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3 December 2010 ~

Secrecy surrounds what Prince William was offering in exchange for World Cup votes yesterday. All we can say is that "dummy issue" UK stamps featuring Sepp Blatter's head in profile may soon be surfacing on Ebay. Meanwhile, the selection of Russia and Qatar as World Cup hosts has infuriated sections of the UK press. No doubt they would still be raging at corruption in football if the England bid had succeeded.

Badge of the week ~ Sheikh Russel, Bangladesh
A beautiful, lyrical badge. The story behind the image is as follows: Russel, a Bangladeshi boy of lowly stock, is given by his parents (father is a woodsman, mother a soap sculptor) a name so tedious it marginalises him in village society. One day, as he is wandering around the alluvial plan that makes up a large part of Bangladesh's surface area, he spies a beautiful dove struggling to free itself from some plastic packaging, a by-product of the Coca-Cola corporation's global imperialism. The dove is tired and is about to give up the struggle. Little Russel is powerless to help it (Russel has a condition called Learned Helplessness – he doesn't problem-solve) and weeps over the dove's snow-white drooping neck. One of the boy's tears falls on the wound, pooling with ruby-red blood, and lies there like a pearl. Slowly the dove opens an eye, life returns to its broken body and, marvellous to see, it is able to raise itself into the limitless sky.

From that day hence the little village was smiled upon by the gods, its harvests were plentiful and its river never ran dry. Also it got a leisure centre that was opened by Jimi Mistry. For his part in this, Russel was feted in the area and loved and protected by all. He was named Dove Boy. After that he went into tertiary education – some say he got a City & Guilds in Retail & Distribution – and then he got a job and the village sort of lost touch with him. Cameron Carter

from Ian Blackwell
"Sometimes you have to admire a writer's dogged determination to incorporate a news item into their match report. Well done to the Mirror's Mike Walters for commemorating the fact the Wolves club shop now sells undies (possibly 'naughty' ones)."

On the day Wolves launched their own range of lingerie, the camisole proved mightier than Sunderland's Lee Cattermole.

After a rollicking second half, decorated by defending worthy of a bedroom farce, most of the tributes were as applicable to the football as the bras, suspenders and stockings in the Molineux club shop – good fun, very uplifting, Wolves for the Cup.

One man's Ann Summers is another man's Ann Widdecombe, but both teams deserve credit for serving up spasms of sexy football with an unexpected twist.

Getting shirty Notable kits of yesteryear

Birmingham City home, 1994-95
The very notion of Birmingham City having classic kits is somewhat of a misnomer. Apart from the 1970s, when Blues were resplendent in the famous "penguin" kits and a dapper Adidas round-neck worn by Alberto Tarantini and co, we've never been one for setting trends or sartorial elegance. Few other teams would have failed to see the irony of having kits manufactured by Matchwinner as they plummeted to the depths of Division Three.

However, after a decade of crap kits, mismanagement and poor crowds, this shirt is fondly remembered as embodying a renaissance of sorts at St Andrew's. Under the maniacal Barry Fry and his insistence on expansive, attacking football, optimism returned for the first time in a generation. Aided in no small part by players such as Steve Claridge, José Dominguez, Louie Donowa, Liam Daish and Ian Bennett, Blues achieved the "double" of the Division Two title and Auto Windscreens Trophy that, being too large for our sparse trophy cabinet, was rumoured to have been used as a door stop.

Other highlights included a 7-1 defeat of Blackpool, Daish's booking for playing a toy trumpet at Chester and Kevin Francis continuing to play despite snapping his knee ligaments against Brentford in a 2-0 victory that saw us win the league. However, this shirt is truly synonymous with the enigmatic Ricky Otto, who despite not having the best of times in Small Heath, will always be remembered for scoring an impossibly good goal at Anfield in front of 8,000 travelling Bluenoses. Chris Sanderson

