A small portion of despair and enlightenment delivered to your inbox every Friday
19 December 2008 ~

An underground bunker deep in rural England hums with activity. As television monitors flicker overhead, rows of typists tap information into a bank of computers, pausing occasionally to converse with white-coated technicians who scurry back and forth with armfuls of questionnaires, flowcharts and test tubes. Sam Allardyce’s technical support staff have been busy preparing for the moment when their leader gets the call. They had expected to hear from Sunderland but while the files documenting Paul McShane’s biorhythms are shredded, a new HQ is taking shape on a windswept industrial estate somewhere in Lancashire: Project Blackburn is underway. Good luck everyone.

Badge of the week
The Anderlecht club crest is all very sensible and conventional for the most part – crown, Belgian flags, Latin motto – right up until you get to the little inset picture at the bottom, at which point the references become more obscure. The Latin motto is straightforward enough – literally “The men’s sauna is in the same room as the corporate sauna” – absolutely nothing wrong with that. The flags and crowns are patriotic without being too military in style. But then we come to the desert scene of the young chap with the basin haircut sitting happily on a dead beaver while his camel takes a breather. I don’t know much about Belgium – and in nearly half a century I have never found this a drawback – but I am pretty sure there isn’t a folk legend involving a beaver, a camel and an effervescent kid in loose-fitting clothes. If there is, I’d be interested to know how they got together. A nice sensible badge, in summary, with a bit of silliness at the bottom that lets everyone down. Cameron Carter

If you’re stuck for conversation with relatives this Christmas, start a debate about whether Roy Keane’s career serves to illustrate the rise and fall of the Celtic Tiger economy. There’s plenty of research material here. Spotted by Kenneth Owen

Long Players The Glorious History Of Football’s Full Length Recordings

Flair 1989 Various artists
This was the first of the football song compilations put together by record mogul Mike Alway who went on create the Bend It! series. Alway’s article about the LP in WSC 33 (October 1989) included the following observations:

“The musical styles adopted by the clubs that feature on Flair are madly diverse. Stoke City sagely invested in the internationally acclaimed mastery of Jackie Trent and Hatch. The quality shows. Newport County involve the harp. Norwich City investigate the more complex world of jazz and come up with an arrangement that would not disgrace Tony Bennett. The whole panorama of British musical heritage is in evidence: Northampton Town (heavy metal), Kilmarnock (Donovan soundalike), Sunderland (pure Eurovision Song Contest 1971) while the fireside monologue of Arfon Griffiths on This is Wrexham conjures up the dry campness of Dirk Bogarde. Flair is about magic. Poetry. Glorious moments on the brink of collapse. Given an opportunity to cast its spell it will bring instant relief to the cynicism of middle age, invigorate the octogenarian and silence the hyperactive child.”

Competitively priced copies often turn up on Ebay.

WSC Archive
Following Paul Ince’s dismissal this week, we look back at the trials of the first black permanent manager in English football, Keith Alexander.

David Adams noticed a recent amendment to Mark Lawrenson’s Wikipedia biography. If his horticultural knowledge matched his expertise as a pundit, his back garden would be a dustbowl..

WSC Trivia ~ No 46
One of the second wave of London bombings in 2005 happened on a double-decker bus that had stopped directly outside the WSC office. The explosion, in a rucksack left on the back seat, blew out the bus’s windows but we only realised something was afoot when we heard police helicopters overhead. We were evacuated and couldn’t go back for three days. Somehow we were just about the only office workers not be interviewed by any of the scores of TV crews who filed reports from behind police tape with the static bus in the distance. There wasn’t even a Soccer Fan Mag Blast Drama headline in the Hackney Gazette.

A mine of information constructed from sticker cards

Ian and Roger Morgan, QPR
Wonderful World of Soccer Stars 1968-69
The Morgans were the first twins to play at the top level of English football in the post-war period. After they made their League debuts in 1964 QPR manager Alec Stock asked them to dress differently so he could tell them apart. His appeal was in vain, according to Roger: “We’ve got the same choice in clothes and cars and we both married blonde hairdressers but that’s something that happens with twins.” Roger, a left-winger, scored QPR’s first goal in their 3-2 defeat of West Brom in the 1967 League Cup final. Ian, a right-winger who later switched to midfield, missed out at Wembley but was an ever-present the following season when Rangers were promoted to Division One for the first time. The 1968-69 season was a disaster, however, with the club setting a record low total of 18 points. Roger moved to Spurs in February 1969, where he made a major sartorial impact as the first member of their squad to wear a kipper tie. He played his last match aged 25 in 1971. Ian stayed at QPR until 1972 before a brief spell at Watford which was also ended by injury. Both twins became coaches after their early retirement and are still involved with youth football in London. (The other top tier twins that we can think of are the Futchers, Ron and Paul, at Luton and Man City, and the Wallaces, Rod and Ray, with Southampton.)

Contribute to the Weekly Howl
If you’ve met a footballer, seen any Wikipedia vandalism or if there’s anything else you want to get off you chest, we’d like to hear from youu ~ drop us a line at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Related articles

The best and worst moments of 2017 ~ part one
Embed from Getty Images // From Scotland’s failures to the triumph of England’s Under-17s, via John Terry, astounding Cup runs and...
Euro 2016 tactical genius ~ Republic of Ireland
Roy Keane was key to the Republic of Ireland's run to the last 16 at Euro 2016. By Tim Bradford, from WSC 354...