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18 February 2011 ~
Michel Platini wanted the Champions League final to be moved to Saturday so that more children could attend. The cheapest ticket for this year's game at Wembley is £150 plus a £26 "administration fee". So that's just for the children of Barclays bank executives, Russian oligarchs and deposed Middle Eastern autocrats, then.
Badge of the week ~ Pattaya United FC, Thailand
I know what you're thinking – another bleeding cetacean. We had a mostly-out-of-shot whale three weeks ago, the badge designer having opted for the daringly elliptical approach of depicting merely the departing tail and splash of his subject. Here, however, we have the subject centre stage, in full crowd-pleasing action pose. This is precisely the type of dolphin you would expect to see in any Ocean World Fun Park, balancing balls on its head, jumping through hoops and tottering along the surface for fish. This is a corporate, on-message cetacean. An Uncle Tom dolphin, posing for the camera in such a way as to perpetuate centuries of received wisdom of his kind as non-threatening human sidekick and anti-depressant aqua-buddy. This view of the dolphin is a relatively modern one, originating, it is widely thought, in a Victorian text by the Reverend AK Minton, Some Brief Notes on the Relative Approachability of Dolphins and Tiger Sharks. The Ancient Greeks believed dolphins were arseholes. Cameron Carter
from Duncan Nisbet
"I'm not in the habit of reading the letters page in the Daily Mail. But I did happen to see this the other day: a reader commending David Sullivan for his 'amazing claret-coloured smoking jacket' and suggesting that 'no one has worn this kind of garment with such confidence since Jon Pertwee in his Seventies Doctor Who heyday'. I beg to differ – as ever Sullivan looks like a tubby boy who is trying on dad's clothes. Though it is at least an improvement on the old Soviet army hat and overcoat he favoured while at Birmingham. I think it was in an old WSC letters column that someone said the coat was so long you couldn't see his feet when he walked, so he appeared to be gliding along like a Dalek."
from Joe McDermott
"Following on from Tony Cole's observations on the troubles of missing letters in advertising at football matches in last week's Howl I was reminded of a Villa-Newcastle game I saw a few years ago. After being 1-0 up in the first few minutes through Michael Owen, the visitors proceeded to lose to four second-half goals. With the early afternoon sun high in the sky those of us in the away end could see little of the wave after wave of Aston Villa attacks. In any case, my attention was drawn to the advertising hoarding that seemed to be promoting 'SExchange'. Having seen the same advertising at grounds since, it seems a steward had positioned himself in front of the 'eat' of 'Seat Exchange'. I would look up the website to explain the real product behind this advertising, but fear that doing so from my work computer would lead to a disciplinary."
Getting shirty Notable kits of yesteryear
Arsenal home, 1986-88
Like Sharp and Crown Paints, JVC only really signifies one thing to football fans of a certain age. Rather than consumer electronics giant Victor Company of Japan, the initials conjure up images of the happy naivety of pre-Italia 90 football and more specifically the heady early days of George Graham's Arsenal. Back in 1987 shorts were extremely short, Charlie Nicholas was one of those people who thought it fashionable to look exactly like Bono and Arsenal were so unsuccessful they took the League Cup seriously (hard to imagine now).
Thanks to some old-school wing wizardry from Perry "Tintin" Groves, and two glorious Bono tap-ins, Arsenal beat Kenny Dalglish's Liverpool to win the Littlewoods Cup, their first trophy for eight years. Kenny Sansom lifted the trophy in the Wembley sunshine, wearing one of those de rigueur nylon flat-cap things and one of football's last great moustaches.
Arsenal took the competition so seriously they were back at Wembley the following year, in the same kit, but lost 3-2 to Luton Town after Nigel Winterburn fluffed his only ever penalty. To most, this shirt represents the start of the George Graham era: Nicholas, Groves, Martin Hayes and Gus Caesar, Niall Quinn's spectacular mullet and very shiny tracksuits. Damian Hall
from Tom Hible
"Those people who push for a winter break in football might be interested in the results of one such experiment this year. After the December 18 trip (and 5-1 mauling) to Exeter, a combination of snow at away grounds and exploded pipes at Hillsborough resulted in all Sheffield Wednesday's games being called off till January 3 and a trip to Huddersfield.
That game ended in a 1-0 defeat and critics blamed a lack of match practice for the then automatic promotion chasers. Since then, however, Wednesday have gone a further seven league games without a win, up to and including Tuesday's 3-0 defeat at Tranmere. This sequence included the 'fresher' players only just drawing 2-2 at home against both a nine-man Yeovil and a nine-man MK Dons, and losing 5-3 at Peterborough after leading three times.
Still, the break seems to have worked in the FA Cup, as the Owls won 3-0 at Bristol City before overcoming Hereford 4-1. With a trip to St Andrew's in the fifth round on Saturday, Wednesday will presumably want to stay in – if only to avoid the break."
from Alasdair Thomson
"The Wikipedia profile of Dunfermline Athletic's chairman John Yorkston is a mine of information, including the following."
from Rob Weston
"The sage advice Garth Crooks once offered to a clearly perturbed Richard Littlejohn has been turned into a song. You'll notice that Garth speeded up sounds just like Mark Bright."
Stickipedia A mine of information constructed from sticker cards
Alan Mullery, Tottenham Hotspur Wonderful World of Soccer Stars, 1971-72
Alan Mullery scored the decisive goal in Spurs' previous European meeting with AC Milan in the semi-final of the UEFA Cup in 1971-72. With his side holding a 2-1 lead from the first leg at White Hart Lane, Mullery's strike earned them a 1-1 draw. Earlier in the competition the Spurs players' wives had been promised a club-funded trip to the away leg of the final if the team made it. So they will have relished a trip to Wolverhampton. It was the only all-English European club final until Chelsea v Man Utd in Moscow in 2008. Mullery also scored in the home leg of the final which Spurs won 3-2 on aggregate.
Although he had recently been an England regular – the only goal he scored in 35 international appearances was in the 1970 World Cup quarter-final – Mullery lost his place at Spurs during 1971-72 and went on loan to his first club, Fulham; he came back in April just before the UEFA Cup semi-final. He signed for Fulham in the summer of 1972 and played a key role in their run to the FA Cup final in 1975. He also scored Match of the Day's goal of the season while at Craven Cottage.
Mullery later had a successful spell in management with Brighton and less happy times at Charlton and QPR. The latter equalled a European record while in his charge by losing a four-goal lead in a UEFA Cup tie – 6-2 up from the first leg against Partizan Belgrade, they lost 4-0 in the return. Mullery has since worked as a TV and radio pundit while supplementing his income by driving a minicab in Surrey (startled to recognise their driver, one of his fares sent a letter to WSC).
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