2015

A small portion of despair and enlightenment delivered to your inbox every Friday

18 December 2015 ~ 

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There is already much speculation about José Mourinho's successor. It would be nice to return to the days when Chelsea fans genuinely believed that Neil Warnock could "do a job" for them. Those times seem unlikely to come back, but fingers crossed anyway

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Arouca150Badge of the week ~ FC Arouca, Portugal
In the early days of Christianity in Europe (I forget the exact kind of time, but it was definitely before people started colour-coding data), one of the pioneering emissaries of the new religion in Portugal was an ex-wardrobe manufacturer named Miguel. Previous to exposure to The Word, Miguel had been quite an unpopular wardrobe-maker, demanding payment by ten days and occasionally secreting a bit of graffiti – for example "Manuel di Campo is a ponce" surreptitiously carved into the side strut of a drop-leaf table – on the product of a late payer. 

After his conversion, Miguel started being so uncharacteristically nice and also relaxed about payments that the authorities became suspicious and he was quickly identified as an enemy of the state. Miguel was forced to flee and crossed the river in a jolly boat at night, carefully camouflaged with leaves and branches to look like a floating tree or something. Unfortunately, he also took with him the eight-foot wooden crucifix he had made himself, for protection, and this was spotted by an alert member of the militia on river duty. 

Miguel was subsequently martyred on his own cross and later became St Miguel, patron saint of ill-advised hand luggage. He is commemorated on FC Arouca’s badge for his courage and as a warning to over-packers. Cameron Carter

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Not the most exciting segment Sky Sports News have ever come up with.

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from Phil Ball
“I'm not sure who Whitehawk’s main rivals are, but the Wikipedia author would appear to be one of them.”

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from Phil Town

Paulo Futre is starring in an advert for Libidium, which ‘increases sexual performance and stimulates the libido’. The 'motor' is ... well you probably get the idea.”

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It’s possible that Northampton won’t score a better free-kick this season.

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Also in the news this week
Liverpool celebrate home draw with West Brom
Chelsea lower their sights
Full body nutmeg at Trabzonspor

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The Howl is now going on a Christmas break, it will be back in the new year.

 

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4 December 2015 ~ 

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FIFA's latest big idea is to scrap their 24-person executive committee, previously responsible for voting on World Cup hosting, in favour of a 36-member FIFA Council. Because a 50 per cent increase in first-class flights and five-star hotels is exactly what you need to root out a culture of entitlement.

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Korhogo150Badge of the week ~ CO de Korhogo, Ivory Coast
The X-rayed Duck of Ivory Coast is not a well-known figure globally – indeed the 2008 Hollywood film The Fantastic Four Take On The X-Ray Duck Between Visits To Radiology did poor business, especially as it was up against There Will Be Blood and Kung Fu Panda. Yet in the Ivory Coast, the X-Rayed Duck is a key reference point for anyone discussing breakthroughs in veterinary diagnosis or general hypochondria. 

In some tales, the X-rayed Duck insists on further investigation of stomach pains until he is finally x-rayed, revealing nothing out of the ordinary. It is later revealed that he has been eating discarded cigarette butts through sheer aquatic nihilism. Another time he is x-rayed for a persistent fizzing sound in his head which turns out to be the sound of his contact lens cleaner working as he sleeps. Once he really did become poorly after swallowing two vegan samosas (pictured) and he nearly died owing to the understandable apathy of his nearest radiology department.

It is not known why the X-rayed Duck features so prominently in the country’s folklore or why it appears on Korhogo’s badge, but it may be because he lived to great old age simply through believing he was dying at every twinge or spell of heartburn. He is perhaps a symbol of longevity and inventiveness that any team might aspire to. Cameron Carter

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from Carl Jones
Kevin Keegan finally outs himself as a Plymouth fan (he could always fulfil a dream of his six-year-old self by giving us a helping hand).”

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The latest indignity for Leeds supporters – a mandatory £5 pie tax on tickets.

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Tattooing trends among footballers reach a new level of absurdity.

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China’s top ten fouls of 2015.

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Also in the news this week
Steve McClaren mocked by Sunderland fan
Charlton’s “two per cent” in revolt
Liverpool top the table – in agents’ fees

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27 November 2015 ~ 

FIFA's ethics committee has sprung into action. A charity has received the 48 luxury watches – worth £16,000 each – initially gifted to FIFA executives by the Brazilian FA last year. The next step will apparently be to invite auction bids for a 79-year-old Swiss citizen with extensive experience in global sports management. No reserve price has been set.

