2012

A small portion of despair and enlightenment delivered to your inbox every Friday
21 December 2012 ~

The Howl is taking a break for two weeks over Christmas but don't worry, football isn't. Good luck to all your teams in the forthcoming matches, except the ones we don't like. We'd make a list but it would take all day.

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chelmBadge of the week ~ Chelmsford City
Chelmsford's club crest dwells on the legend of the Long Distance Running Bears. In the forests that thrived where Chelmsford now stands, there lived two brown bears named Porphyra and Alex. Neither had very good prospects. The best either could hope for was to hang around with other brown bears, eating roots and talking trash. Then one day, having chased down and eaten a courting couple, they found that the endorphins released by their brains in the process made them feel good. Thereafter they both took up long-distance running for physical and emotional escape. The bears' speed and stamina was noticed by some villagers and they were offered a career in threshing – which could lead onto other opportunities in the agricultural sector – if they would win a prestigious cross-country race against a wealthier neighbouring village that had three blacksmiths and an alderman who wore spats.

The bears entered the race and were winning easily approaching the finishing line at the bridge. To the villagers' amazement, the bears stopped and allowed one of the posh villagers to pass them and win. When asked why they stopped, the bears explained that they had been sent a copy of the job description for the post of Thresher, which contained the phrase "and any other duties that may be necessary" right at the end. The bears thought this too vague and possibly exploitative and threw the race so that they might return to the forest where their task regimen was less opaque. Chelmsford commemorate the bears' stand in their crest, as it shows an independence of spirit as well as the ability to read standard bureaucratic documents all the way through. Cameron Carter

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from Michael Round

"Nothing to do with the festive season but this does put me in a good mood. Just what has made Elton Welsby so angry?"

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from Steve Whitehead

"If the current Vauxhall Motors programme is to be believed we are in for a long old season."

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from Shane Tomlinson

"For sale on Ebay – a highly realistic model of a football terrace at a lower-division ground in the 1980s. Among the glum onlookers, the person in the fetching green cross outfit is waving at the TV gantry but no one is there."

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Bryan Ruiz offers sounds advice to anyone thinking of taking the tube in London.

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from Phil Town

"I think Sérgio Ramos speaks for all of us, possibly."

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Getting shirty Notable kits of yesteryear

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Kansas City Wizards home, 1998-99
The Wizards were born in Major League Soccer's 1996 inaugural season when a team of marketing geniuses actually christened them the Kansas City Wiz. As most people probably know, in the USA "taking a wiz" equates to Brits "taking a slash". Calling KC the Wiz would be like rebranding Lincoln as the Lincoln City Piss. It wouldn't work. It didn't work. After one season, they were transformed from liquid detritus to mythical magicians: from Wiz to Wizards.

As the shirt testifies, there were still teething problems. Free of urinal tags, the Wizards played well in 1997, with the second best regular-season record behind champions DC United. But in 1998 their new home shirts, apparently symbolising a wonky colour television set (or several different shades of wiz), ushered in a season of abject failure. They failed to make the play-offs, finishing 11th out of a dozen teams, winning 12 and losing 20 games in the largely empty Arrowhead Stadium. Mo Johnston was top scorer with 11 goals while Paul Rideout managed a meagre four.

Perhaps the idea was to blind and bamboozle the opposition. Maybe the team wished to give the impression of an explosive, wizard-activated spell. Or they wanted desperately to depict the Multiple Outstretched Arms of Mr Tickle. They tried the shirt again in 1999 and played even worse, winning just ten games and losing 22. Coach Ron Newman was sacked, and the home shirt was changed to plain blue. These days they're called Sporting Kansas City and have their own ground. If you go there, be polite and don't mention The Wiz. Ian Plenderleith

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14 December 2012 ~

At this time of year the whole country is engrossed in a familiar winter tale; it's the Arsenal crisis. Anguished columns by celebrity supporters, calls for the manager to be replaced and behind-the-scenes intrigues by the various billionaire shareholders. But every child knows how the story ends: they'll finish fourth.

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as-masryBadge of the week ~ Al-Masry Club, Egypt
Some clubs go back to their very genesis to find inspiration for their badge. In Egypt in the early 20th century there was an industrial dispute involving construction workers which lasted several months. At first the army were brought in to help with new builds but they soon had to be seconded as a priority to covering for the snake charmers, who had come out in sympathy.

In desperation, Al-Masry hired giant eagles to work on their new football stadium. The eagles swooped down from the hills when they received the call and proceeded to install drainage pipes (see image) at double the pace of their human counterparts, using roller skates provided by a forward-looking clown (the clowns were standing in for site managers during a concurrently running site manager strike, which meant that the military police had to stand in for the clowns – it became a very complex dispute).

