Sport In a stew: Downing is counting on a Cup win to build confidence

Being known as a "Cup team" is a mixed compliment, implying the ability to raise your game for one-off occasions, but never to sustain it. If Wigan Athletic, FA Cup winners relegated within a week, are newcomers to the genre, West Ham United have been at it rather longer.

Football Nation, By Andrew Ward & John Williams<br />Englischer Fussball, By Raphael Honigstein

Football and Englishness are intimately connected, with a corpus of books now devoted to the history of the national game and what it tells us about this relationship. England fans have been made to confront unfortunate truths: the head-in-the-sand belief that we were still best in the world, which led to decades of underachievement, 1966 notwithstanding; a mistrust of pure talent allied to misplaced faith in workhorses; the rise of the thug; the process that began with the end of the maximum wage and was jet-fuelled by the Sky-based big bang which saw footballers mutate from lads-next-door to lads-in-mansions, and the Premiership become the world's most sought-after sporting brand.

I'd be happy if Rooney beat my record, says Charlton

Hero of 1966 believes there are 'a lot of goals' to come from England striker

Charlton happy for Rooney to surpass record

Sir Bobby Charlton would have no problem if Wayne Rooney overtook his record of 49 goals for England.

'If Capello leaves me out, I'll accept it' says Beckham

Will David Beckham make it to his fourth World Cup finals? Sam Wallace hears his plans to keep busy if he&rsquo;s forced to call time on his international career (and they don&rsquo;t involve a reunion with Sven)

To play Germany is just massive, says Noble

The Under-21 captain hopes to join a select band of men to have lifted a cup wearing the colours of England, writes Steve Tongue

Mark Cueto: 'There is more to my England career than <i>that</i> try'

He has battled injury and a loss of form but is now showing why he is ready for an international recall. Simon Turnbull reports

Between Ourselves: 'Geoff Hurst's historic moment is so gripping I missed the dancing'

You see them at the side of the road, and generally you just speed past. They are the modern form of remembrance, bunches of dead flowers, taped to lamp-posts where the cars go too fast to see what is written on the fading cards in the yellowing cellophane, and too fast, it seems, to stop when an unwary pedestrian steps into the road.

West Ham retire Moore's number six shirt

West Ham United will retire the number six shirt worn by former Upton Park and England great Bobby Moore, the Premier League club said on their website (www.whu.co.uk) today.

Deborah Orr: It is undeniably cruel to force 'cold turkey' on prisoners, but this legal action is wrong

It won't puncture the arrogance and self-pity that assist addicts in justifying their behaviour

Should we allow England captains to bend the rules like Beckham?

James Lawton: No... this is final straw in faltering leadership of the publicity king

Sharp-shooter Owen takes aim at the Swiss

Michael Owen is not the player he was. Discuss. People have done just that for several years now, whenever the one-time Boy Wonder suffers a dip in form or a particularly lingering injury. They frequently conclude this assertion to be true.

Conference: Howie restores Shrewsbury's status

Aldershot 1 Shrewsbury Town 1 after extra time Shrewsbury win 3-0 on pens
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Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there