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Gandzasar150Badge of the week ~ Gandzasar, Armenia
The nominated key-holder for Gandzasar FC was originally a grizzly bear. A small club, run on a modest budget, Gandzasar operated with the help of several volunteers. However, for insurance purposes, it was not possible for the keys to the club to be held by a volunteer or part-time worker and so they were left with a grizzly bear who lived in a nearby cave.

Although the keys were safe enough with the bear, the situation was not ideal as, whenever the club secretary wanted to get into the building of a morning, he would have to journey up into the hills with a guide and a bear expert and then wait patiently for the bear to be distracted with historically accurate pictures of the Theban women while the guide nipped in and grabbed the keys. The secretary would have to wake up as early as 4 am as sometimes the bear was not distracted by the Theban pictures and they would have to wait until the delicatessen in town opened to deceive it with German fried herring, for which it was an absolute fool.

Finally, the club employed a full-time caretaker and the bear was relieved of his duties. Angered by his summary dismissal, the bear came down to vent his fury on staff but was deeply unsettled by the sight of a man wearing marigold gloves in the kitchen and left the area entirely soon afterwards. The bear is remembered in the club crest though for its reliability in the absence of good herring. Cameron Carter

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Dover suddenly turn into Barcelona.

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Of all the online petitions that have been set up, this may be the most vital yet.

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from Keith Upton
Brechin keeper goes to wrong ground. Some Villa fans may wish Brad Guzan had done this recently.”

Meanwhile Aston Villa are looking for a new head of marketing and brand. Part of the remit is to "drive sales across ticketing, hospitality, retail and partnerships through a clear creative strategy”. Maybe the club could just start winning a few matches instead?

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from Ian Holmes
Gary Lineker is airing some quite robust views these days. I assume he won’t be lined up for a one-to-one interview with Sepp at any point.”

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Also in the news this week
Roberto Mancini should have put his boots on
In defence of "over-sized merchants of fun"
Jose Mourinho takes an opportunity to bait Graeme Le Saux
St Pauli win back rights to pirate logo

 

 

 

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20 November 2015 ~ 

The Premier League has topped a poll of British icons that best represent the country in the eyes of the world. Controlled by oligarchs, hedge funds and ruling dynasties in Gulf states – sounds about right.

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SouthAfrica150Badge of the week ~ South African FA
Only a week after the founder members of the South African Football Association had sat for their inaugural meeting, discussing the finer points of the rules (should running be legalised, for example, or was it preferable for the pitch to be criss-crossed with a tram network), one of the committee was standing at his kitchen sink on a wild and stormy evening, with his hands in the washing-up water. 

An action point arising from the meeting had been the creation of a logo for the fledgling association. Several ideas had been floated: the mayor of Johannesburg had posited “an eagle and a star”, the district Aatorney thought “a bear with a definite problem”, while the FA’s new treasurer suggested “a child with a bag with a hole in it”. These had all been rejected and, pondering the issue at home, our man gazed out through the window blinds just in time to see a crazed individual fly past in a bath on wheels, holding a vast golf umbrella out to the wind.

The individual in the bath was well-known in the area for trying new things (he had previously attempted to explain how electricity works to a social worker) and the sight of his headlong progress inspired the committee to choose this image, as originally witnessed through kitchen blinds, as demonstrative of the resourcefulness and spirit of the South African people. Cameron Carter

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The wind should claim an assist for this goal during Thurrock v Romford.

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Freddy Adu, Hoover salesman.

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Terrify a child this Christmas with a Patrick Thistle mascot toy.

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"There's not a lot out there that hasn't been done,” says footballer turned artist Jody Craddock, “so to think of something original and different was hard." They’re certainly different.

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Meanwhile, the sporting statues project at Sheffield University, as featured in past issues of WSC, has been updated. It now includes this bizarre tribute to Eden Hazard.

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Player stops for a toilet break at the side of the pitch, while his team score.

