A small portion of despair and enlightenment delivered to your inbox every Friday
20 August 2010 ~


Chinese tycoon Kenny Huang is set to make an announcement today about his plans for Liverpool. Earlier this week it emerged that he is taking advice from that man Peter Kenyon, something the press have described as a "shock involvement". Huang appears to believe that League rules require Kenyon to play a role in any takeover at a Premier League club. We can reveal, however, that the clause supposedly known as "easy money for smiley bald man" does not in fact exist in the regulations.

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Badge of the week ~ Dempo Sports Club, India
An incredibly dull badge. The only interesting thing about it is how daring and innovative the designers have been in their dullness. It's a breathtaking, far-reaching and life-changing dullness, the visual equivalent of Alan Shearer ordering engineered hardwood flooring with a hangover. A lot of people, given the task of designing a crest, might think to themselves "I'll just put the club's initial letter on a plain background, then invoice them £2,000 plus VAT", but hardly anyone ever actually does this. The phrase "laughing all the way to the bank" comes to mind.

Dempo's nickname, The Whites, is, if anything, even more deadly dull. And yet one of their players is called Climax Lawrence. How any club with a person named Climax Lawrence on their books can feel satisfied with a badge of this poverty of imagineering is beyond all reason. How does Climax feel when he pulls on his jersey every Saturday to find the same featureless, anaemic background broken only by a letter of the alphabet? He feels like he's in the wrong place, that's how he feels. Cameron Carter

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from Patrick West
"A homage to Ossie Ardiles in the Irish Times TV listings."



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Getting shirty Notable kits of yesteryear

Manchester United away, 1995-96
Manchester United were trailing Southampton 3-0 at half-time in April 1996 when Alex Ferguson burst into the dressing room and barked: "Get that kit off, you're getting changed." The players replaced their grey shirts with the blue and white third kit for the second half. Ryan Giggs managed to pull a goal back for United but, after five (or four and a half) games in the grey shirt, they remained without a win. They never wore the strip again.

Lee Sharpe, who was on the right wing against Southampton that day, wasn't convinced that the shirt was to blame. "I'm not sure if any of the players mentioned the kit. Personally I felt that we were playing really poorly, and that we couldn't really blame anything or anyone but ourselves."

Ferguson, however, had other ideas. In a post-match interview the myth of the "invisible" shirt was born. "The players couldn't pick each other out," he said. "They said it was difficult to see their team-mates at distance when they lifted their heads." A kit expert at Umbro later gave credence to Ferguson's story: "That particular grey was made from a combination of colours – it was more like layers of grey, much like white noise on a television. It had a similar visual to the crowd in the stands. It was almost camouflage."

At the time, the decision to ditch the grey strip was seen as another chance for United to rip off their fans. Various angry parents – the type who are stupid enough to buy the things in the first place – lined up to complain about the injustice of it all. In the end Umbro offered a refund for any short-changed customers. As Sharpe noted later: "The shirt is probably a collector's item now, for all the wrong reasons." Wearing a hastily produced white away strip, United went on to win every game that season, picking up their second League and Cup Double in the process. Paul Campbell

Buy this shirt and hundreds of others at Classic Football Shirts

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from Greg Lappage
"After watching Joe Hart's performance for Man City in their draw at Spurs, I spotted Shay Given peeking from the middle of this billboard, which seemed rather apt."

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from Chris Pearson
"This is how the Daily Telegraph's Jason Mellor began his report on Sunderland v Birmingham, a game notable for the contentious dismissal of Lee Cattermole:

Anthony Taylor possesses the splendid middle name Northampton. Perhaps it's a Beckham-like nod to the referee's conception, like the former England captain's son Brooklyn. Given the town's shoemaking history, Steve Bruce might suggest it's because the official was a load of cobblers.

I know someone whose middle name is Northampton precisely because he was born there, unexpectedly, when his mother went into labour on a coach passing through the town. And, incredibly, he is now training to be a referee. If he ever goes on a FA training course taken by Anthony Taylor they'll have something else to talk about besides ungentlemanly conduct, intentional handball and all that stuff."

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from Mike Davis
"As a Charlton fan, Clive Mendonca is obviously right up there in terms of my favourite players. However, until I visited his Wikipedia page, I wasn't aware that he was rated so highly by, er, Gary Barlow and a certain 'little magician' (copyright Clive Tyldesley)."



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Stickipedia A mine of information constructed from sticker cards

Kevin MacDonald, Leicester City Panini Football 85
Kevin MacDonald's appointment as Aston Villa's caretaker manager propelled him into the headlines for the first time since he was part of a Double-winning squad. After joining Leicester from his home-town club Inverness Caledonian in 1980, MacDonald established himself as a solid ankle-tapper in midfield. Reigning champions Liverpool bought him midway through the 1984-85 season and he featured in the team that won the Double the following year. Deputising for the injured Steve McMahon, the 25-year-old MacDonald played in the side that beat Everton 3-1 in the FA Cup final and made a total of 17 league appearances while being tipped for a call-up to the Scotland squad.

But his career then came to a standstill. He stayed at Anfield for another three years but played only ten more games, with brief loan spells back at Leicester and with Rangers. After 18 months with Coventry he wound down his career in Division Three with Walsall. When Brian Little left Leicester for Villa in November 1994, MacDonald filled in for four games prior to the arrival of Mark McGhee. He turned up at Villa a couple of years later and has been at the club ever since in various coaching roles, most recently as reserve team manager. He also had a spell as Steve Staunton's assistant during his former Villa colleague's ill-fated stint as Ireland manager, but seems to have recovered very well. The moustache disappeared a while ago.

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from Tim Grey
"Seeing Phil Parkes in last week's Howl reminded me that I had encountered his uncomfortable-looking visage in print before. When I was a lad he appeared in Eagle comic's football-themed photo-serial Thunderbolt and Smokey, offering goalkeeping tips to one of the main protagonists when they had to stand in for their regular keeper. I seem to remember Phil posing awkwardly with the kids, a speech bubble positioned nearby with text like: 'Remember to close the gap, that way you've limited their options...'

I also have rather vague yet disturbing memories of him appearing in a later issue of the same comic giving a competition prize winner a lemonade bath (or a Bubble Bath – he was with West Ham at the time). The image of a near-naked boy being doused in soft drink by a grown man haunts me to this day – I hope someone can corroborate this lest it transpires to have been a creation of my own imagination."

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