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16 January 2009 ~

Mark Hughes
has emphasised his direct involvement in Manchester City’s pursuit of Kaka and believes: “The money involved is something we feel, from a football and business point of view, works.” Hughes is one of several managers to have studied for the Certificate of Applied Management at Warwick Business School. You wonder which modules he must have taken if he thinks paying someone 70 grand a day constitutes good business practice.

Badge of the week
NK Zagreb are a Croatian team that have quite correctly amended their club crest in recent years. Their current badge is a laudably conventional castle image with a raised portcullis suggesting: “Sure, this team operates from a position of strength, but we are still open to visitors except on bank holidays.” It would take a very fussy individual, possibly Brian Sewell, to find anything wrong with this. Their old crest is a different matter altogether. Where the new version is reassuringly orthodox, the previous incarnation shows a distinct lack of common sense. Who in their right mind would position and build a castle on an incline this steep? How many hundreds of castle guests were found at the bottom of that hill with their heads broken simply through edging away backwards from the drawbridge while saying goodbye? And how secure can a fortress be if it is halfway down that kind of gradient, inviting the enemy to roll flaming giant wheels and rocks down on to it? Apart from the fact that you’d need rope and crampons just to get back to your room at night, there are the logistical problems of building the thing in the first place. Clearly a pressure group within the club also had reservations about this castle and dizzying precariousness has consequently been swapped for stability. Reason restored to its throne. Cameron Carter

Several readers have pointed out that penguins are native to the Antarctic, not the Arctic as stated in last week's Howl. Thanks, everyone.

from Chris Beresford
“It's not just Premier League footballers who have become world-renowned – some supporters have an international reputation too. During the Finnish TV coverage of the Bristol City v Portsmouth FA Cup replay on Tuesday night, commentator Tuomas Virkkunen referred to the notorious John Portsmouth FC Westwood, in English, as ‘the cunt with the bell’, then explained that he wouldn't translate the term into Finnish since some people might find it ‘offensive’.”

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

Anthology 3 The Beatles (Apple, 1996)
OK, it’s not a whole football album. It’s not even a whole song. It’s just a clip at the end of John Lennon’s first version of Glass Onion, the song described by Ian Macdonald in his opus Revolution In The Head as “sneeringly sarcastic”, and whose mockery of fan obsession and over-interpretation of Beatles lyrics came back to haunt Lennon in the form of Mark Chapman’s bullets. He first recorded the song while producer George Martin was on his hols, and stuck on the end a repeat-to-fade clip of TV commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme proclaiming “It’s a goal!” with crowd noise in the background. Bad idea, said Martin when he’d unpacked, and put the tape on a shelf marked “do not use”, according to the sleeve notes. This was in 1968, the rough equivalent of a rhythm box turning up in the middle of a Mozart piano concerto. Presumably, Lennon’s intent was to further confuse, or maybe it just seemed like a good idea after a few tabs of LSD. If this version had made it to the White Album, who knows how music’s relationship with football would have evolved? Hooliganism might never have happened, subsumed by a culture of blissed-out hippies tripping on terraces from Cornwall to Carlisle. Ian Plenderleith

There has been much talk this week of Masal Bugduv, a 16-year-old Moldovan football prodigy who is set to be the next big thing to come out of eastern Europe. Sadly, Bugduv doesn’t exist – he’s a fabricated internet hoax that managed to fool, among others, the Times, goal.com and, er, WSC, where he was mentioned briefly in an otherwise illuminating article on Moldovan football in last month's issue. This got us thinking of similar hoaxes and we were reminded of the story of Ernest Gund, an Austrian who got Leeds Utd all excited a few years ago. We wrote about it in WSC 200 (October 2003).

Setanta have struggled to compete with Sky, as a comparison of the two broadcasters’ sports news channels and matchday studios shows only too clearly. However, full marks to them for attempting to deliver multi-channel cross-platform content (or whatever it’s called) – here's a scoop from their website on Wednesday afternoon that surely no one else had.

WSC Trivia ~ No 48
As you will know many classic works of literature contain football references. We once ran a series in which readers sent in examples from opening paragraphs of famous novels and poems (from WSC 63, May 1992).

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with Spring rain and consigning
Chesterfield to another season Division Four
(The Waste Land by TS Eliot)

The future is dark, the present burdensome;
only the past, dead and finished, bears contemplation.
Ask any Spurs fan.
(The Practice of History by GR Elton)

On the evening of a latter part of May, a middle-aged man was walking homeward from Shaston to the village of Marlott, in the adjoining Vale of Blackmoor. The pair of legs that carried him were rickety, and there was a bias in his gait which inclined somewhat to the left of a straight line. “Someday,” thought Bryan Robson, “I may get my driving licence back.”
(Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy)

Hegel remarks that all the events and personalities of great importance in the world occur, as it were, twice. He forgot to add: if it happens three times then Brazil will keep the Jules Rimet Trophy.
(The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte by Karl Marx)

In the beginning was Notts County.
(The Gospel according to St John)

A mine of information constructed from sticker cards

Martin Jol, FC Den Haag Top Voetbal 77-78 & Gary Megson, Everton Soccer 80
Most of us put on a few pounds as we get older. But middle-aged weight gain can be startling when it happens to professional sportspeople. In Martin Jol’s case, you don't know whether to marvel at just how rigourously they must have had to train to keep all the extra timber off, or to wonder quite what he has been consuming since retirement in order to have morphed into a genial fatty. There even may be a glandular explanation – and he does seem to be sucking his cheeks in here.

Equally poignant are pictures of fresh-faced young men whom we know will become grimly pragmatic grinders when they move into management. Here’s 21-year-old Gary Megson beaming nonchalantly with his full head of copper hair, unaware that by the time this sticker album had gone on sale he'd have been sold to Sheffield Wednesday by Everton’s new manager Howard Kendall. Megson went on to have a long playing career, retiring at the age of 36, by which the time the hair was thinning and he had acquired the sallow, careworn aspect for which he is now known. It’s a cruel business.

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