Single Players The Glorious History Of Football's Three Minute Recordings

Kinnel Tommy by Ed Banger (Rabid Records single, 1978)
A year before he made his name with Factory Records, future Joy Division producer Martin Hannett produced and co-wrote this single by Mancunian singer Ed Banger, who dispensed with his erstwhile backing band the Nosebleeds for a bold tilt at solo stardom. Backed by a sparse rhythm track, Mr Banger assumes the persona of a frustrated football manager who provides a running commentary on his star striker's failure to convert a series of chances: "You've beaten three men, you've beaten four... kinnel Tommy, you've missed again!" After the hapless Tommy fails with a penalty, he's substituted and sacked: "Take your laces out, get that shirt off your back, you're finished." It could almost be David Moyes chastising Jermaine Beckford were it not for the payoff line: "Why don't you play for Scotland?" If Joy Division had continued Martin Hannett would surely have coaxed them to record a doom-laden cover version, perhaps based on their local team, Macclesfield Town. Damien Blake

from Michael Davies
"This may not be Wikipedia vandalism as it has citations, but it is not flattering to Malvin Kamara."

This week in history ~ Championship, December 3, 2005


Steve Coppell's Reading lost their first match of the season, 2-1 at home to Plymouth, but were beaten only once more. Their final total of 106 points was a league record. In his first season after moving from Cork City, Kevin Doyle, who scored the third against Luton, was the team's top scorer with 18 of their 99 goals.

Sheffield Utd were 16 points behind in second place which they held for almost the entire season, having also had a spell as leaders in the autumn. Alan Quinn scored the only goal in this weekend's Sheffield derby. United used an unusually large number of players for a successful side, 32 in total, with club legend Brian Deane (now 37 and in his third spell at Bramall Lane) making his final two appearances.

Marlon King, who scored Watford's goal in their draw with Brighton, finished as the division's top scorer with 21. His side finished third and clinched the final promotion place with a 3-0 defeat of Leeds in the play-off final. Leeds manager Kevin Blackwell left shortly after the start of the following season; his replacement Dennis Wise took them down.

Preston and Crystal Palace, beaten in the play-off semi-finals, both featured strikers who were called up by England. Palace's Andy Johnson, who was their top scorer with 15, had played twice the previous season and got another six caps after joining Everton in 2006. David Nugent became the first Preston player in 49 years to win an England cap when he came on as a substitute, and scored, against Andorra in March 2007. He doesn't look like getting picked again but may be encouraged by the recent selection of Jay Bothroyd.

Crewe's home defeat by Preston was part of a miserable run of 16 games without a win that lasted until mid-February. They revived with three wins in the final six matches but still went down in 22nd place, just ahead of Millwall who were in the drop zone all season. The Brighton side who drew 1-1 at Watford included a player who went on to feature at Euro 2008 – Anglo-Turkish striker Colin Kazim-Richards. Brighton lost their next game 6-1 at one of manager Mark McGhee's former clubs, Reading, and finished bottom.

Stickipedia A mine of information constructed from sticker cards

 Tony Green, Blackpool Wonderful World of Soccer Stars 1970-71
Blackpool fans watching Charlie Adam in action may be reminded that their last side to play at the top level, in 1970-71, also featured a diminutive Scottish playmaker. In a contemporary match report, Tony Green was described as "the Bishan Bedi of football", Bedi being an Indian spin bowler known for his accuracy and graceful action. There is very little footage of Green in his heyday but these FA Cup goals against West Ham in January 1971 show what he could do.

Green got the first of his six caps for Scotland before Blackpool were relegated, then moved on to Newcastle where he was voted Player of the Year in what turned out to be his only full season for the club. In the third match of 1972-73, Green was stretchered away from Selhurst Park with a bad knee injury caused by a late tackle. After a year's convalescence and aged only 26 he was told that he wouldn't be able to play again. Newcastle, for whom he had made 33 appearances, gave him a testimonial in which Bobby Charlton wore the black and white stripes for the only time in his career.

Green later went into coaching and even played a few games for the Sunderland College of Education in the British College Cup. But his principal contribution to football subsequently has been as a member of the Pools Panel who decide on the outcome of postponed matches – he's likely to be busy over the next few weeks.

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