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9 December 2011 ~

Wily old campaigner Alex Ferguson knew his young Manchester United side had no chance of beating Barcelona to win this year's Champions League. So using all the cunning for which he is renowned, he switched to another competition mid-season. You can't buy that type of experience.

Badge of the week ~ Tout Puissant Mazembe, DR Congo
Tout Puissant (meaning literally, from the French, All Puissant) are known as one of the most inappropriate clubs in the Congolese top flight. The team's experiment of using crocodiles as ball-boys in their inaugural season is celebrated in their club crest, but this short-sighted decision cost the club dear in both footballs and players sent to retrieve the footballs. With a shrewd eye for branding, the club continued, throughout their history, to make deliberately poor appointments: a bush pig was made club dietician, a dental receptionist became Entertainments Manager and Cliff Richard was hired as an Elvis impersonator for the 1958 Christmas party.

At the start of a game, the captain would not shake hands with his opposite number but pass him a screwdriver while maintaining a pop-eyed stare. This commitment to an informal Dadaist manifesto confounded commentators and destabilised visitors, arguably becoming a factor in an impressive home record. Cameron Carter

Nice to see that West Bromwich Albion legend Tony "Bomber" Brown is famous enough to have his own face-mask in company with Stevie G, JT and co.

Why did the BBC bother to pixellate Luis Suárez's hand when all the papers showed his extended finger gesture? The blurred version makes it look he's making a frenetic masturbatory sign or, even worse, performing shadow puppetry of a liver bird taking flight.











from Rob McDonald

"It seems the lofty culinary ambitions of Northern Ireland's Liam Boyce are obscuring his footballing ones at present. Here's hoping he doesn't get through quite so much food as he fights for fitness."






Evidence for the theory that rock music is dead, courtesy of the Spanish edition of Rolling Stone.

from Claire Thomas
"The People's Katie Hind seems to be more in love with Frank Lampard than Christine Bleakley is. Warning: not to be read just after you've eaten."

An unusual tactical move to disable the long throw, which Tony Pulis will need to work out a way to combat

Getting shirty
Notable kits of yesteryear

Portsmouth away, 2002-03

Sometimes a new strip just screams "relegation" and Portsmouth fans, when casting their eye over this shiny gold monstrosity in the summer of 2002, were entitled to fear the worst. The 1990s – one FA Cup semi-final and a play-off appearance aside – had mostly been spent battling against relegation to the third tier and the club went into administration in December 1998.

Becoming Milan Mandaric's first purchase in English football the following year didn't lead to immediate returns on the pitch, however, and Pompey survived the drop once more on the final day of 2000-01. Now managed by Harry Redknapp, and with the likes of Paul Merson, Tim Sherwood and Steve Stone in the squad, prospects for the 2002-03 season looked bright. But no one, especially Pompey, could achieve success in a kit like that, could they? 

The Blues had dabbled with yellow away shirts in 1989 and 1997, but the cheap look of the gold was something else entirely. The club was even without a proper kit partner, with Pompey Sport making the shirts from 2001 until Jako took over in 2005. Almost unbelievably, however, the shirt became one of the club's most successful and a cult favourite. Pompey lost only three league games on the road all season and finished top of Division One on 98 points. With the club in financial crisis once more and without an away win this season, some fans will be hoping that current kit manufacturer Kappa get creative with their away kit colour schemes next year. James De Mellow

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