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3 September 2010 ~

England go into tonight's Euro 2012 qualifier against Bulgaria on the back of some impressive performances in the World Cup. You'll recall that they made "effective use of full-backs", employed their "aerial strength effectively", and had "strong, hardworking players". So say FIFA's Technical Study Group in their official report. What they really mean is that the English are big lads who like to run around a lot.

Badge of the week ~ York Region Shooters, Canada
A young club, this one, but that does not quite excuse the irksome perkiness of their crest. The team's name is very North American, jauntily literal with the suggestion that an eight-year-old made the final decision. It is a cultural thing, of course. It sounds almost natural for a Canadian to stand up and shout "Go Shooters! Yay!" in between snacks, just as it doesn't sound natural to pipe "Go Halifax Town! Yay!", for example, in our own land. The design is very North American too. There are lots of badges in this part of the world with swooshing, bouncing, swirling footballs, a sign that our cousins over the Atlantic have mastered quite advanced design software, while also an indication that football is still quite an abstract concept and has seemingly little connection with a town's history or location. This would probably be described as "a fun badge" in York Region, whereas here we would not allow ourselves to use "fun" as an adjective of course and have to fall back on describing it as "endearingly juvenile". Cameron Carter

Even the most staunch technophobe will thrill to the news that Phil Neville has a new iPhone app, as Stuart Egan reports on his blog.

Getting shirty Notable kits of yesteryear

Huddersfield Town home, 1995-97
The 3DO Interactive Multiplayer was an overpriced, undersupported folly of a games console, so it was probably no surprise to find it on the front of a mid-1990s lower-league away shirt. Panasonic, one of the game's three manufacturers, were at the beginning of a six-year association with Huddersfield Town, having been involved in supplying televisions and other equipment to the new McAlpine Stadium. Their shirts were probably sported more proudly by fans than the previous sponsor, a Bradford-based local radio station. Huddersfield away strips generally included black, usually in combination with red, as a nod to the 1908-09 kit. The home kit has mainly been blue and white vertical stripes of varying stripe thickness and shade of blue since 1914-15.

After Neil Warnock's direct style had resulted in promotion to the second level, no one could really tell how his successor Brian Horton would pan out. But with Andy Booth continuing where he left off the previous season in bagging 21 goals, the team finished in a very respectable eighth place. The following season was dismal, however, ending in 20th place. Horton was finally dismissed after 14 games without a win in 1997-98.

Following Panasonic, who were surely hoping we would have hit the big time by the end of their deal, the sponsorships reverted to the traditional local company. The televisions they supplied are still bracketed up in the concourse areas around the stadium. Some of them even still work properly. Dan Herd

Buy this shirt and hundreds of others at Classic Football Shirts

from Denis Hurley

"Re: the Nottingham Forest 1995-97 away kit featured in last week's Howl. To add insult to garish injury, the black splash part featured, as part of the pattern, Umbro misspelled as Umrbo."

This week in history ~ Division Two, September 3, 1960


Ipswich Town forward Ted Phillips scored their goal against Bristol Rovers and went on to get 30 for the season while his strike partner Ray Crawford hit 40 in the team's total of 100. They won Division Two by a point from Sheffield Utd and were League champions the following year. It was the first time that Division One debutants had taken the title since the League's inaugural season in 1888-89. Ipswich's manager Alf Ramsey then left to take over England and they were relegated two seasons later.

Sheffield Utd led from September to early March when a 3-1 home defeat to Ipswich pushed them down to second. Striker Derek Pace, who got one of the goals in the defeat of Leyton Orient, was their top scorer with 26. His team-mate Alan Hodgkinson, one of the smallest goalkeepers capped by England at only 5ft 9ins, was a member of the 1962 World Cup squad.

Brian Clough scored Middlesbrough's first goal in their win at Rotherham and went on to get another 14 in their next ten matches. He ended up with 34 league goals but only two other teams conceded more away from home than Boro, who finished fifth. It was later said that Clough suspected team-mates of betting on themselves to lose games.

