Players

Most Middlesbrough fans would be pleased about the form of a new signing. Not Harry Pearson though

There is an Abbot and Costello routine that runs along the lines: “You should never marry a pretty girl.” “Why not?” “She could leave you.” “An ugly girl could leave you too.” “Yeah, but who cares?” 

A goalkeeping blunder can be remebered more by fans then a 40-yard screamer. Cris Freddi takes us through some of the more memorable howlers

Let’s start with goalkeeping errors that decided FA Cup finals, shall we? There are enough for an article of their own. The most famous of all was perpetrated by a Welshman playing against a Welsh team, back in 1927. When Cardiff’s Scottish centre-forward Hugh Ferguson hit an ordinary ground shot from the edge of the area, Arsenal’s Dan Lewis had time to go down on one knee and scoop the ball into his midriff.

WSC Readers share their encounters with footballing stars past and present

One lunchtime I needed to get some of my work clothes cleaned so I carried them around to the nearest dry cleaners. In front of me was a large blond guy. I wasn’t paying much attention to him until the person behind the counter asked for his name. “Gottskalksson” he replied. Looking up, I suddenly realised that I was standing next to the Hibs goalie. The dry cleaning man handed him his change, which Ole promptly spilled onto the floor of the shop. Just the sort of performance that relegated Hibs that year. Doug Bell

Match-fixing has always been in football. Simon Craig looks at the murky history

The lights went out at Upton Park and at Selhurst, and might yet have followed suit at The Valley and up to eight other grounds over the country.

After an unhappy year in Japan and his recent retirement from the Bulgarian national team, could a move to Watford be on the cards for Hristo Stoichkov?  Mark McQuinn weighs up his options

As Hristo Stoichkov left the field 16 minutes before the end of the European Championship qualifier against England in Sofia on June 9, the prolonged and passionate applause from his adoring public showed more clearly and touchingly than the post-match eulogies what “The Dog” means to his people.

WSC readers keep spotting players in the unlikliest places...

I was humbled when Archie Gemmill spotted me driving into the Forest car park to fetch some tickets, at what he regarded as an excessive speed. Before I had had a chance to park and get out of the car he ran over to me, told me to wind down the window and called me “a bloody moron”, before turning and walking away. James Crosby

Ronald Reng explains why he's still waiting for English attitudes to foreign players change

In the crowded toilet of a Barnsley nightspot called The Theatre I learned what it means to be a foreign football hero in England. As I walked in with Lars Leese, Barnsley’s giant German goalkeeper, one of the men relieving themselves turned around and wel­comed Lars with a hint of poetry: “Oh, Lars Leese/Tall as trees.” Then the man gently stepped back to offer Lars his place at the urinal. During all this he kept on pissing, now on the floor.

Like it or not, more foreigners are on their way. Guy Osborn and Steve Greenfield explain the new work permit rules in the pipeline

The argument that too many foreigners are ruining British football often revolves around quality rather than quantity. By common consent the likes of Ginola, Zola and Stam have made a positive contribution to the Premier League but there are many others who could be regarded as journeymen. It is this influx, the critics argue, that is devaluing the national character of the game and denying domestic players opportunities. Changes now being considered by the Department of Education and Employment may result in even greater numbers of overseas players coming into the country.

Csaba Abrahall explains how Mauricio Taricco went from unknown to hero during his time at Portman Road

When John Lyall was in South America in the summer of 1994, searching for new recruits to join Ipswich Town’s impending relegation battle, some national papers suggested Gabriel Batistuta was set to arrive at Portman Road. Those of us who knew better laughed off this fanciful notion, yet, had Town some­how found the millions to persuade Batigol and his flowing locks to swap the Ponte Vecchio for the Orwell Bridge, it’s unlikely he would have been as popular as the unknown full-back Lyall brought back for £175,000.

Doug Stenhouse reveals how Berwick Rangers midfielder Martin Neil's recent admission of drug binges has highlighted a worrying statistic in regard to the SFA's random drug testing policy

The headlines were all too sadly familiar. Once more a professional footballer had gone off the rails and was seeking help for his addiction. This time, the situation is different however, in that this is no superstar with plenty of money and free time. This is the story of Martin Neil, a part-time player in the Scottish Third Division who has admitted to taking a variety of illegal drugs for the past 12 years of his playing career.

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