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3 February 2012 ~
The decision to delay John Terry's trial until after Euro 2012 suggests that other England players have a few months to indulge in law-breaking activities. Not that international footballers would ever get involved with affray, speeding, indecent exposure or taking recreational drugs.
Badge of the week ~ Africa Sports National, Ivory Coast
This badge is absolutely a hall of mirrors. Part badge, part ink-blot test, Africa Sports' crest has a dual message. Some see here a lofty hawk eyeing the landscape for its next kill. The poet Ted Hughes, gazing upon this still, majestic creature, went straight home and wrote: "My manners are tearing off heads/The allotment of death." (There was no Facebook in his day, otherwise he would have gone straight home and typed "Saw hawk" in his status update and logged off to watch The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.) Yet others see no hawk, no agent of death or totalitarian symbolism, but a duck lounging around in Ray-Bans, shooting the breeze. It depends largely on the personality of the viewer.
The designer's brief was to create an intimidating image of controlled aggression, while incorporating a subtle nod to the pacifist counter-culture in order to appeal to the maximum amount of people in the region. There is an interesting complexity here, though, as the duck-seers themselves divide into two sub-sections: those who see the duck's attitude as relaxed and those who sense a Bolshevik insolence in his posture. What Africa Sports National are saying here is – there is a hawk and a duck in all of us. If Ted Hughes ever saw a duck and rushed straight home to write about it, we do not have the document. Cameron Carter
from Peter Howard
"Quite a startling, almost apocalyptic, opening paragraph in the Times' report on Arsenal's FA Cup win over Villa?
from Volker Stewart
"The consistently irritating Ray Hudson from last week's Howl makes the common mistake of attributing an advanced degree to the Vulcan Spock by referring to him as 'Dr Spock'. Both Mr and Dr Spock were huge influences in my childhood, but in rather different ways. Perhaps he meant that Leo Messi saw each Malaga defender as an individual, to be respected for their unique traits."
from Chris Ormandy
"In this picture Ludwig van Beethoven bears a striking similarity to a certain Match of the Day pundit and holder of many superfluous Premier League era goalscoring records. Perhaps Alan should look into his German lineage."
Can anyone explain why Steve McClaren is so startled by the advertising boards? Or had he just drank too much coffee that day?
Part of a new series in the Guardian which a major current affairs story will be illustrated with a quote from Alex Ferguson:
How much easier the lives of football fans in Birmingham would be if they weren't faced with a Manichean choice.
Getting shirty Notable kits of yesteryear
Real Betis away, 1995-97
Real Betis won promotion to the Primera Division in 1994, with Lorenzo Serra Ferrer as coach. Back in the top flight after three years absence, they surprised even themselves by finishing third. The following year they showed their new-found confidence by choosing this angular Kappa number for their second kit. Shady president Manuel Ruiz de Lopera found cash (presumably from record-breaking replica shirt sales) for flash new signings like Nigerian winger Finidi George from Ajax and Croatian raiding full-back Robert Jarni. These fitted into an attacking team spearheaded by Spanish international forwards Alfonso and Oli.
The 1996-97 season brought a fourth-place finish in La Liga and a Copa del Rey final at the Bernabéu against Bobby Robson's Barcelona. Alfonso put Betis ahead, Figo equalised with a cracker, Finidi put Betis back in front, only for an 88th-minute Pizzi header to bring extra time. Figo scored a very lucky winner, leading to celebrations during which a fresh-faced assistant coach and/or translator named José Mourinho declared he would always have Barca in his heart.
Despite the defeat, Betis fans still remember the final fondly. Their pain was lessened by the relegation of their city-rivals Sevilla that same month. The following season brought a less successful new away kit (white with one thick central black stripe), and a change of fortunes. Ferrer fell out with Lopera and quit. The team he built slipped away, and Betis were back in La Segunda within three years. Dermot Corrigan