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12 October 2012 ~
England's new national training centre St George's Park finally opened this week. As well as the sporting facilities there is a Hilton hotel featuring suites named after former England players and managers. The Greenwood and Ramsey rooms are quiet and restful but no one gets much sleep in the Eriksson suite.
Badge of the week ~ Sutton United
Sutton United start off along traditional lines. They have the shield and scroll, the ever-symbolic keys and the rustly border of cabbage leaves around the great armorial headpiece. At this point, one would think, the designer could quite reasonably knock off for the day, submitting the finished artwork in an envelope on the way out. Instead, the artist has looked at length on their work and decided that it needed something more. Something, they have mused to themselves, is missing. You or I might have added a crown at the top, or a crucifix perhaps, possibly a burning torch if we were feeling a bit giddy after watching the traffic on the dual carriageway, but this individual has decided, upon reflection, that what was missing here was a luminous green pigeon wearing a scarf.
Surely, a knight of old would feel a little self-conscious, pressing his charger into the joust with a luminous green pigeon wearing a scarf attached to his helmet. The audience, asked to wager on either the Black Knight or the Luminous Green Pigeon Knight, would know intuitively where to put their medieval money. As it turns out, the keys represent Spiritual Enlightenment Through Earthly Knowledge, while the pigeon represents Drinking At The Weekend. Cameron Carter
Bury's new manager Kevin Blackwell makes a bizarre topical comparison: "Some of the signings have been garbage. The jury's out on some of them and I make judgments quickly. Unlike Abu Hamza, who took 14 years, I'll make a judgment quickly and I'll move them out."
from Mark Holme
"Leeds Utd fans will be pleased that Ken Bates is on his way out. But they might have cause to be wary of David Haigh, chief executive of the potential new owners. The new Garry Cook, perhaps?"
from Brad Woodhouse
"In Aston Villa's match programme for the derby against West Bromwich Albion, there's an advert for West House Independent Preparatory School for Boys (founded 1895). Just ten grand a year. Modern football, eh?"
from Piers Pennington
"I know that given their enormous wealth Manchester City should be capable of anything, but surely the Observer's Paul Wilson is expecting a bit much from a full-back here?"
This week in history ~ Division Two, October 13, 1973
Jack Charlton's Middlesbrough led from the end of September and were champions by 15 points, a divisional record under two points for a win. Their success was based around a tight defence which conceded only eight goals at home and a powerful midfield featuring 20-year-old Graeme Souness and his fellow Scot, Bobby Murdoch, a European Cup-winner with Celtic.
Like his older brother, Bobby Charlton was experiencing a first season in management, at Preston. But after today's victory they won only four more games and went down in 21st place. The goal against Sunderland was a penalty by Neil Young, who had got Man City's winner against Leicester in the FA Cup final four years earlier. The Preston side included Charlton's old Man Utd and England colleague Nobby Stiles, who became the club's manager in 1977.
The Sunderland side that lost at Preston included nine of the 11 who had caused one of the biggest upsets in FA Cup history when beating Leeds 1-0 in the 1973 final. The two players missing were central defenders: Richie Pitt, who had retired through injury aged 22, and Dave Watson, who was to become an England regular after joining Man City in 1975. Sunderland finished sixth, two points off a promotion place.
Luton were runners-up behind Middlesbrough, having been in the top three for most of the season. Their winner against Swindon was scored by another ex-Man Utd player, winger John Aston, who had been in United's European Cup-winning team in 1968.
Orient had to beat Villa at home in their final match to go up in third place. But a 1-1 draw meant they missed out by one point to Carlisle, whose season had concluded with a home victory over Villa six days earlier. Orient (contrary to this table, they had dropped "Leyton" from their name in 1966 and only regained it in 1987) haven't come close to promotion from the second level since. Carlisle's debut season in Division One ended in relegation and they went down again in 1975-76.
Malcolm Allison's Crystal Palace looked doomed after winning only two of their first 24 matches. A run of six victories in ten then lifted them out of the bottom three, but they went down on the final day after drawing at Cardiff while relegation rivals Sheffield Wednesday beat Bolton. Swindon finished bottom after being in the relegation places for almost the entire season.