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9 October 2009 ~
According to FIFA vice president Jack Warner, the England 2018 bid has not made a good impression on delegates who will make the hosting decision. "The perception out there among my colleagues is that England has not yet wowed them," he said this week. Trips to swanky stadiums and glossy brochures about football coming home to a multicultural society won't cut the mustard with languid FIFA jetsetters. These boys want entertainment and we can help. Stage one: a murder mystery weekend in which one of the 2018 ambassadors (we suggest David Beckham) pretends to be bumped off. FIFA delegates solve the case with the help of football legends kitted out as famous detectives: Sir Geoff Hurst – Sherlock Holmes, Peter Beardsley – Brother Cadfael, Kevin Keegan – Miss Marple. Stage Two: wild boar-hunting in Hyde Park with Henry VIII (Brian Blessed). Stage Three: A trip to Abbey Road where Paul McCartney will perform a song about each delegate with help from the Klaxons, Brian May, Mel B and Vera Lynn. Throw in some sticks of Blackpool rock for the journey home and 2018 is in the bag.
Badge of the week
Some badges have drama, some tell a story, some display a sense of history – Genclerbirligi's has all three. This clearly is a version of the Nativity story with a football standing in for the shepherds and wise men. The football has witnessed a star brighter than all the others in the night sky and vowed to follow wherever it might lead. In the picture, the football is bathed in the light thrown earthwards by the star and is just making up its mind to leave on its epic journey and whether it should phone in sick. With just two colours and a few straight lines, the artist here has created something wondrous to behold while linking top-tier Turkish football with the beginnings of Christianity. There may possibly be another interpretation of the image – that Genclerbirligi was the first club in Turkey to install floodlights – but a religious epiphany is a much more striking message. And a leather football's religious epiphany is criminally underused in 20th-century sporting iconography. Cameron Carter
Is Ken Bates a Guardian reader? He certainly took notice of David Conn's article about Leeds' ownership on September 30 as he took the trouble to attack it in his programme notes for the match against Charlton last week: "David the Conn prints his views in the usual disjointed piece in an irrelevant marginal tabloid. No surprise that it is rumoured to be losing £75,000 per day. Mr Conn identified himself to me at the High Court some four months ago. An insignificant little man, I dismissed him with some comment accusing him of bias whereupon he protested that he always tried to present a balanced view. My loud laughter in response nearly resulted in my being spoken to by court officials." So that's Ken Bates reading the Guardian and railing against "an insignificant little man". Strange times.
Getting shirty Notable kits of yesteryear
Boavista home, 1999-2000
In the early years Boavista had three main strips: black shirts and white shorts, black and white striped shirts and black shorts and, controversially, blue, red and white striped shirts with black shorts. A contemporary newspaper described the last strip as looking like "the doorway of an ironmongers". On a trip to France in 1933 the president of the club, Artur Oliveira Valença, saw something that caught his fancy: a team playing in black and white chequered shirts. Boavista adopted the colours and came to be known as os axedrezados (the Chequereds). Since then the chequered badge has remained virtually identical and the basic pattern of the shirt has changed only in the number of squares. But the arrival of shirt sponsors had the effect of breaking up the almost hypnotic effect the pattern could induce.
On this Diadora shirt from 1999-2000, you can already see some shading around Montepio Geral, a bank. The following season, in which Boavista won the title, the shirt was by Puma and the same sponsor was then a large white splodge on the front. A substantial part of the pattern was thus obliterated and it practically disappeared from the back to make way for a sponsor, the player's name and a squad number. In later seasons white sleeves and side panels further reduced the number of squares on view, sadly coinciding with the club's slide down to the semi-professional Segunda Divisão (third tier) where they currently struggle. Phil Town
Buy this shirt and hundreds of others at Classic Football Shirts
from Iain Aikman
"The photo that adorns Bob Wilson's Wikipedia entry shows terrific stalking from whoever took the snap while Bob paid for his petrol."
