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News & Comment

Outside the Box: Tribute to 'Judas' Barmby makes Everton fans cross

Goodison Park has a splendid new photographic timeline running round the outside of the ground, tracing the history of the club and its most famous names. The one player featured whose presence has not gone down well amid such luminaries as Dixie Dean, Alex "Golden Vision" Young and Wayne Rooney is a certain Nick Barmby. The little midfielder is remembered for uttering what the club chairman Bill Kenwright called the five worst words in the English language: "I want to join Liverpool," after which he duly defected. Worse, Barmby's picture is displayed right opposite the door of the Winslow Hotel, a rabid Everton fans' pub. It was defaced, we are told, with the word "Judas" even before it was formally nailed into position.

Tearing a strip off new kit

The constant search for new shirt designs to encourage supporters to cough up their money every season is bound to cause an upset now and again. Stoke City followers are particularly unhappy with this year's effort, which has a completely red back, as opposed to the famous red and white stripes. The Oatcake fanzine – now in its 23rd season – says it is "the single most unpopular design we've ever seen" and points out that adidas's creation "is actually a standard catalogue design that any Sunday League team could have got their hands on for as little as £15 per shirt". Hull City and Plymouth Argyle are apparently sporting identical designs (black/amber and green/white respectively). What with one thing and another, Stokies were left spluttering after the first home game against Tottenham last weekend, when the performance of referee Chris Foy, who failed to spot the ball crossing the Spurs line, was described by one dazed and confused caller to Radio Stoke's football phone-in "Praise and Grumble" as "undespicable".

It's all kicking off... a bit too early

The instruction to play international matches on Fridays and Tuesdays has some unfortunate implications for Under-21 games, as will be noted from the kick-off time of England's match with Lithuania at Colchester on Tuesday: 4pm, when most potential spectators – and TV viewers – are still at work. The Football Association say this particular time was determined by all group matches having to start simultaneously but they admit that 6pm starts are likely in future to avoid clashing with coverage of full internationals the same night.

Villa beaten 14-1 this time

As is its wont, this column will be keeping a sympathetic eye on those teams who struggle to amass as many points over the course of a season as Chelsea score goals in one afternoon. Our old friends Fort William in the Highland League had by their standards a marvellous campaign last season, winning six games to avoid finishing bottom for once. Last weekend's small print told a depressingly familiar tale, however: Fort William 0, Inverurie Loco Works 8, being a fourth defeat out of four so far. A humbling start, too, for Dawley Villa of the Shropshire County League, beaten 14-1 by merciless Ludlow Town. But great news for Durham City, who finished with no points last season after being deducted six, all the senior players having left when a sponsor pulled out. Their first game last week brought an honourable 1-1 draw with Clitheroe in the Evo-Stick Division One North. Onwards and upwards!