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NUFC: 10 Reasons Why Alan Pardew Must Go

For many people, the penny is starting to drop. The local press are beginning to turn the screw on Newcastle manager Alan Pardew and with good reason. As someone who has been anti-Pardew for over a year now, I’ve taken lots of flak from friends and colleagues who support other clubs and just see the situation from the outside. Fans of Charlton and West Ham may sympathise, having seen Pardew’s cycle in full themselves. ‘Warned a pal’ is a relevant anagram of his name, as I was warned by an Addicks fan about what was to come. A mass brainwashing has taken place from the Mike Ashley regime, celebrating mediocrity, financial gains and a ‘jobs for the boys’ attitude over glory and ambition. And fans fell for it. Growing up, what I loved about Newcastle fans was how honourable and honest we are – it seemed like common sense unified everyone into thinking sensibly and speaking their minds when needed. It’s heartbreaking to see what has become of the majority, who see match day at St James’ Park as simply a checkpoint on their Saturday pub crawl, greeting the latest lifeless defeat with a quiet shrug of the shoulders. It’s a form of ‘Stockholm Syndrome’, where victims begin to empathise with the abuser and identify with them. They see Pardew as a victim, in the same boat as us fans – abused by Ashley. They fail to acknowledge that he is part of the problem. A huge part! But finally, after Pardew blamed the local press after the Stoke defeat, heads are coming out of the sand. Not yet the national press journalists, who still fall over themselves to brown-nose him at every opportunity, despite his controversial touchline antics. Louise Taylor from the Guardian is an exception, recently claiming: “A new word has entered the Geordie vocabulary: Pardewed. To be Pardewed involves having all the creativity crushed out of you. Increasing numbers of Newcastle United fans believe its victims include several members of the club’s first-team squad.” Incredibly, there is still a small crowd who continually defend the indefensible and, with a bit of luck, the following 10 reasons should definitively and unarguably change their minds.

Click on Page 2 below to start at #10

Premier League: Swansea City 0-1 Chelsea (April 13th 2014)

DEMBA BA completed his week of heroics by scoring the winner at the Liberty Stadium, keeping Chelsea just two points behind Liverpool in the title race.

The Senegalese striker latched onto Nemanja Matic’s wonderful long-range pass, before cutting inside Ashley Williams and drilling past Michel Vorm in the 68th minute.

With Liverpool’s thrilling 3-2 win over Man City earlier in the day, Jose Mourinho made five changes to the team that dramatically overcame Paris St-Germain on Tuesday night.

It was Ba’s first Premier League start since October, with Mohamed Salah replacing calf strain victim Eden Hazard.

But Chelsea were made to work hard for their victory, despite facing 10 men for most of the match.

In a quiet first half, two quick fire bookings saw Swansea defender Chico Flores sent off in the 16th minute – his second dismissal in a month.

Salah missed two great chances whilst, at the other end, Petr Cech pulled off a fine save from Wilfried Bony’s powerful header.

Mourinho brought on Oscar and Samuel Eto’o at half-time, as the Blues looked to take advantage of their extra man.

Immediately, their attacking domination intensified, with Ba glancing a header wide and Eto’o fluffing a golden opportunity.

Of their 26 shots in total, Ba’s goal was one of only three on target and, soon after, he held off Jordi Amat only to blaze over the bar.

Swansea remain in 15th place, just three points off the relegation zone, but couldn’t prevent Chelsea’s watertight defence keeping their 16th clean sheet of the season.

By grinding out another win, Mourinho’s men will be confident of doing the same at Anfield in two weeks time – a match that will surely decide the fate of this season’s Premier League trophy.



In 1950, an expectant world-record Maracanã crowd weren’t prepared for the national ‘tragedy’ that followed. Marc Jobling – with the help of Tim Vickery – looks back at that fateful day and what it would mean if Brazil banish their demons this summer.

