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6 November 2009 ~

So it's hello to Ron Gourlay. Chelsea's new chief executive has hit the ground running, with his arms whirling above his head. Ron announced his arrival by saying that the club hope to sell naming rights to Stamford Bridge and he spoke frankly about plans for world domination. "I like to think we can win the Champions League twice in the next five years. We've got to shoot for the stars." Ron is exactly the sort of tough-talking hombre that the west London giants need and all that hard work will seem worthwhile when Roman Abramovich's puzzled little face lights up with glee on a big trophy night. Go, Ron, go.

Badge of the week
NAC Breda are a Dutch team that have gone for an ambiguous image for their club crest, possibly in order to add an element of mystique. On one level, this is a stylised rendition of two lions, manes flowing blockily in the savannah breeze, tonguing a bit of ibex out of their back teeth. However, if you allow your eyes to lose focus slightly and your mind to slip anchor, as if you were listening to an IT chap on the phone just after he'd used the word "configuration", then you begin to see instead a town planning map showing two new shopping malls built into a residential area of terraced housing. At the bottom of the diagram is a cemented-over piece of old wasteland where the council have hastily erected a poky skateboard park in a wearily unimaginative attempt to dissuade the local youth from drinking cider in the street. I prefer the two lions interpretation because they look anxious and one doesn't normally associate lions with anxiety. Ibex - they're more the anxious type. Cameron Carter

You may have heard that some widely circulated pictures of suspects involved in the West Ham-Millwall riot included several actors from the film The Firm. Police subsequently withdrew six mugshots whose publication might have led to legal action. "The detectives weren't able to differentiate the film clip from the real thing," said a police source. One way to distinguish between a genuine hooligan and Simon from stage school playing a geezah is to apply the reliable "fatface or ratface" test. As newspaper reports will show, almost everyone arrested for fighting at football matches is either pale and chubby or lean and rodent-like. If a photo of a suspect doesn't fit into either category then it must be a freezeframe from a Nick Love flick. You'd think that hoolieporn auteurs would have caught on to this by now and employed people who look the part, but you can always tell – the ratty ones are never quite nasty enough, the chubby types just a bit too toned.

Getting shirty
Notable kits of yesteryear

Aston Villa home, 1989-90
Claret shirts with sky blue sleeves had been a near-permanent feature of Aston Villa's strip since the late 19th century. With few exceptions, the integrity of this design stayed intact before things got weird in the 1980s. Villa ditched their blue sleeves in 1983, restricting the colour to side panels and even switched to claret shorts, which they'd never worn before. Two years later, the sky blue appeared apologetically in two stripes across the shoulders, helping to bring about the club's immediate relegation to the Second Division. Then, after Denmark had played rather well at the 1986 World Cup in the most self-conscious strip the tournament had ever seen, Villa took their cue from Hummel, wearing halved-and-pinstriped shirts that cut a particularly lurid figure in claret and sky blue. It was a marketer's delight – an early-season match programme claimed the "modern design" was a big hit at the souvenir shop – and under new manager Graham Taylor, Villa got out of the division at the first attempt. Tradition having been flouted, there was no place to go but backward. Hummel returned Villa to this more conventional kit in 1989 – and the club promptly finished runners-up to Liverpool. David Wangerin

Buy this shirt and hundreds of others at Classic Football Shirts

Last week's Howl mentioned Rio Ferdinand's big night out in London in December for the launch of his charitable foundation. He's also opening a restaurant in Manchester this month. In fact, as a Manchester listings site noted, he has rather boldly recommended it as his favourite place to eat before it has even opened.

from Pete Smith
"During his time at Stoke, Johan Boskamp certainly looked like he had the appetite for the chips and sausages post-match meal that managers can expect in Sunday football. Perhaps he should have been first on the short list for the job mentioned on Wikipedia – 'struggling' Anchor now play in the Uttoxeter and District League Division Two."

from Ian Beecham
"Newcastle's custard-yellow away kit has not been a big hit with their supporters. But maybe that was the whole idea. I have heard that Mike Ashley and his cronies often referred to the fans who protested against them last season as 'the yellow-bellies'. Someone then hit on the idea of extending the joke by introducing an all-yellow kit which would be bought by some of the people who were being derided. This may simply be another in the long line of anti-Ashley stories but it has a plausible ring to it nonetheless."

This week in history ~ Division Two, November 5, 1983


Howard Wilkinson's Sheffield Wednesday kept their four-point lead with goals from defenders Mark Smith and Mel Sterland beating Barnsley. Wednesday were top for almost the entire season but points dropped in two of their last three games meant they missed out on the title to Chelsea. Strikers Imre Varadi and Gary Bannister contributed scored half of the team's 62 goals.

Chelsea's goal in their draw at Oldham was scored by midfielder John Bumstead. Kerry Dixon scored 28 of their 90 goals which made him the division's top scorer, one ahead of Kevin Keegan. Dixon was one of three ever-presents in the side alongside keeper Eddie Niedzwiecki and centre-half Colin Pates.

In his final season as a player, Keegan scored Newcastle's first goal in their 3-2 defeat of Fulham. His side clinched the third promotion spot with a 4-0 win over Derby in the 40th fixture while rivals Man City were losing their third game in succession, 2-0 at home to Chelsea.

A week earlier, Newcastle had been the first team beaten by already-relegated Cambridge for 32 games – a League record. Cambridge finished 23 points behind fourth-bottom Oldham. The team beaten at home by Derby included centre-back David Moyes, playing in his second match after signing from Celtic and winger Andy Sinton, later capped by England while with QPR. Derby won only one other away game and were also relegated.

Swansea went down for a second successive season. The 0-0 draw with Carlisle was the first match since the resignation of manager John Toshack who had taken the club from the fourth level to Division One in five seasons. Toshack returned two months later and even played three matches before leaving again in March.

Mark Hateley scored a hat-trick in Portsmouth's 4-0 defeat of Grimsby. Signed from Coventry in 1983, he spent just the one season at Fratton Park before leaving for AC Milan. Yes, that's an English player from a second-level club moving to Serie A. Things were different then.

Stickipedia A mine of information constructed from sticker cards

Chris Kamara, Bradford City and Phil Brown, Blackpool Panini Football League 1995
Chris Kamara has been part of Sky's football coverage for a decade now but is not yet a relaxed performer on television. Indeed he was once described in WSC as staring at the camera like someone seeing a ghost slowly materialising in front of them. Still he has become known for his avuncular manner and raucous laugh, the ferocity of which hints at the reputation he developed as a player. Kamara was a formidable ballwinner in a career that lasted nearly two decades, the best years being spent at Brentford and Swindon. This season at Bradford was his last as a player. The following year he was manager when they beat Blackpool in the third level (Division Two) play-off semi-final.

Blackpool's 37-year-old assistant manager and full-back Phil Brown played the final match of his career in the second leg of the tie with Bradford. Holding a 2-0 lead from the first match, Blackpool lost 3-0 at Bloomfield Road. This was the first time that a team had blown a two-goal first leg lead in a play-off and has been matched only one since, in 2006-07 when Nottingham Forest crashed 5-2 at home to Yeovil after winning 2-0 away. Sam Allardyce was sacked as Blackpool manager after that defeat by Bradford while Brown moved on to a coaching role at Bolton. Three years later they linked up again when Allardyce took the Bolton job. After Brown led Hull City up to the Premier League in 2008 some pundits suggested that his role in Bolton's rise might have been understated. There seems to be less talk of that now, although Allardyce's Blackburn aren't doing much better. Those who have wondered if Brown's tan developed after he became a high-profile boss will note that he also caught the sun in his playing days.

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