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18 June 2010 ~

Less than a week after the World Cup final Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney will be picking up £500,000 for taking part in a "gladiator-esque" event at the O2 Arena, a sort of Nike ad come to life. They'll get plenty of time to practise if England set off for home in ten days or so. Luckily for Steven, short and mid-range passing to team-mates inside your own half isn't one of the skills being tested.

Badge of the week
The theme here is mystery. Mystery and estrangement. Andorra is a mysterious country – I certainly don't know anything about it. One might come across this barred gateway into a secret garden while playing in the rambling, untended gardens of a maiden aunt. Perhaps you scent a mixture of dogrose and offal and, peering through the cobwebbed bars, you think you see a figure, seated in a bath chair. Is it a child? Why haven't you been told about this child. And why is it sitting so unnaturally still? There! Did it move? How pale! How pale it is! And then suddenly you are running and stumbling for the house and that distant unholy scream is your scream that has brought the servants to the windows and the front steps. It's nice to have a bit of mystery in a badge for a change, a suggestion of another world hidden from our own. Cameron Carter

from Nick Bowers
"The front-page headline in the New York Post after the England-US game has been widely mocked here. Colin Murray and chums on MOTD2 were among those in paroxysms of laughter about those silly Yanks' failure to understand football. In fact the headline is a reference to a Harvard-Yale American football match in 1968, in which Harvard came back from 16 points down to draw in the last minute. It's meant to be a joke. Admittedly they have confused 'British' with 'English' but then so did most travelling England fans until recently to judge by the number of Union Jacks at matches."

Getting shirty Notable kits of yesteryear

Doncaster Rovers home, 2000-01
When your team is about to unveil a new home kit, you can be pretty much certain of two aspects – the colour and the inclusion of your club crest. A decade ago, with their club wedged in the middle of the Conference table, Doncaster Rovers supporters couldn't presume either.

The kit worn in Rovers' second non-League season in 1999-2000 was designed by the club's in-house brand, Viking Leisurewear. The traditional red of the home strip was cast aside, replaced inexplicably with a new all-white strip which not only upset supporters, but instantly rendered most of their chants irrelevant. Stung by the criticism, Rovers had another crack for 2000-01 when they released this, teamed with far from traditional navy blue shorts.

The navy was not the most notable addition, nor the most controversial. Instead what irked supporters was the removal of the distinctive Viking club crest, replaced with two new logos. On the left breast sat what appeared to be a dart flight featuring a white rose and the letters "DRFC" while the crest on the right breast consisted of a lion's head being thrust into view that looked remarkably like the logo from the cartoon series Thundercats.

In a poor kit Rovers endured a decidedly unremarkable season, finishing ninth in the Conference. At the end of the campaign the club asked supporters to choose the next home kit. They brought back the Viking and the traditional red and white hoops, which have been worn every season since. That the club have enjoyed the most progressive period in their history during this time is, of course, merely coincidental. Glen Wilson

Buy this shirt and hundreds of others at Classic Football Shirts

from Rich Adams
"Adrian Chiles is doing a good job at ITV, bringing to their coverage a new understatement and Ordinary Joe honesty. It's pretty obvious, though, what Adrian is thinking when he gets a quiet moment, namely: 'It didn't take long for Lee Dixon to find a new friend.' Colin Murray is already joshing with Dixon about ordering an £80 bottle of wine from Heston Blumenthal together. After just three shows. It's as if the Chiles-Dixon Sunday dialogues never happened. It is probable that Chiles has taken an early look at the semi-retired Kevin Keegan and decided not to embark on anything as intense as his MOTD2 relationship with Dixon." 

from Sam Gibbard
"Not for the first time, Chris Kamara's Wikipedia page has been tampered with in an uncomplimentary way."

Adidas are promoting their new range of golf shoes by challenging celebrities to do keepy-uppies while wearing them. Sergio Garcia is the best performer so far, with Britain's most ubiquitous men, Jamie Redknapp and DJ Spoony, among those trailing in his wake. Send a video of yourself beating Sergio's total of 121 keepy-uppies to Adidas and you could win golf-related prizes (tartan trousers, a mashie niblick and a long rake).

Here's confirmation of the esteem in which the latest England captain is held from research done for "the largest independent wholesaler, distributor and retailer of tyres in the UK":

Steven Gerrard has topped a poll of players in England's 2010 FIFA World Cup squad who motorists would most like to have to change a tyre on their car. Gerrard beat team-mates Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard and Peter Crouch in the survey carried out for Protyre, the UK's leading independent tyre distribution network, by research company Fastmap.

While more than a quarter of respondents cited the reason that they thought the player would be the one most able to do it, ten per cent said that they were not a fan of the squad member's club, so they would enjoy making them work.

Stephen Warnock is the only squad member not to pick up any votes in the poll but that can only be because respondents have forgotten about him. He'd surely be the first person to help out with mechanical repairs as a break from playing table tennis and shove ha'penny with Ray Clemence.

Stickipedia A mine of information constructed from sticker cards

Trifon Ivanov & Yordan Lechkov, Bulgaria Panini World Cup 94
"Beaten by that bald-headed poof Ivanov or whatever his name is." So said Greek coach Atenas Panagoulias raging in the dressing room at his team's first round 4-0 defeat to Bulgaria in a documentary filmed at the 1994 World Cup. In his fury Panagoulias was conflating two different players. Midfielder Yordan Lechkov was the bald one, while his team-mate central defender, Trifon Ivanov, was probably the hairiest footballer at the tournament. In WSC's review of the game we said that Lechkov "looks older than João Havelange but is easily the best player on view". He was 26 then but had lost most of his hair several years earlier when radioactive fallout from the leak at Chernobyl passed over his home town. He only scored five goals in 44 international matches but two came at USA 94. The first was Bulgaria's third goal in the defeat of the Greeks, their first World Cup victory in 18 attempts. The second was the decisive goal in the 2-1 quarter-final defeat of Germany where Lechkov played his club football – he had just finished the second of four seasons with SV Hamburg.

Trifon Ivanov didn't score any goals at the finals although he often featured in attack, both at set-pieces and on rampaging runs from his own half. He wasn't one of the best defenders at USA 94 but the fearsome demeanour, compared to a werewolf in mid-transformation, made him one of the most memorable figures of the tournament. Ivanov had three years in Spain with Real Betis in the early 1990s and went on to win an Austrian league title with Rapid Vienna in 1995-96. In between times Ron Atkinson invited him for a trial with Coventry City but was apparently taken aback when Ivanov made it clear in his car journey from the airport that he expected to have his expenses paid in cash. Clearly overweight when captaining Bulgaria at their three matches in the 1998 World Cup, he wound down his career in the Austrian third division.

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