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25 June 2010 ~


There are several tattoo parlours close to the WSC office. We'd thought of each getting a likeness of an England player inked onto our arms, necks or foreheads. But the queues are so long we'll have to make do with a St George cross daubed on in red marker pen. We might wait until after Sunday now anyway.

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Badge of the week
This kind of thing happened a lot in the middle ages. Castle fires would pop up at regular intervals across the landscape like fairy lights owing to the poor health and safety measures in place at the time and the poor cookability of open fires. The top five causes of castle fires in the Russian steppes in the 13th and 14th centuries were: the out-of-hours fire knight experimenting with flammable materials; late night cook-ups by unskilled kitchen staff; "all-back-to-mine" witch burnings; the Wrath of God; the fact that in the days before organised sport and karaoke, people liked watching large buildings burn down.

The Margveti Zestafoni crest image refers directly to an infamous episode when the Head of Southern Georgia (Lesser Caucasus region) returned to his castle to find it damaged by fire and two fresh goblet marks on a new banqueting table. The recriminations from this reverberated throughout Europe and resulted in the invention of the first ever safety notice, a raw prototype, which translates as "Fire! Hey, Fire!". Things have become more sophisticated since then, of course, but Margveti's badge still holds an Awful Warning for contemporary castle-dwellers and people who refuse to use coasters. Cameron Carter

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from David Giles
"Most of the England fans' dirges have been drowned out during their World Cup matches so far. So I almost wondered about my sanity when I heard an ice cream van playing the Great Escape theme yesterday. But it turns out that I wasn't mistaken and there is, of course, a Facebook page explaining all. The van manufacturers claim: 'The whole country has been gripped by World Cup euphoria. Everyone is joining in with the feel-good factor and sense of pride gripping the nation.' Well, in Uruguay, maybe."

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Getting shirty Notable kits of yesteryear

Werder Bremen home, 2003-04
The incorporation of "sexy orange" into SV Werder Bremen's traditionally green and white shirts in 2003 coincided with the most successful season in the club's history. After an unbeaten run of 23 league matches, Werder won their fourth Bundesliga title in May 2004 with a 3-1 victory at Bayern Munich. Three weeks later, Thomas Schaaf's team defeated Alemannia Aachen in the German Cup final to secure their first domestic double.

Unsurprisingly, sales of replica shirts went through the roof. But only media director Tino Polster attributed this to the hideous green and orange kit designed by Kappa to help the club "shed its image of mediocrity and inconspicuousness". It made angular midfielder Johann Micoud look like a sarcastic parrot, whereas cuboid striker Ailton resembled a pack of melon and mango Tic Tacs.

Bremen's fans have campaigned ever since for a return to the club's traditional colours. "A team as successful as Werder Bremen could have made money with purple and yellow checked shirts. Or of course with green and white," argued Matthias Bettag of the protest group "Norange!". But they've never quite managed to keep orange at bay. Although the 2009-10 home kit is purely green and white, the white away shirt has thin orange hoops – and their third shirt is as luminously orange as a satsuma. Paul Joyce

Buy this shirt and hundreds of others at Classic Football Shirts

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As has been furiously debated on the WSC messageboard this week. If the World Cup was a party...

Greece would be the sulky Emo one who fakes an overdose to get attention off girls and makes everyone have to piss in your back garden, before being dumped into a taxi.

France would be the one who rolls up already pissed out of his skull, claiming that Dave said it was alright, and then ends up having a fight with himself, tripping over the fence, and passes out in next door's front garden.

South Africa, after jumping around to the stereo and throwing balloons about, suddenly starts worrying about the state of the kitchen and is lobbing things into the dishwasher.

England are walking about in a different postcode entirely, with a rapidly depleting Big Shopper bag full of 2 litre bottles of Diamond Whites, muttering under its breath about leaving the mobile at home and staring at a map written on its palm that's been virtually obliterated by an ill-advised bag of chips along the way. 

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from Andy Robinson
"The green zig-zag pattern on Slovenia's shirts is meant to represent the mountains for which the country is renowned. The FA are forever launching competitions so they could come up with something similar for an England shirt. I'm thinking, just off the top of my head: a floor plan of a call centre, a silhouette of James Corden, or a 'No Ball Games Here' sign."

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from Glyn Bowers
"Among the various Subbuteo auctions on Ebay there are always some for broken players, such as this one. The standing goalkeeper seems to reacting in horror to the devastation around him with one player, bottom right, seemingly crushed under his own base. Most of the damage is caused by snapped legs but you'll notice that a couple of figures are headless. Does anyone keep, or indeed make, spare heads for Subbuteo players? I'm sensing a business opportunity if the economy ever recovers."

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from Ron McCullough
"With Honduras' only chance of qualifying a big win against Switzerland and a Spanish defeat by Chile, it would have been a nice Saving Private Ryan humanitarian gesture if one of the three Palacios brothers were summoned home before his side are eliminated. Then at least Mrs Palacios could have said that one of her sons survived the group stage."

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Stickipedia A mine of information constructed from sticker cards

Salvatore Schillaci, Juventus Calciatori 1989-90
Salvatore "Toto" Schillaci is one of the best-known examples of how the World Cup can make an unexceptional player into a global star. The 25-year-old striker was the top scorer at Italia 90 but didn't appear in Panini's World Cup collection because he only made his international debut a month before the finals. In the summer of 1989, Schillaci left Serie B Messina in his native Sicily for Juventus. After scoring 15 goals in 30 games, he was picked for Italy's last pre-tournament friendly – a 1-0 win in Switzerland. In the first group fixture he came on, with a newly-shaven head, as a 75th-minute substitute for Andrea Carnevale and scored the only goal of the game four minutes later. He was again a replacement for Carnevale in his next match, then started Italy's remaining five games, scoring a goal in each.

And that was that. Schillaci played nine more games for Italy over the next year, scoring only once. His club form collapsed too, with 11 goals in 60 Serie A games for Juventus. He was also mocked by opposing supporters who took inflatable Michelin Men to games after his brother was arrested for allegedly stealing car tyres. Gianluca Vialli, the player whom Schillaci had kept out of the 1990 World Cup team, was then signed by Juventus to replace him. He spent two moderate seasons with Inter before becoming one of the first foreign signings for the new J-League where he spent four years with Jubilo Iwata.

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