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20 June 2008 ~

Anyone familiar with Daly’s Law of Creative, Attacking Football will have felt anger rising within them during Euro 2008 whenever a TV commentator has referred to “a weighted pass”. The unenlightened can find out why at the website of coaching theorist Terry Daly, via articles such as “Why BBC Commentators and Analysts are Getting Euro 2008 Wrong” and “Weight – it’s vertical, stupid!”.

Badge of the week
While Roosendaal are a small club with a recent record in the Eredivisie equivalent to Derby’s Premier League misadventure, we should not pityingly let them get away with what passes for their club crest. Resembling one lens of a pair of 1960s Wayfarer sunglasses, the unconventional shape and horrific colour scheme distracts one (with an ocular headache as a by-product) from the unusually unimaginative contents of the image. In fact, the colour combination of deep orange and midnight blue seem almost designed to encourage dormant serial killers to take to the streets at night once more. As the logo reflects the club’s playing colours, one cannot imagine, especially with their recent results, that the Roosendaal dressing-room is a place of serenity. At least Derby have a quieter kit and a nice picture of a Ram to dress up in. Cameron Carter

Historic Football Websites No 9 ~ Eden Books
Growing up in Lincolnshire in the 1970s and 1980s, I was well aware that Lincoln’s full-back Phil Neale was also a top-order batsman for Worcestershire. But I never knew that he’d published a book called A Double Life (Ringpress, 1990). Thanks to the highly browsable sports book website Eden Books, I can buy the item for a tenner, and search for further gems such as Against The World: Playing For England by Kevin Keegan (1979, and so an odd title given that England failed to qualify for the previous year’s World Cup); Felixstowe Town To Wembley by Tony Incenzo (1985 – but don’t we all remember it like it was yesterday?) and the Suburban Football League Handbook 1972-73, an invaluable swotter’s tool for pub trivia quizzes up and down the country courtesy of “the country’s leading dealer in rare football books”. Ian Plenderleith 

You won’t be surprised to learn that Clive Tyldesley’s Wikipedia entry is subject to change on a regular basis. Here’s a recent edit, spotted by Alex Kent.

Tales From The Landesliga ~ No 9

WSC contributor Matt Nation's series about watching lower-league football in Hamburg

Everybody knows what happens when a good big 'un is pitted against a good little 'un. When the big 'un is merely mediocre and the little 'un is downright woeful, as is the case in the game between Hamburg-Eimsbüttel-Ballspiel-Club von 1911 and Fußball-Club Süderelbe von 1949, it’s even easier to predict the outcome.

The guests from south of the river are simply huge. The goalkeeper requires a quantity surveyor’s nod of approval before he’s allowed to enter the six-yard box; the central defenders look like a weight-extrapolated version of the fearsome Förster brothers of the 1980s; the midfielders have skip-sized upper bodies and legs like rolled-up carpets; and the two forwards are at least 6ft 4in whichever way you look at them, with an altitude-induced stoop that affords them a posture similar to that of Bruce Forsyth during the opening seconds of The Generation Game.

HEBC, on the other hand, don't have a single player over 5ft 6in. This wouldn’t be a problem, were it not for their playing style. Although they’ve managed to strike an even balance between Route One and the short-ball game, it’s the weight of the passes that lets them down. Long balls are hit with the force of a supermodel varnishing her toenails, whilst their method of playing a five-yarder along the ground appears to have been adapted from Curtly Ambrose's bowling technique. It’s 20 minutes before they manage to execute a pass that doesn’t arrive at knee height.

They still take the lead just before the break, though, following an act of sheer violence from the left-half. Just as young lads throw light bulbs at walls just to hear them explode or stamp on iced-up puddles so that they don’t look nice anymore, he smashes the ball into a crowded penalty area just to ruin the first string of more than two passes all game. It flies into the bottom corner and the scorer looks slightly disappointed.

And that’s about it. In the second half, Süderelbe realise they’ll win by keeping the ball in the air, so that’s what they do. The goalkeeper punts the ball incessantly to the head of the tallest midfielder, who flicks it on to the fattest forward, who lets it rebound off whatever part of his body it happens to hit and then somebody else shoots. They average a goal attempt a minute, but only manage to score three. HEBC, who were relegated from the Verbandsliga last year and still haven’t acclimatised to the rough-and-tumble of the Landesliga even after 20-odd games, simply don’t know how to cope. They finally settle for squabbling amongst themselves and kicking their smallest opponent, a 5ft 10in left-back, into hospital.

As soon as the final whistle goes, the Under-13s team due on afterwards run onto the pitch. One of them kicks his ball far too hard over the perimeter fence, another boots his straight up in the air, a third tries a behind-the-head flick and falls flat on his face. If a one-club, one-philosophy strategy is good enough for Ajax Amsterdam, it’s clearly good enough for HEBC, too.

The new Conference season is still nearly two months away, but Stevenage Borough are sparing no expense in marketing their new strip for 2008-09.

WSC Trivia ~ No 20
This week Shoot folded after 40 years in existence. As a tribute here are some of our favourite responses to Shoot’s regular Focus On... questionnaire, as featured in WSC 70 (December 1992).
If you weren’t a footballer, what would you be?
A fat factory worker (Peter Reid, Bolton)
A bicycle repairman (John Gregory, QPR)
A burglar (Derek Hales, Charlton)
Miscellaneous dislikes
Arrogance and dancing (Frank Barlow, Sheffield Utd)
Women who smoke (Joe Corrigan, Man City)
Dirty hands, people who know very little but talk a lot, and the Mr & Mrs TV Show (Keith Fear, Bristol City).

A mine of information constructed from sticker cards

Ade Coker, West Ham Utd Wonderful World of Soccer Stars 1972-73
In the 1970s, less than half of the weekend’s top division games were recorded by the BBC or the regional ITV channels. So players could become instantly famous if they made an impact in a recorded match. On October 30, 1971, 17-year-old West Ham striker Ade Coker was carrying the kit hamper into Selhurst Park when he was told by manager Ron Greenwood that he was going to play due to a late injury to Geoff Hurst. In a game covered by London Weekend’s Big Match, Coker scored his side’s opening goal in a 3-0 defeat of Crystal Palace. Born in Lagos but brought up in London, Coker was tipped to become a star in the media blitz prompted by his debut, but it never happened. He featured in another eight matches for West Ham scoring once before moving to the North American Soccer League in 1974. Coker spent a decade in the NASL and, after acquiring American citizenship, played for the US in qualifiers for the 1986 World Cup.

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