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17 April 2009 ~

In a weekend when the FA Cup semi-finals will get most of the media attention, there is also a highly significant fixture at the Beveree Stadium, Hampton, where AFC Wimbledon will be promoted to the Conference if they avoid defeat. All being well this will leave them just two divisions below their usurpers from Milton Keynes. A cataclysmic encounter between the two teams is coming ever nearer.

Badge of the week
Sampdoria don't have a badge so much as an ink-blot test. Where one person will see a pipe-smoking, cravat-wearing horse with a bat on its head, others will detect an auctioneer escaping hastily through paper. And it could possibly resolve your character type: a psychotic personality might see a hooded demon with a croquet mallet; a neurotic, on the other hand, would see the explosion caused by going off on holiday and leaving their second-hand microwave plugged in. This is where Sampdoria's image has the edge on many of their Italian contemporaries. Napoli have decided to represent their club and city with a blueish N for Napoli on a slightly more blueish background, for instance, while Vicenza believe a big red V should cover everything. Sampdoria's effort, while admittedly a little messy on first glance, indeed a bit of a shambles, has a complexity and ambiguity that bears revisiting. Cameron Carter

from Amanda Hume
"I have a straightforward question because I don't know (but suspect I do know) the answer to why there was no Premier League programme on Easter Monday. Years ago when I was a girl my parents used to take my once a year to see the Albion and it was always at Easter – either the Saturday or the Monday depending when they were at home. Last year there was no Easter programme because of internationals. This year no Premier League programme but all the other divisions played. So I think that tells my why. Presumably there was no programme because it is Champions League week? So all the other teams' fans are robbed of a prime bank holiday fixture to allow the boys from the top four to play. Am I right?"

Getting shirty
Notable kits of yesteryear

Maidstone Utd home, 1989-90
Kent gained its second Football League club in 1989 when Maidstone were promoted as Conference champions. The best known player to wear their amber shirts with the modish splodgy effect was future England full-back Warren Barton, who moved on to Wimbledon in 1990 after playing for the club in a play-off defeat by Cambridge United. Having sold their own stadium while in the Conference, Maidstone became tenants at Dartford, an arrangement that proved disastrously expensive. After failing to get planning approval for a new ground in the town, they resigned from the League in 1992. They re-formed in county football, however, and are now in the Isthmian Premier, still playing in amber and black with a badge based on the town crest.

Buy this shirt and hundreds of others at Classic Football Shirts

from David Wilde
"I'm on the District Line platform at Westminster station in the early 1990s. A train pulls in and I can see an elderly man on board standing behind the door waiting for it to open. But District Line train doors will only open by pushing a button. The flustered passenger realises this almost too late and frantically jabs at the button. Hey, it's Bert Millichip, chairman of the Football Association. The door springs open and he marches briskly past me as I squeeze to one side and edge on. Perhaps he was on his way for tea and scones with the sports minister at the House of Commons. If so it's odd that he didn't travel by chauffeured limo. Sightseeing, perhaps, as he had a gift shop bag with him – it may have contained a Tower of London snowstorm and a plastic policeman's helmet. 'Bert the Inert' Brian Glanville used to call him, but he could shift a bit when the situation called for it."

from Stephen Welch
"John Toshack's Wikipedia entry has been subject to many revisions over the years. This piece of linguistic information was swiftly scrapped so I assume that it wasn't true?"

WSC Trivia ~ N0 61
The first WSC book Offside! was launched in 1989 at the west London pub owned by former QPR centre-half Terry Mancini. Terry wasn't there on the night but one of his fearsome-looking, equally bald brothers (they were a boxing family) was on duty behind the bar. The event was covered by a TV news crew but we can't recall who they were or whether anything was broadcast. Around a decade later a member of WSC staff spotted a pile of Offside! on a corner shelf in the Rough Trade shop in Ladbroke Grove – they'd knocked a quid off by then.

A mine of information constructed from sticker cards

"Preben Arentoft", Newcastle Utd Wonderful World of Soccer Stars 1969-70 & Preben Arentoft, Newcastle Utd Wonderful World of Soccer Stars 1970-71
It's rare for someone to go from being dark and wiry to blond and heavy-set. Yet such was the transformation within a year of Preben Arentoft, the Danish winger who played in the last Newcastle team to win a trophy, the 1969 Fairs Cup. Except that the player in the first picture isn't Arentoft at all but a former team-mate, Arthur Horsfield. How the publishers of this card mistook the two is hard to see especially given that Horsfield had left Newcastle the season before. Having spent most of his career in Division Two (with Middlesbrough, Swindon and Charlton) Horsfield doesn't appear to have ever had a sticker card in his own name – although the WSC letters page did once publicise a campaign to have a crescent in Middlesbrough renamed in his honour. Arentoft was one of the few Europeans to feature in League football before the ban on foreign players was officially lifted in the late 1970s – he was able to do so having acquired British citizenship while playing in Scotland with Morton. He left Newcastle in 1971 to join Blackburn where he switched to full-back and may even have marked Arthur Horsfield. Did the pair remain blithely unaware of the card confusion? Yes, we'd imagine so.

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