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1 March 2013 ~

Some fans who want Rafa Benítez to be sacked also demand the return of the "old Chelsea". This would mean a team managed by Geoff Hurst and Bobby Gould in the bottom half of the second division. Let's hope their dreams come true.


dunkerque150Badge of the week ~ USL Dunkerque, France
Dunkerque have chosen the dolphin, an animal that traditionally represents intelligence and aimless swimming, for their emblematic image. Here the Dunkerque dolphin is showing off one of the more standard dolphin skills, that of leaping from the water to head a ball put into the mixer by a pleased-looking woman with a box of fish.

The dolphins usually begin with the leap for a ball, then move on to the hoop, before ending with the finale of synchronised walk-on-water and aqua ballet. The Dominican Republic dolphins' rendition of La Bohème, with a beach ball symbolising tuberculosis, is still talked about on the Caribbean cruise circuit.

Dunkerque clearly wish to present themselves as an intelligent side, easily trained. The motto, Contre Vents et Marées, may be translated as "Against Vents and Marys", two naturally occurring hazards in the region. Cameron Carter


from Carl Gouldson

"The profile photos used on Wikipedia are required to be free of copyright but whoever maintains the Terry Venables entry could surely have found a less disturbing image?


We've recently rediscovered a quite difficult map quiz devised by a creative thinker at the Football League – made harder by referring to stadiums only by their sponsored names.


from Simon Jones

"Two questions arise from the opening line of the Mirror's report on the Huddersfield v Wigan FA Cup tie. Was the meat pie really invented in Wigan and is Callum McManaman edible?"


Reassuring news for Wolves fans – their manager has checked the bookies' odds and they're not among the favourites to go down. Will this feature in team talks from now on?



from Luke Healey
"Check out this picture of what appears to be Adolf Hitler modelling Fenerbahce's first ever kit."


Getting shirty Notable kits of yesteryear

blose150Birmingham City home, 2000-01
While the early 2000s were some of the best years for Birmingham on the pitch, we did a tour of second-rate kit suppliers (Le Coq Sportif, Diadora, Lonsdale) and appeared in a range of shades, none of which could be described as royal blue. By far the best, however, was introduced for 2000-01. It was an understated effort and welcome return to all-blue with white trim after the horrendous striped shirt, nicknamed the Tesco given its similarity to the supermarket's bags, which preceded it.

After being sponsored by Auto Windscreens for every year since we won the shield back in 1995, this was the last time their name would adorn our shirts. (Phones 4U were their somewhat gaudy successors.) Our proud tradition of penalty-bungling under Trevor Francis was upheld to ensure a loss in both the League Cup final and play-off semis. Andy Johnson was the fall-guy at the Millennium Stadium and he was tearfully embraced by his manager after missing the decisive kick.

Then Deepdale was the scene for yet more play-off heartache. The referee decided to hold the shootout in front of the Preston fans rather than at the empty end of the ground. Francis huffily led his players off the pitch in protest before they were convinced to return. The needless distraction proved costly; even the usually reliable Darren Purse failed from 12 yards as the hosts went through.

We've been up and down several times since then but never with the same wide-eyed innocence. For this reason the 2000-01 shirt retains a nostalgic quality, recalling the era when Geoff Horsfield was our record signing and we had hopes as yet untainted by the grim reality of the top flight. Sean Cole

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