Weekly Howl 04-07-08
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4 July 2008 ~
As the increasingly tedious Gareth Barry transfer saga rumbles on, Aston Villa have taken to posting various statements on their official site giving the club’s stance on the matter. While these are relatively dry, Villa are making their true feelings clear by the use of photographs – this one is illustrated with a picture of Barry missing a penalty at Reading in February.
Badge of the week
Racing Genk, as they are known by those who don't like saying just Genk because it sounds like a duck swimming into a car tyre, were the product of a merger referred to in a previous badge of the week. The trouble with this otherwise blameless club crest is the way it induces claustrophobic anxiety in the observer brought on by the impression, if inspected closely while listening to water sounds, that one is trapped inside a washing-machine in the hot wash cycle, looking out through the bubble-webbed door. The sensation of tumble-wash is enhanced by the swirling mobility of the image and the bluey-whiteness (that you might like) of the full visual experience. Genk's nickname is the Smurfs. I bet they don't tell that to prospective new players. Cameron Carter
Historic Football Websites No 11 ~ Albanian Old Football Logos
It no longer claims to be the “Unofficial Football Site of Albanian Football Since 1913”, as it did when WSC first reviewed it back in 2000, but the site still showcases the badges of teams such as Egnatia Rrogozhine (1964 – a depressed beach ball) or Himare Klubi Futbollit (1923 – a red-and-white striped diamond with a multi-legged beetle in the middle, although the limbs could be the wings of a very small eagle). Strangely touching, like viewing old gravestones. Ian Plenderleith
As you will know, some football writers on the broadsheets are prone to bursts of florid prose. So, well done to the Telegraph’s Henry Winter for satirising that tendency in his report on the Euro 2008 final: “To each Spanish fan here in Ultravox's fabled Vienna, thinking ‘this means one-nothing to me’, the first half continued to bring unremitting joy...” Take that, you wordsmiths.
Tales From The Landesliga ~ No 10
WSC contributor Matt Nation's series about watching lower-league football in Hamburg
On the first sweltering weekend of the year, it's unwise to go to a Hamburg-based Landesliga game. The danger of being sucked into a vortex of ruddy-faced regulars, who’ve hauled their shopping trolleys full of stubby brown beer bottles out of winter storage and are reminiscing about Manfred Kaltz’s crosses, is simply too great. Anybody in their right mind gets on the tube and heads for Mölln, a sleepy little town in Schleswig-Holstein near the old inner-German border.
Unlike their big-city cousins, Schleswig-Holsteiner don’t go in for idle chit-chat, or any sort of chit-chat at all. Utterances comprising more than three words have been outlawed for centuries and polysyllabic words are permitted only after prior consultation with the local alderman. Even the word for “Good morning” sounds like the sort of noise you’d make during a particularly fitful night’s sleep. Schleswig-Holsteiner don’t talk, they simply do.
Famous primarily for being the deathplace of the mythical court jester Till Eulenspiegel and the official residence of a bent politician who was found dead in his gladrags in the bath, Mölln really doesn’t have much to shout about. And so, in the game between Möllner Sportvereinigung von 1862 and Turn- und Sportverein von 1860 eV Travemünde, nobody shouts at all. Within ten minutes, the home team are 2-0 up, yet the bumper 200-plus crowd are about as lively as a terracotta-army librarian. The players are equally taciturn. In Hamburg, footballers holler as soon as they’re touched, criticised or penalised. The Mölln lads, however, appear to be operating via a combination of telepathy and semaphore, while Travemünde are shamed into silence by their own sheer ineptitude.
Even another two goals before half-time, the latter a 30-yard free kick from a man whose body shape would enable him to work as a stadium mascot without having to dress up, fail to rouse the rabble. The chap on the PA tries to get things going by putting on Hoch soll er leben, a bottoms-up shout-a-long usually played in honour of shooting-club presidents who are only referred to by their surname, but to no avail; nobody dares to even tap their foot for fear of being thrown out by the steward.
Half-time comes, and half the crowd go for a walk in the picturesque Hansl-and-Gretl woods behind the pitch. You briefly wonder whether they’re going for a clandestine group shout, where they stand around an antler-strewn swamp, hold hands and then stuff a handkerchief into their mouths to stifle the cheers. However, they do nothing of the sort; they just walk up and down, stopping only when somebody approaches from the other direction so that they can demonstratively ignore them.
After the break, Travemünde perk up a bit and quietly pull a couple of goals back. Mölln immediately get a fifth, a header from a forward so far offside that he’s almost in the long-jump pit behind the goal, and then manage the round half-dozen when a Travemünde defender knees a cross into his goal from ten yards out. There’s a brief outbreak of speech when the announcer credits the own goal to the visiting number five - the wrongly-accused shouts out “You're backward, you are” and points angrily to the real culprit, which earns him a booking for over-verboseness – and then the rest of the game fizzles out in silence. At the end, the announcer thanks the crowd for coming, with all the emotion of a red-and-white sign in a restaurant expressing its gratitude that you haven’t smoked.
You immediately make a beeline for the town centre, determined not to miss home fans resolutely keeping their hair on after a thumping victory. And you’re not disappointed. There are no motorcades, the pubs are either empty or closed and absolutely nobody rampages through the high street. The only time things get out of hand is when a group of tourists start laughing in front of the Till Eulenspiegel statue, but they’re soon glowered into line by locals who disapprove fiercely of their town’s blazon being a source of mirth (or a source of anything except income from postcard and tea-towel sales). Still waters may run deep, but Mölln is quite clearly a stagnant pond, whatever the weather.u
WSC Trivia ~ No 22
The early issues of WSC were assembled in a dingy house in Colliers Wood, a suburb of south London. Editions were stapled together in the living room, which had a sagging ceiling that eventually collapsed in a cascade of rainwater, plaster and bird droppings. Colliers Wood was also “Sun Hill”, the setting for the police series The Bill, which was sometimes filmed in nearby roads. A few years after WSC had relocated, an episode of The Bill began with a dawn raid on drug dealers. Officers rushed up a staircase whose threadbare carpet and stained orange wallpaper looked tantalisingly familiar. Yes, it was that house, now doubling up as a crack den. It seemed that the researchers hadn’t gone through all the kitchen cupboards, however, as torn sheets of Letraset and photocopied pictures of Jimmy Hill might have added to the ambience.
A mine of information constructed from sticker cards
Carlo Sartori, SPAL Ferrara Calciatori 1974-75
Former Man Utd midfielder Carlo Sartori was the only player to move from English football to Serie A in the 1970s. Italian clubs were barred from signing foreigners during this period but Sartori had dual nationality having been born in Italy in 1948 shortly before his family relocated to Manchester. He had only been a squad player at Old Trafford – where he made 39 appearances in four seasons – and played just two matches in his one Serie A season with Bologna. But after moving down a division with SPAL Ferrara, Sartori was converted into a central defender and spent another ten seasons in Italy with five different clubs. After retiring aged 36 in 1984, he returned to Manchester to work in his parents’ knife-grinding business. (Yes, he was exceptionally ginger for an Italian.)
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