Anyway, the eagles did such a good job that they became the poster birds in the area for industrial productivity. Al-Masry's badge commemorates their industry while urging their own players to rush about a lot when they're on the pitch, just like little Tévez does for Manchester City when he's unshackled from the bench. Cameron Carter

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from Andy Holmes

"I can't abide football freestylers. This world record mouth bounce would only be impressive if he ate the ball afterwards."

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from Richard Waterfield
"From Tooting & Mitcham's Wikipedia entry. Not vandalism as such, more the sort of harsh truth that shouldn't really be made public."

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from Tim Manns

"This press release neglects to point out that Peter Shilton is remembered as Plymouth Argyle's worst-ever manager. Exeter is probably about as close to Home Park as he would dare go these days.

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White van men across the South West are being urged to sign up for a trade event to try their footy skills against England legend Peter Shilton and score exclusive discounts on building products. Bradfords builders merchants has invited more than 1500 traders from across the South West to attend its Trade Deal Day at the Westpoint Arena in Exeter on Friday 14 December. 



Star goalie Peter Shilton will lead the fun as he challenges builders to get a goal past him in a penalty shoot out game. Peter said: "I'm looking forward to seeing what the traders of South West England are made of – I might even turn the tables on them and see if they can save a penalty from me with a bit of coaching from a professional."

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Alan Hansen collected over 70,000 followers when making just the one pithy tweet. Imagine the excitement if he stretches to a full sentence.

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from Shane Tomlinson

"The reason why Glen Johnson was able to score with 'a brilliant angled shot' against West Ham – he's good at maths. I hope the teachers who told him 'You ain't going to achieve anything' weren't in charge of English."

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Getting shirty Notable kits of yesteryear

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Legia Warsaw away, 1998-99
After the collapse of Communism in Poland the army club Legia Warsaw were financially supported by a car manufacturer called FSO. In 1995 FSO was sold to the Korean firm Daewoo whose name appeared on Legia's shirts from 1995. They even changed their name to Legia-Daewoo for five seasons, an unusual move for a club of Legia's size. They kept the circled L on the chest which had been their symbol since 1957, but it was reduced to being part of a small badge.

The closest Legia came to success in the Daewoo era was in the first season. With four matches to go they led the table on goal difference and faced second-placed Widzew Lodz in a decisive match. Legia were one up with five minutes to go but contrived to lose 2-1; Widzew took the title by three points. Legia finished between third and fifth for the next four seasons, which was disappointing for a club with European ambitions. The only trophies won under Daewoo were the Polish Cup and Supercup in 1997. In 2000 Daewoo went bankrupt and its association with Legia finished at the end of the following season.

Legia lead this season's Polish league at the halfway stage and a big L is visible once again. Maciej Slominski

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7 December 2012 ~

UEFA's plan for the city-based Euro 2020 is taking shape. Hosting bids are expected from Shanghai, Tokyo and Los Angeles and there are plans to rebrand as the Le Coq Sportif Euro-Global Cup in association with Budweiser. Let's make the dream happen.

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MKDonsBadge of the week ~ MK Dons
MK Dons are both pleasing to the eye and successful, but then so was Ted Bundy for a long period in the 1970s. The clinical nature of the badge will not endear the club to those who might be considering giving them a break. This crest resembles the kind of trophy set aside for Most Sporting Reserve Player ("Always turns out, helps put the nets up") at a Sunday league team's end-of-season awards night.

The shape might suggest a stylised rendering of a wolf perhaps, but there haven't been wolves in Milton Keynes for years, certainly not since the review of the waste disposal procedure at Denbigh North Retail Park. Slipped in alongside the trophy or possible-wolf, the club's name reminds us of the awful compromise attempted by the owners to mollify the neutral fan, gaffa-taping the original club's nickname on to their initials.

Surely for a club that has stolen another club's identity, an image more likely to appease, such as a panda in Bermuda shorts, would have been the best way forward. If I ever kidnapped next door's boy – well why does he insist on leaning his scooter against my wall? – I would wear a nice calming green t-shirt with a rabbit on when I went round to present my ransom demand. Cameron Carter

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Here's something that captures the spirit of the season – if you associate Christmas with bleakness and despair.

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from Chris Harrison

"The reporter for the York Press liked the snooker metaphor enough to use it twice so it's a surprise that he didn't make something of 'Potts'".

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Former Watford and Barnsley keeper Kevin Miller makes a culinary suggestion. The first commenter is not impressed.

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from Tim Manns

The interview with Kenny Jackett in last Friday's Telegraph claims that Watford won the FA Cup in 1984. I always thought Andy Gray heading the ball out of Steve Sherwood's hands to score was dodgy but I had no idea the FA had reversed the result.

