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10 June 2011 ~
We like the look of Sepp Blatter's newly convened "council of wisdom" that will be advising the FIFA president following the recent allegations of corruption. So far it comprises Henry Kissinger, Johan Cruyff and Placido Domingo with new nominees set to be announced – the latest word is that roles will be created for Angelina Jolie, Kim Jong-Il and Billy Bingham. They will also require a range of branded clothing – voluminous capes, feathered headdresses and so on – and a theme song, which ought to be a job for Bono.
Badge of the week ~ Zamora FC, Venezuela
The history behind this badge is a terrible one. In the early days of Zamora FC, if a player had a poor game or the manager a winless month, they would receive a memo summoning them to the bunker of club president Generalissimo Zamora. The following morning at about 3am, they would be woken in their home, blindfolded and bundled into a waiting car. On the journey, they would be disorientated by a junior officer on each side giving them conflicting reports of the weather while the driver intermittently shouted "Is that water?" in the voice of a frail old lady.
When the subject arrived he was shown into a room with the lights turned off, at the end of which could be dimly seen a uniformed man with either a vibrant moustache or a Bart Simpson/Rio Ferdinand overbite. Whichever it was, the worst thing the player or manager could do at this point was mention or snigger nervously at the moustache/overbite, as this matter regarding the General was always the Elephant in the Room. Ironically there was also an actual elephant in the room, brought back by the General from a recent African campaign, which was actively encouraged as a conversation piece.
To the backing of increasingly loud experimental jazz, the distant figure would then ask his victim a series of questions, beginning with a straightforward one, such as "Do you own a trumpet?", before graduating to more difficult ones such as "Why do you drift to the right side always, leaving the centre of defence open?" and "Do you take me for an idiot? Do you?". As a general rule of thumb, if the victim said "What?" at any point, he was never seen again. Zamora preferred the use of "pardon". Cameron Carter
from Brad Rees
"Should you ever find yourself liking the smiley scientist Brian Cox, bear in mind a comment about football he made in a 2010 interview that sums up all that is wrong with the modern game."
I like football and I used to have a season ticket for Oldham Athletic. Now I tend to watch Manchester United on TV.
from Tim Weaver
"An odd headline and I'm not even sure if it's true."
from Tim Foley
"Suggestions for how Wayne Rooney's hair transplant might have looked were much better than the real thing."
This modification to the Wikipedia entry for Scott Fitzgerald was spotted by Kevin White and Craig Burley. We're guessing that "squirrils" are the same thing as squirrels but let us know if not.
Here's a magnificent own goal of a type commonly seen in Sunday League matches but not usually in the semi-final of the Copa Libertadores.
Getting shirty Notable kits of yesteryear
Watford home, 2001-02
Watford's distinctive home kit is usually a combination of yellow, black and red. Over the years the shirt has seen various embellishments, but there is no fixed pattern. If you gave a team of designers a brief to produce the most unremarkable kit they could, it would look something like the Hornets' 2001-02 strip – a plain yellow T-shirt with a Watford badge. The paradox of this exceedingly plain effort is that it accompanied the most surreal of seasons at Vicarage Road – that of Gianluca Vialli's brief spell as manager. All of a sudden that bland shirt was being worn by former AC Milan defender Filippo Galli, a multiple Serie A and European Cup winner. Forget pre-season trips to Borehamwood and Wealdstone, Watford went to Italy to play an Inter side featuring Christian Vieri and Clarence Seedorf.
Vialli quickly added millions to the wage bill but, apart from Galli, most of the high-profile recruits failed to perform, typified by the hapless Ramon Vega. Ultimately, the season ended in failure, with Watford languishing in mid-table and crippled by an enormous wage bill. The collapse of ITV Digital required drastic action and administration was only narrowly avoided. Vialli, and most of his expensive recruits, were soon on their way and the focus of the club switched from promotion to staying afloat.
No one at the club can have fond memories of this forgettable kit with its legacy of reckless speculation. Thankfully, ten years later, the club is finally rediscovering a bit of its old identity, with plenty of local talent in the team and a flash of red and black on the shirt. Michael Moruzzi