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13 March 2009 ~

Following Arsenal's penalty shoot-out win in Rome on Wednesday Theo Walcott revealed his spot-kick technique and its unlikely motivation: "I didn't look at the goalkeeper at any time... It's all about positive thinking. I learnt that from James Beattie. He's probably one of the best penalty takers I've seen." We hope that English football's latest teenage hope does not take too much inspiration from a striker who scored 13 goals in 76 Everton appearances. To be fair to Beattie his contribution may yet keep Stoke in the Premier League, a club he joined in January after impressive performances for Sheffield Utd, including this free-kick. The confusion was deliberate (we think) but Theo would be well advised not to try anything too clever, as two of his Arsenal predecessors would be quick to point out.

Badge of the week
HNK Rijeka are a Croatian team with a mystifying symbol as the visual focal point of their badge. Conspiracy theorists will tell you that the image at bottom right is the All-Seeing Eye of Providence, largely associated with Freemasonry and also with the New World Order, members of the international elite who manipulate world governments through the banking system and meet in the woods somewhere in America to dance nude and sacrifice glove puppets (I forget the exact details, it was on a documentary on Five but I was also eating a bucket of Maltesers at the time and texting people). Another interpretation of the All-Seeing Eye would be that our God is watching us at all times. This is quite comforting, but I personally would like a bit of Me Time. Anyway, if it's not the Eye of Providence depicted here it might be a little girl in an Alice band blowing up a big yellow balloon. I hope this is the explanation because it's much less sinister and everyone likes balloons. Cameron Carter

from Kevin Borras
"I might have shot my comedy bolt with the best-named cup competitions last week, but I thought I might as well push my luck and send some more. How about these:

Huws Gray Cymru Alliance Roger Jones Builders Merchants Cup
North Devon Journal North Devon League Brayford Cup (think that might be in North Devon, will check)
Vandanel Kent County Barry Bundock West Kent Challenge Shield (I’m thinking Kent)
Midland Combination Unique Catering & Management Services President's Cup

And not content with sponsoring one cup, www.sportsjamkits.com have their name plastered all over another, albeit competing with what looks like two other companies for top billing – this time the fantastically unwieldy:

The www.sportsjamkits.com Shropshire County League Insight Ron Jones Cup

If only they televised the draw for that. Just imagining Jim Rosenthal trying to sound enthusiastic about it is taking my mind off my crippling pre-match nerves. And I’m not even going."

Commentating legend Tony Gubba seems to have an odd affliction according to Wikipedia, as spotted by David Wangerin

from Ed Parkinson
"Toulouse's 3-0 humiliation of Bordeaux in their 80th derby last weekend saw the home ultras making numerous attempts to out do the Girondin visitors. Giant flags, flares and Occitan colours were all displayed in a bid to replicate the style of the Italian ultras at crucial matches but the most popular banner of the night could only have appeared in France. Just before half time a small group unfurled a banner bearing a picture of a bottle of claret being poured into a toilet and the slogan: 'Je n'aime pas le Bordeaux, je bois du Fronton' (the latter being the local wine). This was immediately followed by TFC's second goal. I'm now looking forward to some cheese-related taunts at the last match of the season, and potential Ligue 1 decider, with Lyon."

Getting shirty Notable kits of yesteryear

England away 1978
Admiral began making the official England shirt in 1974 and continued to do so for ten years. It was a controversial link-up because it involved a manufacturer's logo appearing on the shirts for the first time while "Admiral" rather than "England" was emblazoned on the back of the tracksuits. This away shirt is a relic of a curious summer tour in 1978 when an England B team played seven matches in New Zealand and south-east Asia. The first two matches were draws – 1-1 with Malaysia B then 2-2 with a club side, Christchurch United – followed by a series of emphatic wins, culminating in an 8-0 thumping of Singapore. The England B squad had been revived earlier in 1978 after an absence of 22 years with the wearer of this shirt, Paul Mariner, featuring in the first game, a 2-1 away win against West Germany. The summer tourists included nine players who never won an official cap: Derby keeper John Middleton, central defenders David Needham (Forest), Steve Sims (Leicester) and Glen Roeder of Division Three champions Orient, midfielders Micky Speight (Sheffield Utd), Steve Daley (Wolves) and Gary Owen (Man City), plus forwards David Geddis (Ipswich), Tommy Langley (Chelsea) and Mel Eves (Wolves).

Buy this shirt and hundreds of others at Classic Football Shirts

It's high time that someone brought out a comprehensive guide to football in the Faroe Islands. Now John Ronaldson has done just that. Find out which club were the victims of a conspiracy involving a handball team and which were supposedly named after a brand of Icelandic washing powder.

Wigged out
We've discovered that Bobby Mihailov the bewigged Bulgarian was not the only player to be unduly sensitive about his thinning thatch. There was also midfielder Horst Koppel who won caps for West Germany while playing for Stuttgart and Monchengladbach in the 1970s. On the left is a "before" picture, taken in 1969, and an "after" from three years later. As you'd expect, Horst's discreet purchase has cheered him up nicely.

WSC Trivia ~ N0 56
We were in the process of finishing one of the WSC annuals of the early 1990s. The printers gave us laminated proofs of a few pages to show to the publishers. These proofs were apparently called "grumlins". In answer to queries about the progress of the book, we would say that it wasn't quite ready but that we had "checked the grumlins". This seemed to baffle everyone we mentioned it to, which led us think that we'd picked up a bit of specialist print trade knowledge. It was a couple of years before we discovered that such things were actually called "chromalins", which had been converted to "grumlins" by the printers' West Country accents.

A mine of information constructed from sticker cards

Lucio Bizzini, Servette Panini Swiss Football 79
Players who gain a reputation as "mavericks" tend to have certain things in common. Central defender Lucio Bizzini, Swiss football's best known rebel, would seem to fit the bill. As well as having long hair and a languid playing style, he was known for being outspoken. But what set Bizzini apart was his academic background. Born in the Italian-Swiss canton of Ticino, he began playing with lower league teams while training as a primary school teacher. He then took a PhD in child psychology in Geneva, where he joined a local club, Chenois, later moving to their bigger neighbours, Servette. Capped in his first season at the top level, Bizzini went on to play 41 times for Switzerland. After retiring aged 36 he became the first sports psychologist to work with the national squad and has since run a psychiatry practice with his wife while also lecturing at the University of Geneva. Oh, and he also helped to create the Swiss players' union in 1979. He might even have had a drink and stayed up late occasionally.

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