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from John Foster

"I note that on Wikipedia Jamie Ashdown's emergency loan to Arsenal in 2002 is now considered "a work experience placement". After spending most of the subsequent ten years on the bench, you'd think he'd been learning from Stuart Taylor or something. Oh, wait".

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This week in history ~ League One, December 9, 2006

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Table

Grant Holt scored Nottingham Forest's first at Crewe followed by a hat-trick from Nathan Tyson. Forest led the table until mid January when a run of one win in five games pushed them out of the top two places. After finishing fourth they seemed set for a Wembley appearance following a 2-0 win at Yeovil in the first leg of the play-off semi-final. But they then crashed 5-2 at home. Yeovil went on to lose 2-0 to Blackpool in the final.

Scunthorpe were under new management, Nigel Adkins having replaced the Sheffield Wednesday-bound Brian Laws in November. They led for the last four months of the season and were champions by six points. Their goals at Carlisle was scored by the strike duo of Andy Keogh and Billy Sharp, the latter going on to be the division's top scorer with 30 goals.

Bristol City clinched the second promotion spot on the last day with a win over Rotherham in the reverse of this weekend's fixture. Third-placed Blackpool's 6-3 win at Swansea on the same day meant that the latter dropped to seventh and so missed the play-offs. Of the Swansea side that drew at Bloomfield Road, only midfielder Leon Britton is still with the club.

Leroy Rosenior had been sacked after only four months as Brentford manager following a 12th game without a win, a 4-0 home defeat to Crewe on November 18. His replacement Scott Fitzgerald took seven matches to get a first victory and the club went down with several games to spare.

Rotherham began the season on minus ten points for going into administration. After a good start, their draw with Bristol City was the start of a 14-match winless run; they were to finish 23rd. The other relegation spots were taken by Bradford City, who had been in the Premier League six years earlier, and Chesterfield.

The Bournemouth team beaten by Port Vale included Darren Anderton, Steve Claridge and the club's current manager, Eddie Howe. Other notable names playing this week included Leon Best (Yeovil), Wes Hoolahan (Blackpool), Neil Sullivan (Doncaster) and Matt Jarvis (Gillingham).

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30 November 2012 ~

This is when Harry Redknapp shows the experience and guile for which he is renowned. He has a whole month in which to unsettle QPR's relegation rivals by suggesting he'd like to sign their best players.

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BuryBadge of the week ~ Bury
Bury used to be the entertainment centre of Britain you know. In medieval times it had the first ever gay carnival, as symbolised by the knight in the fascinator at the top of the crest. Floats pulled by horses would celebrate the varied sexual proclivities of all Bury’s inhabitants. The top left panel of the shield alludes to the trophy that was awarded for best float in the parade, invariably won by the Reeves’ entry with its perennial theme of Gloved Masturbation To Plainsong. The top right panel depicts a scullion performing the forerunner of a bungee jump – the Jump Onto Rocks – a dangerous way of celebrating sexual freedom with few recorded survivors.

The panel at bottom right shows a medieval funfair ride, probably "The Widowmaker", which consisted of three swaying poles erected on a cliff edge with a wicker chair on top of each and made to move by a team of peasants with a battering ram. This was enjoyed in the evening following the parade, along with the Jumping Onto Rocks and blindfold Broadsword Dancing. Unfortunately, the image in the bottom left panel shows the baseball bats used by Henry VIII’s henchmen to break up the carnivals after they had dissolved the monasteries and were still high on adrenalin. Bury FC revived the memory of these celebrations to show what a forward-looking and vibrant town Bury used to be before it became chiefly known for its excellent recycling percentages. Cameron Carter

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from Steve Jinman 

"If Wikipedia is to be believed, no cereal is safe when Sean Morrison is around."

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A new video for Hot Chip features a football match that ends in an orgy. It must be a bonus feature on FIFA.

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from Robin Mountford

"This Corinthian figure of Mark Hughes is one of least accurate likenesses I've ever seen. Since when has he ever smiled? Unless he's been captured in mid-burp."

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from Duncan Mackay
"Can some retrospective action be taken against this habitual smuggler? A community service order at least."

Fergie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Getting shirty Notable kits of yesteryear

Bournemouth

Bournemouth home, 1997-98
AFC Bournemouth first shifted from a traditional red shirt with white trim in 1971, when the late John Bond was manager. He took Bournemouth out of Division Four in his first season. In a perhaps misplaced sense of optimism the club switched to a red and black shirt, reputedly so they looked like AC Milan. Seventeen years later that red and black strip graced Wembley for the first and so far only time, making the 1998 vintage one that stands out above all others.

