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23 January 2009 ~
If Kaka is managing to sleep at all at the moment, his dreams will be haunted by the imploring eyes of children across the world who would have benefited from the “humanitarian project” that Manchester City proposed to their Brazilian target. As executive chairman Garry Cook put it in his unique style: “The agenda we thought we were on was about Kaka coming on a journey with this club, but the only journey they were on was a fiscal one.” It’s typical of the modern footballer to only worry about money when there are far higher principles at stake. Won't somebody think of the children?
Badge of the week
Zulte Waregem are a Belgian side and another result of a merger – possibly between their Finance and Strategic Development departments. But their club crest stands out for being irksomely upbeat in a hopelessly dated European way. The design of the football recalls the only Belgian landmark anyone ever remembers – the Atomium – which squats in the Brussels skyline like a half-forgotten executive toy. The budget version three-coloured rainbow at the top of the image doesn’t help matters and, together with the swirly paper clip orbital motif, suggests an anti-globalisation trade fair with stringent health and safety measures. There is nothing quite so depressing as a serious organisation attempting to lighten up for the public’s benefit, but it may well be that Zulte Waregem are an eco-friendly craic and families from every part of Belgium come together in the club to make a better day. If so, they might think about change their name to ZW Go! to complete the impression. Cameron Carter
Terry Bullivant’s Wikipedia entry shows distinct signs of having been written by Terry Bullivant.
Long Players The Glorious History Of Football’s Full Length Recordings
Five Decades Of German Football In Original Sound (Hessischer Rundfunk, 2000)
This five-CD set encompasses the history of German post-war club and international football over the course of 375 minutes using original radio commentaries, backed by sober introductions that state things like: “It’s 1970 – the fresh wind blowing through the whole of society thanks to the student movement, a change of government, and an economic upswing, is also waking up football. The German national team under Helmut Schön is cultivating an attacking style.” Then various radio commentators get excited about goals over the fuzzy roar of the crowd, something of which no right-thinking person could ever tire. Sometimes the commentators sound as though a German goal was as punctually anticipated as the train from Frankfurt to Hamburg, but if you like drama for drama’s sake, there are plenty of other opportunities for historical hysteria to make your skin tingle. It’s a magnificent collection for fans of a certain age who still prefer live football on radio to TV, and a wonder that (to my knowledge) no similar BBC collection has appeared to reflect the history of the English game. Ian Plenderleith
As recent events have shown, Palestinians have good reason to feel they are being shunned by the outside world. This even applies on the sporting front, as Richard Bagley reported in WSC 248.
This week in history ~ Division One, January 23, 1926
With Arsenal and Sunderland both losing by three goals, Huddersfield’s win at Cardiff brought them level at the top. They took over as League leaders the following week and held on until the end, to win a third successive title.
Herbert Chapman, who’d been in change for the first two Championships, had left Huddersfield for Arsenal in the summer of 1925 so the treble was overseen by Cecil Potter, newly arrived from Derby. Potter resigned after only one season, however, claiming that the pressures of management were affecting his health.
Ted Harper scored Blackburn’s goal in their 1-1 draw at West Brom and went to be the league’s top scorer with 43 in his 37 games, eight ahead of Huddersfield’s George Brown. Everton’s goal in their 1-1 draw at Spurs came from Billy “Dixie” Dean. Signed from Tranmere the previous year, he was to set a League scoring record of 60 goals in the 1927-28 season.
Man City’s emphatic derby win was only their second away victory in a season featuring some spectacular scorelines. An 8-3 win over Burnley in late October had been followed two days later by an 8-3 defeat at Sheffield United, while they lost 6-5 at Bury on Christmas Day.
City beat United again in the FA Cup semi-final but then lost 1-0 to Bolton at Wembley. A week after the Cup final they went into the final day of the season needing a draw at Newcastle to stay up – but they lost 3-2 and went down. Quite a trying season, then, for the Maine Road regulars who formed the division’s largest average crowd, of 31,614 – nearly 12,000 more than watched the champions Huddersfield.
Centre-forward Norman Bullock, who scored Bury’s first goal in their 3-2 victory over Birmingham, went on to play over 500 League games for the club and was capped by England. Bury’s fourth-place finish is still their best ever. They were relegated three years later and have yet to return to the top level. Notts County's 2-1 defeat at Bolton dropped them into the relegation area for the first time this season. They finished bottom and didn’t get back to Division One until 1981-82.
Some distinctive names taking part in this week’s fixtures included: Billy Death and Ernie England (Sunderland); Fred Heap (Bury); Jimmy Brain (Arsenal) and Percy Whipp (Leeds).
WSC Trivia ~ No 49
Around 1992 we received a phone call from a TV producer who wanted to talk to us about “a new series about football fan culture” that was at the planning stage with Channel 4. We’d heard this sort of thing a few times before but he said he could come around for a chat. He took down our address – we were then in Pear Tree Court, London EC1 – and arranged to turn up around 6pm. An hour or after he was due, the phone rang. He’d taken a cab to Plum Tree Court but couldn’t find our office. In fact that’s about a mile away. We give him directions again. Anther half hour passes and he’s back on the phone. He’s now at Pear Tree Street. He's getting nearer, less than a mile away now, but it’s still the wrong place. He still hadn’t shown up by the time we moved out in 1999 so we assume that he has been doomed to wander, a modern media equivalent of a character from ancient myth, periodically stopping to ask directions to a location he can never find. Or else he gave up on “football fan culture” and got a job with the Discovery Channel.
A mine of information constructed from sticker cards
Mirandinha, Newcastle Utd Panini Football 89
Twenty years before Robinho signed for Man City, there was plenty of excitement surrounding the arrival of the first Brazilian to play at the top level of English football. Mirandinha (aka Francisco Ernandi Lima da Silva) had scored on his international debut, a 1-1 draw at Wembley in May 1987, and went on to win a further three caps over the next fortnight as Brazil travelled around Europe; another international novice, the 21-year-old Romario, replaced him on two of his appearances. Mirandinha had just completed by far the best season of his career with the Sao Paulo club Palmeiras, but was nearly 28 when called up and had not been highly rated previously. He made an immediate impact on signing for Newcastle in August 1987, scoring twice in a 2-2 draw at Old Trafford, but it soon became apparent that he was a highly erratic talent. Newcastle fans despaired at his tendency to hog the ball and joked that he hadn’t picked up the one English word he needed to learn: “pass”. Newcastle finished eighth in his first season but they went down the following year, scoring just 32 goals of which he got nine. After leaving Newcastle in 1989, Mirandinha played for a further seven clubs in as many years, in Brazil, Portugal and Japan. During which he will have earned less in total than Robinho collected in his first month at Eastlands. Tsk.
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