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17 June 2011 ~
It's rare for the FA to follow the Football League but their latest commercial tie-up also involves a flavourless fizzy beverage. After the Carling Cup, we now have the competition to be known as the FA Cup with Budweiser. The new sponsors are offering "an exciting programme of activity", such as giving fans "the opportunity to vote for the official Man of the Match, a role usually reserved for the broadcast commentating team". If there has been a better way to share a passion for the beautiful game, we've not seen it.
Badge of the week ~ Heracles Almelo, Netherlands
Dutch club Heracles Almelo take their name from Heracles, the offspring of the union between Zeus and the mortal Alcmene. The life and death of Heracles is an epic tale, containing indelible feats of cruelty and of valour. One might think the club had plenty of options for a striking image to put on their crest. Perhaps a simple one of Heracles alone, gazing out to sea, as if to say: "I am the son of Zeus and I could break your spine with my thumb, but I am also an admirer of our wonderful Greek scenery."
Or the central image might have depicted one of his more famous trials – slaying the Nemean Lion or the nine-headed Lernaean Hydra, or obtaining the girdle of Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons. As it happened, finding Hippolyta and evading her bodyguards to gain access to her jungle lair was not to prove as challenging as identifying a girdle among several items of female clothing.
And yet, bravely, the designers have opted for one of Heracles' lesser-known labours, the airing of the three flat-sheets of the King of Thebes. Because they were really big flat-sheets, made of the finest cotton and the King of Thebes got really antsy if they weren't arranged properly for drying – he was known to come out onto the patio and sigh and comment under his breath at poor practice. It was really irritating. Clearly the designers felt, weighing up all the evidence, that this was the most challenging of all Heracles' labours. Cameron Carter
Madame Tussauds are often criticised for failing to capture a subject's likeness, but that can't be said of the Oliver Kahn figure in their Berlin exhibition. Anyone of a sensitive disposition would be advised not to click here.
from Mark Tate
"If you were to satirise some Liverpool fans' hang-up about Manchester United you couldn't do better than this."
Getting shirty Notable kits of yesteryear
Middlesbrough home, 1992-93
Think of Middlesbrough and you will likely conjure up thoughts of a monstrosity dominated by ICI. In which case has any football team's shirt so appropriately reflected its town than that worn by the Boro in the 1992-93 season? If fans were pleased that the club had finally signed a deal with a "proper" shirtmaker in Admiral (having ditched local manufacturer Skill) they were to be sorely disappointed – and the season followed a similar pattern. Early optimism triggered by a 4-1 home win over champions Leeds soon gave way to resignation and relegation.
One of the most notable moments witnessed in the shirt was John Hendrie's failed attempt at an acrobatic celebration after scoring a mazy goal in the aforementioned win over Leeds. But this was before the foreign stars rewrote the rules on no handflips, and landing on your feet and not your arse became fashionable. Two years ago the club saw fit to reissue this shirt to appeal to those halcyon days. Perhaps to remind younger fans that the Boro have been in worse situations than they even were with Gordon Strachan at the helm. Charles Walford
from Graeme Higgins
"The perils of celebrating too soon. The keeper's team missed their next pen and lost the shoot-out – but the Italian FA has ordered a replay."
from Ian Sherlock
"A nice aside in the Independent's report on upheavals at St James' Park, ie football man has irritating son."
Newcastle are relying on chief scout, Graham Carr, who is the father of comedian, Alan Carr, to unearth more hidden gems, such as Cheik Tiote, who was signed for £3.5m last August, and was an instant hit.
Stickipedia A mine of information constructed from sticker cards
Pascal Chimbonda, Tottenham Merlin's FA Premier League 2005-06
Among the players looking for a new deal this summer is the one voted into the PFA's Premier League team of the season in 2005-06. Having joined QPR from Blackburn in January Pascal Chimbonda was released at the of the season after only three appearances, all as a substitute. His Twitter account suggested that he knew his time was up a couple of months in advance. April 4: "Big disappoint for me and I am shock. Neil warnock tell me I will never play for Qpr. I feel devastating" April 12: "This guy make me lose 6 month I am so piss of" and "I will bounce back again and I will be more strong thx mr warnock"
Chimbonda, now 32, joined Wigan from Bastia in the summer of 2005 and was called up to the French national squad in the build-up to the following year's World Cup finals. He was included in the squad for the tournament despite only playing three minutes as a late substitute against Denmark in May 2006. His surprise call-up was mentioned in a song about the 2006 squad, Zidane y va marquer, by radio presenter Sébastien Cauet. Chimbonda joined Spurs after the World Cup and played in their Carling Cup win in 2008. He then returned to Spurs briefly after a short spell with Sunderland before moving to Blackburn in August 2009. Be sure to follow his continuing adventures on Twitter. April 14: "Just wake up. What to do today"