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30 January 2009 ~

Given that the national press is chock full of inane pop psychology, it's a surprise that none of the pseudo-scientists who get paid for stating the obvious has yet written a book about the “mind games” of football managers. You know that whatever happens to Manchester Utd’s title rivals over the next few weeks, Sir Alex Ferguson will be credited with crafty psychological manipulation. Of course it’s nothing of the sort, simply a by-product of the voluminous coverage of football across all media. Rafa Benítez seems perfectly capable of messing things up by himself without receiving subliminal messages from a shouty OAP in Manchester.

Badge of the week
Siofoki Banyasz are a Hungarian team who have a novel approach to football-related iconography. The badge looks initially to be a plumber’s technical drawing but closer scrutiny reveals three distinct and separate images to conjure with. Perhaps the thing that looks like a swollen appendix is in fact a swollen appendix and is here to suggest a sense of peril. Or perhaps it is a stylised outline of Hungary with a big black circle to denote quicksand. Seemingly attached to the appendix is some kind of oil pipeline that might represent the way we rape Mother Earth for our immediate gratification and that might account for what could be an electricity pylon in the background. So the message here from Siofoki Banyasz is: we plunder the earth for raw materials to allow us to drive to Matalan while listening to Duffy but the upshot of this is we have an inner peril (swollen appendix) waiting to burst (the current global recession plus climate change and soon we’ll all be clustered together in the high lands stabbing each other for scraps). There seems to be no other explanation for this complex and enigmatic group of images. A fascinating badge. An enigmatic people, the Hungarians. Cameron Carter.

from Matt Tomiak
“You wouldn't think it to look at him, but that nice Gareth Southgate has been been dogged by scandal as his Wikipedia entry reveals.”

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

Soccer With The Stars Peter Bonetti, Alun Evans, Bobby Moore, Peter Thompson, Graham Williams (United Artists, 1968)
You are back at school. Five reluctant boys are, without the use of intonation, reading out their essays directly from the page, and your challenge is to stay awake for the whole lesson. “Ability is basic, and without it no one can get to the top,” says a wooden Bobby Moore, who, the sleevenotes helpfully explain, “is married to an attractive wife Tina, a former model”. West Brom captain Graham Williams gives some dietary and health advice: “Digest your food well, eat lots of meat, drink lots of milk... and alcohol is completely ruled out. Don’t sunbathe.” Peter Thompson remarks that “there is no substitute for just playing with it”, but to all you lads snickering at the back he’s talking about the ball. He warns that some of the exercises will be boring, and he certainly makes them sound that way. And a barely awake Alun Evans drones without the slightest trace of enthusiasm that “it has been said that a player who cannot pass the ball accurately will never be effective in high class football, and this is very, very true”. Peter Bonetti tries, but he’s as dull as your Physics teacher. And all for under a pound, you know. Ian Plenderleith (with thanks to Chris Horne)

WSC archive
This season there is a distinct possibility that there will be a change in the top four of the Premier League. Here’s how Everton managed it in 2005.

from Rob Henderson
“I don't know if you keep a tally of this sort of thing but I have twice heard Garth Crooks begin filmed reports for Football Focus with the words “When Saturday comes...” As I don’t imagine that you have Garth on a retainer to do this sort of thing, can it be that he wants to get your attention for some reason? Are there any other reporters prone to plugging WSC even if inadvertently? I can imagine Matt Smith saying it on ITV’s The Championship followed by one of his interminable pauses.”

Should Harry Redknapp should ever be stuck for an excuse, someone (possibly Jamie) has prepared a handy flowchart for him to consult. All of which reminds us of a YouTube favourite from a couple of years ago. Even Harry hasn’t got a quip ready for that awkward moment when a player kicks a ball at you as you’re having a chat.”

WSC Trivia ~ N0 50
Howard Roberts recalled a brief encounter at Gatwick Airport in WSC 144 (January 1999)

“My mate Barry and I were at Gatwick, en route for France 98. I was feeling very hungover after a big night. We were in the newsagents to stock up on football magazines for the journey. I went to pick up the last copy of WSC, pushing in front of a little bloke, who looked at me a bit aggressively. Crikey, I thought you don’t half look like Robbie Fowler. I then twigged that it was indeed the diminutive maestro. We then proceeded to tail Robbie (who was off his crutches and not really limping after his cruciate injury) around the departure lounge. He was on his own and got a flight to the West Indies. Barry (a Liverpool fan) wanted to get his autograph, but thought that was too uncool – I suggested that we ask him why I managed to beat him for pace in the one-yard dash for WSC. Unfortunately, after arguing, we had lost him.”

A mine of information constructed from sticker cards

Derek Forster, Sunderland Wonderful World of Soccer Stars, 1968-69 & Ronnie Simpson, Celtic Campeoes Europeus de Futebol, 1968-69
Derek Forster and Ronnie Simpson are the youngest ever goalkeepers to have played in the English and Scottish Leagues respectively. But their subsequent careers were very different. Forster was the third-youngest English League player ever when he turned out for Sunderland against Leicester on August 22, 1964, aged 15 years and 185 days. But Sunderland already had a capable young goalkeeper in Jim Montgomery, who went on to be the star of their 1973 FA Cup win, and Forster (described on this sticker as a “cool, unruffled custodian”) played just 17 League matches over the next nine seasons. He left for Charlton in 1974 but played only nine games for them and another three for Brighton before dropping out of League football to join Gateshead, aged 25.

Simpson made his Scottish League debut for Queens Park against Hibernian on August 17, 1946 aged 15 years and 310 days – he was only 14 when he played his first match just before the end of the Second World War. While with the amateurs of Queens Park he played for the GB team at the 1948 Olympics and went on to appear in two of Newcastle’s FA Cup victories in the 1950s before returning home with Hibs. In 1966 he became the oldest player to win a first cap for Scotland, aged 36 years and 186 days, and the following year played for Celtic when they won the European Cup. Nicknamed “faither” by his Celtic team-mates, he looks a good deal older than 37 in this sticker from a Portuguese album, possibly because he’s squinting into the sun.

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