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Also in the news this week
Zlatan mobbed by team-mates
Kieron Dyer: £10 million for 30 games
Lidl to become football’s official supermarket

A small portion of despair and enlightenment delivered to your inbox every Friday

13 November 2015 ~ 

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From 2016-17, the Football League will be known as the English Football League as part of what it says is a "comprehensive corporate and competition rebranding”. Chief executive Shaun Harvey said: "The new EFL name rightly emphasises the central role our clubs play at the heart of English professional football.” The Welsh clubs, not so much.

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Fuerza300Badge of the week ~ Fuerza Amarilla SC, Ecuador
The badge on the right is the new Fuerza Amarilla badge. The badge on the left is the previous one that apparently required replacing. Clearly the trouble with the previous badge lay in how perfectly adorable it was. A little boy with unkempt hair, struggling to play his favourite game with a ball approximately the same size as his abdomen, is an image that is absolutely right for a seven-year-old boy’s birthday card (or a seven-year-old girl’s, you’re not getting me on that one), but perhaps not quite the image that an ambitious group of alpha male athletes might want to project. 

The new badge is starkly modernistic, not to say futuristic, and now lacks any suggestion of human warmth. It was designed by the new wave South American film director, Enrique Flores, the first film-maker to include an establishing shot of social housing at night without the incidental sound of a dog barking. This dramatic alteration of the badge is aimed at helping to remind the team to dehumanise their opponents before going in for a 50-50 challenge. Cameron Carter


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So, you’ve been reading about El Dorado and have to write something about football clubs’ transfer policy. Why not combine the two
Thanks to Paul Rogerson

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Graeme Souness gets angry, for a change.

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One Maidenhead fan will have some bruises from their last-minute equaliser in the FA Cup.

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There may not be a worse penalty miss in the Highland League this season.

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By going on I’m A Celebrity, Kieron Dyer aims to “change people’s perceptions about footballers in general”. Good luck with that.

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Also in the news this week
Chelsea loanees’ app
Team walk out in protest at offside
Man Utd fans can wear the same shoes as the players

A small portion of despair and enlightenment delivered to your inbox every Friday

6 November 2015 ~ 

Answering a question about his "mystic power" over players during an interview with L'Equipe, Arsène Wenger remarked: "Religiously, it is said that God created man. I am only a guide... I am a facilitator of what is beautiful in man." That's not what he said when he was working with Ray Parlour.

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Roskilde150Badge of the week ~ FC Roskilde, Denmark
A couple of weeks ago we encountered the Bad-Tempered Herring-Gull of Tunisia and now this week we find the Annoyed Penguin Emerging Through Ice of Roskilde. The whole Denmark/penguin association is self-explanatory, but this particular penguin has become part of the region’s iconography owing to an early folk tale involving a young lady who becomes separated from her parents in a very cold part of Denmark. 

After days of travelling wearily on foot, during which she loses one of her glass slippers (the family had only nipped out to buy some milk), she chances on a penguin bobbing at a hole in the ice. For a reason not explained in the text, the young lady asks the penguin if he can help her find her parents. The penguin, struggling to keep hold of its recently caught fish, asks testily if there aren’t any other penguins around that could help her. The young lady tells the penguin that he is the only penguin she has seen. “Because it’s not really my job,” says the penguin, effortfully dropping the fish on the ice, “monitoring the movements of couples. Never has been. Three years ago I gave sketchy directions to a peasant boy looking for a golden flute and since then everyone seems to come to me...”

The young lady apologised quickly and went on her way – she never did find her parents but this setback only spurred her on in life and she rose to become relief anchor on the local radio news. The Annoyed Penguin Emerging Through Ice is a reminder to the people of Roskilde to ensure that the person or creature they’re asking for help has that task as part of their ordinary job description. Cameron Carter

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The player known in Brazil as Ronaldo Fenomeno shows that you can still have quick feet even when you’re the size of a house.

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from Keith Turner
“I had no idea until now that there were official Premier League marbles. Some major names commemorated too – Glen Helder, Mike Whitlow, Dean Blackwell. These are bound to turn up on Antiques Roadshow at some point.”

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from Chris Henderson
“This Dutch player’s team-mates don’t seem overly concerned that he’s been knocked out.”

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Boot theft in Marseille

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Also in the news this week
Wayne Rooney missing in action
New Villa manager’s name is misspelled
And Sky stick Kevin MacDonald’s head on Tim Sherwood’s body
Blatter alight in Edinburgh

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30 October 2015 ~ 

Leeds owner Massimo Cellino is threatening to leave the club after being banned by the League again over a tax conviction in Italy. He says: "Every night I lie awake asking myself: 'Am I good enough?'" The answer, Massimo, is no. Go back to sleep.