“Everywhere has its irremediable national catastrophe, something like a Hiroshima. Our catastrophe, our Hiroshima, was the defeat by Uruguay in 1950.” – playwright Nelson Rodrigues

They named it ‘Maracanazo’ – the Maracanã blow. For a nation determined to announce themself as a post-war superpower, it had seismic effects. Even now, Brazil hasn’t fully recovered; haunted by the possibility that history will repeat itself this summer. “Brazilian football is all about winning – forget those ideas of it being a carnival in boots, where people are happy to concede seven goals as long as they score eight. It’s all about winning” revealed Tim Vickery, the freelance journalist who is an expert in all things South American.

This wasn’t an explosion or natural disaster. It was just one football match. But in Brazil, where football is an obsessive religion, the consequences of losing this World Cup Final were huge. Vickery labelled the aftermath: “an orgy of national self-hatred”. At this point, the now five times world champions were still awaiting their maiden victory. Until 2010, Brazil were the only World Cup winners never to have won as hosts. Their chance to rectify this mistake can’t come soon enough.

Yet it all looked so promising for the seleção. After volunteering to host the first World Cup since the Second World War, preparations began for their assumed coronation as world champions. “Europe was rising from the ashes”, said veteran sports commentator Teixeira Heizer. “The only reason why the World Cup was held in Brazil was that nobody else wanted to host it.”

However, the hype surrounding this Brazilian side wasn’t undeserved. They had talents such as Ademir, Jair and Zizinho – the idol to Pelé and many others. “The 1950 team were a magnificent side, especially the front three”, revealed Vickery. “Ademir wasn’t a particularly complex player – he was quick, two-footed, could finish and was good in the air. Zizinho and Jair were absolutely outstanding. Zizinho just blew the minds of the European journalists who came over – they’d never seen anything like it. Whilst Jair was tiny, he had a cannonball of a left foot.”

16 teams were drawn into four pools of four, with each group winner progressing. To ensure more matches for their stadia, Brazilian organisers overlooked a knockout format and insisted on a round-robin final group stage involving these four. It remains the only World Cup to adopt this strange set-up. As fate would have it, the finest two sides in the winners’ group would play in the final, decisive match.

Getting there

Brazil breezed their way through to it, starting with a 4-0 win against Mexico in the opening match (two teams that will meet at this summer’s tournament). The game against Switzerland was in São Paulo, so coach Flavio Costa replaced his midfield with three São Paulo players to please the locals. The game finished 2-2.

Yugoslavia were next but Brazil finally secured a 2-0 success. Yugoslav captain Rajko Mitić hurt his head on an exposed Maracanã girder and, by the time he was patched up, Ademir had put Brazil 1 up before Zizinho sealed the victory. Spending the two preceding months at a training camp had obviously focused the Brazilians, who destroyed Sweden 7-1 and Spain 6-1 in the final group phase.

The 1949 Copa America champions were relentless in their quest to claim the Jules Rimet trophy. Uruguay, on the other hand, were unspectacular. Although they humiliated Bolivia with an 8-0 thumping, several teams withdrew from the competition for travel reasons and Uruguay’s one group game took them through. The Celeste drew 2-2 with Spain and narrowly beat Sweden 3-2 – a vast difference from the Brazilian demolitions.

They shouldn’t have been underestimated though. Uruguay won the 1930 World Cup, yet didn’t participate in the following two. In their minds, they were reining world champions. In the era of two-points-for-a-win, Brazil went into the final match one point ahead of the Uruguayans and simply had to avoid defeat in order to be crowned champions. The Maracanã anticipated a party.

World record crowd

On 16th July 1950, the official attendance was 173,850 but in truth over 200,000 packed into the new stadium – 100 of those belonged to La Garra Charrúa. According to Vickery, the stadium looked “like a giant spaceship. Building it was a huge declaration of intent – Brazil was the country of the future and the future was arriving.”

