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12 February 2010 ~

"I can think of no better stage than an FA Cup fifth round tie against Premier League opposition to say my farewells." So said Notts County's departing executive chairman Peter Trembling on completing the sale of the club for £1 to former Lincoln chairman Ray Trew. "We live in the real world," says Mr Trew. "Planning for the Premier League was a bridge too far." That sounds fine but it should be noted that County's new chief executive is Jim Rodwell who was involved in the complex goings on that led to the swift decline of Boston Utd in 2006. Let's hope that he has since joined the "real world".

Badge of the week
An interesting one, this one. Dan Brown could probably make a bestselling book out of the symbolism here. Of course, Dan Brown could probably make a bestselling book out of a few badly chosen words and a packet of cress. This crest's designers have gone for enigma verging on absurdism. Central to the image is a football brandishing a flashlight in a cave of red sandstone. Little does the football know that, just out of its torch's range, lurks a trustafarian buried up to his or her head in sand, while the tide gradually, remorselessly seeps ever closer. On top of the cliffs, powerless to help in view of the treacherous speed of the tides hereabouts, a fox or wolf pads about, awaiting the outcome of the drama unfolding below. Where does one find meaning here? Are we the fox, living our everyday lives while beneath us, in our subconscious, lurk terrors that, once identified, would drive us insane? Are we the football, confident in the belief that our view of the world is all-encompassing but, in reality, allowed merely the view afforded by the width of the beam from a Millets scout torch? Or are we the trustafarian, a pain in the arse? One has to congratulate Sligo for going with the difficult art-house option when so many clubs would settle for the big "S" and a non-illuminated football. Cameron Carter

from Andrew Brown
"This slightly bizarre email I've had from Amazon surely put paid to the myth that football supporters (and Leeds fans in particular) are uneducated aesthetes."

Greetings from Amazon.co.uk,

We've noticed that customers who have purchased or rated The Damned Utd by David Peace have also purchased The Cambridge Companion to JM Synge (Cambridge Companions to Literature) by PJ Mathews.

Getting shirty
Notable kits of yesteryear

Mansfield Town home, 1994-95
After years of sporting home shirts of more or less plain amber, in the summer of 1994 Mansfield Town unveiled a kit that was utterly different from what had gone before. Because by the mid-1990s, for the Stags, amber and blue stripes were where it was at, with even a dash of white thrown in.

Those understated plain shirts had seen Mansfield through some good times, such as when legendary striker Phil Stant lashed in the decisive goal to beat Rochdale and seal promotion from the fourth level in May 1992. What was needed was a similarly iconic moment that would win over a sceptical Stags support to the charms of the stripe. They didn't have to wait long.

Come early October, chubby young midfield star Paul Holland squeezed into his new shirt and, in front of a packed Field Mill, organised a brilliant defensive display to knock Leeds Utd out of the League Cup. Only a matter of days earlier Leeds had beaten Manchester Utd, Eric Cantona and all, in the Premier League. The plain shirts soon came back but, just for a year, the stripes were all right. Mike Innes

Buy this shirt and hundreds of others at Classic Football Shirts

David Anderson of the Mirror begins his report on Man Utd's 5-0 defeat of Portsmouth with a Bondian fantasy. But he stops short of identifying the Miss Moneypenny of Old Trafford, the employee with whom Rooney/Bond has a flirty but unconsummated relationship. We're guessing that would be Mike Phelan:

"The name's Rooney, Wayne Rooney, and he has a licence to kill. Six months ago, Sir Alex Ferguson – or M as he's codenamed – called Rooney into his office to outline his mission for this season. Old Trafford's top agent had defected to Real Madrid and they needed Rooney to fill his sharp-shooting boots. Rooney's agent status would immediately be upgraded to '00' and his brief would be to become their penalty box king. The England hit man... has found the target 21 times in 24 League games to leave his opponents shaken and stirred and United's French full-back Patrice Evra claims 0010 is an assassin in front of goal."

from Tony Sherlock
"'Ere mate, you got any Paw Ardcarsool?' My questioner is a tall dark-haired man. His small blond friend chips in: 'Rainforest. Twelve-inch'. I'm working in a record shop in Wimbledon in 1985. Rainforest by Paul Hardcastle is a popular dance single but only available as a US import and we don't have it. (Hardcastle's next record, 19, will go on to be a huge chart hit.) The small blond man looks familiar though. He's Andy Sayer, Wimbledon's nippy little striker, bound for Fulham and then non-League. Ten years later I saw him playing in the Ryman League for Walton & Hersham. One of the half-time records was Rainforest by Paw Ardcarsool. It may have been his copy."

from James Crump
"Sitting through a Garth Crooks monologue on Match Of The Day 2 stirred up some uncomfortable memories and so I was moved to look him up to see if I had dreamt his parallel career as a political pundit in the 1990s. It turned out I hadn't, but someone has added some robust criticism of Garth on his Wikipedia entry."

from Keith Round
"Followers of World's Toughest Cops on ITV4 will be pleased to know that there is a now a book of the series, 'written' by Vinnie Jones. Vinnie is 'in awe' of those 'in the front line of a war against drugs, gangs, gun crime, violence and smuggling'. But while he abhors violence, let's not forget that he was 'one of the meanest, grittiest footballers ever to have played at the top level... a true hard man'. Critics of Vinnie's combative playing style should be aware that 'on the pitch he followed Orwell's assertion that "football is war minus the shooting"'. So that's OK. An opponent left crumpled on the floor by a late tackle would feel consoled by Vinnie leaning over and whispering: 'Compliments of George Orwell, mate.'"

Stickipedia A mine of information constructed from sticker cards

Harry Redknapp, West Ham United Wonderful World of Soccer Stars 1970-71
There was a time when Harry Redknapp was said to lack confidence. Great things were expected of the tall right-winger after he'd starred for East London Schoolboys, with West Ham seeing off competition from Spurs and Chelsea to sign him. Before making his League debut, he featured for the England team that won the European Youth Championship in 1963. But in contemporary accounts of his early years at Upton Park it's suggested that a lack of mental toughness might hold him back. Redknapp's forte was his crossing, which created several of the goals in West Ham's record league win, 8-0 against Sunderland in October 1968. He played 36 league games in 1968-69 but, with his form fluctuating, appeared in only half of the Hammers' matches over the following three seasons.

In 1972 he dropped down two levels to join Bournemouth, managed by a former West Ham team-mate John Bond. Several Bournemouth players followed Bond when he left for First Division Norwich just over a year later but Redknapp's hopes of a return to the top level were foiled by by a knee injury. There were a couple of brief comebacks but his playing career was effectively over at the age of 26. He made one final league appearance, after a six year gap, while a coach at Bournemouth in 1982, and became their manager soon afterwards. As we know, Harry has since done rather well, usually choosing exactly the right moment to leave a club before it is beset by a financial crisis. Dishy hair anyhow.

In last week's Stickipedia we said that Steve Bull nearly became only the second player in 70 years to be capped by England while never playing in the top division. But the player who holds this record is not, as we said, John Atyeo of Bristol City – he'd played two games as an amateur for Portsmouth in 1950-51. Instead, as several readers have pointed out, it's Bristol Rovers striker Geoff Bradford who scored in his one game for England, against Denmark in 1955.

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