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1 October 2010 ~

We had high hopes for Ed Miliband. He had shown no previous interest in football and was the only one of the male Labour leadership candidates not to have played for the party's parliamentary XI. Since becoming leader, however, he has suddenly announced he's a Leeds fan. The place he chose to do this was Man Utd's Carrington training ground while meeting Sir Alex Ferguson. Next we can expect to hear him extolling Howard Wilkinson's motivational qualities, and wondering what happened to that French striker from the early 1990s who seemed to have a big future ahead of him.

Badge of the week ~ USM Annaba, Algeria
This badge from Algeria is a warning, a warning that there are certain elements that should never be mixed. One thinks immediately of pasta and salad cream, old friends and work friends, Dizzee Rascal and James Corden. In this case, we are shown the dangers of combining electricity with water. The subject here has, as part of their evening routine, and for reasons that are unclear, left an electric guitar in the bath. This is very dangerous as the lead has been left dangling across the floor and someone could trip over this and bang their head on the tiles. This person hasn't got the sense they were born with. USM Annaba's message here is to be careful when mixing different things because "less" is often "more". A bath full of water is "less", but a bath full of water and a plugged-in electric guitar is definitely "more". The club have also added a little side message to the effect that it doesn't hurt to accessorise your bathroom where possible with nautical artefacts. That way, visitors to your toilet can have something to look at that enables them to dream of the high seas instead of dwelling on the mundanity of the human digestive system. Cameron Carter

from Christopher Doughan
"Mark Lawrenson was co-commentator for Ireland's TV3 in their coverage of the recent Man Utd v Rangers Champions League game. During the course of the first half, following a particularly wayward shot from United's Javier Hernández, the commentator described the attempt as 'neither a cross nor a shot'. Step forward Mr Lawrenson to pipe up that, wait for it, 'it was a crot'. I kid you not. Is there no limit to this man's comic and linguistic genius?"

Getting shirty Notable kits of yesteryear

Brighton away, 1999-2000
Brighton & Hove Albion in the 1990s. Two chronic disasters: the chairmanship of asset-stripper Bill Archer and a series of nightmarish kits. The decade begins with the club in the Division Two play-off final, 90 minutes from the top flight, but its deterioration which culminated in Archer's arrival is marked first by the notorious pink away kit then a concoction that looked like a strawberry Chewit. In 1997-99 the blue-and-white stripes are marked with the sponsorship of Donatello's, a local pizza restaurant – credit to them for the backing but with the team exiled in Gillingham 70 miles away the sense of pathos, of glories lost, was palpable as the life of the club hung by a thread.

Then comes 1999. A sexy, AC Milan-style red-and-black away kit. Skint Records, the coolest sponsor in football. A 6-0 win over Mansfield in the first game back in Brighton. Micky Adams, when he was a good manager. A 19-year-old scoring sensation, Bobby Zamora, turns up on loan part way through the season and stays. Two years later the Seagulls are only the eighth team in history to win two consecutive divisional titles and are playing in the Championship. Welcome to the 21st century. Drew Whitworth

from Paul Caulfield
"There seem to be similarities between Steven Gerrard and Rolo Tomassi – 'the guy who gets away with it' in LA Confidential. Gerrard's yellow card was scant punishment for his blatant elbow on Sunderland's Danny Welbeck at Anfield. Sadly, Stuart Atwell wasn't the first referee to have let Stevie G's on-field thuggishness go half-punished. John Motson then trotted out the party line on Radio 5 about the ref's 'dilemma' over whether to send off The England Captain. A stronger referee would have had no such reservations. As Alan Shearer (in a rare moment of insight) said on MOTD: 'It was either no card or a red card'."

from Amanda Hume
"As I have my name on the WBA supporters' club website, I receive emails requesting football memorabilia. An email from Venceslav Donchev was somewhat different, however, as he gave a very specific list of items he wanted: 'A 2010-11 team poster, a crest badge, a small pennant, a matchday programme and a logo pen.' He claimed he wanted these as West Brom were his favourite team and that he and his Baggies-supporting friends had established a small fan club.

Google turned up the same request claiming that Southend, Wigan, Oldham, West Ham, Southampton and Rushden & Diamonds were also his favourite team. When I asked him who he would be cheering if Southend were playing my team, I got a very terse reply saying that the difference between us was that he loves and supports West Brom while I am paid to work for the club and how could a fan explain such a matter to 'a clerk'?

Not wishing to be damned as a paid clerk of the club, I explained that on the contrary I loved and supported WBA while he tried to con people into sending him merchandise which he probably then sold on the internet.

He replied that he had met fellow Baggies fans in Bulgaria and had had a great time with them so I could not spoil the impression that our fans are great. He also told me that there are serious people who will help him in spreading the 'WBA idea in Bulgaria'. Well, I am in turn spreading the 'Venceslav idea' in UK. You've been warned."

Paul Ibbs
"Nice to see that the briefest of League careers can still be commemorated, at least on Wikipedia."

More comments from the 2010 WSC reader survey. Asked what they like about WSC, respondents said:

"It has the measure of the corporate spectre"
"My uncle lives in America and was unfamiliar with WSC. When he picked up a copy recently he read it with interest and said, entirely approvingly, 'This magazine's for troublemakers'"
"I do like the simplicity. It's just content. It's just saying 'We have good content'"
"The articles are short and strange"
"I visit for the opinion pieces. The historical items are actually quite interesting, which sometimes surprises me"
"It draws things to my attention that other football sites/pages would deem boring, but are actually quite interesting. It teaches me big words, which is lovely"

Stickipedia A mine of information constructed from sticker cards

Massimo Taibi, Piacenza Panini Calciatori 92-93 & Manchester United Merlin's FA Premier League 2000
Arsène Wenger's failure to buy a new keeper in the summer was debated again after the blunders by Manuel Almunia in Arsenal's recent home defeat by West Brom. Title-winning teams, it is said, nearly always have outstanding goalkeepers. Alex Ferguson has always recognised this, aside from one curious lapse of judgment in 1999. With 36-year-old Peter Schmeichel leaving for Sporting Lisbon, Ferguson paid £4.5 million for Massimo Taibi from Serie A strugglers Piacenza. The 29-year-old Taibi had made 17 appearances for AC Milan two years earlier but the rest of his playing experience had been with moderate teams and he hadn't played for Italy at any level.

Taibi was to play in four successive matches, beginning with a 3-2 win at Liverpool followed by a 1-1 draw with Wimbledon. But then disaster struck in his third outing when he made several mistakes in a 3-3 home draw with Southampton, which included allowing Matt Le Tissier's soft shot to slip over the line. Taibi played in the next match, a 5-0 thrashing at Chelsea, but was then dropped in favour of the keeper he'd been bought to compete with, Mark Bosnich. He was loaned to Reggina for the second half of the season and joined them permanently in the summer of 2000, for less than half what United had paid for him. Taibi carried on playing, for Atalanta and Torino among others, until he was 38. He has yet to be invited back to do the half-time lottery draw at Old Trafford.

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