To put things incredibly mildly, the Brazilian people were confident of victory. Their route to the final convinced them that home glory was their destiny. After all, two of the previous three tournaments resulted in the host’s coronation. There was excessive pre-match pride. Gazeta Esportiva declared, “Tomorrow we will beat Uruguay!” whilst O Mundo boasted, “These are the World Champions” next to a team photo. Uruguay’s inspirational captain Obdulio Varela was so incensed by O Mundo that he bought every copy he could find, took them to the dressing room and urinated on them in front of his team.

Brazil’s squad were given solid gold watches inscribed: “For the World Champions”. The victory parade was planned, where there would be scenes of absolute euphoria. Even FIFA’s President Jules Rimet fell for the postulation – writing a congratulatory speech in Portuguese. Rio’s Mayor chanted over the PA system: “You players who in less than a few hours will be acclaimed champions by your compatriots. You who are superior to every other competitor.” The downfall would be spectacular.

From kick off, Brazil flew out of the traps and it seemed only a matter of time before they scored – they had 17 attempts. Ademir’s header forced a li but no goal came in a goalless first half. a spectacular save from Roque Maspoli but no goal came in a goalless first half. Frustrated, those in attendance were unaware that a sly punch by Varela in the 28th minute would become a psychological turning point. Left back Bigode (named after his moustache) didn’t even retaliate; he just took it. Varela walked away victoriously clutching his shirt in a symbolic little win.

Brazil continued the blitz into the second half, with Zizinho going close. Finally, in the 47th minute, a breakthrough when Ademir’s pass found Friaça, who bobbled a shot past Maspoli to ease the growing Brazilian worries. Appealing for an offside only to buy time, Varela wisely let the crowd lose their voices and shoot their fireworks before restarting. The talented Juan Schiaffino immediately went close. The 66th minute saw Alcides Ghiggia turn Bigode inside out, before crossing the ball for Schiaffino to equalise.

Doubts began to creep in and uncertainty stained the atmosphere. Brazil were still on their way to World Cup victory but were shaken. In hindsight, perhaps the clues were there during their Copa America triumph. Needing just a draw against Paraguay in their final game, they lost 2-1. The resulting play-off saw an emphatic 7-0 win but there were concerns that they were susceptible to crippling nerves.

In the 79th minute, the killer blow. Ghiggia was sent down the right flank and ghosted past a defeated Bigode, bearing down on Moacir Barbosa’s goal. The in-form goalkeeper was in the midst of a great tournament but didn’t know what to do here – close down Ghiggia or anticipate another cross to Schiaffino. His indecisiveness proved costly. Ghiggia’s shot was low and at Barbosa’s near post, but the keeper couldn’t get down in time. 2-1 to Uruguay and the muted Maracanã’s jaws dropped collectively. Radio commentator Luiz Mendes shouted “Gol du Uruguay” many times, each with a new strain of horror and disbelief.

With 10 minutes to rescue their World Cup dream, Brazil resorted to speculative shots to try and find a way through the rear-guard. But it never came. With Friaça’s corner approaching the far post, Uruguay’s Schubert Gambetta caught the ball. He’d heard the full time whistle. The match was over and the national mourning began for the shell-shocked Brazilians. This wasn’t part of the script.

“Only 3 people have silenced the Maracana – Sinatra, Pope John-Paul II and me” – Alcides Ghiggia


Fans openly wept as Rimet was brought onto the pitch by hysterically crying policemen. There were suicides that night, with two throwing themselves from the stadium itself. The consequences were huge for Brazilian football and society in general. “Losing in the final shows how manic-depressive football can be”, added Vickery. “Had they won they would have gained immortality. 24 hours after thinking they were great, they decided they were shit, believing ‘We Brazilians are a mongrel race, are morally inferior and will never amount to anything.’”

Amongst the scapegoats was the all-white kit. A competition was held to design a new shirt that was more patriotic, won by 19-year-old Aldyr Garcia Schlee. This was the birth of the seleção’s iconic gold and green shirts. Not that they were seen for a while – the scarred national team didn’t play again until April 1952 and avoided the Maracanã until March 1954. The three black players – Bigode, Juvenal and Barbosa – were labelled cowards by the press.


