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

Suspected fraudster Allen Stanford's links to English cricket are widely known. Less reported are his connections to football, specifically the fact that one of the global ambassadors for the Stanford Financial Group is none other than Michael Owen. He's even given them some of his money. Michael said last year: "Stanford is a company that has a solid track record in financial services and wealth management. What they do is appealing and I've invested with them." It wouldn't be the first time that Michael has backed the wrong horse.

Badge of the week
Hamrun Spartans are a Maltese club with an obvious taste for the fantastical. Where some clubs have their initials nicely spaced around a football, or have a nice picture of an eagle, the Spartans have a robot elephant leading them into war. Hannibal used to scare the bejesus out of the crack Roman infantry with his normal elephants, so just think what effect robot elephants with a backbone of fiery stars might have on the opposition. Hamrun clearly mean business and their badge designer has pushed his idea through committee against all the odds: "Here's my design for the new badge." "What is it exactly?" "It's a robot elephant." "I thought we were going to have a swallow dipping over our justifiably famous medieval bridge." "Yes but then I thought a robot elephant would be better." Whatever one's initial reservations, the club is to be applauded, in these conservative times, for having the courage and vision to give the job of designing their crest to a teenage sci-fi fan. Cameron Carter

from Alan Adamthwaite
"Bishop Auckland supporters – yes, they still have some – have always referred to the halcyon period 1946 to 1957 as the 'Glory Days' so when I decided to write my book about them, the title was obvious. That is also the name of a song on Bruce Springsteen's Born In The USA LP and I decided to quote from the chorus on one of the preface pages. I was advised, however, that in order not to have any copyright action taken against me, I should seek permission from The Boss to do this. Within two days I received a reply that was straight to the point – I was asked to pay the Springsteen organisation £500. I replied by email, explaining my financial state. Three days later I received a telephone call from someone claiming to be one of Mr Springsteen's advisers/lawyers in New York: 'Just how many books are being printed?' 'Er... 3,000,' I stammered. 'And what is the expected selling price of each copy in your British poundage?' 'Um £18.00 I think.' There was a slight pause. 'Tell me about the book and why you need the quotations.' I rattled off a quick summary of my book and its significance (50 years since Bishop Auckland won the first of their hat-trick of Wembley successes in the FA Amateur Cup). A short pause followed and then he said: 'Oh I see why the quotes are so important.' After another short pause he coughed and said: 'Well I think for a token sum of, say, £50, we can do some business.' I put down the telephone and sent off the cheque post haste. Did Bruce have a word in the interim? It has to be a possibility."

Getting shirty Notable kits of yesteryear

Liverpool away, 1992-93
Liverpool wore a version of this green away strip for two seasons in the early 1990s, replacing the all-grey number they'd worn with some success. It's straight out of the Adidas catalogue with the intrusive three stripes on the right shoulder taking over from the more tasteful thin stripes down the arm, which have since returned. This was the generation of John Barnes, Ronnie Whelan, Ian Rush and Steve Harkness but the shirt's most famous moment occurred when Ronny Rosenthal was faced with an open goal at Villa Park and contrived to hit the bar. Having won the Cup in 1992, Liverpool played Spartak Moscow in the Cup-Winners Cup the following season, an occasion made all the more strange by the fact that Spartak were wearing the all-red version while Liverpool were in this green number (Spartak won the tie 6-2 on aggregate). The shirt was replaced in 1993 with a green-and-white effort that had even weirder, almost skeletal, Adidas branding.

Buy this shirt and hundreds of others at Classic Football Shirts

WSC archive
At the start of the 2002-03 season, WSC hosted a roundtable discussion to debate the issues facing football at the time. Among the guests were Adrian Chiles, who at the time presented Chiles on Saturday on Radio 5 Live, and Andy Burnham MP. One of them has since gone on to much greater things, while the other is now Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. Here's what they had to say.

Following on from the Football and Philosophy book mentioned last week, here's some more football-related academic nonsense.

WSC Trivia ~ N0 53
We had a quiz in WSC 10 (September/October 1987) the prize for which was a new book of articles from the 1970s alternative football magazine Foul. One question involved spotting the interloper in a list of bizarre footballers' names. Even though some of these were strikingly odd – Arthur Lightening, Geoff Denial, Esmond Million – the fake one seemed fairly obvious: Gordon Deathbiscuit. Shortly afterwards we received an article about Gordon Deathbiscuit – an imaginary biography listing his career achievements. We didn't publish it, partly because the idea didn't seem strong enough to sustain an entire feature but also because we were a bit alarmed by the fact that it had been sent in by Mike Langley, a journalist with the People. It was a legal action from Langley that had led to the demise of Foul. An article in the Foul Book of Football had made comments that he believed to be defamatory. As the publishers couldn't afford to contest the case all copies of the book had to be withdrawn from sale and the offending reference cut out. The cost of doing this led to Foul closing (it briefly reappeared a year or so later). Langley didn't enter the WSC quiz – perhaps he'd got the book already.

A mine of information constructed from sticker cards

Giuseppe Wilson & Luciano Re Cecconi, Lazio Panini Caliciatori 1973-74
Central defender Giuseppe Wilson and midfielder Luciano Re Cecconi were members of the notoriously tough Lazio side that won a surprise Serie A title in 1973-74. The team were unable to play in the following year's European Cup due to a one-season ban imposed for their violent reaction to being knocked out of the UEFA Cup by Ipswich in November 1973. Wilson and Re Cecconi were both included in Italy's squad for the 1974 World Cup, together with a better known team-mate, striker Giorgio Chinaglia. Like Chinaglia, who had grown up in Swansea, Wilson had strong ties to Britain – he was born Joseph Wilson in Darlington to an English father and Italian mother. His family moved to Italy when he was a child and he began his playing career alongside Chinaglia at a Serie C team in Naples, Internapoli. Wilson remained with Lazio until retiring aged 34 in 1980 but Re Cecconi's career, and life, came to an abrupt end on January 18, 1977. Together with a team-mate, he decided to stage a practical joke in a jeweller's shop. With his coat collar turned up and a hand supposedly on a gun in his pocket, he announced that a robbery was underway. The cashier then produced a real gun from under the counter and shot Re Cecconi through the heart – he died on his way to hospital.

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

From Mick Channon to Michael Owen: the players who hated training
Embed from Getty Imageswindow.gie=window.gie||function(c){(gie.q=gie.q||[]).push(c)};gie(function(){gie.widgets.load({id:'DAIyppreS7BZ24_ucXMHVA',sig...
Photo of the week ~ Bradford Park Avenue
Bradford Park Avenue 4-1 Bishop Auckland, FA Cup first qualifying round, Horsfall Stadium, September 12, 2009. Photo by Paul Thompson for WSC...
Photo gallery ~ Bishop Auckland v West Auckland Town
Bishop Auckland 3 West Auckland Town 1, 22/01/16 - Images by WSC Photography Bishop Auckland played West Auckland Town in a...

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