More than 30,000 Bournemouth fans converged on Wembley, many wearing Patrick-manufactured shirts with a white trim that had returned to a classic granddad collar. Local car dealers Seward were in their debut season as shirt sponsors. Under Mel Machin, another much-admired manager, Bournemouth reached the final of the Football League Trophy for a second time. The club won the first ever trophy in 1984 but the final of what in 1998 was known as the Autowindscreens Shield was at Wembley.

That Seward was then a local Rover dealership was surely a sign that success for AFCB would prove elusive. Grimsby won convincingly. Seward survived Rover's demise and kept their names on the shirts for eight years, even sponsoring the stadium for a year in 2011 but they never got close to repeating the exposure offered by the 1998 shirt. Steve Menary

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23 November 2012 ~

David Beckham has announced that he wants to "experience one last challenge" before he retires. He's all yours, Hartlepool.

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accringtonBadge of the week ~ Accrington Stanley
The amateur crest fancier might look at this and see a traditional, workaday badge with the usual armorial presence and heraldry standbys: the rampant lion, the gambolling deer. A closer examination by the iconography expert, however, reveals far greater treasures. Mental treasures. Not stuff you can make money from. The image in the middle of the shield is of a late medieval era box cabinet. This is the motif for St Ambrose of Le Havre, a minor saint recognised as the man who brought both Christianity and cutting-edge storage solutions to northern Europe.

Before his arrival in France, most ordinary people had carried their smaller household objects with them, on a cumbersome, overloaded belt. Within weeks of St Ambrose's appearance, the people's eternal souls and posture were transformed. The image at the bottom celebrates the first mass-produced wallpaper, also introduced by St Ambrose, who remained only a minor saint possibly because of the time he spent on his commercial ventures. He made a greater name for himself in secular society, his industry and verve viewed as an example to imitate by the founders of Accrington Stanley. Cameron Carter

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from Jon Matthias
"Bobbleheads rarely make the subject look dignified, but this one of Joe Hart makes him look like he's about to bite you."

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If ever a long-ball approach was needed in a game, this was the one.

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from Peter Smith
"Regarding the golfing skills of former Bolton and Exeter defender Mark Came as mentioned on Wikipedia – I wouldn't call this 'indifferent'."

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from Phil Town
"I wonder what will please Reading's Alex Pearce more – having a cartoon Santa hat photoshopped on his bonce or being shunted off to charity gigs when he can't get a game for love nor money."

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This week in history ~ Division One, November 24, 1979

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Table

Manchester United's scorers in their thrashing of Norwich included Joe Jordan who got two, and Irish defender Kevin Moran who later became the first player to be sent off in an FA Cup final during United's 1-0 win over Everton in 1985. Dave Sexton's team were top for another two weeks then spent the rest of the season in second place – their best league finish for 12 years.

Defending champions Liverpool made a relatively slow start, winning only four of their first ten games, but a run of six straight victories in December gave them a comfortable lead. They clinched their title in their 41st game, a 4-1 win over Villa, while Man Utd were losing at Leeds. Liverpool striker David Johnson was the division's second top-scorer with 21 goals, two behind Phil Boyer of Southampton. The champions used only 17 players including reserve keeper Steve Ogrizovic who played once.

Crystal Palace had been called "the team of the 80s" by the Daily Mail's Jeff Powell, a friend of manager Terry Venables, when winning promotion the previous season. Leaders in early September, they dropped out of the top three after three straight defeats in December and finished 13th; they went down the following year. The team that drew with Coventry included future England full-back Kenny Sansom, shortly to join Arsenal, and midfielder Peter Nicholas who won 73 caps for Wales.

After beating Manchester City, Bristol City went 11 games without a win. The run dropped them into the bottom three, where they stayed. After four years in Division One, their first spell there for nearly 70 years, City set a League record by being relegated from first to fourth divisions in successive seasons. Derby also went on a long winless run, 13 matches, after this weekend's victory against their local rivals. They were to finish second from bottom, a point behind Bristol City and five ahead of Bolton.

Future Talksport broadcaster Alan Brazil was one of the scorers in Ipswich's win over Southampton. He was to score twice in the season's biggest win, Ipswich 6 Man Utd 0 in March 1980, in which they home side also missed two penalties. The Villa team that drew at home with Leeds contained nine of their side that won the European Cup in 1982, the only differences being Mike Pejic at left-back rather than Gary Williams and David Geddis for Pete Withe at centre-forward.

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16 November 2012 ~

A big decision was taken at the special meeting of Premier League chairmen in London yesterday, called to discuss the effects of the new TV deal. They have decided to postpone any further discussion until February. Best league in the world at putting things off.