“A multi-racial society was still something that was fairly new and it was the black players that got most of the blame. Rationality went out the window”, continued Vickery. Yet nobody took more of the blame than goalkeeper Barbosa. He was never forgiven for his mistake, abused every day and his life was made a misery. He once tried to visit the seleção to wish them luck but was turned away. Forgetting Pelé and Jairzinho, Barbosa’s main 1970 memory occurred in a supermarket. A woman pointed at him and shouted: “Look at him, son. He is the man that made all of Brazil cry”.

Barbosa later tormented himself by working at the Maracanã and invited his remaining friends to a special barbecue at his home. The smoke smelt different, there were strange white logs – he was burning the Maracanazo goalposts. A cathartic experience, he claimed that the steak that day was the best he’d ever eaten. Starting a goalkeeping curse – a position symbolic of protecting the nation – no other black man was entrusted with the role until Dida nearly 50 years later. He moaned: “In Brazil, the most you get for any crime is 30 years. But my imprisonment has been for 50.”

Vickery believes the “absolute fury of nationalism” was evident in the 1954 tournament. “You could see the consequences when they played the great Hungary side in the quarterfinal because they got themselves whipped up in the dressing room beforehand. The players had to kiss the flag. They were told they had to avenge the deaths of Monte Cassino, where Brazilians had fought in the Second World War. Quite what the Hungarians had to do with this, fuck only knows! They went out and kicked them from pillar to post because they weren’t going to let anyone say that they were weak and would bottle it on the big occasion.”

World titles in 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002 have helped remove the clouds that polluted the beautiful Brazilian skies but there’s still a sense of incompleteness – those weren’t on home turf. “For those that remembered it, the demons were slightly banished in 1970 when they beat Uruguay in the semi-final. The older members of that team had very vivid memories. Pelé has memories of his dad listening to it on the radio with his mates and watching them cry their eyes out at the final whistle.”


Looking forward, Vickery predicts a much calmer reaction to any failings from Neymar, Daniel Alves, Oscar and company: “For today’s players, it’s ancient history. In 1950, the players were doing far more than representing Brazilian football, they were representing Brazil’s place in the world. That’s changed now and thankfully society is much more mature. It won’t be seen as a reflection on the inherent weaknesses of the Brazilian people, it’ll be seen as the deficiencies of the football team. But I would still hate to be those players if they lose.”

The 1950 World Cup provided several myths. India’s team didn’t withdraw because they had to wear boots. English newspapers didn’t assume the shock 1-0 defeat to the USA was a mis-print, before printing a 10-1 victory. But the impact of this final on the Brazilian people is no myth. They were psychologically paralysed by defeat, it simply wasn’t meant to happen. In a country where football is such a strong bedrock of society, the Uruguayan victory shattered their self-esteem. Only being crowned champions this summer would bring it back fully. They’d call it the ‘Maracanã redenção’ – the Maracanã redemption.


This article is to be published in ‘brasileiro’, an alternative World Cup guide being produced by the MA Sports Journalism class at the University of Sunderland.

Anticipating Chicago RAW – 03/03/14

In the wrestling world, what happens off camera is often far more interesting than what we see on screen. Especially in this PG era. And this past month has been one of the times when the lines between reality and entertainment have been severely blurred, thanks to CM Punk’s sudden walkout. Casual fans have no idea what is happening – they just know what happens on TV but, to the internet fans, it has been a fascinating 5 weeks.

For a while now, there has been a large section of the crowd that chants and cheers whatever they want – whether that be booing golden boy John Cena or letting the management know they like the underutilised and held-back talents such as Dolph Ziggler and Daniel Bryan. Yet some amazing things have happened lately. Firstly, Daniel Bryan has become the most ‘over’ superstar since ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin, with kids and adult males combining in their love for the bearded one. The noise in arenas across the world is consistently deafening – a true case of catching lightning in a bottle.

