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17 September 2010 ~
Areas of the country have been brought to a standstill due to the visit of an acclaimed spiritual leader. People attempting to touch the hem of his garment were left disappointed when a media crush prevented worshippers from getting close. Amid mounting hysteria Lionel Messi was spirited away from Hackney Marshes in a limo before he could take part in an Adidas-promoting kickabout.
Badge of the week ~ Persepolis, Iran
Persepolis's club crest is a colourless line drawing with no concession to prettification through the multicoloured palette of the artist. A palpable sense of either Impending Doom or a Nameless Dread pervades this image. Impending doom is quite bad but a nameless dread is probably worse because it includes anything from the fear of passing pub-doorway smokers to the possibility that you are being visited while you sleep by past teachers. Here, two sphinx-like creatures await something that is probably going to have a negative effect on their wellbeing. Like a performance of Latin Jazz. They actually don't look very well even before the impending doom/nameless dread has materialised, with dark rings below their eyes, pale countenances and a slumped, put-upon posture. Judging by their demeanour it would appear they have either recently witnessed the "quickfire celebrity chit-chat" segment of Live from Studio Five or been informed they are the last of their kind in the universe. Or perhaps, basing your interpretation on the presence of a punch bowl on the occasional table between them, they have just finished meeting Richard Littlejohn at a cocktail party. Cameron Carter
Hundreds of years from now archaeologists examining the remains of Stephen Ireland's house will argue over what can be learned about the mysterious civilisation that lived there.
Getting shirty Notable kits of yesteryear
Celtic away, 1991-92
Celtic rarely require an away kit. Only a handful of potential opponents worldwide sport the distinctive green and white hoops, worn by the club since 1903, and nor was there ever any problem, prior to the modern era, in facing Hibernian, who wear the same colours.
The 1990s, though, demanded commercial overload in the shirt sales department and this away shirt was an ugly reflection of how badly wrong Celtic could get such a matter. The club's then board were on the verge of being ousted because of their lack of financial and commercial nous – and in issuing this dreadful number they underlined that failure.
It looks like a cheap, supposedly jazzy, "leisure top" someone with no taste at all has picked up last-minute in an airport shop en route to a hastily booked holiday; later wearing it while repairing the car only for leaking oil to have seeped over its front and across one sleeve. The downward jagged line across the shirt even seemed to be a graph-like indication of the club's decline.
Celtic at the time were managed by Liam Brady, a dignified man but with a directionless team. This top would last only one season – Liam not much longer. Graham McColl
Buy this shirt and hundreds of others at Classic Football Shirts
from Keith Livermore
"David Villa has been applauded for giving two (yes, two) signed shirts to the trapped Chilean miners. I've just been at a press do in Barcelona where he handed out up to 20 signed shirts to journalists. Take that, miners.""
from Peter Copping
"I was a spectator at the 2010 RoboCup, the annual competition for robot footballers. The technology used in the competition was recently reviewed in the journal WIREs Cognitive Science. The reviewer commented: 'Football is a useful task for scientists developing robotic artificial intelligence because it requires the robot to perceive its environment, to use its sensors to build a model of that environment and then use that data to reason and take appropriate actions.' He obviously didn't see John Terry and Matthew Upson in action against Germany at the World Cup. Also, I'm not sure that the robot featured on the website should have such a knowing smile – he looks like he's just banged in an own goal to further a Malaysian betting coup."
from Hayden Edwards
"Nice to see an acknowledgement on Wikipedia of former German international Andreas Thom's influence over international politics."
from Jon Millard
"Re: Chris Hill's observation about the Halifax Ziggy's Spice House League. A lack of goalkeepers was not the issue here. The entertainment was provided by the fact that it is, to my knowledge, the only Saturday afternoon league featured in the non-League pyramid where an utter duffer such as myself could turn up and get a game alongside talented amateur footballers, purely due to manpower issues. I remember my manager feverishly scanning the horizon, mobile clamped to his ear, for the arrival of someone, anyone, before giving me the nod to put a shirt on. At one point I think he asked a passing pensioner walking a dog to play."
Stickipedia A mine of information constructed from sticker cards
Brian Flynn & John Toshack, Wales FKS Argentina 78
Wales's tiny new caretaker manager and the man he has just replaced were both members of the team that came close to qualifying for the 1978 World Cup. On October 12, 1977, a win against Scotland in their penultimate group match would leave Wales needing only to avoid defeat by at least three goals in their last game, away to Czechoslovakia.
Their regular venue, Cardiff's Ninian Park, couldn't be used because of crowd trouble in a previous qualifier. Rather than switching the match to Wrexham, the Welsh FA rashly opted for Anfield which would guarantee much bigger gate receipts. The game was duly watched by 50,000 but the vast majority were Scots. With 12 minutes to go referee Robert Wurtz made a terrible mistake, giving a penalty to Scotland for handball against Wales defender David Jones when the ball had been handled by Scotland's Joe Jordan. Kenny Dalglish completed Scotland's win with two minutes to go. Welsh outrage over the incident has yet to subside – a suggestion in a WSC book review in 2005 that Jordan was a man of integrity led to a debate in the letters page that raged for several months ("This hand-balling scumbag made me cry when I was only nine"; "My brother refused to go to Ninian Park after Cardiff City signed Jordan's son Andy").
Anfield was John Toshack's home ground at the time of the Scotland match. He left reigning champions Liverpool to become player-manager of Swansea a few months later, taking his new club from Division Four to Division One in just four years. Although he spent the bulk of his managerial career working overseas, including two spells with Real Madrid, he often seemed ill at ease in his long stint as a national team manager. Having played at the top level for Burnley and Leeds, Brian Flynn later had a successful spell as Wrexham manager and has spent the last six years running the national Under-21 side. He's only five foot three and a half. Plucky, though.
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