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Badge of the week ~ Slavoj Trebisov, Slovakia
Howl reader Thom Moyles has requested an interpretation of the Slavo Trebisov crest, as it appears to hold a profound but elusive meaning. Many years ago, in the fields surrounding the Slovakian town of Trebisov, there were fields of golden corn. The soil was rich and the land was one of plenty. Great was God's bounty in these burnished plains, if that's not pushing it a bit. The people were well fed and happy with their lot. Until one day a wise man, who had travelled through many lands, came to the town. He was greeted with enthusiasm by the townspeople and offered bread (they pretty much ate bread all day). The traveller, having eaten well of the bread and politely not asked if there might actually be something to have on it, settled back and began to tell a story.

He told of three ears of corn that grew in a valley. One corn was healthy and grew well – he was much admired by the other corns. The second corn lay somewhat in the shade and grew slowly, falteringly. The third corn was sewn in barren ground and grew not at all. After but nine full moons was the first corn fully grown. The farmer came out, cut it with a sharp knife and pummelled it into grain. The other two corns grew unnoticed in peace and comfort for the rest of their natural span.

The traveller finished his tale and rose as if to leave for his bed. He was stopped by the townspeople who demanded to know what his story meant. The traveller's last act on this earth was to smile knowingly and say: "It's symbolic." He was quickly torn to pieces by the enraged people. This fate befell many of the pioneers of symbolism around the world, as what people really wanted from a story was a recognisable plot and characters they could relate to. Slavoj Trebisov use this image to confuse and irritate the opposition, at least those without an NVQ in Agricultural Symbolism. Cameron Carter

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from Rob Dennis
"Tempting offer from Swindon Townonly £10 for four matches including one defeat. Bargain. No word if it will include coverage from the FA Cup run."

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from Steve Kay
"Occasionally newspapers deny that they make up the letters used in their problem pages. This one looks like evidence for the prosecution."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Edgar Davids ensures that he won't be invited back on Goals on Sunday for a while.

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from Alex Brodie
"In Aaron Lennon's Wikipedia entry, I'm not sure how one paragraph links directly to the next."

 

 

 

 

 

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From the BBC Radio Lincolnshire coverage of their local team's FA Cup tie with Walsall. Goals are easy things to miss.

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How to describe Manchester Utd's comeback at Villa Park? Al Pacino provides some inspiration for the Mirror reporter, sort of.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Getting shirty Notable kits of yesteryear

Grays Athletic, FA Trophy final, 2006
The most successful period in Grays Athletic's history culminated in an FA Trophy win in 2006. The club had been bankrolled by chairman Mick Woodward since his arrival in 2000, and manager Mark Stimson built an impressive squad with young players that would become familiar names in League circles – Freddie Eastwood, Gary Hooper, Aaron McClean and Michael Kightly all played for the Gravelmen.

In 2005 Grays won the inaugural Conference South and the FA Trophy for the first time. The following season they initially took the Conference by storm, unbeaten in the first 15 games. With promotion to the Football League a realistic aspiration, they only finished third and then lost out in the play-offs. The silver lining was retaining the FA Trophy with a 2-0 win over Woking, cheered on at Upton Park by 8,000 of their own fans.

The shirt worn for the game was a specially embroidered one made by Nike. The sponsors were Hambrook & Greenstock, a Swiss-based financial company. In 2007 they were put into compulsory liquidation by the High Court after being found guilty of a land-selling scam. Around the same time, Grays' financial situation took a turn for the worse. Following the FA Trophy win Stimson moved to Stevenage and many of the star players left. Woodward reined in his spending and there followed a period of instability that saw six different managers in two seasons. They narrowly avoided relegation in 2007 and by the end of 2009-10 were homeless after their Recreation Ground was sold for housing. Facing a winding-up order for unpaid tax, the club resigned from the Conference. Grays started 2010-11 in Ryman League Division One North, where they remain. Andy Ollerenshaw

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9 November 2012 ~

More big transfers for Man City. They are said to be recruiting two new members of staff from the sports business unit of Deloitte; that's the company advising UEFA on financial fair play. In January UEFA president Michel Platini is expected to be taken on as Head Of Free-Kicks.

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burtonBadge of the week ~ Burton Albion
Burton Albion's badge appears to have been heavily influenced by the popular "Skegness Is So Bracing" poster of the 1930s. The image here is of the Jolly Footballer, a popular Edwardian icon of an overweight male with a rolling gait, probably based on a famous early player such as "Fatty" Foulke, "BMI" Benson, or "Dangerous Pressure on the Brain" McNeish. Hidden in the back reference to the Skegness poster is a subliminal message urging the public to travel to Burton for restorative fresh air and to spend their money at local attractions such as Burton Albion Football Club, Burton Ant Fair, the Palace of Cutlery and the Andy Peebles Heritage Centre. The subliminally spent money coming into the town as a result of this clever marketing has, over the years, resulted in the club's elevation to the Football League. This took a while to take effect from the badge's introduction in the 1950s, it is true, but that's the subliminal economy for you. Cameron Carter

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from Peter Sherlock
"These Subbuteo cufflinks are of course a fine gift idea but why is the blurb rude about the 'frankly awful goalie'? I though he looked quite realistic."

