A small portion of despair and enlightenment delivered to your inbox every Friday
24 April 2009 ~

Many were disappointed when Bolton fielded under-strength teams in Europe on the basis that they wanted to save players for the relegation battle. Gary Megson got the blame for this craven approach, but it's likely the real culprit was his chairman, Phil Gartside. This week Premier League chairmen agreed to discuss Gartside's plan for a two-tier League involving "two Scottish clubs" at their AGM in June. The idea reeks of the desperate self-interest of a scared group of businessmen – but then people said the same thing when the Premier League was first proposed.

Badge of the week
Sileks Kratovo are a Macedonian team who haven't quite got the hang of the potential power of iconography. There is a football somewhere at the back there to give us an idea of Sileks' day job, but the overriding sense is that someone has created seven red rectangles using the Microsoft Word toolbar for drawing, clocked off for lunch and then forgotten about the whole thing. Somehow it has been passed as the finished product. Perhaps there is a greater meaning here – the rectangles may represent the seven red cards accumulated during an infamous game just before the break up of Yugoslavia – but the likelihood is that the club distrust flights of fancy in general and have opted for an image so dull it must lull visiting players into a stupor that will negatively affect their ability to win second ball. Possibly this type of design is considered modish in the Balkans these days but to the untutored eye it has a flattish quality. Cameron Carter

from Johnny Chapman
"A couple of weekends ago I got on a crowded train at Sheffield in order to go to my nephew's birthday party in Derby. Sitting next to a young girl who was reading, I too got out my book. The bloke across the table returned from the buffet and made a couple of attempts to engage the both of us in conversation, talking about his poor bets in the previous day's Grand National and what the conductor had said on an earlier train. I smiled politely, made a few comments and returned to my book. But on the table was a football programme and curiosity got the better of me and I upside down read that it was from the 1992 Charity Shield. Before I could wonder why he might have such a programme with him, said bloke opened it up at the player profiles and said: 'You wouldn't have thought it was me, would you?' For said bloke turned out to be Nicky Tanner – of course this hooked my interest and he got the conversation he obviously desired. An amiable man, he was on the way back to Bristol from Alan Shearer's first game as manager. 'They said I was one of the worst centre-halves in the Premier League, but I was better than that Coloccini.' Whilst I first thought he habitually carried about programmes featuring him to spark discussion, it turned out he had been given it at the match. 'You get them at the time, but you never think to keep them.'"

Getting shirty
Notable kits of yesteryear

Racing Paris home, 1988-90
Racing Paris were the best known French club in the first half of the 20th century. Indeed both their name and their sky-blue and white shirts were adopted by what became one of the major teams in Buenos Aires. During the financial collapse of the French game in the mid-1960s, bankrupt Racing merged briefly with Sedan then spent over a decade in the amateur third level, making no attempt to rejoin the professional leagues. That changed in the early 1980s when an injection of cash – notably from Matra, makers of Exocet missiles – propelled them into the limelight again. They spent five years in the first division, reaching the French cup final in their relegation season of 1989-90. Racing have since reverted to amateurism, although periodically there is talk of a renewed bid to give the upstarts of PSG a proper local rivalry. At present, though, that distinctive kit can be seen in the Championnat de France Amateurs.

Buy this shirt and hundreds of others at Classic Football Shirts

This week in history ~ Division One, April 22, 1950


Portsmouth kept up their two-point lead over Wolves with a victory over Liverpool in front of 46,927. But the title race went to the last match after Portsmouth lost their penultimate game, away to Arsenal, while Wolves were wining at Bolton. A 5-1 defeat of Villa ensured that the title came to Fratton Park for the second consecutive season.

Portsmouth had set a League record in having no capped players in their title-winning team of 1948-49 – partly an effect of international competition having only recently resumed after the war. But centre-forward Jack Froggatt, one of the two scorers against Liverpool, went on to play 13 times for England, while winger Peter Harris had the unwanted distinction of getting his two caps in landmark losses – the first at home to a non-British side, against the Republic of Ireland in 1949, then their worst ever defeat, 7-1 in Hungary five years later.

