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12 November 2010 ~

It's been another tough week for the combative Joey Barton but sources close to the feisty Newcastle enforcer tell us that he will fight hard to save his reputation.

Badge of the week ~ Club Deportivo Espoli, Ecuador
Now this is an interesting one – forming the iconography for a professional football team by attempting to get inside the mind of a rooster. Quite a difficult feat for an animal psychologist, let alone a graphic designer who originally set out to be a landscape artist. Here we see the farmyard cockerel thinking about a few things, probably not at the same time because that would drive it insane.

The first thing it is thinking about is how warfare has always walked hand in hand with civilisation, since the times of classical antiquity. This has led it to consider a man dancing to Northern Soul in a paramilitary jumpsuit. It is one thing to imagine what is on a cockerel's mind, quite another to explain its thought transition process. But then the bird appears to follow a more linear path, from Northern Soul to Bongo Jazz. It is probably wondering why everyone who comes across a pair of bongos believes they can play them. This dark thought has led inevitably to the next thought, that of a cudgel. If only mankind had one skull, it may be thinking. From the annihilation of all humanity to a glove puppet in one step may appear eccentric, but this is a farmyard bird we are talking about.

Finally the cockerel gets to thinking about the horse, the one who walked past him the other day out by the dairy shed and who may, or may not, have given him "a look". So, all in all, a fascinating approach by the badge's creators, but also needlessly ambitious when you consider that the club surely would have been content with a big letter "E" on a football. Cameron Carter

We've long suspected that Wayne Rooney flopped at the World Cup because the planet Saturn was draining his energy, something that could only have been countered by partnering him with a fellow Scorpio, Joe Cole. Now, finally, the astrologer Alan Ayre has produced a book explaining how the constellations can effect the game. This should be compulsory reading on FA coaching courses.

Getting shirty Notable kits of yesteryear

Barnsley away, 2001-02
"It's just like watching Brazil..." was Barnsley fans' famous ditty from our Premier League promotion-winning season of 1996-97. We knew it was likely to be just the one year at the top level and so it proved. We did go on to reach the play-off final in 2000 only to be beaten by Ipswich but then it started to go wrong.

The club could see the writing on the wall and, in desperation, the away shirt for the 2001-02 season mimicked the famous Brazil strip. Surely this would inspire us to former glories? But the season began with a 4-0 trouncing at Valley Parade and never really got any better. Our relegation to playing in the third tier for the first time since 1980-81 was confirmed on April 13 with a home defeat to Norwich.

The Brazil-style shirt was dropped for the following season and has never returned. Amazingly, things actually got worse the season after, where we had to rely on an Isaiah Rankin goal to stop us slipping even further down the football pyramid. The song has all but disappeared too, though it did make a brief revival during our 5-2 tonking of Leeds in September. Ian Marsden

Alun Evans is best known for being the first teenage player to be transferred for £100,000 (from Wolves to Liverpool in 1968). But he was also the first recipient of German TV's Goal of the Month award, in November 1971. And here it is, on the newly released Sportschau archive. Look out for Klaus Fischer's overhead kicks later on in the 1970s.

from Gary Parkinson
"Dundee might face bigger problems at the moment than a spot of jovial internet interference, but according to Wikipedia it seems big signing Leigh Griffiths has been keeping busy."

from Kevin Borras
"I was very interested to read Roy Hodgson's recent comments that we live in a 'world of euphoria or tragedy'. That must have been a hard thing for him to say."

Stickipedia A mine of information constructed from sticker cards

Swansea City 1982-83 Panini Football 83
With Cardiff and Swansea currently second and third in the Championship, there is a good chance that Wales will be represented at the top level next season for the first time in nearly 30 years. Swansea City had a meteoric rise under the management of John Toshack, with three promotions in four seasons leading to their Division One debut in 1981-82. They got off to a sensational start with Bob Latchford, newly signed from Everton, scoring a hat-trick in a 5-1 defeat of Leeds.

Swansea could have fielded an entire 11 of Welsh internationals – a mixture of local products like Robbie James and Jeremy Charles, and experienced players signed from English clubs such as winger Leighton James and Toshack's cousin, midfielder John Mahoney. Latchford and Ray Kennedy had won England caps and there were two Yugoslav international defenders, Ante Rajkovic and Dzemal Hadziabdic. A personal highlight for Toshack was his return to Liverpool, where he had won three League titles as a player. In the first game at Anfield following the death of Bill Shankly, who had signed Toshack from Cardiff in 1971, Swansea took a two-goal lead before drawing 2-2.

Toshack's side had three short spells as Division One leaders, the last time after a 1-0 win at Wolves in mid-March, but eventually dropped to sixth after losing five of their last six games. That poor run hinted at what was to come in 1982-83. Swansea spent the entire season in the bottom half and failed to win a single away game; they were relegated by a 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford in their penultimate match. Plunged into debt by the big wage bill built up during their rise, Swansea were back in Division Four by 1986 and took another 19 years to return to the second level. Toshack, who was sacked during their downward descent, went on build a successful coaching career in Spain.

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