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4 March 2011 ~
Sir Alex Ferguson is refusing to speak to MUTV who aired in full the interview he gave after the controversial defeat at Chelsea. From now on he'll be using a spokesman for all his important conversations. So Mike Phelan will be dealing with the paperboy, the shifty-looking fellow on the pension counter at the Post Office and Mrs Ferguson.
Badge of the week ~ FCM Targu Mures, Romania
Last week's badge was all about lines. No pictures, just lines. It was utterly shocking. This week's badge is at the other end of the design spectrum. Targu Mures hope to intimidate the opposition with this image of an armed bear. In the olden days – that is pre-Premier League – errant knights would roam the hills and valleys of Romania, either seeking adventure and remuneration from the local landowner or, in some cases, preying on the weak and infirm. It is often hard to spot the difference between the weak and the infirm, but, as a rule of thumb, it is the infirm who are wandering about late at night dressed only in a car coat.
It soon became apparent that some of these opportunist knights were bears. This was bad news for the frightened Romanian villagers. Meeting a bear in the wild was bad enough, but they at least knew they could ward it off by fiddling with polystyrene or imitating the vocal inflections of Heather Small. But an armed bear – this would have been hard to prepare against. It was probably not the best time to be a Romanian villager. The bear in the picture is just about to hack down the halogen spotlights simply because he doesn't understand them. Cameron Carter
from Carl Gordon
"Some wise words underneath this footage of a Colombian player who administered a fatal kick to an opponent's owl mascot: 'Most serial killers start by killing small animals.' (Warning: not to be viewed by those with a sensitive disposition.)"
Getting shirty Notable kits of yesteryear
Tranmere Rovers home, 1999-2000
To this day I don't know why Tranmere converted from a customary all-white strip to this pinstripe monstrosity, made worse by the fact that it had a colour scheme similar to that of our then fiercest rivals Bolton. It was also the first season in which squad numbers and names appeared on the back of players' shirts in the Football League. All of this change proved to be rather disconcerting, not least the migraine-inducing effect where blood-red numbers and letters contrasted with our new navy stripes.
Patrick, who had made a brief comeback into the world of kit manufacturing, had form in messing with tradition as they did away with Southampton's classic stripes – although this at least coincided with a golden era for them. Coincidentally, an appearance in the League Cup final and massive press coverage following Clint Hill's "substitution" after we beat Sunderland in the FA Cup meant that these were heady days at Prenton Park.
And yet, I yearned for the days of former manager Johnny King, where we would get the ball on the deck, as our style had become somewhat direct, not aided by a god-awful playing surface. There was also the constant selection of Dave Challinor despite the fact that he was severely lacking as a centre-half. Challinor's long throw-ins were a high-profile weapon but, contrary to popular belief, not all of our goals came as a result of his missiles.
John Aldridge's high-tempo style had seen us hit a purple patch at the turn of the Millennium but after both of our cup runs ended in successive weeks we began to look physically spent and the season ended in an anti-climactic home defeat to Crystal Palace, who would come back slightly less than a year later to send us down into the old Division Two. Rob Fitzgerald
from Robin Foot
"Following on from observations on the troubles of missing letters in advertising at football matches, it reminded me of a visit to Brighton's Goldstone Ground during Reading's 1993-94 promotion season. From the vantage point of the away terrace, behind the goal to our right there was clearly an advert for Sandtex Pants. As I was on my own, I had no one to mention this to and thought better of starting a conversation about the marketing strategy of what appeared to be a course-grain underwear manufacturer.
As the teams came out, it was further noticeable that Sandtex were the Brighton shirt sponsors. At this point, a loud phalanx of teenagers arrived on the terrace behind me. A couple of the group took up a rendition of 'You're pants and you know you are', but met only with bewilderment from the rest of their collective. When they explained the song related to the hoarding behind the goal, it was pointed out that it clearly read Sandtex Paints. On craning my neck a few inches, it became clear that the 'i' of paints was neatly obscured by the far goalpost.
