A small portion of despair and enlightenment delivered to your inbox every Friday
29 August 2008 ~

Pundits who complain about the lack of young footballing talent have pointed out that kids today don’t get the chance to play in the streets. Fortunately, Sky will be addressing this problem with their new reality show, Wayne Rooney’s Street Striker. According to the blurb, Wayne will be “the maker and breaker of dreams” as youngsters tests their ball skills against “street scenery such as oil drums and road signs. And they have to control footballs dropped nearly 100 feet from a block of flats.” None more urban.

Badge of the week
It seems from Paris St-Germain’s club crest that a baby has been deserted, in its pram, right under the Eiffel Tower at a time of night too early to turn the city lights on but definitely too late for a baby to be out in a pram on its own. Perhaps it is dusk in November time. As if this were not bad enough, someone who is on the tower has carelessly or malevolently lobbed a pot plant over the side which is plummeting at significant speed towards the child. Looks like it could be a tulip, but it’s the vase that would do the damage. What kind of parent would subject an infant child to this kind of scenario? And why would you take a plant up the Eiffel Tower with you? It is unclear what deserted babies and spilled pot plants have to do with the club’s history but if they are after creating an air of menace and instability, they have done their homework. A baffling and unusual badge – the French refuse to play by the rules, don’t they? Cameron Carter

It may not surprise you to learn that the singular Portsmouth fan who rings a bell throughout their matches has his own Wikipedia page. Nor that has been vandalised on a fairly regular basis.

Historic Football Websites No 19 ~ Cod Almighty
I grew up an Imp, but this site makes me almost wish I’d leaned a few miles the other way to become a Mariner. While Grimsby and Lincoln fight it out to see who is Lincolnshire’s crappest league side (after three games, Town have a point but no goals, while City have a goal but no points), this unofficially brilliant site wins hands down over any of its county rivals by chronicling the deficiencies of the Cleethorpes-based cloggers with timely comic articulacy. Take, for example, just one snippet of Wednesday’s news update: “However bleak things may look for the Mariners’ injury-ravaged, couldn’t-score-in-a-crack-den first team, at least they’re not conceding goals to Rory Boulding. This is the ignominious state of affairs that befell our club’s reserves last night in a painful 7-1 mullering at Bradford, or somewhere nearby.” Over the past six years there’s been consistently better football writing here than on most, if not all, of our national broadsheets. Long may Grimsby’s crapness continue to inspire them. Ian Plenderleith

A move abroad for an English player is rare enough but the circumstances of Tyrone Mears’ departure from Derby to join Marseille on loan were bizarre. Derby’s chairman Adam Pearson had agreed to let the player go but Paul Jewell denied having seen Marseille’s faxed offer and told Mears that he had to stay. After the chairman confirmed again that Mears he was free to leave, he climbed through a window at the club’s training ground and sneaked past Jewell’s office on all fours to collect his boots before heading for the airport. If Paul Jewell watches the French league highlights on Setanta this weekend he may be in for a shock.

WSC Trivia ~ No 30
In the late 1980s we used to employ people to sell WSC outside League grounds on matchdays. It could be a hazardous business. One of our student helpers was approached outside Stamford Bridge and asked if WSC was “anti-fascist”. He replied that it was, after which his questioner shouted “You bastard!” and attempted to punch him. The oldest seller, a man in his 70s, was also the most successful and would often collect several bundles of the latest issue throughout the month. Once we happened to see him action outside Upton Park where he was loudly touting WSC as “the Guardian for lager louts”. Although this seemed to be working, we had to ask him to try a different tack.

A mine of information constructed from sticker cards

Jean-Pierre Adams, OGC Nice Panini 1977, France
A central defender with Nimes and Nice, Jean-Pierre Adams was the first Senegal-born player to be selected for France. In the mid-1970s, he formed a defensive partnership with Marseille’s Marius Tresor, termed la garde noire by the French press, winning the last of his 22 caps at the age of 28 in 1976. After a couple of seasons with Paris St-Germain, Adams became player-coach with a lower division team, Chalon-sur-Saone. In 1982 he went into hospital for routine knee surgery but a mistake was made with the anaesthetic and he slipped into a coma from which he has not recovered. Several benefit matches have been staged since to raise funds for his medical bills. Last year his two sons kicked off a league game between Nice and Auxerre on the 25th anniversary of his hospitalisation

Following up last week’s Stickipedia about Damir Desnica, Martin Atherton looks at the careers of profoundly deaf players who played in League football.

The most successful such player was Billy Nesbitt, a winger who appeared in Burnley’s FA Cup and League championship-winning teams either side of the First World War. He played in an England trial match but the war put an end to his international ambitions. John “Daddy” Aldred was a regular in Oldham’s wartime side but was discarded when the footballer-soldiers returned from the trenches in 1918. John Elliott featured in the Football League for Preston North End during the 1920s.

Raymond Drake was probably the last profoundly deaf player to reach the first team for any Football League club in Britain, having played in Stockport County’s Division Three (North) side in 1956 and 1957 as a part-time professional. Having averaged over a goal a game during his three-year apprenticeship, he also scored on his debut and in each of his first four games. The fifth of the five goals he scored in these matches came after only seven seconds against Accrington Stanley on Christmas Day 1956. In achieving this feat, he equalled the then record for the fastest ever goal in a Football League match. In his first season in the first team, Ray scored 19 goals in only 22 games. However, he only made one further appearance for Stockport the following season and drifted in local non-League football, following a row with the Stockport manager.

In the 1970s, Bobby Scarth (son of ex-Tottenham and Gillingham player Jimmy) featured in Hunter Davies’s groundbreaking The Glory Game as a young player on the verge of breaking into the first team. Unfortunately, a series of injuries saw him released before he had the chance to emulate Billy Nesbitt by appearing in Division One..

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