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22 October 2010 ~

News that Wayne Rooney has signed a new contract ruined our plans for the weekend. We had invited all the interested parties to get together and thrash it out. That was the Rooney family and in-laws, Paul Stretford and his team, Sir Alex, David Gill, Garry Cook, Sheikh Mansour, the Gallagher brothers, Eamonn Holmes, all those young men stood outside Rooney's house, Ian Holloway, Roy Hodgson, Ricky Tomlinson and all the distressed people in that Liverpool video, Gazza (if available), Andy Carroll, George Osbourne, Sepp Blatter and Ban Ki-moon. We'd hired a big meeting room and spent a fortune on the catering – all those vol-au-vents are destined for the landfill.

Badge of the week ~ Malavan, Iran
It's all very well Malavan of Anzali choosing a haughty swan in a boat as their defining iconography but, if we look more closely, we see the swan's haughtiness is misplaced. For one thing he has cut costs by buying a very small boat that can barely hold him, certainly not in comfort on a choppy crossing. It looks more like a large salad bowl than a boat, in fact, and there's no point holding a masterful controlling pose when traversing a body of water in a large salad bowl because it will just make you appear delusional. If you can imagine Alan Sugar firing a young entrepreneurial fright while dressed as a 1920s flapper you get the general idea. Also, something which the swan appears to have forgotten – swans can actually swim so he doesn't even need a boat. Consequently Malavan's iconographic talisman, rather than appearing as a strong leader and adventurer, merely comes across as an inexperienced sailor. Cameron Carter

from Duncan Barry
"During the coverage of Everton v Liverpool last Sunday, I am sure that I heard David Pleat refer to Sammy Lee as 'one of Liverpool's inbred players'. Not quite what he meant to say yet somehow appropriate."

Getting shirty Notable kits of yesteryear

USA home, 1994
Casual fans of the US national team could be forgiven for thinking the diagonal stripe running through their World Cup tops has been there ever since the days of England at Belo Horizonte. But the country played its first international in 1917 in sashless white shirts, and for the next seven decades – when it fielded a team – continued largely along those lines. Not that it mattered; hardly anyone was watching.

Then FIFA gave the US the 1994 World Cup and everything that could be rebranded, "updated" or otherwise mucked about with was consumed by the roaring fires of marketing (even the US Soccer Association started calling itself "US Soccer"). Clearly, the days of something as unprepossessing as a white shirt were numbered. Why couldn't the players look more like the national flag? And since flags are to be waved, even straight red stripes were cast aside as démodé; the shirts should wave too!

At the tournament, the US beat Romania and drew with Switzerland to reach the final 16, their best World Cup performance since 1930. Given this success, perhaps future generations will deem the wavy stripes of 1994 to be retro-chic, as they have with the 1950 tops. But by then I hope to be dead. David Wangerin

from Phil Kyte
"This highly unusual match report from South Yorkshire's Star suggests that the death of grandparent may have helped bring about a last-minute winner."

from Marcus Seldon

"I have played against an international footballer. Well actually, against three or four although I only know the name of one of them – Slavoljub Nikolic. In 1982, I was a goalkeeper for Brunel University when they were invited to participate in an international tournament in Malta over Christmas. The first match was against the University of Serbia. We were a bit suspicious when they all started doing stretching and warming-up exercises at least 30 minutes before kick-off while we were wondering how to keep the beer cool in the heat. When they were 4-0 up at half-time we knew they were good; at the end we were relieved to escape with a 8-1 defeat.

All the teams had been put up in the same hotel so we had a chance to find out a bit more about the opposition. The Serbs all studied Economics part-time (and played football the rest of it) and young Nikolic had played 90 minutes of a full international, a 4-4 draw with Wales a couple of weeks previously; the rest of his team-mates made up the bulk of the Yugoslav Under-21 side.

Thankfully, the other teams from Sicily, Libya and Malta were of a similar standard to ourselves and we ended up in second place after encouraging the Serbs to beat the Italians 9-0 in exchange for a few highly-prized English shirts. In order to give the Serbs a bit of a challenge our hosts hastily arranged a friendly for them against the Maltese first division side, Zurrieq, who had played in the previous season's UEFA Cup – they were stuffed 5-1."

from Seb White
"Many Howl readers may be familiar with the rubbish advice offered by Sky Sports News' betting 'expert' Dale Tempest. Wikipedia reveals the extent of his background.

I can't imagine 'betting tips' are the first thing on a buyer's mind when purchasing soft porn magazines."

Stickipedia A mine of information constructed from sticker cards

Denis Law, Manchester United Wonderful World of Soccer Stars 1972-73
Brian Kidd, Sammy McIlroy and Peter Schmeichel are among the former Manchester United stars who went on to have successful spells at Manchester City – but none moved directly between the two clubs. Most of the players who have left United for City in modern times were reserves seeking to rebuild their career – Terry Cooke, once voted United's Young Player of the Year, being the most recent in 1998. The one exception was Denis Law. Although Law was an idol at Old Trafford – a bigger fan favourite even than George Best or Bobby Charlton – his move in the summer of 1973 wasn't anything like as contentious as the one apparently being considered by Wayne Rooney and his advisors.

The United manager at the time, Tommy Docherty, was attempting to rebuild a team that had come close to relegation the previous season. Hampered by injury, the 33-year-old Law had made just 11 league appearances in 1972-73 scoring only once and Docherty duly allowed him to leave on a free transfer. It was Law's second spell at Maine Road – as a 19-year-old he had joined City from Huddersfield for a UK record fee of £55,000 in 1959, moving on to Torino 18 months later. United brought him back to the Football League a year after that for another record sum, £100,000. Law went on to win several trophies with United and was voted European Footballer of the Year in 1964.

Law was a relative success on his return to City while his former club spent the season struggling against relegation. The last of Law's nine goals in 24 matches for City was a late 1-0 winner at Old Trafford on April 27 1974. It's sometimes said that this goal relegated United but they would have gone down even if they had won as other results on the final day went against them. If Wayne does move across Manchester and scores in a derby, a non-celebration like that would surely be beyond him.

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