Secondly, a hijacking phenomenon has happened at almost every WWE show. The combination of CM Punk walking out after finally having enough of the backstage bullshit and Daniel Bryan once again being overlooked as WWE Championship material has sent fans into a new level of rebellion. To see someone like Batista return, immediately be given a Royal Rumble victory and automatically main event at Wrestlemania over Bryan is insulting to almost every fan around the world.

To see a trading company so blatantly ignore the fans is ridiculous. This isn’t a case of mild disgruntlement – the WWE Universe are desperate for the Bryan storyline to conclude with a happy ending on the grandest stage of all. It makes complete sense and it takes a stunning level of stubbornness to throw money away like this. Fans are loudly hijacking many matches by chanting ‘BORING’, the deafening Bryan ‘YES!’ or random things to keep themselves amused. Anything but the Randy Orton-Cena-Batista stranglehold that people are clearly tired of.

Ahead of Monday 3rd March’s RAW in Chicago – a traditional hotbed which has escalated in recent years – the WWE fans are praying that somehow Bryan gets added to the Orton vs. Batista Wrestlemania main event. Twitter groups have formed over the past week with the sole aim of rebelling whatever WWE throws at them on Monday night, adding a fascinating sub-plot to the #1 talking point going into this show – will CM Punk return?

The recent hope has always been just that – hope. Yet words are coming out that hint that Punk has settled his differences with WWE and accepted Vince McMahon’s desperate pleas to return. You see, Punk has only one more dream to fulfil and that is to main event Wrestlemania. He has more than earned this but had been held back for so long. Since the incredible Summer of Punk in 2011, he finally achieved bona-fide main event status. His 434 day run as WWE Champion is the longest in modern-day wrestling and he was set for a high profile match with Triple H this time.

But it wasn’t good enough for him. His years in the business are rapidly whittling and, to not only miss out on another main event, but to see someone like Batista waltz in and snatch it from him is heartbreaking. Not only snatched from him but his good friend Daniel Bryan. So he quit. If rumours of his return are true, does this mean a compromise has been reached? Either he finds a way into the closing title match or realised that turning down big money is never a wise thing.

What we do know is that the electric Chicago crowd will be deafening at RAW. They always are but the expectation for this one is on a level not seen for quite some time – this is the most eagerly anticipated RAW in many years. The plans to hijack the show and dump a load on anything not named Punk or Bryan is impressive and will probably be carried out to an incredible degree. It seems like not only are the WWE aware of this but are revelling in it.

They are doing whatever they can to quell the crowd clamour. Rumours of a rare Undertaker appearance, along with the guest appearance of Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul and a rematch of the phenomenal Shield vs. Wyatts bout, are all tactics to distract the relentless wall of noise. They want a stacked show to prevent the hijacking but this is almost certain to fail. Maybe they’ll pipe in crowd noise; maybe they’ll troll the fans with Punk’s music only for him not to show (ala Shawn Michaels in Montreal, 2005). Who knows?

What we do know is that this episode of RAW will be a compelling battle between a furious fan base with a deafening voice and a company that holds all the cards, revelling in generating this huge emotional response. Fans worldwide will only be satisfied with a CM Punk return and the insertion of Daniel Bryan into the Wrestlemania main event. Logic urges the corporates to sometimes give the paying audience what they want but the WWE are often blind to the ridiculously obvious.

RAW from Chicago will be memorable, but for what reasons? I’m fascinated.

What Happened to Glory?

**WARNING: This is more of a rant than a well thought out post. Forgive me!**

And so, yet again, another year goes by without a cup for Newcastle United. It can’t be argued anymore that the Toon simply lost to a better team, no – this was Cardiff. Cardiff reserves. You don’t even need to look closely to see the pattern. Since Mike Ashley took control at St James’ Park in 2007, we’ve never got past the fourth round of a domestic trophy.

