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21 August 2009 ~

What to make of David Bentley's latest escapade in which he was arrested for drink driving? We won't get to hear his own version of events because his column in the Sun was abruptly terminated during last season. It's quite likely this was the shortest-lived newspaper column ever by a footballer. Unfortunately Robbie Savage hasn't beaten this record as his thunderously inane Daily Mirror column is now into its third week.

Badge of the week
Now I know this is not a tremendously interesting badge – in fact it sits firmly in the camp of the highly uninteresting imageless variety – but the name of the club itself, Red Boys Differdange, inspires clamorous waking dreams. Let's say that you are a player new to Luxembourg's top flight, witnessing that name for the first time on the season's fixture list. Immediately the heartbeat would quicken as one imagined semi-feral youths screaming out of the tunnel, faces painted red with boar blood, meeting by the centre-circle and baying at the stands. Of course they would play in bare feet, mean little feet hardened almost into hooves by years of roaming free in the mountains. Their breath when they man-marked you would stink of their last meal – a smell you dimly recognise, but not one associated with food. And their eyes, their eyes would be alight with a nameless desire and their language would be bloody terrible. And then you might think of picking up a silly booking in the games previous to this fixture and hope the suspension kicks in immediately. So with this name to work with, you might think the designers could come up with something a bit more intimidating than the team’s initials. Or perhaps what they did come up with was censored as being too fearsome for family fans. Cameron Carter

from Simon Smith
"I saw the entire Reading 2007-08 relegation squad during their mid-season trip to somewhere at Heathrow Airport in March 2008. There I was, minding my own business, when I saw a bloke in a Reading 'leisure suit', followed by about 30 more, including Stephen Hunt, Kevin Doyle and many other wantaway players. Intrigued, I pretended to walk the same way as them, hopping from magazine outlet to coffee shop to see where they were off to (or, indeed, with another abysmal result behind them, whether they were skipping the country for good). Sadly, during my pursuit my flight was called, so I had to go and queue up somewhere for an hour and a quarter. I never got to see where they were headed. La Manga I guess, what with them being footballers. It must have been their turn that week. So sadly for anecdote purposes, nothing interesting or interactive happened."

Getting shirty
Notable kits of yesteryear

Coventry City home, 1981-83
British clubs were allowed to carry shirt advertising from 1979, but they weren't allowed to wear sponsored shirts in televised games for several years afterwards. Coventry's commercial director Jimmy Hill attempted to get around the ban in a way that could be seen as either inspired or crass. It involved wearing shirts with a large T design based on the sponsor's logo but with their name, Talbot, removed. The football authorities didn't fall for it. (The design shown is the one worn for regular League matches.) Coventry had an all-white kit when Hill took over as manager in 1961. He brought back the sky blue the club had used regularly up to the First World War but they'd reverted to another old strip, blue and white stripes, at the time of winning their one major trophy, the 1987 FA Cup. Talbot was an old car brand relaunched by Chrysler in the late 1970s. But the name became a byword for commercial failure to the extent that Private Eye referred to Event!, the short-lived listings magazine published by their arch-enemy Sir James Goldsmith, as Talbot!.

Buy this shirt and hundreds of others at Classic Football Shirts

Touching the stars
A new series about playing with or against footballers, or indeed a celebrity of any kind

"I should get my friend Emile to play," said a team-mate on my over-35s side in Montgomery County, Maryland. "Is he any good?" I asked, used to fielding old chokers out of desperation who haven’t kicked a ball for 20 years. "Well," he said, "he played for Cameroon in the 1990 and 1994 World Cup." Oh, that Emile. Mbouh. In the team that beat reigning world champions Argentina, with Diego Maradona in the side. Oh yeah, we'll take him. Emile duly turned up, and after signing autographs and posing for pics with a couple of young fans who showed up out of nowhere at a desolate, muddy high school field on a Sunday morning, proceeded to play... not particularly well. Most of our players didn't even know who he was, and the indignity of being shoved to one side by a team-mate while shaping up to take a direct free-kick must have proven too much for him. We lost 4-3, and we never saw him again, but he did play me a through-ball that I converted, allowing me two degrees of separation from arguably the greatest player of all time. If you ever hear connoisseurs of the game musing "Hmmmm, Maradona, Mbouh, Plenderleith..." you'll know why. Ian Plenderleith
from Joseph Herzog

"Neil Warnock's Wikipedia page has a large section devoted to 'disputes'. I'm sure it's about to get bigger following Palace's goal that never was against Bristol City, but in the meantime we have Peter Swan to thank for telling it like it is."

WSC Trivia ~ No 77
A blazing hot afternoon in Shoreditch, London EC2. WSC's third-floor eyrie looks over a small square, where shabby posh kids mope about on their lunch break from pretend jobs with design agencies run by their dad's cousin. Today, though, there is a flurry of activity. The square has been cordoned off. A dozen people are being filmed bouncing around on space hoppers. A woman walks among them while two men operate handheld contraptions that blow bubbles around her. It might be a government campaign ("Let's bounce back from the recession!") but our guess is a mobile phone advert. Yes, the woman is now fiddling with a phone, standing serenely still while the hopper people go thumping past. "And… action!" says the director with his arms tightly folded. It's been three hours now and his shoulders are starting to sag.

Stickipedia A mine of information constructed from sticker cards

Paolo Rossi, LR Vicenza Panini Calciatori 1977-78
Paolo Rossi is known for his decisive contribution to Italy winning the 1982 World Cup – he got a hat-trick in the 3-2 win over Brazil in a second round group game, and was the tournament's highest scorer with six goals. But Rossi also had one of the strangest careers of any major international player. He began with Juventus but didn't play in their first team and was farmed out to Vicenza with whom he was Serie B top scorer when they were promoted in 1976-77. Juventus had the option to take him back but preferred instead to sign another second-level striker, Pietro Paolo Virdis of Cagliari, who was to flop in Turin. Rossi was then Serie A top scorer in 1977-78 as Vicenza finished second. Vicenza's president bought out Juventus's half share in Rossi in order to keep him. But the expense involved led to the club selling several of their first teamers and they were relegated in 1978-79.

Rossi then moved on to Perugia in a complicated loan deal which stemmed from the Vicenza president not wanting to sell him to one of Italy's big three. It was while playing for Perugia that Rossi was caught up in a widespread match-fixing scandal during 1979-80. Asked if he would help arrange a score draw against Avellino he reportedly said "I don't care what happens as long as I score a couple of goals"; Perugia subsequently drew 2-2. Rossi was suspended for two years and agreed to move to Juventus when his ban was lifted, which happened just before the 1982 World Cup. He had two good seasons there, which included reaching the 1983 European Cup final, but then his career nosedived. After three goals in 27 games in 1984-85, he moved to Milan where he only scored twice before a final season with Verona. Rossi retired at the age of 30 claiming to be "tired of football", although he has since worked as a TV pundit.

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