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Banbridge150Badge of the week ~ Banbridge Town, Northern Ireland
In Banbridge they have a festival on the first Sunday in March celebrating the inventor of the home gym. SL Donleavy was known to everyone in 19th century Banbridge by his initials, SLD, although some who knew him well found he would respond to just the first two initials, SL, as in: “Is this your package you’ve dropped here on the road, SL?” The doctor on his stag night once tried just “S”, but Donleavy became tearful, explaining that only one person in the world had ever called him just “S”, a pale-skinned, delicate woman who was always in a terrible hurry. 

Anyway, Donleavy, by the age of 40, had put on weight and was heard by his neighbours to be at it with the carpentry all hours. Finally he produced the mechanism seen in the bottom of the crest, the first exercise bicycle (note the solitary wheel – Donleavy had been initially experimenting with an exercise unicycle but was forced to abandon the project owing to injury. The finished version shown here has a backrest for safety and support).

Almost immediately everybody in town had one, although, strangely, no one seemed to become any fitter. Other of his early home gym inventions – the Big Spiky Metal Thing, the 20 Kilo Teardrop and the Wheatsheaf Dumbbell – are also depicted here but were not so readily adopted. Cameron Carter

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The Wombles are always a useful fallback for reporters on Wimbledon games.

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Thanks to Joe Haining

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What would you call new boots which "will chronicle Ronaldo's history from his childhood up until now"? Savage Beauty? That'll do.

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So you’re having a dream about being trapped in a football stadium then you wake up and

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Andrea Pirlo succeeds in protecting his post.

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from Phil Ball
“Javier Mascherano got a two game ban for shouting an obscenity at a referee that referred to his mother’s genitalia (‘La concha de tu madre’) during Barcelona's recent game with Eibar. Barça, fearful that he would get four games and therefore miss the Clásico, appealed the decision by alleging that Mascherano had actually referred to the ref’s sister’s genitalia (‘La concha de tu hermana’). That's OK then.”

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Also in the news this week
Referee held hostage in Trabzon
PA swearing at Bournemouth
A Twente goal celebration no one will want to steal…
and one that would be too difficult to copy, from Venezuela

 

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23 October 2015 ~

Sheikh Salman of Bahrain, who campaigners accuse of "crimes against humanity", says that he is being urged to stand for the FIFA presidency "by a growing number of senior football administrators". He's done well to find any that aren't suspended.

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Tunisia150Badge of the week ~ Tunisia
In Tunisia, the Bad-Tempered Herring-Gull is a standard character in folklore and, indeed, everyday conversation. There is the tale of The Slightly Cursed Princess, in which the Bad-Tempered Herring-Gull appears at the christening of a new princess and really quite spoils the atmosphere. Thereafter, whenever the young princess attempts to use a French phrase in conversation, such as “joie de vivre”, she uses a German accent to emphasise it. As a result of this she is not married until the age of 42.  

Tunisian parents will commonly address the reproach “What would the Bad-Tempered Herring-Gull say?” to poorly behaved children. In The Prince & The Shitty Seabird the prince disturbs the gull’s sleep by declaiming love poetry on a lonely cliff path. The Bad-Tempered Herring-Gull’s subsequent invective ends with a foul-mouthed refutation of the prince’s artless reliance on the medial caesura that brings parents from miles away hurrying out to gather their children into their homes.

The Bad-Tempered Herring-Gull is depicted on Tunisia’s crest to remind players that, if they don’t play well out there, they’ll very likely get told off at half-time. Cameron Carter

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Mossley’s new mascot, getting by without a mouth.

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from Liam Wilkinson
“It’ll need a brave person to take the latest vacancy at Sheffield Wednesday, given the criticism their ticket policy has received this season.”

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from Tom Acey
“Finally, someone has written a song about ex-Man City and Celtic striker John Guidetti, with a video that showcases some of his outrageous skills along with some near-post-tap-in filler. It's currently number 15 in the Swedish charts.”

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There won’t be a better goal scored by a Stevenage keeper this season.

