A small portion of despair and enlightenment delivered to your inbox every Friday
13 February 2009 ~

Chelsea have announced a deficit of £66 million for their last financial year. It’s the latest in a series of huge losses made by the organisation whose chief executive Peter Kenyon has to pretend it is being run like other football clubs. “There is no doubt that the positive upward trends of turnover and the continued reduction in losses shows that Chelsea is building a strong business base,” he said this morning, almost as though he believed it. Among the most wasteful items of Chelsea's expenditure is the salary of their chief executive who doesn't seem to be party to major decisions such as sacking the manager, which took place while Kenyon was on holiday.

Badge of the week
Hapoel Beer-Sheva are a second-tier Israeli club with a club crest that is not easy to decode. A giant blue football would have been fine as a representational image – a little mundane perhaps, but perfectly reasonable. However, Hapoel Beer-Sheva’s football is split in twain to reveal its inner essence, a courageous artistic direction to take by the creative director. Superficial investigation into the design trots out something worthy but dull about the Hapoel clubs’ affiliation with the Israeli trade union movement, but often with these things a more open-minded approach to research is required to breathe meaning into the images. My reliable internet source www.throwahatatit.com reveals that that the tower to the right of the picture is in fact the side view of the stairwell of a multi-storey car park that dominates the main shopping centre in town. The energetic-looking chap mid-picture is emerging from a public toilet in the pedestrianised area as the door has opened automatically after the permitted maximum time, hence the energy implicit in his posture as he races to close it again. Why these automatic doors are allowed in public lavatories is anyone’s guess because here for instance it has turned a probably phlegmatic and law-abiding individual into a potential timebomb owing to the fear, inherent in us all, of public humiliation. Nice of the club to draw this important civic matter to our attention but difficult to see what it’s got to do with football if I’m honest. Cameron Carter

from Matt Tomiak
“During the course of an early spring clean last weekend I dug out a dusty old copy of The Boys’ Book of Soccer for 1952 – a fascinating read, and an intriguing unexpurgated reference point in light of the recent Charles Buchan series. There’s a list of Soccer Oddities (‘Natives on some islands in the Caroline group in the South Pacific play a very strange kind of football, for they dispense with the ball! Teams of 11 players take up the orthodox positions and hop towards each other. Then each man places the sole of his foot against his opponent’s sole and pushes’); Between The Posts offers advice for aspiring keepers (‘Goalies must remember that there are times he may be legitimately charged. One is when he is holding the ball – here, he may be bundled over the goal line’); while Don’t Get Injured offers tough love (‘Hard luck, you say when a player is injured. Yet quite often it is largely his own fault’).”

If you have unearthed similar insights from an old football annual let us know

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

Bend It 91 Various artists (Exotica Pele, 1991)
“Just the job to wear at the match on a cold day,” George Best tells us in a magnificent “spontaneous” post-match interview promoting his new line of GB coats and anoraks that alone makes this album worth owning. “The coats really are terrific value for money,” he continues. “I suppose you would say trendy in an informal sort of way, but at the same time not too way out.” After all that, the interviewer promises George “not to keep you away from the champagne any longer”. Music-wise, there’s an overwhelming sense of joy and celebration in songs like Manchester United Calypso (“a bunch of bouncing Busby babes”) and the breezy brass of Pelé that, as an old fart like myself is inclined to say, is missing from yer modern game. How many cheeky, cheerful songs do you know paying tribute to the virtues of Joey Barton, Ashley Cole and Craig Bellamy in the way that songs on here lionise George Best and Stanley Matthews? Fantastico Cruyff Barcelona sounds like something you’d end up bellowing drunk at a rural Dutch wedding, while Tip Top Tottenham Hotspur embodies a jazzy, drinkalong, to-hell-with-it-anyway approach to following north London’s second team. Winning? Who needs it? That’s the attitude. Ian Plenderleith (with thanks to Steve Halliwell)

WSC archive
Is Luiz Felipe Scolari really such a bad manager? If you look at his achievements with Portugal, you might draw the conclusion that Chelsea were a little hasty.

This week in history ~ Division One, February 13, 1965


Manchester United were to win their first title in seven seasons, on goal average ahead of newly promoted Leeds. Matt Busby’s side had moved into second place during a run of seven successive wins in March and April. The decisive round of fixtures was on April 26 when Arsenal were beaten 3-1 at Old Trafford while Leeds could only draw 3-3 at relegated Birmingham. Man Utd could then afford to lose their game in hand, two days later at Villa.

Bobby Charlton and centre-half Bill Foulkes were the playing connections to the pre-Munich air crash side, along with goalkeeper Harry Gregg who was injured for the entire season. The strike partnership of David Herd and Denis Law got 48 goals between them while the 18-year-old George Best scored ten goals in 41 games.

Leeds’ second place was the best finish in their history – they were also to finish runners-up in the FA Cup to Liverpool. Don Revie’s team attracted criticism for rough play but equal admiration for their skills. Both aspects were combined in the diminutive midfield trio of Bobby Collins, Johnny Giles and Billy Bremner. The team’s top scorer, Scotsman Jim Storrie, didn’t take part in their future successes, being sold to Aberdeen the following year.

