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2 September 2011 ~

At a time when our wealthiest clubs seem impervious to the global economic crisis, it's positively heart-warming to see that they can be defeated by technology. Chelsea have just announced that one of the big screens at Stamford Bridge is broken and won't be fixed before Christmas. Their shirt sponsors are Samsung, the world's largest electronics manufacturer. You'd think they would know someone who could help.

Badge of the week ~ FC Tiraspol, Moldova
Long before the internet and other modern gimcrackery, football fans who were unable to travel to matches due to a prior commitment to harvesting corn or washing their covered wagon would wait patiently for hours to hear how their team had got on. Places where there was no Saturday evening newspaper would be reliant on mounted messengers who would race back from their match to bring news of the result. One such was the Perennial Optimist of Tiraspol who would gallop into the town's main square on a Saturday evening and loudly hail the team's marvellous performance: fleet-footed wing play, gravity-defying saves, bullet headers from the colossal No 9. While crowds flocked to hear his oratory, inevitably someone would press him for the actual score, at which point his voice would often drop to a low mumble as he conceded that Tiraspol had lost, "but we were all over them in the second half... when they got a penalty I suggested the ref take it himself…" and so on. The club appreciated his efforts at making them sound better than they were, however, so he was commemorated in silhouette on their badge. To this day it is said that ghostly hooves can sometimes be heard on Tiraspol's main square late at night followed by an ethereal match report: "The home defence was breached again by Tiraspol's marauders but the linesman had flagged for an invisible foul..." Cameron Carter

from David Turner
"Football reporting goes beyond saturation point and into satire with this insight into Jonny Evans's change in shirt number."

from Tom Wilkinson
"Overcome with the intense scrutiny on the hapless Arsène Wenger in the media these days, I have become confused to the extent that, during a news report on the military situation in Libya, I thought they were talking about Wenger holed up in a bunker in Tripoli, stubbornly refusing to buy a world-class centre-back and a replacement for Cesc Fàbregas even in the face of UN military intervention and insurgents closing on his position by the hour. I wonder if other readers have absent-mindedly mistaken a Premier League manager for a troubled world leader?"

from Graham Sherlock
"Regarding the Corinthian figures mentioned in recent Howls, this is a very realistic-looking Leon Osman with the head-to-body ratio an exact match of the real thing."

Getting shirty Notable kits of yesteryear

Bromsgrove Rovers home, 1992-94
Bromsgrove Rovers had played in red and white stripes but after the Second World War a local returned from a trip to Ireland with a donated kit in green and white, and those colours were officially adopted. The 1992-94 shirt was worn in the team's most successful period. All Saints, the sponsor, was the name of a local Bromsgrove garage which is still in business today, unlike the football club.

1992-93 was Bromsgrove's first of five seasons in the Conference following promotion from the Southern League. Managed by Bobby Hope, the Greens finished runners-up behind Wycombe Wanderers to record their highest ever pyramid position and had their most successful FA Cup campaign, reaching the third round before losing 2-1 to Barnsley. A record capacity crowd of 4,893 witnessed a dramatic conclusion to that game in which the visitors grabbed two goals in the last two minutes; Barnsley manager Viv Anderson described his team as "the luckiest in the world".

The following season was more of struggle for Bromsgrove, who flirted with relegation for most of it before finishing 18th. They were relegated three years later, heralding the start of a downward spiral that saw them fall through the leagues while at the same time face mounting debt. The club went into administration during 2009-10 and then lost the lease on their 100-year-old Victoria Ground. As a result, in August 2010, Bromsgrove Rovers were expelled from the South & West Division of the Southern League and the club folded. Andy Ollerenshaw

from Chris Bennett
"With football in Yorkshire seemingly in terminal decline, thank goodness for Selby Town."


The famously reticent Stan Kroenke has finally broken his silence. Meanwhile, this musical tribute to Per Mertesacker will surely be heard blaring out of Arsène's car on his drive to training.

This week in history ~ Division One, September 3, 1966


Denis Law got Manchester United's decisive third goal against Newcastle and was to be their top scorer with 23. United lost three of their first seven games but six successive wins in the autumn took them to the top. Liverpool replaced them briefly in January but United were unbeaten in the last 20 matches and won the title by four points. It was to be their last championship for 26 years.

Eighteenth in 1965-66, Nottingham Forest finished runners-up (a fourth place in 1900-01 had been their best previous finish). Their winner against West Brom was scored by the team's outstanding player, winger Ian Storey-Moore, who later joined Man Utd but had to retire aged 28 due to a leg injury. His team-mates included England striker Joe Baker plus two members of Derby's 1971-72 title-winning team in winger Alan Hinton and Welsh defender Terry Hennessey.

Sheffield Wednesday remained top for another fortnight but dropped out of contention after three straight defeats in October and finished 11th. They were captained by left-back Don Megson, father of the club's current manager, Gary.

Blackpool failed to win any of their first 11 games and were bottom for the entire season. Of their six victories, only one was at home, 6-0 against Newcastle in October. Their side beaten at Sunderland included the 19-year-old Emlyn Hughes who joined Liverpool in February 1967.

One of Aston Villa's goals in the defeat of Manchester City came from centre-forward Tony Hateley, father of Mark, who moved to Chelsea the following month and was in their side that lost the 1967 FA Cup final to Spurs.

Villa took the second relegation place after picking up only two points from their last nine games. Their fate was sealed with a 4-2 home defeat by Everton in the penultimate fixture while rivals Southampton beat Newcastle. Although the Saints struggled in their debut season in Division One, their Welsh striker Ron Davies was the top scorer with 37 goals.

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