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23 April 2010 ~

Earlier this week the Sun came up with some "incredible parallels" between 1966 and 2010 that they believe bode well for England's bid to win the World Cup. One is: "In 1966, in South Africa, the white 'architect of apartheid' PM Hendrik Verwoerd was knifed to death. In 2010, South African white supremacist Eugene Terreblanche was knifed and beaten to death." That does seem like a good omen. Indeed, it's one that has propelled us into making a hefty wager on Fabio Capello's men. Unlike Eugene Terreblanche, we are now looking forward to the summer.

Badge of the week ~ FK Rad Belgrade
This is a quite startlingly enigmatic image at first viewing. Fortunately we have a nice friendly football for our eye to alight on. Using this as a firm platform, we can then address the rest of the spectacle with confidence. Is the central image a paper-clip, fiddled with by a distracted admin worker during a slow afternoon? Or is it a stylised rendition of a holy arched doorway, the room we are in shrouded in darkness with just the outline of light from where a monk has left the door ajar? You would have thought the monks would be aware of the draught created by leaving doors ajar after several years in the monastery. Furthermore, some of their colleagues are working painstakingly on the copying of manuscripts by hand and intricate illustrations and to keep getting up and closing the door every time someone leaves the room would eventually add months to the publication date. Or is it a shepherd's crook? In the badge world we often say There Are More Questions Than Answers. And why is the third letter on the bottom left in a different font? It is like the badge equivalent of an episode of The Prisoner. Cameron Carter

from Richard Mason
"I feel that I should point out that Atalanta, as featured in badge of the week for April 16, are named after the Greek goddess of running, and the team's nickname is La Dea (the Goddess). Therefore the first badge, despite all the evidence to the contrary, is surely of a naked woman, albeit a somewhat hairy one. But then she was a famous wrestler and a huntress as well as a runner, and maybe the designer took this into account when portraying her."

Getting shirty
Notable kits of yesteryear

St Mirren home, 1987-89
In 1977 a young Alex Ferguson took his even younger St Mirren team into the top flight of Scottish football. A decade-long period of comparative success kickstarted by "Fergie's Furies" culminated in the Scottish Cup final victory over UEFA Cup finalists Dundee Utd. Sartorially, this decade was a success as well, with a series of great kits from the giants of Umbro and Adidas being St Mirren's colours, all with a variation on the famous black and white stripes.

Flush from the Hampden triumph, the summer of 1987 was full of optimism for the Buddies support. The sign that this was about to go horribly wrong came with the launch of the new kit. Gone was the natty shadow-stripe Adidas kit, and in came a hideous top from unknown manufacturer Matchwinner. Team captain Billy Abercromby said the players reaction was "one of laughter… until it dawned we would be wearing it". Derision was heaped by media pundits and rival fans, with most Saints fans wondering who the hell was responsible for the vile design: black and white candy-stripe panels, topped off with a white panel for sponsors and badges. The top is still referred to as "the bib", and the period 87-89 often referred to as "the bib era".

Twelve months after winning the cup, and the huge expectations that followed, manager Alex Smith had been sacked, with Tony Fitzpatrick and Frank McGarvey taking over just in time to avoid relegation. Photos of "Fitzy" dancing with joy in his bib at a rare away win at Tynecastle that kept Saints up are strangely missing from the walls of the New St Mirren Park. Fraser Kirkwood

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from Neal Widdows
"I was struck by Crystal Palace captain Shaun Derry's revelation about his side's post-match rituals after they had grabbed a late draw at Derby last Saturday: 'We try to get whatever food we can down us after a game like this. We've eaten all sorts on the way home this season and I'm sure a good KFC won't do us any harm right now. A lot of studies have shown it doesn't really matter what you eat after a game – you'll burn off anything. And to eat pasta, pasta, pasta all the time just does your tits in.' Is the latter a medical term? Arsène Wenger should take note anyhow."

from Stuart Saint
"Can anyone confirm Wikipedia's claim regarding folk hero Temuri 'Say No To Stadium Advertising' Ketsbaia?

Just in case you haven't seen it, we are compelled to recommend Andrei Arshavin's latest question and answer session with his online fans.

Stickipedia A mine of information constructed from sticker cards

Allan Clarke, Leeds Utd Wonderful World of Soccer Stars 1970-71
There are a couple of things that are widely known about Allan Clarke beyond the fact that he was a striker for Don Revie's Leeds in their heyday. One is that he's a dead ringer, especially in later years, for Mark E Smith. The second is that he was one of five brothers, all forwards, who made League appearances. Frank, the oldest, began with Shrewsbury in 1962; Wayne, the youngest, won a League title with Everton in 1986-87. Allan, the second brother, was the only one to win international caps. Indeed, he was the last uncapped England player to make his debut in a World Cup finals; he scored the only goal, a penalty, in a group game against Czechoslovakia in 1970. His last international goal was also from the spot, in the 1-1 draw in October 1973 that cost England a place at the 1974 World Cup.

Since Clarke's time, Scott Carson and Theo Walcott were untried inclusions in the 2006 squad but neither made their full debut until after the tournament. Those making a case for the uncapped Bobby Zamora to be given a chance in 2010 may be aware that Sir Alf Ramsey – the England manager to whom Fabio Capello is most often compared – wasn't averse to bringing in relative novices. Two of the other forwards in the 1970 squad, Jeff Astle and Peter Osgood, had only four caps between them at the start of the tournament. Four years earlier winger Ian Callaghan was making only his third appearance when he started against France, while his Liverpool team-mate, full-back Gerry Byrne, was also a World Cup winner despite only picking up two caps. Before Ramsey's time, five players who never won a full cap were in finals squads. One of these, in 1958, was West Brom midfielder Maurice Setters who went to two subsequent World Cups as Jack Charlton's assistant with the Republic of Ireland.

Finally we should mention Glentoran winger Johnny Jameson. He was in Northern Ireland's Spain 82 squad but turned down a chance to make his international debut in the second-round game against France on religious grounds. The game was to be played on a Sunday and the Protestant church of which Jameson was a member forbade activity on that day. He never got another call-up.

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