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25 November 2011 ~

It seems that Chelsea may be building a new stadium at Battersea Power Station. It is a listed building so they would have to keep the four immense chimneys. But then, Roman Abramovich will need somewhere to dump the failed managers.

Buffles du Borgou FC, Benin
Funny name for a football team, Buffles. Sounds like an unprepossessing but sociable Mitford-era debutante. Off-putting. Furthermore, the club crest is something of an optical illusion. Some see here an anxious eagle, looking from right to left, scanning the horizon for unwanted visitors. Others detect a bison-like creature, springing from left to right, or, if not springing, demonstrating to another bison that he, the other bison, has been guilty of simulation in or around the penalty area. Others see a bloodied, twisted corpse with one mad, desiccated eye fixed on its destroyer. That is, at least, what I see.

And why has the club deliberately chosen such an ambiguous image for their crest? Possibly to convey the message that they play with a fluid, indefinable formation, their team a protean grouping of deep-lying centre-forwards, roaming trequartistas and inverted wingers, transporting their bewildered opponents beyond the looking-glass, if you will. And no one plays their best game the other side of the looking-glass. Incidentally, it is worth noting here that Lewis Carroll’s uncompleted third part of the Alice in Wonderland story was to be entitled Alice Out Of Her Comfort Zone and was provisionally set in a tattoo shop in Easterhouse. Cameron Carter

The Christmas section on West Ham's website includes a rather presumptuous graphic of Santa and his reindeer flying over the Olympic Stadium. (The latex chicken toy depicted beneath may give you nightmares so approach with caution.)

Continuing the seasonal theme, are you in need of gift ideas for a special person? No one else will have thought of buying them this.

Getting shirty Notable kits of yesteryear

Oldham Athletic home, 1996-98
This is a shirt that summed up the club in the mid-1990s and divided opinion among fans. Our flirtation with the Premier League was over, along with the Joe Royle management era. The club was in transition. Graeme Sharpe took over from Royle, and following relegation at the end of 1996-97 Neil Warnock had a single season at the helm. A long-standing, and fairly unremarkable, kit deal with Umbro ended and Pony announced their arrival with a radically different shirt design.

It wasn't Oldham's first venture into a hooped outfit. There had been red and white versions early in the club's history (1890s) and again in the late 1940s. But it is unlikely that those designs were derided the way that the BBC's Stuart Hall managed during a match commentary as being "a cross between a sports kit and a leisure shirt". Little did Hall realise that the kit perfectly caught the moment the football shirt moved into the everyday wardrobe of many a young male as a fashion item. Capturing the zeitgeist wasn't enough, and whether it was the shirt's association with a poor period for the club or the way the design emphasised the ample proportions of striker Sean McCarthy's build, it was not a hit with the fans. Brian Simpson

from Chris Fyfe
"The Herald was in such a hurry to report on Jocky Scott's first press conference as manager of Stirling Albion that they neglected to write a headline."

from Chris Berkeley

"The peripatetic manager Steve Darby was until the other day in charge of Indian League club Mohun Bagan AC. Perhaps his style of dress and the mutton chops were just a little too old fashioned for the team's owners."

This week in history ~ Division One, November 26, 1938


Derby County were top for three months up to the start of February but then went six games without a win and finished sixth. Two of their goals at Leeds were scored by Scottish international striker Dave McCulloch who was playing his only season at the club. He was one of many players who was to lose his peak career years to the Second World War.

Everton had led for the first two months and regained top spot with a 3-0 win at Liverpool in February. They went on to be champions by four points. Nineteen-year-old striker Tommy Lawton, who scored twice in the victory at Anfield, was the top scorer in Division One with 34 goals.

Everton's captain, wing-half Joe Mercer, was surprisingly released after the war and won another title with Arsenal in 1947-48. Later a League-winning manager with Manchester City, he also took charge of England temporarily after the departure of Alf Ramsey in 1974.

Leicester dropped into the relegation places in March and went on to finish bottom after losing six of their last eight games. Second-bottom Birmingham nearly saved themselves by winning three of their last four matches, but a 1-1 draw with rivals Chelsea in the penultimate round sent them down.

In Division One since 1935-36, Grimsby finished tenth, their highest-ever League position. They also reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup but were beaten 5-0 by Wolves. Grimsby spent the first two post-war years at the top level but haven't returned since. They drew the smallest average crowds in the division at 12,064; Aston Villa topped the attendance table with 39,932.

Wolves were to be runners-up for the second consecutive season and also lost in the FA Cup final, 4-1 to Portsmouth. Managed by Frank Buckley, who had been a major in the First World War, their side included centre-half Stan Cullis, who was to be Wolves boss when they won three League titles in the 1950s. Two other famous managers were playing this week, both wing-halves: Matt Busby (Liverpool) and Bill Shankly (Preston).

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