Mike Ashley is a man that craves mediocrity; he will always choose pennies over glory. Last season, he looked into the possibility of withdrawing from the Europa League because the financial rewards weren’t worth the effort. Ambition is a dirty word with this regime; he’s happy to simply collect the annual TV cheque and do nothing of note. In Alan Pardew, he employed a spineless coward of a manager and a man happy to be his puppet, a tool to spout his propaganda.

For what it’s worth, Pardew looked delighted with defeat and why wouldn’t he? Objective achieved, in his eyes. There are, incredibly, some idiots that still support him – the ‘Alan Pardew, Give us a Wave’ crew. That’s what they gleefully chanted as our star-studded team slid towards relegation last season. What they don’t understand is that Pardew isn’t one of us; he’s part of the regime. Always has been.

He’s a small time man full of pathetic excuses, one of the most negative managers I’ve ever had the misfortune of seeing. Pre and post-match comments are spent belittling his own team whilst his tactics consist of scraping 1-0 home wins over the Norwichs and West Broms of this league. A Championship manager at best who, to give him credit, stumbled upon a winning team this autumn. When Christmas came, the games were packed tightly and it was time to rotate, which he admitted. He proceeded to keep running the same XI into the ground whilst talents like Hatem Ben Arfa and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa observed from the bench.

Football is all about glory and chasing dreams, everyone is in it to win trophies and create everlasting memories. In theory it is. At a fans forum, club representatives specifically said that winning cups is not a priority for Newcastle. Well what is? The thrilling battle for 8th place? I’m sorry but that’s not how it should be. My parents were barely alive for our last trophy win and I fear I’ll never see one, in an era where Swansea, Wigan, Birmingham and Portsmouth win things. We’re Newcastle United. 52,000 Geordies in a beautiful cathedral of football, known worldwide. And this is what we’re reduced to.

This club is just existing – floating about, doing nothing of note. Another season over by January, another surrender. I know only a few clubs can win things but at least everyone else shows some form of intent. It’s made worse by Pardew’s post-match comments, which feel like constant trolling. “At home, you cannot back off against quality sides, you cannot be negative.” Quality side? This is Cardiff City. It was two sides desperate to lose and they still beat us; you’re the king of negativity. He went on to spout more garbage: “We don’t seem to be able to get through his tie (third round day). For the last three years I don’t know, its science against me!” Yeah, that’s exactly what it is – the science of removing the slightest hint of ambition from fans. Yet in the next breath he complained that there weren’t 50,000 people at St James’.

There’s a reason that Stevenage, Brighton (twice) and Cardiff have knocked us out of the last four FA Cups and it’s directly linked to Pardew’s motives, or lack of. It shows in his comments, in his team selections and probably in training sessions. Why bother winning cups? Why try? All these other teams try but the joke must be on them. Let’s laugh at them. Another trophy-less year of pain and off-field drama, please. The thing is, winning a cup would make Pardew a hero up here – his shortcomings forgiven. But he chooses not to, in order to collect his salary from the regime. He’s a sell out.

Anyone who still supports Pardew is beyond help, probably. Then again, I’m biased. They’ll point to the 5th placed finish and ignore the bigger picture. Most managers in the world could achieve these things with that squad and the likes of Villas-Boas and Laudrup are a breath of fresh air when it comes to Europa League attitudes. Each Thursday night, Pardew made it sound like torture. But he’s not the disease in the club, just a symptom of it. The problem will always be Mike Ashley. I’m just sick of it, to be honest. We’ll never be happy until the regime goes away for good.

Team of Funny Names – FOR (2)

And so, with a tear in my eye, we’ve reached the end of our quest to find the funniest footballing names. From Norman Conquest, Rod Fanni and Yaya Banana, all the way to Danger Fourpence, Sammy Ameobi and Britt Assombalonga, it’s been great fun compiling the list and producing the blog posts. The feedback has been mostly fantastic and that’s greatly appreciated. Thanks for that! As stated last time, the sheer volume of good forward options has enabled me to drag this series out slightly longer, so it’s time to finish on a high and blitz through the final nine strikers.