The internet tells me that Sandtex are still going strong and are 'the UK's no 1 exterior masonry paint brand, developed by experts', though I'm not sure to what extent the building trade is troubled by amateur masonry paint developers. Footage of a similar advertising but at the opposite end of the ground can be seen in this clip. There may be images of the hoarding at the other end, but there is only so much blurred VHS footage of Phil Stant I can bear to sit through."
This week in history ~ Scottish Division One March 4, 1972
Rangers manager Walter Smith recently supported calls for expanding the top level of the Scottish league, saying that he was "sick and tired of visiting the same grounds all the time". Clubs have played each other more than twice a season since a ten-team Premier League was launched in 1975-76, with the aim of improving the standard of competition.
While the top sides did tend to have lot of easy games in an 18-team league they could still come unstuck against modest opposition. Rangers' 11 defeats this season included losing at home to Morton and bottom club Dunfermline. They finished third, 16 points behind champions Celtic. The goals in their win at Kilmarnock came from full-back Sandy Jardine and midfielder Alfie Conn, who later played for Celtic after a spell with Spurs.
This was Celtic's seventh successive title, part of a record nine in a row which was to be matched by Rangers from 1988-89 onwards. Both of the goals in their defeat of Ayr Utd were scored by John "Dixie" Deans who finished as the club's top scorer on 19, two ahead of 20-year-old Kenny Dalglish. Deans scored a hat-trick in the Scottish Cup final in which Hibs were thrashed 6-1, but he missed the decisive penalty when Celtic lost 5-4 to Inter in a shootout in the European Cup semi-final.
Aberdeen kept pace with Celtic with a run of nine wins in ten games in the autumn but they won only one of the last five matches and finished ten points behind the champions. Striker Joe Harper was the league's top scorer with 33 goals. He joined Everton later in 1972 but returned home after 18 months. A regular scorer throughout his career, Harper only won four caps for Scotland, one of which was in the 1978 World Cup finals.
Partick Thistle took the season's other major trophy, beating Celtic 4-1 in the League Cup final. Their goals against Aberdeen were scored by midfielder Ronnie Glavin, later a cult favourite at Barnsley, and left-back Alex Forsyth, who subsequently joined Man Utd. Partick's keeper Alan Rough was to be Scotland's number one for nearly a decade.
Clyde took the second relegation spot, two points ahead of Dunfermline, after drawing five of their last six games. For their nearest rivals East Fife a 1-0 win at St Johnstone in the penultimate match proved decisive. Clyde were promoted back straight away but 1974-75 was their last season to date at the top level. In 1994 they quit their ground in Shawfield, south Glasgow, for the new town of Cumbernauld.
"Frank Sinclair's Wikipedia entry offers a charming insight into his hobbies."
Stickipedia A mine of information constructed from sticker cards
Don Rogers, Swindon Town Wonderful World of Soccer Stars, 1970-71
Arsenal have now been beaten in five League Cup finals. While their defeat to Birmingham last week was a surprise it doesn't compare for shock value with the 1969 final, when they lost to Swindon Town on a Wembley pitch churned into mud by a Horse of the Year show. Arsenal finished fourth in Division One that year while Swindon were in the process of being promoted from the third level. Their Wembley hero was left winger Don Rogers, who scored twice in extra time to seal a 3-1 win. Widely regarded as one of the best players outside the top level for several years, Rogers was 27 when he finally moved up to Division One with Crystal Palace in 1972, by which time he had grown a luxuriant moustache.
Palace went down in Rogers's first season but he was the star performer in a televised thrashing of Man Utd that led to the sacking of the latter's manager Frank O'Farrell. The Scotland boss Tommy Docherty, who was at Selhurst Park in a scouting role, was offered O'Farrell's job by United directors during the game. After a spell with QPR, Rogers retuned to Swindon in 1975 but had to retire due to injury shortly afterwards. One of the stands at the County Ground is named after him.
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