THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

A small portion of despair and enlightenment delivered to your inbox every Friday
23 September 2011 ~

Like the rest of the nation, we're worried sick about Arsenal's early-season form. If they lose tomorrow in their "Survival Saturday" match against Bolton they'll be in the bottom three. The football media seem be united in thinking that this would be a dreadful turn of events. After six whole seasons without a trophy, how much more can Arsenal fans be expected to put up with? Be brave, Gooners.

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KS Bylis Ballsh, Albania
I don't know how they do things in Albania, but it is not the same as how they do things here. To place an owl with a concentration problem at the centre of your club's crest seems to be inviting the wrong type of attention. It isn't clear how the designers arrived at this finished product but there are three obvious possibilities. Firstly, there was a Blue Peter-style competition to design the club's badge which was won by a five-year-old whose concept of nature as a kind of holiday camp for animals with special needs runs utterly counter to the poet Tennyson's sense of "Nature, red in tooth and claw".

Secondly, there is a tradition of the primitive-naive in Albanian design and this badge would, to Albanians, actually come across as standard fare. Perhaps the state television logo is a smiley stickman in possession of a balloon. Finally, an owl falling on its head somehow initiated the club's formation. In any case, the owl's historic association with wisdom seems to be up for debate here, judging by this one's demeanour. Despite having available a worldwide selection of ferocious and intimidating animals – both real and mythical – with which to populate their crest, Bylis Ballsh have opted for an owl with no traffic sense. The endearingly frail alternative is an unusual one in animal iconography. Cameron Carter

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from Mike Ticher

"It looks like at least two men sneaked in to Fenerbahce's women-only experiment on Tuesday (in the gangway, bottom right). Wouldn't have had to queue for the toilets at least."

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It's unlikely that anyone believed the rumour circulating about the renaming of the Olympic Stadium but West Ham felt compelled to deny it.

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Getting shirty Notable kits of yesteryear

Torino away, 1992-93
Torino's last great achievement came in the 1992-93 season, with a Coppa Italia victory after two exciting matches against Roma (Torino won the first match 3-0, lost the return 5-2 but won on away goals). Since then they have become a yo-yo team fluctuating between Serie A and Serie B. Andrea Silenzi scored two goals in Rome and was one of several attacking talents in the squad alongside Carlos Aguilera of Uruguay, the Brazilian Walter Casagrande and a young Christian Vieri. Other key players were Luca Marchegiani in goal and the Italo-Belgian Enzo Scifo in midfield.

The cup-winning shirt was in a design typical of its era with Salumificio Beretta, a major producer of cold meats, as the main sponsor. Torino had always used a white away shirt with trim in their home colour of granata (dark red). There are several theories regarding their adoption of granata. One story has it that Alfredo Dick, a Swiss entrepreneur and one of Torino's founders, was a supporter of Servette Geneva, who wear the same colour. Another theory attributes it to the Brigata Savoia, the family that administered the Piedmont region, of which Turin is the capital, before the unification of Italy.

Under the same coach, Emiliano Mondonico, Torino had reached the UEFA Cup final the year before, losing to Ajax on away goals. They got to the Cup-Winners Cup quarter-finals in 1993-94, going out to the eventual winners Arsenal. Since there has been only disappointment and despair for the fans. Luca Ferrato

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from David Hawkes
"Jason Walker tried one of those utterly horrendous chipped penalties in the Conference play-off final penalty shoot-out between Luton Town and AFC Wimbledon in May. He failed. It is safe to say that Luton fans do not have the highest opinion of him."



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from Neil Waring
"I've long been of the view that if Emmanuel Frimpong is in favour of something it must be good but I'm not clear what is meant by 'Dench', the slogan on the T-shirts he's hawking here with his rapper friend. If it's filthy then Arsène may need to add Emmanuel's commercial ventures to his long list of things to sort out.".

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This week in history ~ Division One, September 25, 1999



Table

Birmingham led Division One for the first and only time this season after two penalties from Paul Furlong beat QPR. They slipped back to fifth after losing three of their next four games and finished in the same position, losing in the play-off semi-finals to Dave Bassett's Barnsley who were beaten at Wembley by Ipswich.

Manchester City had a chance to regain the top spot with a match at Ipswich the following day but they lost 2-1. Managed by Joe Royle, City spent the bulk of the season in the automatic promotion places and eventually finished second after going unbeaten in their last 11 games. City's Shaun Goater was the division's top scorer with 25, one ahead of Andy Hunt of champions Charlton.

Leaders from January, Charlton were 16 points clear at one point but finished only two points ahead of Man City after failing to win any of their last seven games. Key players included Dean Kiely in goal, Richard Rufus and the club's current manager Chris Powell in defence, and Graham Stuart and Mark Kinsella in midfield. Charlton had been relegated from the Premier League in 1998-99 after only one season but this time they were to spend seven years at the top level.

After beating Swindon, Port Vale won only four more games. Both clubs were relegated with several weeks to go and neither has been back to the second level since. Walsall went down on the final day after losing to Ipswich while rivals West Brom, who were level on points, beat Charlton.

One of Stockport's goals in their draw with Norwich was scored by midfielder Tony Dinning whose late penalty clinched a 2-1 win at Man City in December – Stockport's only victory at City in their ten League meetings, the first of which was in 1902-03. Stockport were on the fringe of the play-offs for several months but fell away to finish 17th.

Ian Wright, on loan from West Ham, got one of Forest's goals in their defeat at Bolton. Other notable scorers included Lee Carsley for Blackburn, Ken Monkou and Marcus Stewart for Huddersfield, and Ricardo Gardner and Dean Holdsworth for Bolton.

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