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14 January 2011 ~

Why does the media spend so much time discussing David Beckham's every breathing moment? Join us this afternoon when we'll be debating this on our regular Beckscast. This week's guests: a Beckham lookalike, some bloke from Leytonstone who went to school with him, and latest Sunderland target Dave Miliband.

Badge of the week ~ Skenderbeu Korce, Albania
What kind of man – or woman, for that matter – takes on a commission to design a football team's badge, goes away for a few days to his Imagineering room and emerges with an image of a creature half rabbit, half round-topped winter bonnet? Following extensive investigation there still appears to be no culture that will admit to including such an entity in its mythology. There are stories told in the rural north of Albania of a creature half-goat, half Alpine Homburg that inhabits dense forest and forewarns those it encounters of a death in the family or, at the very least, a work-based appraisal. But this is the closest our research gets us to the Skenderbeu icon.

From its expression it doesn't appear to be a terrorising kind of figure, it just appears to be cheerfully off-balance in a strong wind. So it is not obvious what the club are attempting to get across here, unless they are giving us a glimpse of an alternate reality inhabited by mild-mannered grotesques. An absolute enigma. Cameron Carter

You may have heard that Kenny Dalglish has returned to manage Liverpool. So why not mark the momentous occasion with this "Beatles-inspired Revolver style T-shirt" from Love Follow Conquer. "What more of a fitting way to pay tribute to the greatest LFC player," the designers say, "than to illustrate him in the iconic way that paid tribute to the band that changed the music world forever – The Beatles." The obvious joke would be that their next Beatles LP-related shirt design will be based on Help! so we won't say that.

The Legend of Robin Friday. A new 52-page photo-essay by WSC's Roger Titford traces exactly how the legend of "the greatest footballer you never saw" came about and where it's turning into pure myth. It crystallises Friday in his prime, examines the utterly different attitudes to the game existing not that long ago and the fascination that the modern fan has with his era. Gloriously illustrated with the best-ever collection of images of Robin in action. Available now in digital format

Getting shirty Notable kits of yesteryear

FC Wettingen home, 1991-92
Swiss fans have many reasons to remember FC Wettingen. In October 1989, four FCW players were banned for up to a year for kicking and punching referee Bruno Klötzli, after he blew for full-time a split-second before a Wettingen equaliser crossed the line. Three weeks later, only a dubious penalty decision prevented FCW from knocking Diego Maradona’s Napoli out of the UEFA Cup.

Yet the team from the canton of Aargau will also be remembered for two of the worst kits in Swiss football history. In 1990, the now defunct sportswear firm Blacky created a blue and grey home shirt with white and turquoise dribbles that looked like the result of a paintball attack by the paramilitary wing of the Smurfs. Their 1991-92 shirt sought to resolve the vexed question of whether pinstripes or checks were the greater aesthetic abomination by combining them both in the same garment.

To escape Blacky's clutches, Wettingen took the somewhat drastic step of going bankrupt in 1993 with debts of 3.2 million Swiss francs (£2.1m). Having started again at the bottom of the football pyramid, FC Wettingen 93 now play in the fourth tier – in refreshingly unobtrusive blue shirts. Paul Joyce

"I always steam. That's how I am," says Carlton Cole. It's not as though he could deny it.

This week in history ~ Premier League, January 13, 2001


Man Utd led the table from the beginning of September and finished ten points clear of runners-up Arsenal (whom they beat 6-1 at Old Trafford in February). The title would have been won by a bigger margin had United not lost their last three matches; two of their three other defeats were to Liverpool.

Teddy Sheringham was United's top scorer with 15 of their 79 league goals and he got the first at Bradford who had held United for 72 minutes. Ryan Giggs and substitute Luke Chadwick added to the score. Chadwick got 13 England Under-21 caps but spent most of his United career out on loan, making his first-team debut with feeder club Antwerp in 1999.

After their victory at West Ham with goals from Stanislav Varga and Don Hutchison, Peter Reid's Sunderland won only one of their next 12 matches. That solitary win, 4-2 at Chelsea, was the only game in the run in which the previously prolific Kevin Philips scored. Phillips had won the European Golden Boot award for his 30 goals in 1999-2000; he was Sunderland’s top scorer again this season with a more modest total of 14.

Robbie Keane, signed on loan from Inter in December, scored twice for Leeds in their thrashing of Man City with the other goals from Eirik Bakke and Lee Bowyer. Keane completed a £12 million move before the end of a season in which Leeds finished fourth and reached the semi-finals of the Champions League. Prior to their tie with Rafa Benítez's Valencia, the Leeds players shaved their heads to boost team spirit but to little effect – they lost 3-0 on aggregate.

Third-placed Liverpool won the UEFA Cup with a 5-4 defeat of Alaves. They also took both domestic cups, beating Arsenal 2-1 in the FA Cup final through two late goals from Michael Owen and winning a penalty shootout against Birmingham in the Worthington Cup.

John Terry, who had just turned 21, scored his first league goal for Chelsea in their 1-1 draw at Highbury. His team-mate Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink was the Premier League's top marksman with 23, four ahead of Marcus Stewart of newly promoted Ipswich. They finished fifth but went down the following year.

Bradford City were in the bottom three for most of the season and finished adrift on 26 points. Man City and Coventry took the other two relegation places. For Coventry, it was the end of an unbroken run of 34 years at the top level. John Hartson played in their last 12 games after signing from Wimbledon and finished as joint top scorer with six goals alongside Mustapha Hadji and Craig Bellamy.

from Kieran O'Connor
"Until recently Andy Sinton was involved with my home-town club Fleet Town. I can only assume the pastime mentioned on his Wikipedia page started as a means to escape, then grew to something much more."

Stickipedia A mine of information constructed from sticker cards

John Jensen, Arsenal
Merlin's Premier League 94
Blackburn Rovers have failed in their bid to sign Ronaldinho who has returned home to Brazil with Flamengo. But they have recruited an international champion. John Jensen, who became Steve Kean's assistant manager earlier this week, was a member of Denmark's Euro 92 winners. Nicknamed "Faxe" after a brand of beer that was poured over his head in a dressing room initiation, Jensen only scored four times in 69 international appearances, one of which was the opener in the European Championship final.

If Arsenal fans were hoping to see spectacular goals when he joined them after the tournament they were to be disappointed. Jensen scored just once in 97 league games for Arsenal, a consolation in a 3-1 defeat by QPR on December 31, 1994. He was one of the first players to generate imploring cries of "Shoot!" from the crowd whenever he got the ball. Steffen Freund got the same treatment during his 102 goalless games for Spurs, while Everton supporters have long since promised to riot if they get a goal from Tony Hibbert who has only scored in his own net in 210 league appearances. Jensen was effective as a defensive midfielder, however, playing in the Arsenal teams that won both cups in 1992-93, though he missed the following season's Cup-Winners Cup final victory in his native Copenhagen through injury.

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