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6 March 2009 ~

Since Doug Ellis sold up, the new commercially aware regime at Aston Villa take every opportunity to promote the club. However, following the reserves' UEFA Cup defeat in Moscow, this is not the best week for them to have emailed supporters with offers of matchday breaks in Birmingham that would take in "Premier League, European football and domestic cup competitions". They must be taking advance bookings for next season but, after the week Villa have had, the new Europa League will not seem like an enticing prospect.

Badge of the week
Turan Tovuz play in Azerbaijan's Yuksak Liga, although not very well at the moment as they're rooted to the bottom at the time of writing. The club's badge is a little ambiguous. The image can either radiate a Dingly Dell loveliness or something a little more dark, depending on one's interpretation. In the Dingly Dell version, a young deer frolics through fragrant woodland, knee-deep in violets, heart gladdened by birdsong. He is so transported by his environment that he is bouncing all over the place and, in doing so, actually adds to the gaiety of the environment. However, some people look upon the same scene and see a psychotic donkey stamping repeatedly on the prone, twitching body of an elderly lady, an incident framed within a football-shaped laughing skull. I think, if Turan intended the sylvan idyll for their image, they should perhaps redesign their crest to ensure that the more sinister interpretation becomes impossible. Haunts the hell out of me. Cameron Carter

from Kevin Borras
"I was talking to a mate of mine who plays for Charlton United in the Oxfordshire Senior League and he was telling me that they had just been knocked out of the Ivor Gubbins Cup by their local rivals. I thought this was possibly the best-named cup competition in the UK but having now had a look at the Non-League Paper's results section, I have changed my mind. How about these five from last Sunday:

Anagram Records Capital Counties Feeder Leagues Trophy
FTL Futbol Hellenic League SBJ Sports Insurance Trophy
Vandanel Kent County League Bill Manklow Inter-Regional Challenge Cup
Teejac.com Gwynedd League Draig Personnel Eryi Shield
Or the pièce de résistance...
The www.sportjamkits.com Shropshire County Turners Furniture Division One Cup

'Sponsored by Eon' doesn’t sound quite as glamorous now, does it?"

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

Football Crazy! Various Artists (Emporio, 1995)
Are you football crazy? Then you'll love this compilation! This was no doubt the doomed thinking that motivated the marketeers at Emporio Records, publishers too of The Diamond Accordion Band Play Country Greats and Samantha Fox – The Hits Album. I'm sure both records are a huge improvement on this one, whose highlight opening track Blue Is the Colour stems from the days when a football record involved a gruff squad knocking off a catchy chorus. Justin Fashanu singing Do It Cos You Like It is poignant for all the wrong reasons; Real Sounds of Africa pull off the seemingly impossible on Soccer Fan by making African music sound crap; Arsenal Rap is a bigger embarrassment for the club then Nicklas Bendtner; and the point of Vinnie Jones's Wooly Bully must have evaporated together with memories of all those qualities that allowed the gonad-grabbing hacker to play professional football in the first place. The slightly Stereolabesque (but only slightly) tone of Her's Ooh Gary Gary offers brief respite, while karaoke machine-hogging Harry Palmer's endless rhyming of "Cole" with "goal" on The Andy Cole Song deserves an award for perseverance, in much the same way that a puppy deserves a biscuit for dumping outside on the grass instead of inside on the living room carpet. In retrospect, the Spitting Image team's Cry Gazza Cry just seems like gratuitous cruelty, but it fits in well given that the disc constitutes unusual punishment for anyone unfortunate enough to hear its tuneless cheese from start to end. Fortunately, I’ve a fetish for martyrdom. Ian Plenderleith 

from Mark Hobson
"WSC's regular Intro of the Month feature highlights a terrible opening paragraph of a match report but I almost admire writers who have worked out a whole sequence of similes and puns which they are determined to work into their copy. Take Mike Walters of the Mirror and his reflections on the Watford v Swansea match on February 17. He begins: 'Tamas Priskin sank Roberto Martinez's Spanish armada last night amid a rousing chorus: 'We all agree, Tamas is better than tapas.' A couple of paragraphs later, we also get 'When the going got tough, the Taffs never got going' and then '...the Swans will flock up the M4 for another peck at Fulham next week'. A laudable effort. I shall be keeping an eye out for his work from now on."

WSC archive
Do you ever wonder what you were doing a few years ago? We often find that a football memory can bring to light previously forgotten events. So take a trip back to 2002.

from Chris Towers
"Not satisfied with merely mispronouncing Jose Bosingwa's name (as Boswinger), Sky have now taken it upon themselves to change it completely, because they can. This was seen in their Breaking News strapline before the Champions League tie with Juventus."

WSC Trivia ~ N0 55
Some people get so cross. After Man Utd clinched their first League title in 26 years in 1993 we received a fax from a United-supporting reader that said simply: "Dear WSC, Up Yours!" Rather than enjoying the moment of triumph he had some spare anger to vent about our supposed bias against his club. A couple of years earlier an Arsenal supporter was so offended by a WSC pre-season poster, featuring a (then relatively new) joke about Tony Adams being a donkey, that he returned it in an A4 envelope meticulously torn into small pieces. For reasons we can't now recall, a Rotherham supporter accused us twice in the space of a few months of having "an obvious anti-Millers agenda" while a fan of Steve Staunton, incensed by a comment about his favourite's funny running style, wrote out a list of Staunton's playing achievements going back to his schoolboy days and asked us to submit a similar list of what we'd achieved: "Will that take you a while? No, I don't expect so." In fact, we love everyone and everything – but would admit to some unease about Ken Bates.

A mine of information constructed from sticker cards

Vasilis Hatzipanagis, Iraklis Salonika Panini Greece 83
A talented midfielder whose career was damaged by political interference, Vasilis Hatzipanagis set a world record for the longest gap between international caps. He made his debut for Greece against Poland in May 1976 and got his second cap in December 1999 when he played the first 20 minutes of a friendly against Ghana. The latter match doubled up as a testimonial for Hatzipanagis who was 46 by then and had been retired for several years. He was born in Tashkent in the Soviet Union where his Communist parents had resettled after the Greek civil war of 1946-49. The family were allowed to return to Greece in 1974 after the country's military regime was removed from power. Hatzipanagis joined the Salonika club Iraklis and made a major impact – he was voted the best Greek player of the last 50 years in 2003. However, shortly after his national team debut, Soviet officials complained to UEFA that he had already played for the USSR at Under-23 level and so was not eligible to turn out for another country. Hatzipanagis was then banned from international football for the rest of his career.

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