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29 October 2010 ~

England's 2018 World Cup bid team are streets ahead of the competition in one respect – no one can match their flair for public rows. Having whined to FIFA about criticisms from their Russian rivals, they have now formally withdrawn their complaint. Meanwhile, it is unclear who is actually in charge of the bid. Claims are being made on behalf of David Dein, Geoff Thompson, acting FA chairman Roger Burden, Simon Cowell and Charlie Sheen.

Badge of the week ~ Atlético Huila, Colombia
What kind of depraved mind comes up with this colour combination? The word "wan" comes to mind, a word that incidentally, just through viewing it on the page, can make the reader actually become wan. Of all the colours and hues available in nature to the artist, the final decision here has been for lime green and butterscotch – like Brazil seen through the eyes of a depressive. There is nothing as interesting as a picture of something to ameliorate the queasy vastness of the backdrop, as if the designers want to say that it is enough to be reminded of the colour scheme of a psycho-geriatric ward, their message requires no further visual stimuli. What the designers are in fact saying is that Atlético Huila is not so much a club as a condition. You may need to take a couple of iron tablets and a vodka and Red Bull after viewing this life-sapping image just to get you back on your feet. Cameron Carter

from Mark Riddell
"I truly did think my ears were deceiving me during Match of the Day on Saturday night. A shot of the Newcastle manager at the Boleyn Ground prompted the commentator to chip in with: 'Chris Hughton, who this year celebrates the anniversary of his permanent appointment as Newcastle manager.' But no, a quick rewind and replay confirmed my aural abilities were intact. Has the lifespan of a Premier League manager really become so short that any sort of commemorative milestone, no matter how frivolous, gives an excuse for rejoicing and champagne?"

Getting shirty Notable kits of yesteryear

Coventry City home, 1992-94
Even in the chequered history of Coventry City shirts, this one is an oddity. It refuses to fit neatly into a timeline of the club's aesthetic, leaping out ostentatiously between the sensible blue-and-white stripes that preceded it and the insipid sky blue of the Ron Atkinson era that followed. And, unless there was a third kit from the 1920s fashioned from smashed panels of stained glass, it doesn't seem to evoke the club's past either.

Instead the creator's two main inspirations appear to be the Cubist geometry of the Dutch 1988 European Championship shirt and a cloud-smudged blue sky. The result is a headachy mix that is more Magic Eye than Picasso (apparently, if you defocus your eyes while looking at the shirt, a picture of a rural cottage appears).

A genuinely odd garment, it gave rise to some odd spectacles. Think of Micky Quinn – how he must have longed for the return of those slimming stripes of 1989–92 – standing in the box, hands on hips, puffing out his Bob Carolgees cheeks. This shirt exaggerated and distorted his already portly physique, making him look like a reflection in a hall of mirrors. It was a strange sight; even stranger to see him suddenly come to life when it mattered, turning and finishing with startling precision.

In the first season in which this kit was worn – the inaugural season of the Premier League – Coventry finished 15th, and Quinn was the division’s fourth most prolific marksman with 17 goals; in its second season, Coventry finished 11th. After nearly ten years of mid-to-lower Championship football, these seem like the oddest things of all. Ed Wilson

This week in history ~ Division Two, October 28, 1967


A goal from Les Allen, father of Clive, allowed QPR to overhaul Blackpool at the top of the table. In 1966-67 QPR had completed a double, winning the Division Three championship and the League Cup, in which they came back from two down to beat West Brom 3-2 in the competition's first Wembley final. They won a second successive promotion this season, finishing second ahead of Blackpool on goal average. Rodney Marsh was the top scorer with 14 although he didn't play until November due to injury.

Ipswich clinched the title on the final day, a 1-1 home draw with Blackburn leaving them a point ahead of QPR and Blackpool. The decisive goal was scored by Ray Crawford who had been in Alf Ramsey's League title-winners of 1961-62; after spells with Wolves and West Brom he had returned to Ipswich in 1966. Crawford was the club's top scorer with 17 goals and got the first in today's 3-2 win over Charlton. The only other player left from the Championship side was Scottish full-back Billy Baxter.

Derby had made a good start in Brian Clough's first season in charge but the 5-3 defeat at Bolton began a run of seven games without a win and they finished 18th. The three goalscorers against Bolton, Kevin Hector, John O'Hare and Alan Durban, played in Clough's League-winning team of 1971-72. O'Hare also won the League and European Cup with Clough at Nottingham Forest.

Former Chelsea and England striker Barry Bridges scored a hat-trick in Birmingham's 4-1 defeat of Rotherham. He was to be the division's second-top scorer with 22, two behind John Hickton of Middlesbrough who got his side's winner this week against Portsmouth.

Tommy Docherty, who had just resigned as Chelsea boss, took over at Rotherham the week after this defeat by Birmingham. He sold 14 players, keeping just goalkeeper Alan Hill and defender and captain Brian Tiler. His reshaped side, including future England centre-half Dave Watson, went down in 21st place although they were unbeaten in their final eight games. Plymouth finished bottom after winning only one of their last nine.

from Stephen McGinnity
"The Wikipedia entry for Radio 5 Live presenter Ian Payne contains some interesting information."

from Mike Donnan
"If you had to vote for the institution that embodies the worst aspects of life in Britain, the Daily Express, a hectoring, xenophobic scandal sheet owned by a pornographer, would pick up plenty of support. To the Express columnist Leo McKinstry, however, Wayne Rooney, 'a dishonourable cash-fixated slimeball', is the lowest of the low, while 'the greed and disdain for morality that personifies the Premier League is now all too common in modern Britain'. Wayne's England colleagues are also contributing to the national malaise, with Ashley Cole being no more than an 'unfaithful greed merchant who has destroyed his marriage to pop singer Cheryl with his unedifying activities'. I feel dirty even for thinking about football now."

Stickipedia A mine of information constructed from sticker cards

Tony Mowbray, Middlesbrough Panini Football 89
An article about former West Ham captain and fan favourite Billy Bonds in WSC 26 (April 1989) concluded with the author hoping that his hero would never become West Ham manager because at some point there would be cries of "Bonds out!". (Bonds spent four years as Hammers manager before being replaced by his assistant Harry Redknapp in August 1994.) Some Middlesbrough fans will be experiencing similar feelings this week following the appointment of one of the most popular Boro players of recent decades, Tony Mowbray, as the club's new boss in succession to Gordon Strachan.

Mowbray made his Boro debut in 1982-83 in a team that had just been relegated from Division One. It was the start of a desperate period that culminated in relegation to the third level four seasons later. At this time, Mowbray was among a group of players who agreed to play for nothing while the club sought to avoid liquidation, training in a nearby park when the gates of Ayresome Park were locked. Current chairman Steve Gibson completed his takeover in the summer of 1986 after which the club's fortunes turned around dramatically. Mowbray captained a team that won two successive promotions, getting back to Division One in 1988-89, and also reached its first Wembley final, the ZDS Cup (in a taste of what was to come they lost to Chelsea).

A centre-half who performed with such a reckless disregard for his own safety it often looked like he was joyriding in a stolen body, Mowbray also scored vital headed goals. Boro's manager during that period, Bruce Rioch, commented: "If I was flying to the moon, I’d take Tony Mowbray with me." Which was probably more of a compliment than it sounds.

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