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More bracingly outspoken views from Benoit Assou-Ekotto. Expect a retraction soon.

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from Keith Turner

"Liverpool will follow up this shirt with one depicting the next stage of Anfield rebuilding work – concrete mixers and a Portakabin on a mudheap."

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The Royal Mail are marking Notts County's 150th anniversary with a set of stamps. Former manager Sven-Göran Eriksson would have got one of his own if he'd fulfilled his five-year project to get them into the Premier League.

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from Mark Ravenscroft
"How to express the awfulness of Andre Santos? Here's an idea from the Sunday Times report of Man Utd v Arsenal."

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This week in history ~ Division Three, November 9, 2002

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Table

Rushden & Diamonds, managed by former England international Brian Talbot, were to win Division Three in only their second season in the League. Striker Onandi Lowe, scorer of the first goal against Darlington, was one of two Jamaican internationals in the squad, the other being ex-Portsmouth winger Paul Hall. Full-back Marcus Bignot and midfielder David Bell both played in the Championship.

Max Griggs, owner of the Dr Martens footwear company, had created the club as a merger of two Northants teams, Rushden Town and Irthlingborough Diamonds, in 1992. After one season at the third level they were relegated. Griggs left in the summer of 2005 and they dropped back into non-League at the end of that season. Six years later they were expelled from the Conference after going into administration. A new club, AFC Rushden, play in the United Counties League Division One, five levels below the Football League.

Hartlepool led the division from September until mid-April, but finished second, two points behind Rushden, after one win in their last four games; manager Mike Newell then left to join Luton. Wrexham won their last eight matches to finish third. Fourth-placed Bournemouth beat Lincoln City 5-2 in the play-off final. This was the first of Lincoln's five consecutive appearances in the fourth-level play-offs, all of which ended in defeat.

Shrewsbury finished seven points adrift at the bottom. Beset by financial problems, Swansea spent the majority of the season in the relegation places. They finished 21st , a point clear of second-bottom Exeter, thanks to a 4-2 win over Hull on the final day. This was the penultimate season for the Swans' 34-year-old goalkeeper Roger Freestone who had joined them from Chelsea in 1989.

The self-described "mystifier" Uri Geller was on Exeter's board at the time of their relegation. Michael Jackson was among the celebrities who took part in a fund-raising concert for the club organised by Geller in the summer of 2002. Football League debutants Boston United finished 15th having had four points deducted for financial malpractice the previous season.

Everton loanee Leon Osman was in the Carlisle team that won at Kidderminster. Other notable names playing this week included Dean Whitehead (Oxford), Peter Beagrie (Scunthorpe), Darren Ferguson (Wrexham), Liam Ridgewell (Bournemouth) and Dave Kitson (Cambridge).

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2 November 2012 ~

In a rare display of unity Alex Ferguson and Arsène Wenger have both defended Mark Clattenburg against claims made by Chelsea. No doubt Mike Dean, who takes charge of Man Utd v Arsenal tomorrow, will be treated respectfully by both managers whatever happens in the game.

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NorthamptonBadgeBadge of the week ~ Northampton Town
When the town of Northampton in Northamptonshire was but a young town, with inhabitants numbering but five-and-twenty, including but three hairdressers, there grew a legend surrounding the meeting of a lion and a dragon in the deep forest that then flourished on all sides. One evening, the lion was walking through the forest on his hind legs, something he did occasionally just for his own amusement, when he came upon a beautiful maiden, with one jade green and one sapphire blue eye, weeping piteously. When he asked her what ailed her, the maiden replied that she had lost her shoe and the handsome prince would never marry a woman with one shoe. When the lion tried to help, he found that the beautiful maiden kept interrupting before he had finished talking and before she interrupted she was just going "mm-mm-mm-mm" as if she weren't actually listening to him but just waiting for her turn to start talking. So he ate her.

The next day the lion was walking in the forest when he met a dragon who informed him he used to be a handsome prince but a witch's curse meant he could only return to human form by marrying a beautiful maiden with one green and one blue eye. The lion explained about the eating thing and apologised but said he had since found the maiden's other shoe, if that helped at all. The dragon moodily tried it on and instantly regained a human right foot. No-one is sure what the moral of this story is – indeed it is not told much in the Northampton area – but the club use it to warn against one-footedness as a personal and career drawback. Cameron Carter

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Robbie Keane, not yet a household name in the US.