Touching the stars
Playing with or against footballers, or indeed a celebrity of any kind
In the early 1990s I was playing for a team that reached the latter stages of a London-area amateur cup competition, where we came up against a team from West Wickham in Kent. "Just look at them, they're old and podgy," said our captain pre-match, by way of encouragement, while pointing to one particularly porcine individual. He looked vaguely familiar, though, and when he put his team ahead after two minutes with a 25-yard screamer most of us recognised him as former Arsenal FA Cup-winner David Price. We eventually lost 8-3 and I can remember being through on goal in the penalty area, only to have the former pro slide in from nowhere, cleanly take the ball and send me flying. Afterwards in the bar, he looked well set for the evening with a pint and a fag. One of those educative days when you realised why you never made the grade." Ian Plenderleith
This week in history ~ Division Four, October 10, 1964
Bradford Park Avenue held a promotion place until April, then fell away to seventh after taking only two points from the last five matches. Their top scorer was 20-year-old Kevin Hector with 29 goals. The following season he scored 44 of Avenue's 102 goals – they conceded 92 in finishing 11th. Hector then moved to Derby with whom he won two League titles in the 1970s. Avenue fell away dramatically after his departure, finishing bottom for three consecutive seasons before being voted out of the League in 1969.
Brighton climbed the table in the second half of the season and clinched the title in the final match, a 3-1 defeat of Darlington watched by over 31,000. One of their scorers in the 6-0 win over Notts County was former England striker Bobby Smith, a Double-winner with Spurs four years earlier.
Millwall finished second and were unbeaten at home – part of a League record run of 59 games that continued until January 1967. Their team that beat Lincoln included goalkeeper Alex Stepney, later a League and European champion with Man Utd. The only goal was scored by Hugh Curran who was capped by Scotland after joining Wolves.
Oxford finished third in their third League season. Southern League champions in 1961-62, they had been elected to take the place of Accrington Stanley. Wing-half Ron Atkinson scored their only goal against Halifax. He didn't have a tan in those days but, according to an article in WSC 87, his legs tended to turn bright red when he ran about.
The division's top scorer was Alick Jeffrey of Doncaster with 36 goals – he got two in a 4-2 defeat by York, the fourth promoted club, which was played the previous day. In 1956 Jeffrey had been on the verge of a move to Man Utd when he broke his leg playing for England Under-23s. Told that he'd have to retire he took an insurance payout, worked as a nightclub comedian, then emigrated to Australia. In 1963 he repaid the compensation and resumed his career, which was ended by a car crash in 1966. He later ran a pub and was made club president at Doncaster.
Stickipedia A mine of information constructed from sticker cards
Mick Harford, Luton Town & Billy Whitehurst, Newcastle United Panini UK 1987
Mick Harford will soon turn up in a football quiz question as the manager who was sacked five months after leading his team to victory at Wembley. Luton won the Johnstone's Paint Trophy on April 5, a month before they dropped out of the League, but Harford was given just ten games in the Blue Square Premier. While playing as a centre-forward for Luton in the 1980s Harford won two England caps but he's best known, as those blank eyes might suggest, for having been one of the most fearsome players of his generation. A couple of stories support this. One is that he was the only player at Wimbledon during the "Crazy Gang" era who didn't have practical jokes (burned clothes, spiked drinks) played upon him by boneheaded team-mates. The second is that he is said to have been sent on as a substitute once specifically to rough up Billy Whitehurst.
For football violence fetishists (not us but we know they exist) this second point is especially impressive as Whitehurst himself is sometimes cited as the hardest/maddest/most "respected" player of that era. You can find various stories online, one being that he earned extra money in the close season by bare knuckle fighting. Whitehurst briefly played alongside Harford in a terrifying strike partnership at Newcastle, having made his name with Hull City. In WSC 36, a Hull-based Newcastle fan wrote of his dismay on hearing that Whitehurst, whom he'd seen play several times, was on his way to St James' Park. (The article begins: "One day, a Hull trawler caught a whale and sold it to the local football club...") It prompted an outraged reaction from several Hull supporters. For a while, whenever the phone rang we wondered if it would be another distraught Tiger, or much worse, Billy himself, about to drop by for a chat. Mick and Billy appear be smiling in their photos but we can't be sure.
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