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21 December 2012 ~
The Howl is taking a break for two weeks over Christmas but don't worry, football isn't. Good luck to all your teams in the forthcoming matches, except the ones we don't like. We'd make a list but it would take all day.
Badge of the week ~ Chelmsford City
Chelmsford's club crest dwells on the legend of the Long Distance Running Bears. In the forests that thrived where Chelmsford now stands, there lived two brown bears named Porphyra and Alex. Neither had very good prospects. The best either could hope for was to hang around with other brown bears, eating roots and talking trash. Then one day, having chased down and eaten a courting couple, they found that the endorphins released by their brains in the process made them feel good. Thereafter they both took up long-distance running for physical and emotional escape. The bears' speed and stamina was noticed by some villagers and they were offered a career in threshing – which could lead onto other opportunities in the agricultural sector – if they would win a prestigious cross-country race against a wealthier neighbouring village that had three blacksmiths and an alderman who wore spats.
The bears entered the race and were winning easily approaching the finishing line at the bridge. To the villagers' amazement, the bears stopped and allowed one of the posh villagers to pass them and win. When asked why they stopped, the bears explained that they had been sent a copy of the job description for the post of Thresher, which contained the phrase "and any other duties that may be necessary" right at the end. The bears thought this too vague and possibly exploitative and threw the race so that they might return to the forest where their task regimen was less opaque. Chelmsford commemorate the bears' stand in their crest, as it shows an independence of spirit as well as the ability to read standard bureaucratic documents all the way through. Cameron Carter
from Michael Round
"Nothing to do with the festive season but this does put me in a good mood. Just what has made Elton Welsby so angry?"
from Steve Whitehead
"If the current Vauxhall Motors programme is to be believed we are in for a long old season."
from Shane Tomlinson
"For sale on Ebay – a highly realistic model of a football terrace at a lower-division ground in the 1980s. Among the glum onlookers, the person in the fetching green cross outfit is waving at the TV gantry but no one is there."
Bryan Ruiz offers sounds advice to anyone thinking of taking the tube in London.
from Phil Town
"I think Sérgio Ramos speaks for all of us, possibly."
Getting shirty Notable kits of yesteryear
Kansas City Wizards home, 1998-99
The Wizards were born in Major League Soccer's 1996 inaugural season when a team of marketing geniuses actually christened them the Kansas City Wiz. As most people probably know, in the USA "taking a wiz" equates to Brits "taking a slash". Calling KC the Wiz would be like rebranding Lincoln as the Lincoln City Piss. It wouldn't work. It didn't work. After one season, they were transformed from liquid detritus to mythical magicians: from Wiz to Wizards.
As the shirt testifies, there were still teething problems. Free of urinal tags, the Wizards played well in 1997, with the second best regular-season record behind champions DC United. But in 1998 their new home shirts, apparently symbolising a wonky colour television set (or several different shades of wiz), ushered in a season of abject failure. They failed to make the play-offs, finishing 11th out of a dozen teams, winning 12 and losing 20 games in the largely empty Arrowhead Stadium. Mo Johnston was top scorer with 11 goals while Paul Rideout managed a meagre four.
Perhaps the idea was to blind and bamboozle the opposition. Maybe the team wished to give the impression of an explosive, wizard-activated spell. Or they wanted desperately to depict the Multiple Outstretched Arms of Mr Tickle. They tried the shirt again in 1999 and played even worse, winning just ten games and losing 22. Coach Ron Newman was sacked, and the home shirt was changed to plain blue. These days they're called Sporting Kansas City and have their own ground. If you go there, be polite and don't mention The Wiz. Ian Plenderleith