Wing-half Jimmy Dickinson also played in those games and went on to get 48 caps. Probably the most popular figure ever associated with the club, Dickinson played for Portsmouth until 1965 and later worked for them as both manager and club secretary.

Twenty-year-old Ronnie Allen scored West Brom's winner at Fulham. Newly signed from Port Vale, Allen went to play over 400 League games for Albion and scored both goals in their 2-1 FA Cup final victory over Preston in 1954. He later became the only person to far to manage both West Brom and Wolves.

Manchester City and Birmingham both went down after failing to win either of their last two games. Goalkeeper and former POW Bert Trautmann made his City debut this season, replacing the veteran Frank Swift who became a journalist and was to die in the Munich air crash. Trautmann stayed with City for 14 years and was then manager of Stockport before becoming a coach with the German FA.

Everton's goalscorer against Burnley was Harry Catterick who managed them to League titles in 1963 and 1970. The last pre-war champions, Everton had struggled since the resumption and went down the following year. Their 7-0 thrashing by Portsmouth in this season was a club record, matched only by a game at Arsenal in 2005 when they had just clinched fourth place. Liverpool's scorer in their defeat at Portsmouth was Albert Stubbins, who features on the cover of Sergeant Pepper. The Beatles weren't Liverpool fans – they just liked his name.

from Paddy Fletcher
"The final two sentences on David Batty's post-retirement activities according to Wikipedia are remarkably vague."

WSC Trivia ~ N0 62
Terry Venables isn't top of anyone's list these days – apart from one of ours. He has graced more WSC covers than anyone else, although we suspect that he won't be featuring again. TV has racked up 14 appearances, with Michael Owen second on 11 followed by David Beckham on nine. Alan Shearer, currently in joint fourth place with eight, seems to us the most likely to be climbing the table soon. We have fewer hopes for those on one appearance who include Ian Ormondroyd, Avram Grant and Robert Maxwell.

A mine of information constructed from sticker cards

Paulo Cesar & Jairzinho, Olympique Marseille
Football 1974-75
Brazil's 1970 World Cup side are the most lauded team ever to win the trophy but only three members of the squad ever got the chance to play in Europe and they only managed three seasons between them. From the mid-1960s, the country's military regime became unwilling to allow their star players to move overseas and blocked several bids for Pelé from Spanish and Italian clubs. By the early 1970s, when the regime's attitude softened, both those countries had imposed bans on foreign players so France became the favoured destination. Reserve centre-back Joel had a year with Paris St-Germain while midfielder Paulo Cesar and striker Jairzinho – the first player ever to score in every match in a final tournament – spent one controversial season with Marseille. The text with Jairzinho's card says that "with age he may have lost his punch". But he hadn't – he received a one-year ban for striking a linesman during a match midway through this season and returned home. He has since worked as an agent and is one of several people credited with having first spotted Ronaldo.

Paulo Cesar, who was the playmaker in the 1974 World Cup side having played only against England four years earlier, was a big success in France, scoring 16 goals in 31 games. But he too left after a year amid criticism of his hectic playboy lifestyle. He went on to be one of the few players to play for all four of the major Rio clubs, nearly signed for Fulham in 1979, and ended his career aged 34 by winning the World Club Championship with Gremio in 1983. He has since been the subject of a documentary charting his determination to continue living the high life and has recently grown a distinctive beard.

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.

League table courtesy of statto.com: the place to go for football stats & odds comparison – English & Scottish stats from 1871 plus European & International

Related articles

Weekly Howl 30-05-14
A small portion of despair and enlightenment delivered to your inbox every Friday30 May 2014 ~ Paul Scholes has suggested England should start to...
Le Championnat 1992-93
Marseille were first crowned League champions, then European Champions. They were stripped of the former though, reports Aaron DonaghyThe long-term...
France – PSG and Marseille rivalry
No goals, no away fans, only one proper team – fears of violence made the recent match between PSG and Marseille remarkable, as Neil McCarthy...

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