In Bill Shankly's first full season in charge, Liverpool finished third, six points behind Sheffield Utd. Their previous match, a 1-0 home defeat by Southampton, was the last played by Scottish forward Billy Liddell. He was set to sign for Liverpool during 1938-39 but his parents wanted him to stay at home to finish accountancy exams so he had to wait until 1946 to make his League debut. Liddell worked as an accountant throughout his playing career and later became a Justice of the Peace.

Lincoln City were bottom from December and went down by nine points – they haven't played at this level since. Portsmouth took the other relegation place after defeat in their penultimate match at Middlesbrough. Their fixtures with Southampton this season were the local rivals' first in the league since 1926-27.

Brighton's goalkeeper in their match with Liverpool, Dave Hollins, went on to be capped by Wales while his younger brother, John, played for England. They had been born in Bangor and Guildford respectively. No brothers have played for different UK national teams since.

from Gigi Marconi
"According to Wikipedia a Blades fan was unimpressed by triallist Shaleum Logan."

from Roger Titford
"As we're coming up to the 20th anniversary of the death of Robin Friday (the patron saint of lower-division bad boys) I re-examined some of the legends of the man. Crapping in Lawro's kitbag, as mentioned in last week's Howl, is one of those where two incidents have been conflated into one occasion. Friday's departing gesture as a pro footballer was indeed to kick Lawro in the moustache but the crap apparently went in the kitbag of a less iconic and earlier foe, Colin Foster of Mansfield."

from John Waite
"I'd like to commend Mike Walter's Daily Mirror match report on Blackpool's 4-0 win at Wigan on the opening day. It's packed with sturdy old cliches about Blackpool but the tantalising opening line might have come from an experimental novel."

Forget Avalanche, Grand National, Ice Blast, Infusion, Revolution, Steeplechase, Big Dipper, Valhalla, Wild Mouse and the Big One. Thrillseekers may lose more than the loose change in their pockets on the major rides, but the best XI in Blackpool is no longer to be found on the Pleasure Beach. If only for two hours, until Chelsea trashed the script, Ian Holloway's kings of the knotted handkerchief planted a stick of rock at the Premier League summit.

Stickipedia A mine of information constructed from sticker cards

Giuseppe Savoldi, Napoli Panini Calciatori 1975-76
The English transfer market was relatively quiet over the summer, but prices are still hugely inflated as shown by the £13 million that took Asamoah Gyan from Rennes to Sunderland on deadline day. For most of the post-war period, the big spenders in international club football were in Serie A. Italy was the home of the world record transfer fee almost continuously for 40 years from 1952 onwards – the exceptions being when it was held by Barcelona for the signings of Johan Cruyff in 1973 and Diego Maradona in 1982. Most of the record deals were transfers between Serie A clubs and involved players who were well known internationally, but there were exceptions.

The Italian League imposed a ban on foreigners in 1966 – those already in Serie A were allowed to stay but clubs couldn't sign any more. With publicity-conscious club presidents keen on spending sprees, one of the effects of the ban (lifted in 1980) was to inflate the value of domestic players. In 1975, centre-forward Giuseppe "Beppe" Savoldi became the most expensive player in the world when Napoli signed him from Bologna for £1.2m (the equivalent of over £7m today). Savoldi had only made his debut for Italy in June 1975, shortly before his move to Napoli by which time he was 28. He averaged almost a goal every two games in four seasons with Napoli but only got three more caps and never played in a major tournament. His record only lasted a year before being broken by the complex deal that took Paolo Rossi on loan to Vicenza from Juventus. Like Rossi, Savoldi was then caught up in the Serie A bribe scandal of 1980 that led to a two-year ban after which he played one more season before retiring. Still, at current prices you could get three-and-a-half Savoldis for one Milner.

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