Johnny Moustache

Google this name and you’ll be surrounded by vintage furniture websites, that’s how little is known about the Ascot United player. Where are they from, you might ask? The Seychelles, where Moustache used to be national team captain. His facial hair is unknown and Johnny is normally in a hurry, but there’s no way a man with that name gets left off this comprehensive list.

David Goodwillie

A funny name in itself, Goodwillie already has a criminal record. He’s assaulted a man in a Stirling nightclub, knocked a doorman unconscious and was convicted of assault after a Glasgow takeaway incident. You want more? His name became even more striking after he was accused of rape in 2011. The victim recently waived her right to anonymity, although charges were originally dropped due to insufficient evidence. It’s hard to remember that there’s a football career in there and Goodwillie became Scottish PFA Young Player of the Year in 2011, before a failed move to Blackburn Rovers. He’s now back at Dundee United on loan.

Danny Invincible

Continuing the Scottish theme is Australia’s Danny Invincible, who was a very average player.  After scoring 32 goals in his eight years at Kilmarnock, he was a fan favourite but now plays his football in Thailand. Maybe not so invincible! However, his cult status did inspire a 2006 Mark Wahlberg film as well as a Tinie Tempah and Kelly Rowland song. Tempah, a known Killie fan, penned the song in 2010 after meeting Danny backstage at a gig.

Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink

Another Scottish link, as the 6ft 3in striker scored on his Celtic debut in 2006, before a stunning diving header against Barcelona in the Champions League. His 132 goals in Holland earned him a move to Celtic Park, as well as 17 Dutch international caps. His unusually long surname seems to be the equivalent of double-barrelling names in England, as The Guardian did some research. They found that “In the 17th Century, two farming families in the Enschede area of Holland intermarried. Both the Vennegoor and Hesselink names carried equal social weight and so they chose to use both”. In this case, ‘of’ translates as ‘or’, meaning his name indecisive name can be translated as Jan Vennegoor or Hesselink. When at Hull, they tried different lettering styles to fit it all on his shirt. After their initial giant loop reached the bottom of his shirt, they switched to a very thin font – he paid them back with only three goals. Stressed out by such incidents, Jan has now retired.

Creedence Clearwater Couto

“People often think that it’s a nickname but it’s not. It’s my real name and on my birth certificate”, Couto himself says. “The only thing I regret is that some people are more interested in me because of my name than my qualities as a footballer”. Erm, whoops. We’re interested in your qualities too! Although to be honest, they’re not much to shout about. Now aged 34, Couto has spent his career dwelling in the lower leagues of Brazil – apart from one loan spell in Belgium. This fortunate son nicknamed himself Paulista for simplicity (and probably his sanity) once he was named after the Fogerty brothers’late-60s Californian rock band. His parents were huge fans and he’s in great company – Roberto Carlos was named after a Grammy Award-winning singer and World Cup-winning captain Dunga is a translation of ‘Dopey’ from Snow White. Mary would be proud.

Honourable Mentions:

Demba Ba – Every chant in the world works for Demba Ba, try it out! It has repetition, is swift and he was great for Newcastle. All positives!

Ricky van Wolfswinkel – A slightly less glamorous name now he’s at Norwich, the Dutch striker sound like he should have rabies.

Michael Gash – The clue is in the name. Currently at Kidderminster.

Carlos Costly – The clue isn’t in the name. After a career in obscurity, the Honduran now plays in China and can probably be bought for a box of ice pops.

On that bombshell, it’s time to go. There’ll be other blogs on different subjects, so I’m not going at all actually. But no more ‘Team of Funny Names’ – these seven blog posts can be immortalised and hopefully, one day, will reach over 100 views. Hope you had almost as much fun reading as I had writing. Take care! And Merry Christmas!