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12 April 2013 ~

The introduction of goal-line technology is almost upon us. Ten years from now, when we're sitting down staring at the giant screens, adverts flying in from all directions and the children going "Oooooooooo" in anticipation of the Big Decision Sponsored By Red Bull about whether it was, indeed, a free-kick for a push in the centre circle, we will think it wasn't such a good idea after all.

abingdon150Badge of the week ~ Abingdon United
There never used to be a football team in Abingdon. Not one. In the early 20th century this was a largely Methodist area and Methodists, broadly speaking, disapprove of three things, namely football, tea breaks and eating a biscuit while reading over someone's shoulder. Football was disapproved of in particular because it involved intense relationships between young men habitually punctuated by episodes of closeted same-sex nudity.

The lack of a designated place to play football in the neighbourhood meant that clandestine kickabouts would take place in residential areas after dusk. Because football was played after dark and on the streets, hundreds of residents' windows were broken every year. Northcourt Road was particularly affected, with 12 windows, two greenhouses and an ice sculpture of Wilfred Pickles damaged in January 1946 alone. The Luftwaffe did less damage. The council had to take action and Abingdon United were formed in time for the first post-war season in August.

On their crest Abingdon remember these bleak pre-football times – the country still squirming in the iron grip of rationing and still 40 years before Ant and Dec got their own television show. Cameron Carter


Whoops. A Radio 5 Live presenter fails to realise he's talking about Martin O'Neill's sacking with University of Edinburgh student Michael Gray, not ex-Sunderland player Michael Gray.


from Rob Henderson
"Further to the recent Howl item about the Subbuteo England mascot, this is apparently the Queen Mother. Except that she's wearing a Beatle wig and, ulp, has no face.


Venky's involvement with Blackburn Rovers has helped spread their name far and wide – as this banner at Wrestlemania shows.



from Tim Manns

"If my maths is correct Guernsey FC will end the season with 21 games in 37 
days. And Rafa Benítez thinks he's got it tough."


from Sam Swaffield
"Bill Kenwright's nous in the transfer market is perhaps underplayed by the media."



Getting shirty Notable kits of yesteryear

weds03150Sheffield Wednesday home, 2003-05
Sheffield Wednesday's first stint in the third tier since the dark days of 1975-80 brought with it a new shirt. Aesthetically, it was acceptable; a satisfying shade of royal blue with chunky stripes made by Diadora, who had replaced Puma in 2001. Yet a few things grate: the back was plain rather than striped and the sponsorship and manufacturer logos, both stuck on in a cheap, tacky fashion, cut through the stripes on the front. The middle stripe was white rather than blue as well. We're quite particular about our stripes in Sheffield 6.

Gone was the flowery Chupa Chups sponsorship – much joked about but still one of the few global brands to have associated themselves with the Owls – to be replaced by the local Napoleons Casinos. Owned by Wednesday's chairman at the time, Dave Allen, it was a sign of how desperate the mess was at Hillsborough under his reign. The prime space was purchased, at a knockdown price, because no one else wanted it.

A couple of years later Allen would call press conferences for the sole purpose of criticising reporters and branding groups of fans "scum", "a bunch of cretins" and one female shareholder who dared to question him at an AGM a "venomous bitch". Despite stepping down as chairman in 2007, he didn't sell his shares until Milan Mandaric turned up in 2010 and is now working his magic at Chesterfield in League Two.

On the pitch the shirt brings mixed emotions for Owls fans. On the downside it adorned the team, led by Chris Turner, who finished 16th in their first season in the third tier, just three points above the relegation zone and the second-lowest placing in our history. On the plus side it was still our shirt a year later when, guided by Paul Sturrock, we beat Hartlepool United 4-2 at the Millennium Stadium to gain promotion via the play-offs – a day that will long bring a smile to the 40,000-plus Wednesdayites there that day. Tom Hocking

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