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20 January 2012 ~

David de Gea is to have laser eye surgery to correct a problem with his vision. If it works, there is at least one figure in football who would benefit from the same procedure. As he often indicates, Arsène Wenger can't seem to spot any fault in his players. The flaw is so bad that surgery may be the only solution.

Badge of the week ~ Al-Mabarrah, Lebanon
The badge of Al-Mabarrah (it somehow seems more appropriate to use this syntax with a Middle Eastern subject, rather than "Al-Mabarrah's badge" – deeply ingrained) depicts an ancient dance tent, on the site of which the new football club was originally built. In the football dance tent, people who had travelled for many days would try to firstly find the Knower of All Football among the heaving throng and secondly, ask him their question by shouting it into his ear and having the Knower of All Football shout his response in theirs while busting out some moves. Many increased their knowledge of football miraculously in this way, but there was also a significant number who came away more confused than before, owing to the level of noise in the tent. 

One seeker of truth, who had asked how to bring harmony to his team's dressing room was given the answer "Craig Bellamy". This answer perplexed and saddened the man, who didn't wish to question the Knower's expertise, but also didn't fancy returning to his manager with this answer, especially after claiming £200 Lebanese in travel expenses. It turns out the Knower had actually said "Make lemon tea". After several of these misunderstandings came to light, the Knower of All Football changed his operational HQ to a small office above a fabrics retailer. Cameron Carter

Gary Lineker's tetchiness over a failing auto-cue was left in the broadcast version of Match of the Day last Saturday. Was someone annoyed with him?

Here's a nice graphic expression of Robbie Keane's complex football allegiances.








from Mark Holme

"If Paul Scholes turned out for one of my five-a-side team's opponents I'd be demanding compensation for trauma as well as a 3-0 score reversal. I bet he just scowled after each goal too."

from Tom Lines

"The best Wikipedia wind-ups are those that are clearly rubbish but still manage to persuade you to take a couple of minutes to establish their veracity because you desperately want them to be true. It is with a heavy heart, therefore, that I can confirm there is no record of disgraced TV chef Antony Worrall Thompson ever having funded his own non-League cup competition. Shame really, as it sounded like a cracking final."



Silly wine merchant for not knowing that Yaya Toure only drinks keg bitter.

Getting shirty Notable kits of yesteryear

Northampton Town 1997-98

This was the shirt that signalled a big change at Northampton Town. Brought in at the start of the 1997-98 season, the team were ready to start life in Division Two. "Frain" was the name every fan wanted on the back of their shirt, following the on-loan left-back's goal from a 93rd-minute free-kick that won the Division Three play-off final the season before. The goal gave John Frain (he was promptly signed) immediate cult status. 

This new era for the Cobblers was demonstrated by the club choosing to have a "mobile phone company" as their shirt sponsor. I say company, but it was a shop that operated on the Wellingborough Road – an unlikely source of a number of the club's shirt sponsors past and present. One of the club's more adventurous designs, it moved away from the previous block of claret in favour of a three-tiered option. This shirt was also available in a centenary edition, which featured a different badge marking the club's 100 years of existence.

The shirt served the club well initially. Ian Atkins's side almost made it two promotions on the trot, but they missed out to Grimsby in the play-off final. Most notably worn by defenders Ian Sampson (who went on to make 449 appearances for the club and then managed it) and captain Ray Warburton, the club had the joint best defensive record in the division that season, conceding just 37 goals. Unfortunately the team were relegated the season after, and the town's optimism has never quite been restored. Most people now choose to wear the shirts of the far more successful rugby team instead. Tom Shepherd

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