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28 January 2011 ~

Richard Keys's performance on Talk Sport on Wednesday was reminiscent of Alan Partridge in his prime. Now that he's available for work we're in discussions about a daily show, Midday Mea Culpa And A Cuppa With Keysie. The buzz we're getting from sources close to Richard is that he's pumped about it, or possibly stoked (it was a bad line).

Badge of the week ~ Sandefjord Fotball, Norway
Quite a rare approach in the badge design world, using, as it does, the Implied Image approach. This is not a new technique – in the late 19th century cave paintings were discovered in northern France depicting a Neanderthal man pointing and laughing at a poorly made decorative object which is mostly out of shot. It is, however, rather a daring design in the sense that many people in the Sandefjord region would have liked to have seen the whole whale on their club's crest, a symbol of power and largeness that one might wear with pride. It is not every town, after all, that is built close to whales.

In this case, the designer has opted for the more subtle approach of the whale-just-leaving. Here is a whale who doesn't have time to hang about sunning itself, but is in a hurry to move on to new feeding grounds or to spawn perhaps, or if it has spawned in the last 30 minutes or so, to go for a sleep. While we miss the majesty and grandeur of the full picture here, we do almost feel the enormity of flesh, hear the splash of re-entry, sense the presence of Robson Green on a paid-for jolly with his hired hands helping him reel in anything bigger than a pollock. Cameron Carter

Confusion during the draw for the sixth round of the Irish Cup last Saturday when it seemed for a moment that the number ten ball had been drawn out twice (in fact it was the number six the first time). Every cup draw should end with a guffaw like this

Getting shirty Notable kits of yesteryear

Bristol City home, 1996-97
After nearly a decade of stripes, flecks and background designs, the shirt worn by Bristol City in their centenary season of 1996-97 was an uncomplicated affair, and loved all the more by supporters for being so. Kit manufacturers Lotto favoured a traditional style of plain red, with white trim visible only on the cuffs and collar. The only thing lacking was a return to the popular badge picturing a robin atop a ball with the Clifton Suspension Bridge in the background that adorned the shirt from 1976 to 1994.

On the pitch, a stuttering start to the season saw City hover around in mid-table until a post-Christmas run lifted them into the reckoning. A slump followed in early spring costing Joe Jordan his job as manager, and a play-off spot was only secured after a late charge of five successive wins, but defeats home and away to Brentford meant an anti-climactic season finale. Promotion was secured the following season, albeit in an unsightly shirt that suggested Lotto had left design plans in the hands of students on work experience. Mo Davies

from Derek McKenzie

"I am happy to confirm the goalscorers in last week's Highland League fixture at Brora Rangers as mentioned in last week's Howl. Sean Keith scored twice, Cammy Keith scored once as Keith won 3-0. I'm reminded of the occasion back in 1996 when Keith (the club that is) progressed to the third round of the Scottish Cup and were drawn to play Rangers. The game was switched from Kynoch Park to Pittodrie. Rangers won rather comfortably – by ten goals to one. There were a few comments doing the rounds after that match along the lines of 'Keith should have brought his mates along to help him'." 

from Alex Anderson
"When they rebuilt and renamed one of the most iconic stadiums in world football the Swiss FA probably hoped Wikipedia would try to sell the new venue to a wider demographic than just lovers of cocktails.."

from Mike Ticher
"Check out the lonely comment under this interview with Uzbekistan coach Vadim Abramov – his moustache, pinstripes and comedy defending team have been among the highlights of the 2011 Asian Cup."

from Ross Burton
"Several reporters looked for a way to mention Harry Redknapp's recent mugging in Madrid but the most strained attempt was surely by Paul Jiggins in the Sun. Also, Fagin was the mastermind of the pickpockets gang – he didn't do any of the thieving himself."

Stickipedia A mine of information constructed from sticker cards

Andy Gray, Aston Villa
Panini Football 78
In the post mortem following Scotland's elimination from the 1978 World Cup finals, one of the main criticisms of manager Ally MacLeod was his failure to select Andy Gray, at the time one of the best strikers playing in the English league. Other Scotland managers seemed to share MacLeod's doubts as Gray's 20 international caps were spread over a decade and he never played in a major tournament (although injury ruled him out of the 1982 finals).

Despite his shaky knowledge of the offside law, Gray was a consistent goalscorer for over a decade. In 1976-77, his first full season with Villa after joining them from Dundee Utd, he won both the PFA Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year awards – only Cristiano Ronaldo has done so since. Although Gray had his greatest successes with Everton, winning both the League and European Cup-Winners Cup in 1984-85, Villa are the club he is most closely associated with. He was the top scorer in Division One in 1976-77 with 25 goals as Villa won the League Cup, and bettered that with 29 the following season.

A shock move to Wolves in 1979 for a British record £1.5 million worked out for both clubs – Gray scored the only goal of the 1980 League Cup final as Wolves beat Nottingham Forest, and his ultimate replacement, Peter Withe, top scored in Villa's 1980-81 Championship-winning side and got the winner in the European Cup final the following season.

Villa were in decline when Gray retuned in 1985 and they went down two years later. In his final season as a professional he won the 1988-89 Scottish title with his boyhood team Rangers. When Gray signed for Wolves, he said: "I'd like finish my career at Molineux." And now he has.

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