citadel or stronghold, this is exactly what you don't want to happen. It's hard enough defending your position from marauding armies and suchlike without having to legislate for aerial assaults from giant birds. What would happen is, you'd be going about quotidian business – tethering a medieval horse or checking the kitchen had enough wild boar – when the sky would darken, a lone female scream would be heard from one of the turrets and the hideous battering of giant wings would fill the air. Only one thing was worse than the surprise giant bird attack in this era and that was the surprise attack from the giant mole, because this was even more of a surprise owing to the fact there was no such warning. What East Riffa FC are saying here is – sure, build yourself a castle on a hill and esconce yourself behind high walls, figuratively, but you can never be completely secure, even with a sweeper system and your forwards tackling back. So you may as well live a little, bung on a creative midfielder and a goalscorer and go 4-4-2. Because absolutely no one likes it up 'em. Cameron Carter

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from Brian Simpson
"In a week when you would think things couldn't get worse for English football comes the news that England have fallen in the 2011 world rankings for the Homeless World Cup. Following a dismal 15th place in the recent tournament played in Brazil, England dropped two places to 12th. On the other hand, Russia went up five places to be ranked fifth, after finishing in seventh place in Brazil. It's perhaps no surprise to find out that Qatar doesn't have a team in the 68-country rankings."

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Getting shirty Notable kits of yesteryear

Pumas away, 2004-05
Modern Mexican shirts can look surreal with the sheer amount of sponsors' names that cover them from top to bottom. However, there is one shirt in the Mexican league that really does stand above the others, that of the Club Universidad Nacional of Mexico City. What better way of making a visual impression than by taking the team's nickname, the Pumas, and putting a massive puma face on the front of the shirt.

Pumas are a little different, however. Part of the traditionally anti-establishment UNAM, Latin America's biggest university, Pumas' players sing the team's anthem along with fans, clench-fisted right arms aloft, before each home game. Fan club CU are known as the craziest in Mexico and have a particularly fierce, and sometimes violent, rivalry with local rivals América.

This 2004 shirt is a particularly special one for Pumas fans. In that year they became the first and only team in Mexico to win two titles in the same calendar year since the summer/winter league system was introduced in 1997. Pumas' manager at the time was their best-known former player, Hugo Sanchez. Tom Marshall

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from Stephen Eighteen
"This was how Bernie Friend of the South London Press began his report on the recent Charlton v Bristol Rovers match. I don't think he enjoyed it much."

Pope Pius XII declared Clare of Assisi the patron saint of TV back in 1958.

If you placed a statue of her on top of your battered old set it was believed to
guarantee a good reception in religious circles.

The birth of the heavenly antenna was also the same year Bristol Rovers
last pulled off a miracle of biblical proportions in SE7, otherwise known
as a victory at Charlton.

But take my word for it, if a replay of this frustrating draw comes anywhere
near zapping on to your TV screen, pull out the rosary beads and pray her
holiness is having an off day.


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An entry from the diary in WSC 137 (June 1998) is a reminder that it used to suit the English FA to be allied to Sepp Blatter:

Monday 8th
Sepp Blatter is the new president of FIFA. His opponent Lennart Johansson concedes defeat after the first-round ballot left Blatter in the lead, but without the two-thirds support needed. Johansson says: "It is difficult for me to understand why the FA of England were behind me a fortnight ago and now they are not."


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from Mark Mullins
"Neil Ruddock's Wikipedia profile picture hasn't changed since it was mentioned in the Weekly Howl a couple of years ago and there's been another amendment now."



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Stickipedia A mine of information constructed from sticker cards

Chris Hughton, Tottenham Hotspur Panini Football 81
Being the first Premier League sacking of the season is the latest in a line of firsts in Chris Hughton's career. He was the first black player to be capped for the Republic of Ireland, for whom he qualified through a Limerick-born mother, his international debut against the US in October 1979 also being the first time he had ever been to Dublin.

Having been spotted in schools football as a winger, Hughton was converted to a full-back by Spurs and made his League debut aged 20, just two months before his first international match. He might have broken through sooner but he put off turning professional while he completed his qualifications as a lift engineer. He joined the Spurs coaching staff in the mid-1990s, moving on to Newcastle as part of Kevin Keegan's management team in 2008. Hughton was also the first player to write a column for Newsline, the newspaper of the Workers Revolutionary Party, which he was encouraged to do by a journalist friend who was a party member. Hughton has since said that he stuck to football related topics in his column, though has been politically active since as a member of the Labour Party.

The Newcastle board justified their decision to dismiss Hughton by claiming that "an individual with more managerial experience" is needed. Their choice as replacement, Alan Pardew, certainly fits the bill having experienced a range of highs and lows, mostly the latter, while in charge of four other clubs. After being told of Hughton's sacking, his former boss Harry Redknapp criticised "chairmen who like to interfere", adding "maybe their mate at the golf club tells them they should change the manager". In this case it seems that such a conversation may have happened at the London casino formerly run by Newcastle's managing director Derek Llambias where Mike Ashley and Alan Pardew are both members. There's the basis for a column, Chris.

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