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3 July 2009 ~

Rumours that a consortium is poised to bid for Newcastle Utd were strengthened yesterday when players apparently saw a group of businessmen being shown around the ground and training complex. Given the ownership limbo, reports are that no one is doing basic jobs around the club. So it's just as likely these were people from Rentokil asked to sort out the mouse problem or upholsterers taking a look at the sagging sofa in the dusty – and still empty – manager's office.

Badge of the week
Cosmos are a young team named after the New York Cosmos, but where their American cousins had a vigorous swirling football design indicating Modernity and Fun and some kind of graphic design budget, Cosmos are forced to make do with a turret on graph paper. Of course graph paper helps if one isn't sure of getting all the walls and doors the same height on both sides but it is difficult to believe that there is no one in this region of San Marino who can draw something better freehand. Or perhaps this is a feature of San Marinese art, the promotion of geometric rectitude over individual expression. The ancient Egyptians were much the same with their hieroglyphs, meticulously proportioned according to the best maths of the day. It is possible that the occupation of artist in San Marinese society has approximately the same reputation as accountant or IT consultant in our own. Alternatively, this avenue of interpretation could be entirely off, and the castle-seen-through-a-fire-door symbol is a potent one on the Adriatic. Cameron Carter

 from Josh Widdicombe
"During my second week of university in Manchester I went for a drink in a pub across from my halls, the sort of place that defined itself by cheap alcopops, sticky floors and the needless over-excitement of freshers. One man I didn't expect to see in there watching that night's match between Man Utd v Deportivo La Coruña was Wes Brown. With United leading, Brown propped up the bar with a J2O while his burly friends/minders spent their time not really struggling to keep a very slow trickle of 'fans' from saying hello. Then with five minutes left Deportivo scored two quick goals and suddenly people were interested in talking to Wes, albeit to mock him. Rather than putting on a brave face and ordering another premium juice Brown and his gang beat a hasty retreat to the exit and were never seen in the student district again."

Getting shirty
Notable kits of yesteryear

Austria Vienna 1984-86
Some football clubs have always been owned by corporations, the best known example being Philips SV of Eindhoven. For a while, however, Austria was the only country in Europe where teams were allowed to incorporate their shirt sponsor's name into their official title. In the late 1970s, the Football League barred Coventry City from following suit by becoming Coventry Talbot, although they got around this by incorporating the company's T logo into their design of their shirts. The cigarette manufacturers Memphis maintained their association with Austria Vienna for over 20 years until 2004. In most countries there are football teams that wear mauve or purple shirts (Austria Vienna's are officially violet). But they never became popular in the UK when football colours were standardised because the dyes required were very expensive. Man City became one of the first English clubs to buck the trend with a purple and white pinstriped away shirt in the early 1990s.

Buy this shirt and hundreds of others at Classic Football Shirts

The London Football Companion is a forthcoming book from Bloomsbury, written by one Ed Glinert who has compiled several anthologies about London's cultural history. In the section on south-east London he makes these rather startling comments about the local League club:

"That Millwall should bear so invidious a reputation stems from their lack of middle-class support. Other football clubs attract fans from a wide section of the population, with the civilised supporters acting as an unstated peer-pressure bulwark against the feral, beer-fuelled extreme elements. But Millwall have always been based in rundown parts of London that defy any measure of respectability, and the crowding in one place of so many people leading lives of casual violence has long spilled over on to the terraces and stands."

We checked to see if this was taken from a 19th-century report into slum conditions in the East End but incredibly it does seem to have been written recently by Mr Glinert, possibly while polishing his monocle and waxing his luxuriant moustache. Order a copy today.
from Craig Burley (no, not that one)

"According to Wikipedia, Paul Ifill has hobbies that honestly don't sound that unusual to me."

WSC Trivia ~ No 70
As we have mentioned before, in the early days of email we used to receive messages for the Wakefield Shirt Company (whose address was wsc.com) mainly from textile mills in India. Now, more than a decade further on, we've started to be mistaken for them again but this time by spammers. Within the last few days we've received several offers to widen our business contacts in Wakefield and the surrounding area from, among others, Agamemnon Curtis, Colon Cleanse and Neville Chamberlain, all of whom sound like they would be worth getting to know.

Stickipedia A mine of information constructed from sticker cards

Peter Wilson, Australia FKS World Cup 1974
Some ex-footballers decide not to have anything more to do with the game once they have retired – but few have led a life of seclusion to compare with Peter Wilson who captained the first Australian team to play in a World Cup finals. Wilson was a reserve central defender with his home-town club Middlesbrough when he decided to emigrate to Australia in 1968. After impressive performances for South Coast United in Sydney he got his first cap for Australia in 1971. The team didn't win any of their three games at the 1974 World Cup but they gave the hosts West Germany a hard game despite the 3-0 scoreline. Franz Beckenbauer was so annoyed by booing in the home crowd that he ran off at the final whistle, refusing to swap shirts with his opposite number. Wilson had 64 caps when he stopped playing for Australia in 1979, a record that wasn't broken for 14 years. In his last match, in 1982, he won the Australian cup as player-coach of Apia Leichardt.

After that Wilson briefly went back to a former job as a coal miner in Wollongong, New South Wales, then retired to live in the mountains where he built up a collection of vintage motorbikes. Occasionally he would be seen with shoulder-length hair and beard at his favourite bar, the Kemla Heights Bowling Club – but he refused to be interviewed about his past life. The 1974 Australia World Cup squad held their first ever reunion near to where Wilson lives in Wollongong in 1997 but he was the only one who didn't show up. A German football fan once corresponded with him about the 1974 finals. Wilson sent him the badge torn off the shirt he wore against West Germany – and asked for some motorcycle magazines in exchange. Nine years ago a street in Sydney was named after him but he didn't attend the inauguration.

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