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4 June 2010 ~

Two children's books "written" by Theo Walcott have just been published with another two due out in September. There will now be an extra title in which Theo will offer advice about how to deal with personal setbacks, such as not getting the bike you were hoping for or being overlooked in favour of Shaun Wright-Phillips.

Badge of the week ~ Grazer AK
Many, recalling last week's impossibly dull acronym masquerading as a crest, will curl the lip at this example also, but there is more going on here than just a few letters on a plain background. Grazer AK's badge hails back to the first, heady days of Modernism, when faithful representation was eschewed for the dramatic abstract. The old establishment was challenged by men and women who believed that drawing a nice horse or gentleman on a chair is not the only way to lay bare the artistic soul. Grazer have chosen revolutionary straight lines, lines that cut through our basic visual understanding of the world and give us instead stark counterpoint and big, bold spaces to fall into. This badge is as modern and progressive as the digital watch, as enigmatic as the facial expression of the man whose wife behind him is retrieving something from his rucksack. It is terribly difficult to guess at Grazer's nickname from this – they are clearly not, for example, the Tigers or the Robins – but it could be something like the Schematised Geometricists. I wouldn't put it past them. Cameron Carter

With his convulsive laugh, Chris Kamara reminds us of an unsettling photocopier repairman who used to visit the WSC office. Forever guffawing over nothing in particular like he was really dying to have a fight. Anyhow, if ever there was case to be made for closing down the internet, Exhibit A would be the Facebook campaign to get Kamara to change his name to a Zulu word, cabanga, meaning "imagine". The idea is that England fans will shout this out at matches to bring the team luck. Chris says: "These crazy people say it will help the boys win the World Cup. It looks like fun." Apparently "Free Cabanga" stickers are now available at Texaco garages. The oil industry is urgent need of positive publicity at the moment. But this may not offset the damage being done to the Gulf of Mexico. 

Getting shirty
Notable kits of yesteryear

West Ham United away, 1991-92
 Carlos Tevez may be the most famous Argentine to have played for West Ham, but his arrival was not the first time the Hammers and the two-time world champions had been linked on the football pitch.

Pre-Tevez there was the brief appearance of full-back Lionel Scaloni whose last kick for the Hammers gifted Steven Gerrard a late equaliser in the 2006 FA Cup final, and before Scaloni there was this kit – only used for a season but by far my favourite shirt. While claret and blue have always been West Ham's home colours, the away kit has regularly flipped between sky blue and white – apart from the odd appearance of an ecru shirt in 1996-97.

But for one season, kit suppliers Bukta had a brainwave and put the blue and white on the same shirt to produce this Argentina-inspired number. It even had a trendy collar too. Not that it did much good on the pitch though. The Hammers were back in the top flight after two seasons away and enjoyed an impressive start which included victories against Spurs and Arsenal inside a week. There were even England B call-ups for striker Mike Small and Ian Bishop. But things turned sour in the spring and despite a late-season win over Man Utd, West Ham finished rock bottom and missed out on the first-ever Premier League season. Mark Segal

Buy this shirt and hundreds of others at Classic Football Shirts

Some desperate World Cup bandwagon-hopping here by Feasters, "one of the UK's leading microwaveable snack manufacturers". Anyone sending you a picture of themselves with a digitally painted face deserves to be shunned for at least the duration of the World Cup if not the rest of their lives. 

from Jon Hayes
"The Daily Mirror's new England Legends Top Trumps game features a Bobby Charlton card in which his weight is given as 13st 4lb. This would make him four pounds heavier than Rio Ferdinand despite being five inches shorter. I'm prepared to believe that he weighs that much now, given that he's 72 and probably sits down a lot. Even allowing for the fact that less was known about dietary theory in Bobby's playing days, he must have been a couple of stones lighter than that – something to bear in mind when playing the game. Also I don't agree with the Chris Waddle card's claim that his career hit 'rock bottom' with the hit single Diamond Lights. I thought it was a toe-tapper."

Several Howl readers spotted this adjustment to the Wikipedia entry of John Barnes, whose World Cup rap has been adapted to sum up his managerial career.

from Rich Adams
"The UK Talent Team works with various sports bodies to identify sports stars of the future. They think some England players could have a future in other disciplines – indeed this may give Theo something to think about on his summer holidays:

Michael Dawson and Ledley King – Canoeing Since both are over 6ft, powerful and show good core stability they could make good canoeists. Having played well together for Tottenham they could have the type of partnership needed in a K2 boat.
Theo Walcott – Bob Skeleton Theo's blistering acceleration would certainly transfer well onto the track in athletics. If he could run 30m in under four seconds his talent could be put to good use on the ice, where a quick start is essential for bob skeleton.
Peter Crouch – Volleyball He would certainly have the size to be a successful middle blocker in volleyball as his total reach is likely to be over 2.5m. This along with a strong ability in the air could see him prevent a lot of opponents scoring points.
Wayne Rooney – Cycling Wayne's explosive power, speed and natural aggression would equip him well for a sport like track cycling. These attributes should see him produce the level of cadence and wattage required.

John Terry should have a go at figure skating. All the signs are that he is a restive soul, in search of a means of self-expression. All that scattershot energy could be effectively channelled into perfecting triple salchows and lutzes, plus I sense that he'd be a dab hand at sewing on the sequins.".

Stickipedia A mine of information constructed from sticker cards

Nick Pickering, Sunderland & Mark Barham, Norwich City Panini Football 84
England's summer tour of 1983 was a strange one, consisting of three fixtures in Australia in the space of eight days. The first match was goalless, followed by a 1-0 win for the visitors, then a 1-1 draw. If the trip was intended to boost the profile of the game in Australia, it may not have helped much. Bobby Robson's side can't be said to have benefited either – their next match was a 1-0 home defeat to Denmark in a decisive qualifier for Euro 84.

Among the squad regulars were several novices, including Steve Williams, Paul Walsh – scorer of the goal in the second game – Danny Thomas and Nigel Spink. Plus possibly the two most obscure players to be capped by England in the 1980s – Nick Pickering and Mark Barham. The 19-year-old Pickering won a solitary cap at left-back in England's second tour match and went on play for the Under-21 team that won the 1984 European championship. He had switched to midfield before a move to Coventry in 1986; a year later he was a member of their FA Cup-winning side. But injuries blighted his career too. After appearing only fitfully in three years with Derby, he joined Fourth Division Darlington in 1991, retiring a year later after a few games for Burnley. Pickering now does media work in the north-east, including occasional stand-ins for Micky Horswill on Real Radio's Three Legends show. He may even have had a story to tell about this publicity shot with Sunderland fan Steve Cram where the pair appear to have swapped clothes.

Great things were predicted for Barham, a 20-year-old right-winger, who had been a Norwich regular for three seasons and was capped twice on the trip. But he missed most of the next season with a knee problem that was to recur several times. Released by Norwich at the age of 25 in 1987 he moved to Huddersfield and later had spells with four other clubs, including three years at Brighton. He moved back to Norfolk after retiring and now owns a tool hire company called Rent A Tool.

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