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9 January 2009 ~

When Manchester City’s new owners took over, there was talk of the club signing Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo. This week they have been attempting to buy Scott Parker and Craig Bellamy. If sights continue to be lowered at the same rate, by the summer they will be trying to lure back Garry Flitcroft and Steve Lomas.

Badge of the week
Libourne Saint-Seurin are a relatively new French club formed by the merger of Libourne and AS Saint-Seurin. As if the fans didn’t have enough hurt to deal with – a new identity, confused feelings of alienation, tattoos being out of date – the idiots in charge came up with a club crest of a penguin in the type of pristine sportswear that only non-competitive, middle-aged liberals wear. In their defence, the club’s nickname is the Penguins, which is quite cute when you consider they’re based in the south of France as opposed to the Arctic Circle, but surely a more impressive example of the breed could have been used in the design. I don’t know if there actually is such a thing as an impressive example of a penguin, but maybe an emperor penguin rearing out of the blue-black waves with a knife in its beak might have been an idea. The penguin in the crest looks inexpert, gullible, naive – perhaps on the way to a spot of self-conscious bonding with its nephew in a safe environment. It does not look impressive. It looks like the type of penguin drawn by a nine-year-old who wishes father would smile more. Cameron Carter

In response to the Anderlecht badge featured in the most recent Howl, Neil Holloway says: “The lad on the badge is St Guy of Anderlecht. He’s the patron saint of epileptics, work horses, stables and horned animals and offers a defence against rabies. I think the camel is probably a work horse. I have no idea what the beaver is – maybe a rabid dog?”

Long Players The Glorious History Of Football’s Full Length Recordings

Lieber Ein Verlierer Sein Various artists (Las Vegas Records, 2008)
Vienna-based indie label Las Vegas Records was ambitious enough to commission a double-disc, 30-song compendium featuring Swiss and Austrian bands to provide a credible sonic backdrop to Euro 2008, all with the noble aim of providing a counter-voice to “politicians in replica shirts, chauvinism, homophobia and sexism on the terraces... overpriced sponsors’ zones and the commercialisation of our final freedoms.” The presciently titled Rather Be A Loser should go down as one of the best overall efforts in half a century of pop-football fusion, with peppy riffs and laconic lyrics in abundance, backed by every guitar- and synth-led style known to indie-kind. There are a handful of tracks in English, including the Neutones’ excellent Kick And Rush, but you don’t need to know German to appreciate Mitteleuropa’s dark but witty take on a tournament that was always going to spell sporting doom for the host nations. Fantastisch! Ian Plenderleith

Jim Wraith spotted news of a former club chairman’s important contribution to the British baking industry on Wikipedia.

The Sun’s sales on Merseyside never recovered from their widely condemned coverage of the Hillsborough disaster. The paper’s editor at the time, Kelvin McKenzie, can now expect a big postbag in response to his column on January 8 regarding the recent arrest of Steven Gerrard: “The victim [Marcus McGee] lives in Southport, only 18.7 miles from Anfield. He is surrounded on all sides by Liverpool supporters who may not be best pleased if Mr Gerrard were to be convicted. The further issue is that Mr Gee is said to be a Manchester United supporter, which may make life in the future quite uncomfortable. I remember that when it was mooted that the Everton and Liverpool grounds could be merged, my Manchester United friend said it would be called the San Giro.” If there are further repercussions form the Gerrard incident you know which paper will be giving it blanket coverage.

This week in history ~ Division Four, January 10, 1976


In manager Graham Taylor’s third season in charge, Lincoln powered their way to promotion utilising the direct style of play that came to be called “long ball”. Lincoln’s 74 points was a record under the two points for a win system. They were also the first team in nine seasons to score more than 100 League goals. Taylor left a year later to apply his methods at Watford with whom he won three promotions in five seasons.

Southport had one of the worst ever starts to a season, taking just three points from their first 18 games, but a run of three successive wins in April at least lifted them above the equally hapless Workington. Champions Lincoln played in front of the smallest crowd of the season, with just 871 seeing their 2-1 win at Southport in September; Workington drew the lowest average crowd, of just 1,276.

Reading were managed by former Ireland defender Charlie Hurley and featured his old international team-mate Eamon Dunphy as well as the legendarily wild striker Robin Friday who was playing his final season before a brief stay with Cardiff. They held a promotion spot for almost the entire season, as did Tranmere who gained a crucial 3-0 win over challengers Huddersfield with four matches to go. Ronnie Moore, Tranmere’s centre-forward and now their manager, was the division’s top scorer with 34 goals.

The Northampton side that thrashed Barnsley included 21-year-old John Gregory, playing at right-back. He’d switched to midfield before moving on Aston Villa the following year. This was the first success for Northampton since a turbulent run in the 1960s in which they had gone from Division Four to Division One and back again in eight years. Former Wales boss Dave Bowen, who had presided over the club’s rise, was still involved in a combined role as secretary and general manager.

Two of Swansea’s players in their match with Cambridge were in the team that was promoted to Division One under John Toshack five years later – full-back Wyndham Evans and midfielder Robbie James, who scored the goal in their 3-1 defeat. Cambridge’s flamboyant manager Ron Atkinson led them to the Division Four title in 1976-77, then moved into the national spotlight after taking charge of West Brom.

WSC Trivia ~ No 47
In the WSC pre-season preview for 2005-06 Man Utd were referred to as “a debt-free club plunged into the hands of the moneylenders”. A reader in the US objected to this, claiming that it was clearly an anti-Semitic slur and one that they would be taking up with an anti-defamation pressure group. We pointed out that the term had no anti-Semitic connotations in the UK and was simply a reference to financial institutions from whom the Glazers had borrowed money. Indeed, there was a TV advertising campaign for the Halifax building society at the time that compared their interest rates to those of “other moneylenders”. We received a reply saying: “I thought guys like Oswald Mosley had died out in the 1930s but I guess I was wrong.” At which point we gave up.

A mine of information constructed from sticker cards

Andy Hayward, Rotherham Utd
Panini Football League 95 & Tomas Skuhravy, Genoa Panini Calciatori 1992-93
“Mullet” was first used as a term for that distinctive short/long hairstyle in the Beastie Boys’ magazine Grand Royal in the mid-1990s. They had US rock musicians in mind but it was a look that had long found favour among footballers in Europe, especially in the former Soviet bloc states. Czech striker Tomas Skuhravy, for example, persevered with it for at least a decade. In the UK, Chris Waddle is often regarded as the prime exponent of the coiffure but Andy Hayward of Rotherham took it about as far as it could go. And, as close inspection of this sticker will reveal, he was even toying with a goatee way back in 1995. None more trendy.

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League table courtesy of www.statto.com: the place to go for football stats & odds comparison – English & Scottish stats from 1871 plus European & International

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