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11 March 2011 ~

Protest movements are spreading around the world so it's only right that people in the UK should join in Arsène Wenger's call for action against the "arrogant dictators of UEFA". Marchers will assemble outside Arsène's house at 11am tomorrow and head for UEFA headquarters in Nyon. Bring a snood to identify yourself – packed lunches will be provided.

Badge of the week ~ Lampang FC, Thailand
A tiny and imperious local government official was late for a meeting at which he was to cast a potentially decisive vote. His driver was hurtling along when a football – the erratic, flyaway type of ball commonly seen in beach kickabouts and World Cup finals – bounced into the path of the carriage, which overturned. Mildly concussed, the official missed the meeting which was to discuss knocking down a community sports stadium and building "subtly stylish sea-view lofts" on the vacant land. Local sceptics had suggested that the official might even benefit personally from the project. The vote was held without him and the sports facility survived. The local football club, tenants of the stadium, decided to commemorate the happy accident on their badge. The tiny and imperious local government official has since developed a visceral hatred of football, which he exercises as a member of FIFA's executive committee.

from Chris Manning
"Continuing the debate on entertaining perimeter advertising, at the Reebok behind the away end goal is a board which, from my seat in the East Stand, simply reads NIPPLE SHOP and TOTAL LUBRICATION SUPPLIES. Now I know (after doing some research) that in fact it is actually a board advertising The Nipple Shop and their collection of engineering products.
I only found this out after bothering to look it up, for a few years I was imagining some bizarre plastic surgery suppliers who, no doubt realising that the WAG market was lucrative, had decided to advertise at a Premier League ground. I think I prefer the reality."

Getting shirty Notable kits of yesteryear

Hearts home, 2005-06
Hearts' majority shareholder Vladimir Romanov complained to kit sponsors Hummel about the quality of the 2005-06 kit but I found it aesthetically pleasing. Hummel logos down the sides were the only white in an otherwise maroon design. The shirt looked even better when combined with maroon shorts (rather than the usual white) which also featured the same arrow-head shapes. The sponsor Ukio Bankas is the Lithuanian bank of which Romanov is also a major shareholder and still adorns the shirts today.

Romanov splashed out in the summer of 2005, bringing in Edgarus Jankauskas, a Champions League winner with Porto, and Takis Fyssas from Greece's Euro 2004-winning side, along with the likes of Rudi Skacel and Roman Bednar. Skacel scored in every one of his first seven games and the side were top after ten matches, their only dropped points coming in a draw at Celtic Park. This was not enough to save manager George Burley's job, however. Form dipped under his replacement Graham Rix and the league title was out of reach after a 3-2 defeat to Celtic on New Year's Day.

Romanov made as many headlines as his team, reportedly asking for explanations as to why certain players were selected and other overlooked (usually the Lithuanians). He also made periodic outbursts against the media and the "Glasgow mafia". Hearts fans have fond memories of the season, though, as it culminated in a Scottish Cup final victory over Gretna. Craig Cairns

from Ernst Bouwes
"If anyone tries to tell you that Ricardo Carvalho needs to smarten up, direct them to his Wikipedia page."

This week in history ~ Division One, March 12, 1966


Liverpool won the League by six points and set a record in using just 14 players, including midfielder Bobby Graham who only played one match. (Aston Villa equalled this record when winning the League in 1980-81.) Clubs had been allowed to use one substitute from the start of the previous season but Liverpool's 12th man was only called upon three times.

Among the five Liverpool ever-presents were winger Ian Callaghan and defender Tommy Smith who were both in the team that won the European Cup 11 years later. Liverpool reached their first European final this season, losing the Cup-Winners Cup 2-1 in extra time to Borussia Dortmund.

Leeds had games in hand owing to their run in the Fairs Cup (the forerunner of the Europa League) in which they eventually lost a semi-final replay to Real Zaragoza. Four defeats in their last 11 games, including twice to Blackpool, put paid to any hopes they had of catching Liverpool. The goals against Leicester were scored by their central defenders, Jack Charlton, who got two, and Norman Hunter.

Burnley finished joint second with Leeds but missed the runners-up spot on goal average. Scottish winger Willie Morgan, later with Man Utd, scored their winner against Newcastle. Renowned for producing their own players, Burnley had finished in the top half of the table in every season bar one since 1952-53 and had been champions six years earlier. After this season they went into a steep decline and were relegated in 1970-71. Their Northern Ireland striker Willie Irvine was the division's second-top scorer on 29 goals, one behind Roger Hunt of Liverpool.

Northampton Town were playing in their only top-flight season to date having been promoted three times in five years. They went down with 33 points, a record for a relegated team, two behind nearest rivals Fulham whose 4-2 win at the County Ground in the 40th fixture proved to be decisive. Northampton then went through the divisions in the other direction and were back at the fourth level by 1969.

Despite having three England internationals in their regular line-up, Blackburn finished 13 points adrift at the bottom after losing 11 of the last 12 games. Their final four home matches were watched by crowds of under 8,000 – the lowest run of attendances for any team in Division One since the 1930s.

Everton's goal in their win at Arsenal was scored by centre-forward Fred Pickering. He was injured for a fortnight in April and missed the FA Cup semi-final win against Man Utd. The player who replaced him, Mike Trebilcock, who had been signed from Plymouth in January, kept his place for the final and scored twice as Everton came back from two down to beat Sheffield Wednesday 3-2. Trebilcock only played 11 league games for Everton before moving to Portsmouth 18 months later.


from Brad Woodhouse
"I see that Birmingham City fans made a resoundingly unsuccessful attempt to stage a demonstration in protest at the lack of an official parade to mark their Carling Cup triumph."

Stickipedia A mine of information constructed from sticker cards

Tommy Hutchison, Manchester City FKS Soccer 82
"I wish I'd thought of Tommy Hutchison," said Malcolm Allison reflecting on being sacked by Manchester City while the BBC were making a documentary about the club in 1980. Scottish winger Hutchison was one of several players brought in by Allison's successor, John Bond, who lifted the club out of the relegation zone – they had just four points from eight games when Allison was dismissed – and took them to the FA Cup final. If City reach the semi-final this weekend it will be their best Cup run since that season.

A rare headed goal by Hutchison looked likely to have won the trophy for City – until a fluky deflection off his shoulder nine minutes from time gave Spurs a draw, and their replay win was sealed by Ricky Villa's famous goal. A member of Scotland 1974 World Cup squad, Hutchison was already 33 when he moved to City from Coventry but he played in League football for another ten years. He made his last appearance with Swansea in 1990 before spending another four years in non-League with Merthyr Tydfil. City's failure to hold out for the last few minutes at Wembley meant that the 1971 Anglo-Italian Cup, which he won with Blackpool, was the only trophy of Hutchison's career.

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