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from Ed Upright

"Exciting news of Man Utd's commercial ventures overseas. I've never heard the phrase 'gangbusters' before."

Manchester United to open office in United States

"It's going gangbusters in Japan,'' Woodward said. "He was bought for his football skills. The tail never wags the dog but obviously the commercial team here was rubbing their hands at the opportunity that a Japanese player is probably going to do more for us than a Belgian player.'

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from Tim Manns
"The Telegraph's Jim White demonstrates how to squeeze full value out of a metaphor".

whyteintro

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How not to take an indirect free-kick from six yards

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from Graham Stewart

"It's any excuse for a party with the FA. They are celebrating one year to go until their 150th anniversary by distributing photos of a rather apprehensive looking Joe Hart with a copy of the original handwritten laws of the game. Joe can't turn pages with those gloves on so I hope he didn't use his teeth."

joe-hart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Getting shirty notable kits of yesteryear

Blackburn94
Blackburn Rovers home, 1994-95
This Blackburn shirt tells us a lot about the club today. Aside from the familiar blue and white halves, the differences between the two shirts highlights some of the current problems that Rovers face. To start with, the 1994-95 kit had a sponsor. McEwan's, a Scottish brand of lager, became Rovers sponsors in 1991 and stayed on the front of the shirt for five years. Blackburn are currently in their second season without a corporate sponsor having last season donated the space to the Princes Trust and this season rather embarrassingly having the front of the shirt blank.

The 1994-95 strip should evoke some of the best memories for Rovers fans. Alan Shearer scored 34 league goals, the team ended an 81-year wait for an English league title and secured the Premier League on a memorable last day of the season. It was also a time where fans, team and owners were pulling in the same direction – a sad contrast to the club’s current position.

If Blackburn are to recover from the disastrous legacy of Steve Kean and the current shambles of the Venky's regime, evoking the spirit of 1994-95 would be a good start. Perhaps they have taken note. The appointment of Henning Berg – who wore this shirt in that campaign – is a good start. He joins fellow central defender and Premier League winner Colin Hendry on the coaching staff. They’ve got half their defence back – now for a sponsor and promotion. Tom Greene

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19 October 2012 ~

At Arsenal's AGM this week, Arsène Wenger said that the best players are attracted to a club that takes part in the Champions League. "They don't ask if you won the League Cup." Which is just as well.

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persebayaBadge of the week ~ Persebaya Surabaya, Indonesia
It is said that the Indonesian Serpent God, Ishataya, returned home early one night to his Serpent Lair to find the Indonesian Alligator God, Muhua, looking through his stuff. When confronted, Muhua spoke that he had journeyed from the uncharted seas of the Far South where night is absolute and the ocean floor beneath one's stomach swells and shifts with life unknown. And anyway he has a weakness for looking through people's things and the door was open.

Ishataya, who might drown whole countries with a flip of his dorsal fin, made it known that he was surprised that Muhua had the time to go on these long journeys from the Far South because he, personally, found he was too busy monitoring and moderating the behaviour of humankind to do much travelling. Muhua, who with a snap of his mighty jaw may break an island nation in two, gave voice to a sense of surprise at this because he had it on good authority that Ishataya journeyed North every Friday at 4pm to stay with his wife's family and did not return until Monday morning.

There followed a prolonged chase around an underwater statue until they were both useless with exhaustion and had to be signed off for three weeks, during which time humanity went to pieces. Persebaya's badge warns of the dangers of in-fighting, especially the sub-aquatic passive-aggressive kind. Cameron Carter

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For once, some state-of-the-art technology is being put to a good use.

heskeyUSE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Now that the Metropolitan Police are in the first round proper of the FA Cup, we'll be hearing more about their rather literal mascot (he's the one on the right).

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from Ross Burton
"Someone is unimpressed with non-League football in the Midlands.

wilsonwiki

 

 

 

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The Where's Wally? 25th anniversary special includes Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Joe Hart, Glen Johnson, Trevor Brooking, Kelly Smith and Faye White. No sign of John Terry, though.

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from Steve Morgan
"All very grand, but sadly no mention of Jimmy Armfield."

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This week in history ~ Division One, October 26, 1991

d1 261091

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table

Leeds United's defeat of Oldham, through an own goal by Brian Kilcline, put them top of Division One for the first time since their last League title in 1973-74. They then swapped places with Manchester United a few times until April when their rivals lost three games in a row. The last of these, a 2-0 defeat at Liverpool in the penultimate fixture, was decisive. Leeds' 3-2 win at Sheffield United on the same day made them the last Division One champions as the Premier League launched the following season.

