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15 February 2013 ~
Members of the Manchester City squad now call out the stops on the city's tram service. Roberto Mancini's contribution is to point out directions to the airport.
Badge of the week ~ Blyth Spartans
They used to have a lot of trouble with snakes in the north-east, in particular the Terrible Poisonous Flying Snake of Blyth & Bedlington. Just a glimpse of its green-and-white stripes in the undergrowth (by undergrowth here we mean undeveloped land behind the abattoir earmarked for new, affordable housing by the council 20 years ago) could send a man mad with terror. Many is the time an unwary local was killed outright, mid-butty, by a snake flying in to inject them with lethal venom from a clear grey sky. Residents lived in constant fear of their lives until the day the boy with the club hand and white hoodie appeared.
Viewed with suspicion at first by locals, this figure earned a place in folk history when a Terrible Poisonous Flying Snake attacked him one night at a bus stop. Without hesitating, the young man punched the snake in the head, killing it instantly. Thereafter, with hordes of vigilantes roaming the streets punching snakes in the head, the Terrible Poisonous Flying Snake problem gradually became a thing of the past. It was soon replaced by another problem in that the new ring-road built to alleviate traffic congestion only served to isolate the mature road network system and increased travel distance in the city centre. Cameron Carter
from Simon Hart
"The discovery of Richard III's remains proved invaluable for a reporter covering a recent Reading match."
from Peter Sidell
"It looks as if in anticipation of his (probably imminent) departure from Chelsea, Rafa Benítez has opened an opticians in the suburbs of Tokyo."
Mark Lawrenson rarely does well in head-to-head match predictions. This week he was beaten by Hulk Hogan, who wasn't even trying.
from Brad Woodhouse
"I know they have financial problems, but Birmingham City's new scouting system may leave a bit to be desired."
from Phil Town
"You'd think the photographers would let Joãozinho, Sporting Lisbon’s new left-back, get unplugged from his medical before they started snapping."
from Duncan Blackwell
"Preston fans are not sorry that the eccentric Graham Westley's reign as manager is over. No doubt he deserved an apology for this Sun story but it seemed entirely plausible at the time."
Getting shirty Notable kits of yesteryear
Hearts home, 1990-91
This 1990-91 kit is notable for the fact that despite the garish flashes which were in vogue at the time it is still recognisably a Hearts shirt. The colours and badge may have been very different if the previous season's takeover bid by Wallace Mercer for city rivals Hibs hadn't foundered in the face of huge opprobrium from the public, and the Proclaimers. Sponsors Miller Homes were probably more comfortable with Mercer, who had convinced them to offer up a house as a raffle prize a few seasons previously.
The season's first derby between the resistant and still resolutely separate parts of Mercer’s "Edinburgh United" vision took place in September. In a match disrupted by pitch invasions and general disorder, Hearts cantered to a 3-0 half-time lead. The bedlam abated slightly to allow a goal-less second half to be played out. The replacement of respected manager Alex MacDonald with Joe Jordan prior to the game was overshadowed by the day's events.
Hearts' derby record stands out as a bright spot for the season, as they drew the next game and comfortably won the two remaining fixtures. A creditable UEFA Cup performance saw an exit to Bologna in the second round while Airdrieonians' 2-1 win in the Scottish Cup third round meant that Hearts' trophy drought extended towards the 30-year mark. A fifth-place finish in the league only confirmed the mediocrity. Rob Morgan