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Also in the news this week
Fan runs the line at Newport
Schweinsteiger sues over Nazi doll
Giggs and Neville help the homeless
UAE player jailed for criticising his coach

 

 

A small portion of despair and enlightenment delivered to your inbox every Friday
9 October 2015 ~

José Mourinho has called his £50,000 FA fine, for saying referees were afraid to give Chelsea penalties, a "disgrace". Surely he will be fined for that?

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Pasargad150Badge of the week ~ Pasargad FC, Philippines
The Flying Wooden Duck is well known throughout the Philippines for being the harbinger of either good fortune or a death in the family, depending on how he’s feeling. Consequently, the general Filipino population is ambivalent about this particular figure. In folk lore, sightings of the Flying Wooden Duck lead to an almost unbearable period of apprehension simultaneously combined with eager anticipation. There is, perhaps understandably, a discernible jumpiness about the residents of a house over which he has flown. 

Of course sometimes the appearance of the Flying Wooden Duck has led to both outcomes. In the popular novel, The Good Times and Bad Times of the Garcia Family With Some Notes on How Well They Maximise Interior Space, The Flying Duck is seen crossing over the Garcia house in the moonlight and an agony of waiting ensues, with none of the family able to sleep that night. In the morning, the family patriarch is found stone dead in his bed and the eldest son immediately inherits enough to embark on his lifelong dream of breeding homing ants. Another tale relates of a man who, having sighted the duck above his cottage, won solid a gold hat the following day at a meat raffle.

In his rush to claim the prize he tripped over a pig and was impaled on some early threshing machinery. So it’s a mixed bag, really, the Flying Wooden Duck. Pasargad use the duck’s image to suggest both the unpredictability of life and their recent home form. Cameron Carter

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Not just a foul throw, more like an atrocious one.

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Colin Murray yet to confirm whether he will honour his pledge.

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Last week, we covered the mysterious Zlatan installation in Malmo. This week, he’s topped that with a gold record.

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Interview interrupted by a topless Martin Skrtel. Would Jürgen Klopp approve?

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A different sort of Football Special, in Slovakia
Birmingham City Football Clib [sic]
Manchester United jacket, Chelsea sweatpants
Longest-range goal in the FA Cup this season (so far)

A small portion of despair and enlightenment delivered to your inbox every Friday
9 October 2015 ~

Michel Platini's bid to be FIFA president received a boost this week. Most of the delegates who voted for Sepp Blatter in last summer's election are still in position. Platini's suspension over allegations of corruption will surely only strengthen his claims to be a worthy successor to Sepp

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Porto150aBadge of the week ~ FC Porto
Most dragons or lions in heraldry are depicted rampant – keenly ready for combat, quiveringly poised, in the alert position generally. FC Porto’s dragon, on the other hand, presents as unmotivated, sedentary, insouciant. He appears in a recumbent position, not unlike a third year Cambridge undergraduate smoking a cheroot in his room while awaiting the other members of the Newtonian Physicists Gun Club. 

“Invicta” is the word we can discern on his witty red scarf, which means “It’ll Keep” in Latin. In the tableaus below the dragon we find two identical images of Benedita being knighted for her services to child millinery. Benedita was an inspirational figure in 19th century Portugal, an indefatigable woman who railed against the limitations imposed upon children’s headwear at that time. Often children in the small villages wore only bobble hats or sun hats, or, in some cases, no hat at all. It was Benedita who designed the first pre-school fascinator, creating a socio-political impetus that resulted in the first Child Hat Law of 1848.

FC Porto feature these two images as the club’s underlying philosophy is obviously to achieve, like the hat lady, but to do so while maintaining a healthy work-life balance, like lying on cushions blowing smoke rings. Cameron Carter

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from Tom Lines
“Has a tweet from a football club ever raised such immediately intriguing questions?”

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from Ingrid Ohlsson
“A mysterious installation appeared in Zlatan’s hometown of Malmo ahead of their Champions League tie with Real Madrid. It’s quite lifelike.”

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A fan makes a surprise appearance in an Argentinian third division match

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We’ve all done it. Ronnie Whelan forgets to delete his sponsor’s instructions before tweeting.

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One of the many startling things about West Ham's general sale prices for their match against Chelsea is that "restricted view" tickets aren't even the cheapest. Presumably "Band 4" is outside the stadium.

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Also in the news this week
Brendan sacked: Thierry reacts
Mechelen keeper saves three penalties
Braintree players shake hands with all their fans

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