Lee Chapman was Leeds' top scorer with 16 goals, five ahead of winger Rod Wallace. Eric Cantona made 15 appearances, the majority as a substitute, after signing from Nimes in February 1992. Howard Wilkinson's team included an international midfield quartet of Scots Gary McAllister and Gordon Strachan, Welshman Gary Speed and David Batty of England. Left-back Tony Dorigo and goalkeeper John Lukic were also England internationals. Sky TV's Chris Kamara made the last of his 20 appearances for the club in their match with Oldham.

This was the second time that Man Utd had been runners-up under Alex Ferguson, who became manager in 1986, although they had also finished in the bottom half twice. Ryan Giggs, who was about to turn 18, made 40 appearances. Brian McClair was their top scorer with 18, two of which had given his side a half-time lead at Hillsborough.

Wednesday, managed by Trevor Francis, came back to win that match through Nigel Jemson and David Hirst. The latter was also his side's top scorer (18). He won three England caps during the season but his international progress was to be halted by persistent injuries. Wednesday's third-place finish was their best since being runners-up in 1960-61.

West Ham dropped into the relegation places after a defeat at Neil Warnock's Notts County in late December and finished bottom. County were 21st, having endured a run of 15 matches without a win starting on New Year's Day. They also helped to relegate Luton who lost at Meadow Lane on the final day and finished two points behind fourth-bottom Coventry.

Ian Wright, who got one of Arsenal's goals in their win over Notts County, was the division's top scorer with 29, five of which were with his previous team, Crystal Palace. Gary Lineker of Spurs came second with 28, including one in his side's defeat at West Ham. There were only 18 foreign players in action with the 22 clubs this weekend, Liverpool having the most with four – Bruce Grobbelaar, Glenn Hysen, Jan Molby and Ronnie Rosenthal.

A small portion of despair and enlightenment delivered to your inbox every Friday
19 October 2012 ~

John Terry's not appealing.

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chelsBadge of the week ~ Chelsea
Chelsea's badge alludes to an unsuccessful corporate experiment of the 1950s (when this image was introduced), which seconded lions to the role of Crossing Patrol in many London boroughs as part of a broader human-lion integration scheme countrywide. A previous project, to incorporate lions gradually into the police service, was abandoned because the lions' paws were too big to type up their notes. At first the Crossing Patrol project ran smoothly, with the lions careful to wait for a group of schoolchildren to amass at the kerb rather than stopping the traffic for each individual.

Problems started to arise, however, after lunchtime, when lions are traditionally at their most sleepy. At home time, many of them, still a bit grouchy from their nap, started to respond badly to criticism from impatient motorists. It began with severe glares, progressed to verbal abuse and escalated swiftly to the owner of a Peugeot 403 getting eaten from the knees up. As a result, the lions were returned to their zoos, although integration experiments continued into the early 1960s – cow astronauts, ibis playground supervisors – until they were discontinued indefinitely following the Cuban Missile Crisis. Chelsea's crest says: "Don’t mess with us, we're not in the game to make friends." Cameron Carter

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from Richard Orrell

"Is it childish to find the second line of Shepshed Dynamo's address funny? Probably, yes."

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from David Adams

"Is this German newsstand making a point about Louis van Gaal?"

VanGaal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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from Simon Melville
"There's a hell of a metaphor at work in the intro to this story about Bournemouth."

eels

 

 

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Steve McManaman hasn't lost his Spanish since leaving Madrid. The accent needs a bit of work, though.

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from Stuart Stratford
"I’m not sure but I think this paragraph on Spurs' Wikipedia page might be a fib."

spuds

 

 

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Getting shirty Notable kits of yesteryear

germioGrêmio home, 1987-89
One of the most recognisable jerseys in Brazilian football, Grêmio's blue, black and white tricolor dates back to the early 1900s. The choice of colours was motivated partly by market forces – the original design of blue and tan had to be abandoned when brown fabric proved too tricky to source, leading to its replacement by a pragmatic black.

This shirt from the late 1980s, produced by Brazilian sportswear giant Penalty (the English spelling, rather than the Portuguese pênalti, hints at the country's occasional infatuation with Anglophone culture), is a notable vintage for two reasons. Firstly, it was the result of some hardball negotiating with sponsors Coca-Cola in 1987. Grêmio rejected Coca-Cola's traditional logo – whose red and white colour scheme coincides with that of the club's fiercest rivals, Internacional – insisting instead on a black background.

Secondly, the shirt was still in use when the club won the inaugural Copa do Brasil in 1989. Goals from midfielders Assis and Cuca (who would later have a brief and unsuccessful spell as Grêmio manager) gave the Imortal Tricolor a 2-1 aggregate win over Sport in the final. Jack Lang

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