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10 October 2008 ~

The grotesque Game 39 plan received a boost this week when Mohamed bin Hammam, the chairman of the Asian Football Confederation, declared that he would be in favour of the proposal, provided that revenues were shared with the host countries and that the Premier League passed on its expertise in various areas. “I see they are responsible people and I do not see it as all being about money and greed”, he said. “I saw that Richard Scudamore does really care about football and fans and the national associations, and that touched us a lot.” If he’s that easily taken in, the Icelandic banks should get on to him straight away about some exciting new investment opportunities.

Badge of the week
Libertas are a crack San Marino team with a club crest that allows us to dream of long ago and far away. Except, on closer inspection, there is a contemporary flavour to this image. Here, in a land of plenty (denoted by the lush border greenery), a branch of Tesco has been built in that irksome neo-Roman style in the shadow of three imposing castles. This is probably ruining the view of the valley for the castles’ owners, although, on the up side, it would be convenient when they ran out of Doritos on a Friday night. We shouldn’t feel too sorry for the people in the castle because, while Tesco probably aggressively rushed through the planning permission procedure for their new store, the castle inhabitants clearly have a gung-ho attitude towards using the earth’s natural resources because they have all lit fires at three in the afternoon. “Libertas” of course means “Freedom”, which used to mean personal autonomy within the state’s apparatus, but now largely refers to 24-hour shopping. Cameron Carter

Spotting players
Chris Fyfe
has news of a recent and ultimately inconsequential encounter with a former England defender: “I drove my car into a ditch, late at night on a wet country road, just outside Oxford. While stuck trying unsuccessfully to drive out, a succession of cars, mindful of the incessant rain, simply drove past. Eventually the driver of a large car stopped and offered assistance. However this driver, who turned out to be England and Arsenal defender Martin Keown, did not have a tow rope in his super-plush car and so was unable to help.”

Long Players – The Glorious History Of Football’s Full Length Recordings  ~ No 1

Ole Espana The West German 1982 World Cup Squad

This is an admirable effort, if indeed it really is the German players singing on all 16 of the album’s compositions, in collaboration with cheesy hit singer Michael Schanze and, for the more introspective numbers, Lena Valaitis, another cheesy hit singer perhaps brought in to divert the likes of Horst Hrubesch and Harald Schumacher during the undoubtedly long studio sessions.

The album’s theme involves paying tribute to the cultures of various participating nations at Spain 82. In Brazil they have samba in the blood and feel good when they play football, in Argentina they dance away their cares with the tango and play lots of football too, while in Yugoslavia the peasants come in from a hard day in the field to chug back slivovitz and dance with beautiful women (no mention of the football).

Mull of Kintyre-style chords introduce the Scottish tribute Highland Oh Highland, about the loneliness of the mountain shepherd (somehow evoking images of Willie Miller’s futile attempts to round up Soviet forward Ramaz Shengelia accelerating away from him to score), while England is thanked for inventing the game, politely neglecting to mention that at the time its fans were doing their absolute best to wreck it. When in doubt about a country’s culture, the players just sing La La La or Ole Ole several times over.

Purchase price includes a 2.50 deutschmark contribution to the German FA, an improbable lure to the consumer. Unbelievably, re-released in later years on CD. Ian Plenderleith

This week in history ~ Football League, October 11, 1890


Having scored 23 goals in their first five matches, League leaders Everton dropped their first points of the season at Villa. The match was watched by the season’s biggest crowd to date, an estimated 12,000. Everton were the only club with a five figure average attendance, drawing 11,375 at Anfield (their home until 1892) while Acrrington had the lowest gates, averaging 2,980. Everton striker Fred Geary was the top scorer with 20 goals.

Notts County’s first scorer in their 3-2 defeat of West Brom was their England winger Harry Daft, an amateur who also played for Corinthians. Daft was to get another two in his team’s final match of the season, a 7-1 win at Blackburn. But Rovers fielded an understrength team that day and went on to beat Notts 3-1 in the FA Cup final a week later.

The run-in to the season was severely hampered by bad weather. Everton’s penultimate match, a 1-0 home defeat to defending champions Preston, was held on January 10. Their last match, a 3-2 defeat at Burnley, wasn’t played until March 14. In between Everton went on tour, playing three matches in London, where there wouldn’t be a professional League club for another 14 years.

Wolves were the only other team to top the table, for three rounds of fixtures in mid-season, but they fell away badly in the New Year, losing their last two matches 9-0 at Derby, then 6-2 at Villa. Their matches with Sunderland were the first to require a change of kit as both clubs wore red and white stripes – Wolves adopted a gold and black kit for 1892-93.

Sunderland were playing in their first League season, having been elected in place of Stoke who finished bottom in 1889-90. At the end of 1890-91 the bottom four clubs – Villa, Accrington, Derby and West Brom – stood for re-election and all were voted back in. With the League being expanded to 14 they were joined by the returning Stoke, plus Darwen. Among the clubs who failed to get elected were Sunderland Albion, Newton Heath (later Manchester United) and Ardwick (Manchester City).

League president William McGregor’s summing up of the season included the following comment: “Out of 132 matches in which the League clubs have taken part, not a single fatal accident has to be recorded, and not a serious case of injury in any way – a point that shows that the higher quality of bootlace, the less liability there is of accidents.”

WSC Trivia ~ No 35
John Peel once sent us a letter, published in WSC 57, November 1991:

Dear WSC
The other day I was waiting for John Walters, for one week only a DJ with the
London local radio station, GLR. I would have gone in the building, but couldn’t get
the intercom on the night door to work, so I had to come to terms with the notion of
a twenty-minute wait. Anyway – as we DJs say – as I waited a vaguely familiar figure
approached in a shell suit I would certainly not have chosen for myself and started to
tussle with the intercom. “I tried that. It doesn’t work,” I told my pudgy-faced
companion, but he persisted, eventually getting the thing to work. As he waited for
someone to come to the door, I tried to put him at his ease with a little
undemanding chat.

Well, it turns out that he complained about being pestered by a vagrant on the
doorstep, so some official came to ask me, in the words of the forces of law and
order, to move along there. I explained that my name was John Peel and I was
waiting for John Walters. “Oh,” she said, “Graham Kelly (for it was he) thought you
were a vagrant.” To think that with a handy blunt instrument I could have, in a
thrice, done more for English football than I have in a lifetime of support. At least I
should have made the point that I would rather spend my time with vagrants than
with FA officials, the latter known to Nicky Campbell and myself as the Onanista,
Rather clever, that, I thought.

John Peel

A mine of information constructed from sticker cards

Joe Baker, Nottingham Forest & Gerry Baker, Coventry City Wonderful World of Soccer Stars 1968-69
The Baker brothers played for two different international teams but neither was capped by the country in which they grew up. Gerry, the older, was born in New York in 1938 shortly after his parents had emigrated there. They then returned home to Liverpool where Joe was born in 1940. During the subsequent Blitz, the family relocated to Scotland. Joe began with Hibernian, but although capped for Scotland Schoolboys, he was only eligible to play at full level for his birthplace. So he came to be described as “the first England international with a Scottish accent”. Having played briefly for Torino alongside Denis Law, he continued his career in England with Arsenal, Forest and Sunderland. After retiring, he returned to Scotland where he coached in the lower divisions. Gerry, a striker like his brother, also appeared for Hibernian and for several English clubs including Man City, Ipswich and Coventry. Although he had only been one year old when he left America, and never played there at club level, he was nonetheless capped by the US in the late Sixties, scoring twice in seven games.

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League table courtesy of the place to go for football stats & odds comparison – English & Scottish stats from 1871 plus European & International

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