THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

A small portion of despair and enlightenment delivered to your inbox every Friday
4 November 2011 ~

To mark Alex Ferguson's 25th anniversary as manager of Manchester United we've been reflecting on his moments of charm, wit and fair-mindedness. It didn't take long.

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Badge of the week ~ CD Saprissa, Costa Rica
Is this a dragon or a sea serpent? Academic opinion is divided here because the creature is clearly breathing fire, according to standard dragon procedure, and yet it is also limbless in the manner of an ocean-dwelling salamander. In his seminal text, Mythological Creatures & How To Discuss Them With Adults, Bernard Levy takes the third path of terming Saprissa's figure a "sea dragon". How fire works as a deterrent under water, he does not touch on.

Anyway, where most dragon or sea serpent images are used on logos to display strength and aggression, Saprissa's version is more of a loved-up high-hand dancing dragon (if it had hands), podium dancing in a mauve one-piece at three in the morning, expelling cloudlets of fire to the delight of the whooping Ibiza hordes. There is not the usual snarl on this creature's face, but a wide smile denoting a skull full of bonhomie and very little brain activity. Saprissa are saying "Our strength comes through love but we have to keep topping it up", which is a much nicer message really than trying to frighten one's opponents with scary animals. Cameron Carter

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Anyone who failed to spot biblical parallels in Arsenal's win at Chelsea will surely be enlightened by the start of Rory Smith's match report in the Independent. Jesus H.

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Getting shirty Notable kits of yesteryear

Leeds United home, 1990-91
The 1990-91 season was Leeds' first season back in the top flight after almost a decade in the old Second Division. Howard Wilkinson's side had secured promotion in 1989-90 thanks to a squad featuring the magisterial midfield quartet of Gordon Strachan, Gary McAllister, Gary Speed and David Batty. And it was their service to a goal-hanging Lee Chapman that helped secure fourth place in 1990-91 (a season later the club would win the final Division One title before its replacement by the Premier League).

The rather nondescript white strip replete with Top Man logo saw a number of highs and lows, including a League Cup semi-final defeat to Manchester United, but the highlight was undoubtedly a scintillating 5-4 home defeat to defending champions Liverpool. After half an hour Liverpool were 4-0 up. When John Barnes smoothly dispatched the fourth, the ground started to empty to a chorus of boos. The loyalists who stayed were rewarded in spades as Lee Chapman bagged a second-half hat-trick and Carl Shutt nicked a goal to rock the visitors, who would ultimately win thanks to a 78th-minute goal from Barnes.

In hindsight the day was a momentous occasion for both sides. Liverpool ended runners up – an achievement they've failed to better since – and the building blocks were already in place for Leeds' meteoric rise and almighty fall from grace thanks to that season's official shirt sponsor, Top Man. The clothing chain's financial backing of the club helped to secure its then managing director a place on the Leeds board. His name? Peter Ridsdale. Simon Creasey

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from David Squires

"Swindon's decision to release a special FA Cup kit may reek of cynicism and hubris, but it has at least made Paolo di Canio look like the WSC logo (which is ironic, given his political leanings)."

 

 

 

 

 

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from Kevin Forbes
"Personalised stones, costing between £95 and £495, are to be laid around the Wembley concourse, allowing fans to where 'share in the messages of fellow fans from all over the world'. You can have up to three lines with a maximum of 20 characters per line. Someone should buy up the available space and alternate 'Protect Services; Tax The Rich' with 'End The; Banker; Occupation'. They might need a loan to do it but that in itself could kickstart the economy."

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The AC Milan acapella band sends a birthday greeting to Al Jazeera Sport. They're available for weddings, birthdays and bunga-bunga parties.

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This week in history ~ Division Two, November 5, 1988



Table

Chelsea's win was their second match in a club-record sequence of 27 games without defeat. Relegated the previous season, Bobby Campbell's side took only three points from their first six games but they ended up as champions on 99 points, 17 ahead of second-placed Manchester City. Their goals at Watford came from strike partners Gordon Durie and Kerry Dixon. The latter finished as second top scorer in the division on 25 goals, one behind Keith Edwards of Hull.

In complete contrast to Chelsea, Walsall's defeat at Oldham was the second game in a run of 15 straight defeats – the last of which was a 7-0 home thrashing by the future champions in February. Walsall finished seven points adrift at the bottom. Their manager Tommy Coakley, who had got the club promoted the previous year, was sacked after the 11th defeat and never worked in League football again. Birmingham and Shrewsbury also went down after spending most of the season in the relegation places.

Watford were top for another month but finished fourth and lost in the play-off semi-finals to Blackburn. Crystal Palace knocked out Swindon in the other play-off semi, then beat Blackburn 4-3 on aggregate in the two-legged final with Ian Wright scoring the decisive goal.

Steve Harrison was sacked as Watford manager during a poor run the following season. He then teamed up with his former boss Graham Taylor as England assistant coach but was dismissed after a press outcry over his party piece – he would crouch on top of a wardrobe and poo into a cup on the floor. Whether it ever helped team bonding is unclear.

Plymouth fan-favourite Tommy Tynan scored all four of their goals in their defeat of Blackburn. Several future managers were on the scoresheet this weekend including Martin Foyle and Paul Simpson for Oxford, John Sheridan (Leeds) and Andy Ritchie (Oldham), while Sky pundit Don Goodman scored for West Brom.

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