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3 April 2009 ~

In these turbulent times let's spare a thought for the normal Newcastle Utd fan. Such people do of course exist, it's just that their views are rarely represented when something monumental happens at their club. Thus the arrival of Alan Shearer as manager has been greeted across the mainstream media by blethering idiots in replica shirts hailing the return of the saviour. Many Newcastle fans are surely questioning the wisdom of appointing a complete novice to keep them up but their views can't be easily summed up in a crass soundbite so we won't get to hear from them.

Badge of the week
Now, pay attention on this one. There were two clubs in Linz, one of which was called Voest, named after the local steel company who funded them. They then merged with their neighbours Linzer ASK as FC Linz. In the meantime, Voest supporters founded a new club, called Blau Weiss Linz. So this badge represents a now defunct team who, if their choice of insignia is anything to go by, should not be greatly mourned. There are many club crests that display a Startling Lack Of Originality but this one combines lack of originality with lack of creativity and an apparent distrust of aesthetic ambition. While the image above the football is an abstract one, it seems to prepare one for the aggressive ugliness of a putrefying low-rise town centre with a faint but insistent smell of urine and tar. The postcard for Linz probably shows a concrete multistorey car park in one quarter section, as one of the limited focal points. That, at least, is what the club badge would suggest. It is certainly not my fault if I am doing the place a disservice, I’m only going on what I know. Cameron Carter

from Henry Mance
"Over the years, Diego Maradona could have learned a few things from reading the British Medical Journal. But while coke and obesity only seem to have dealt Argentine football limited damage, the decision to turn up in La Paz on the day of the game against Bolivia is more humiliating (the 6-1 defeat being Argentina's worst in 60 years). The common wisdom in Latin America is that, to play well at altitude, you either arrive ten days before the match to acclimatise or just turn up on the day of the game in a kind of shock therapy (which is why Colombia, whose players come from all over the place, train at sea level for games in Bogota, which is at 2,600m). What readers of the BMJ already know is that the latter is bull: a survey of Bolivia's home games between 1950 and 1993 found that the opposition lost 82 per cent of the time if they arrived on the day but only 40-50 per cent if they had acclimatised for one, two or three days beforehand. Expect the Argentine FA to get their subscription in soon."

There's no sign of Howl favourite Mr Testicle in this year's Keep Your Eye On The Ball cancer awareness campaign. Instead the new ad features Teddy Sheringham juggling with... something inside his shorts. Cross your legs before watching this.

Getting shirty
Notable kits of yesteryear

Velez Sarsfield 1994-95
This is the shirt won by Velez Sarsfield when they became the seventh Argentine team to win the Copa Libertadores in 1994 and the World Club Championship in the same year. The V doesn't stand for Velez – the shirts had been designed in the late 1930s for a rugby team who didn't collect them so were bought at a discount by a Velez director. Striker Carlos Bianchi had been the team's key player when they won their first league championship in 1968 and he was coach when they next took the title in 1993. That side's best-known performer was also a goalscorer – and a goalkeeper. Paraguayan Jose Luis Chilavert scored regularly from set-pieces, even from inside his own half.

Buy this shirt and hundreds of others at Classic Football Shirts

If you're in Macao why not drop in to the Venetian Macao Resort Hotel? There you will find Asia's only interactive football experience. Visitors can rifle through a digital version of Wayne Rooney's kitbag and see a hologram of Sir Alex Ferguson who, while speaking, "is interrupted three times by three different players, who talk to him as though all is happening in real time". So if you want to hear a Scottish OAP telling people to shut up in several different ways, you know where to go.

from James Ainsworth
 "Imagine my surprise when I idly looked at Daniel Amokachi's career record on Wikipedia that he was, in 2005, the World Monopoly Champion. Are any Monopoly heads able to confirm this?"

WSC Trivia ~ N0 59
We've just moved offices and are currently hemmed in by tottering piles of books, boxes and 1960s editions of Charles Buchan's Football Monthly. We've also brought along one of the most commented-on features of the old office, a small pornographic Aztec statuette which we were told would bring us luck. Disappointingly the new landlords have no football connections, unlike the owner of our old office who is related to Paul Brooker (yes, really, Paul Brooker).

A mine of information constructed from sticker cards

Peter Barnes, Real Betis Panini Futbol 83
An unsolved mystery of English football in the 1980s is what went wrong with Peter Barnes. He made his Man City debut as a 17-year-old winger in 1975 and seemed set for a long international career when first capped by England three years later. Despite being a popular player with City fans, Barnes was allowed to leave during the turmoil of Malcolm Allison's second spell at the club in 1979 and moved to West Brom. He got the last of his 22 England caps aged 24 in 1982 during his first season with Leeds. They were relegated that year and Barnes was one of several players whose form dipped. The criticism he received at the time, both in the press and from the Elland Road crowd, was said to have fundamentally damaged his confidence. He returned to Leeds after one season in Spain with Betis but went on to play for another 17 clubs over the next eight years. This included a brief return to Man City plus 20 games in 18 months at Man Utd when they were managed by his old West Brom boss Ron Atkinson. His final first-team appearance was for Cliftonville in the Irish League in 1992.

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