Chelsea’s England strikers Barry Bridges and Bobby Tambling both scored in their 3-0 win at Wolves. They led the league for the majority of the season but were to lose five of their final seven away matches and finished third, five points behind Man Utd. Wolves, who had contentiously sacked their former League-winning manager Stan Cullis in September 1964, were in the bottom two for the entire season.

Fulham were 20th, four points ahead of Wolves. This was part of a sequence in which they finished in the bottom seven in Division One for eight seasons in a row, culminating in relegation in 1967-68. Twenty-year-old Rodney Marsh scored in their 4-1 win over Spurs, who Fulham didn’t beat again in the League until 2002.

Joint top scorers with 29 goals were Jimmy Greaves of Spurs and Blackburn’s Irish international Andy McEvoy who had been converted from wing-half to striker a couple of years earlier. McEvoy became disillusioned with professional football after Blackburn’s relegation in 1966 and returned home, aged 28, to play part-time for Limerick while working as a tram driver.

We don’t mind a spot of intellectualising about football but, good god, it can go wrong. Contributions are being sought for Soccer and Philosophy, to be published by the Open Court Publishing Company. The book’s editor has already come up some suggested themes that could be addressed. We like the final one best.

• Pele, Plato, and the Form of Perfection
• “Going for Goal”, or Aristotelian Teleology in the Modern Game
• If Sartre Played Midfield, or the Pass-in-Itself vs the Pass-for-Itself
• Intention and Involvement in an Offside Position

• Philosophy Illuminating Soccer, eg
– The Existential Anguish/Bliss of a Nil-Nil Game
– The Aesthetics of the Beautiful Game
– Can the Professional Foul Be Beautiful?
– Multi-agent Decision Making and the Back-Heel Pass

• Soccer as a Microcosm of Larger Cultural Issues, eg
– Divine Intervention, the Abdication of Responsibility, and Maradona’s “Hand of God”
– Social Justice and the Democracy of Talent in Professional Soccer
– Justified Violence, Zinedine Zidane and the Loss of Reason
– Ethics vs Pragmatics as Exemplified in the Play of Marco Materazzi

• National Character in Soccer and Philosophy, eg
– Friedrich Nietzsche, Lothar Matthäus, and the German Ideal of Soccer
– Personal Identity, Roles, and the “Total Football” of the 1970s Dutch National Team
– Humean Skepticism and English Long-Ball Football

WSC Trivia ~ N0 52
Over-Used Football Facts (from WSC 38 and WSC 40). A few things that readers were tired of reading about in 1990:

Other countries have their history, Uruguay has its football
Crosses whipped in low and early are a defenders’ nightmare
Peter Beardsley will run and run and run but sometimes he runs out of legs!
Northern crowds are more passionate than their southern counterparts
Gary Lineker succeeded in Barcelona when Mark Hughes didn’t because Gary learned the language and had an adaptable wife called Michelle (you know, ever so nice)
When Saturday Comes has really gone off the boil

A mine of information constructed from sticker cards

Gérard Houllier, Noeux-les-Mines Panini Football 80
While covering a cup-tie in which Liverpool were away to lower league opponents, a TV commentator claimed that this would be an entirely new experience for the club’s manager Gérard Houllier. In fact he would have known exactly what it was like. While working as a language teacher, Houllier became an assistant coach at Noeux-les-Mines, a team from a small mining town in northern France. The club’s only previous claim to fame was that it had been where a future European Footballer of the Year, Raymond Kopa, began his career before moving on Reims and Real Madrid. But Houllier changed that. After Noeux had been relegated from the second division in 1977-78, he was appointed first-team coach and took them straight back. Noeux went on to finish fifth in the regionalised second level in 1979-80 despite having the smallest budget in the league. The following season they came second and took part in promotion play-offs, losing 5-2 on aggregate to Toulouse. But for an ambitious young coach Noeux was only ever going to be a stopping-off point – the crowd for the home leg of the semi-final, 3,468, was nearly twice their league average. Houllier stayed for one more season before leaving for Lens. When he won the French league with Paris St-Germain in 1985-86, Noeux were being relegated from the fourth level and have remained in provincial football ever since.

Contribute to the Weekly Howl
If you’ve met a footballer, seen any Wikipedia vandalism or if there’s anything else you want to get off you chest, we’d like to hear from you ~ drop us a line at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Related articles

Transfer calls
Questions are being raised about the influence one agent has over La Liga's biggest deals, reports Dermot Corrigan Given the financial difficulties...
Blackburn Rovers 2 Aston Villa 0
Simon Hart describes the scenes as Blackburn play their first match under the watchful eye of their new owners There are three Robbie Savages...
Weekly Howl 20-08-10
A small portion of despair and enlightenment delivered to your inbox every Friday 20 August 2010 ~Chinese tycoon Kenny Huang is set to make an...

Sign up to the WSC Weekly Howl - a small portion of despair and enlightenment delivered to your inbox every Friday