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14 September 2012 ~

At Man City's new training ground, apparently staff will be able to change the grass so it matches the next pitch City will play an away game on. They will also replicate the atmosphere at certain grounds. Flares will be let off to recreate European games, people will stand in corporate boxes with their backs to the action and someone will keep clanging a bell in preparation for the next trip to Portsmouth (could be a while).

san-giovanBadge of the week ~ San Giovanni, San Marino
San Giovanni champion the underdog in their club badge. The little dog centre stage is Popo, mythologised in San Marino as the Dog Who Saved Humanity From Eternal Night By Journeying To The Underworld. Or Popo for short. A long time ago, before postal workers wore shorts all the time, the San Marinan gods were angered by mortals and decided to obliterate daylight. This was not as impetuous as it sounds as they had previously imposed sanctions on the public on a sliding scale – obliterating chives, bank holidays and naturally curly hair – in the hope that the mortals' behaviour might improve.

When these warnings were ignored, Starless Night fell indefinitely on the whole of the country. As no one knew what to do about this (the problem had simply never come up before), the people were sore afraid and also less productive generally. Then a young goatherd had a dream that suggested day would return if someone journeyed to the Underworld beneath the Three Volcanoes of Impega and returned with the Imprisoned Flame of Arbitron. The people, being sore afraid still and also having trouble adjusting to the dark, were loath to do this, so the goatherd's little dog took it upon himself to fulfil this task on humanity's behalf.

It was a hazardous journey, especially as there were many stiles in the Underworld and dogs are wary of stiles. Fortunately for Popo, however, the Lord of the Underworld had finished with the Flame anyway and he just gave it to him. Day was restored to San Marino and the dog was given a ball as a reward that was too big for him to carry in his mouth. Cameron Carter


from Ross Burton
"Having seen Richard Kingson play, I wonder if his wife's alleged sorcery was initially applied to the managers who decided to sign him."


Last week Usain Bolt warmed up for his Old Trafford debut by playing six-a-side in Uxbridge. He's quite nippy.


from Chris Ogden
"I wonder if this Wikipedia entry was written by David Bentley's agent before he was contacted by the intelligentsia of Rostov."









Following their trip to Georgia this week, Spain are now lining up a friendly in Arkansas.


The long-ball game can be highly effective.


Getting shirty Notable kits of yesteryear


Boyaca Chico away, 2007-08
Named after a plush Bogota park, Boyaca Chico began life 15 years ago in the lowly Colombian amateur leagues. Back then they bore the name Bogota Chico and, by the turn of the century, they had established themselves as the capital's third team behind giants Millonarios and Santa Fe.

But with no fans, yawning debts and a lack of support from the local council, they felt unloved. When the neighbouring county, Boyaca, came calling with a flash of cash, Chico decamped to its provincial capital, Tunja, but the park name remained. Bogota Chico became Chico of Boyaca and the park's eastern castle gates still adorn the club's crest, maintaining its link with the past.

Also remaining is the club's strip, a fetching checked top that has progressed through several colour combinations to reach today's match of white and blue for home games with green and white squares for away trips. Rather predictably, they are nicknamed the Chessmen.

In 2003 Chico won promotion to the first division and, four years later, were crowned champions – the smallest club ever to have lifted a Colombian league trophy. But, despite being ever present in the top flight since, trouble now looms large. Last December fellow Tunja side Patriotas shocked America de Cali in a relegation/promotion play-off. A tiny city of 150,000 only has room for one first division club, and with Patriotas' organic roots reaching far deeper than Chico's, the Chessmen again face an uncertain future. Carl Worswick

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