THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

A small portion of despair and enlightenment delivered to your inbox every Friday
21 April 2011 ~

In all the fanfare about Stan Kroenke's takeover of Arsenal let's spare a thought for the other supporters who don't want to see the club in the hands of one man. Such as Alisher Usmanov, who has steadfastly refused to sell up to Kroenke, saying plaintively: "I love Arsenal, that's why I'm a shareholder." Still, there has been some good news for Mr Usmanov recently as he's moved up the rankings of wealthiest Russians to third place. Being a devout Gooner surely means more to him than knocking Roman Abramovich out of the top three.

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Badge of the week ~ Muger Cement, Ethiopia
Here's a refreshingly obtuse logo, that of Muger Cement, winners of the Ethiopian Cup in 1994. Where many clubs in the Ethiopian league opt for ball or tiger motifs, Muger Cement have clearly given a young graphic designer the words "football" and "cement" and let them go mad. And, in a way, isn't the sideways teardrop image actually the shape of a football caught freeze-frame directly after contact? And isn't the larger scale triangle the structurally robust pictorial representation for which concrete has been crying out for centuries? And isn't Muger Cement a brilliant name for a club? Yes, it is. Many would have thought a cement mixer more appropriate and readily recognisable as an image – but these people are not artists. Cameron Carter

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The culture minister Jeremy Hunt will making his refereeing debut soon, at a junior match somewhere in London. Apparently the details are being kept secret in case he draws a crowd and make a hash of it. The comments he made about football last month don't inspire confidence.

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Getting shirty Notable kits of yesteryear

Glentoran away, 1996-97
Glentoran's red, green and black colours were adopted from the blazers of the Phoenix Cricket Club in Dublin and have remained a constant since their inception in 1882. This incarnation – inevitably dubbed "the Big Chicken Shirt" by fans – was the first away kit produced by Le Coq Sportif in 1996-97. Perhaps understandably, it's the only one in which the manufacturers' logo filled such a big percentage of the shirt.

But it was not just the curious design that committed the shirt to the memory of the fans. The kit had some grounding in tradition with Glentoran change strips usually being predominantly white with any detail in red, green or black. This colour scheme was used for the club's best remembered international match when Benfica sneaked through on away goals in the 1967-68 European Cup first round due to a late Eusebio strike at The Oval. Benfica went on to reach the final of the competition only to be thwarted by a boyhood Glentoran fan, George Best.

The Glenmen were unable to repeat such exploits when wearing this shirt on the continent in 1996-97. Having travelled to Sparta Prague trailing by a solitary goal in their Cup-Winners Cup tie, they received an eight-goal pummelling. The team's domestic showing proved equally uninspiring. With their best player, Glen Little, sold to Burnley before the opening fixture, manager Paul Cassidy endured a trophyless season in his last full year in charge. Jonathan Bradley

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from Iain Aitch
"This may not be Wikipedia vandalism but it's worth noting that former Spurs and Crystal Palace defender Dean Austin has an unusual post-football occupation."



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Howl regulars will know that we are keen admirers of Conmebol, the bilingual magazine of the South American Football Confederation. The latest issue includes an evocative description of the winning goal in the 1980 World Club Championship between Nottingham Forest and Nacional, from the scorer Waldemar Victorino. See if you can perfect this skill:

I saw the ball coming towards the first post and I bounced it to anticipate the defender: I stopped it but couldn't walk another step with my right foot because the central back was near, so I jumped twice in a row on my left foot and when Peter Shilton, very sure of himself, jumped towards the ball, I touched it above, on the right. If I had tried to be better placed or give one more step, the back would have caught the ball. That is something you cannot teach.

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from Ben Jones
"Footballers have increasingly been getting in trouble for their comments on Twitter. But there's no danger of newly crowned Young Player of the Year Jack Wilshere incurring the FA's wrath. But really – I'd expect this sort of thing from my five-year-old son. Hats off for spelling 'practising' right though."


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from Robbie Smythe
"On holiday last week in Portugal I was staying at the same place as Andy Johnson. He had the weekend off due to the Cup semi-finals, and as a Villa fan it's usually a safe time for me to go away (and I can't see that changing under the current manager if this season's debacle is anything to go by). We swapped a few words on the merits of alternative inflatables – his sons had gone for the giant walruses that weren't very stable. Later on I saw him by the little five-a-side pitch in the resort. He was with his kids and about 15 others showing off his skills. And good on him for it – playing football with hordes of kids is exactly what footballers should be doing on their holidays, not off shopping with their wives."

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This week in history ~ Division One, April 23, 1962



Results

Division One debutants Ipswich sealed the title with a 2-0 defeat of Aston Villa in their last match. Ray Crawford, who got two goals against Arsenal, was top scorer with 33; only five other Ipswich players scored at all with Crawford's strike partner Ted Philips getting 28. Ipswich boss Alf Ramsey took the England job that summer and full-back Billy Baxter was the one player remaining from this squad when Bobby Robson took over as manager seven years later.

Burnley had been champions two seasons earlier and could have pipped Ipswich by winning their last two matches but they drew at home with struggling Chelsea in the penultimate game. Their goal at Blackpool was scored by Northern Ireland midfielder Jimmy McIlroy, widely regarded as the club's best-ever player; Burnley fans staged demonstrations against the board when McIlroy was sold to Stoke the following season.

Despite their draw at Burnley, Chelsea were relegated by five points having failed to win any of their last 11 league games. Striker Barry Bridges, who scored in their draw at Wolves, was in England's preliminary squad for the 1966 World Cup but didn't make the final 22.

Cardiff's relegation was sealed with an 8-3 defeat at Everton in their next game, while rivals Fulham were beating Man Utd. Cardiff have yet to return to the top level although their midfielder Alan Durban was to win a League title with Derby County nine years later.

Everton, who drew 0-0 at Birmingham the following day, finished fourth which was their highest placing since they were champions in 1938-39; they were to win the League the following year.

Jimmy Greaves, who joined Spurs midway through the season from AC Milan, got their winner at Blackburn, and was also to score in the 3-1 win over Burnley in the FA Cup final. Double-winners the season before, Spurs reached the semi-final of the European Cup where they lost 4-3 on aggregate to Benfica.

Notable debutants this season included George Armstrong (Arsenal), Ron Harris (Chelsea), Neil Young (Man City), David Pleat (Nottingham Forest) and Martin Peters (West Ham).

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