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January « 2008 «

January 15, 2008

Crystal Palace FC.

Filed under: Engl. Promotion Candidates — admin @ 8:04 pm


Ex-Sheffield United boss Neil Warnock took over as manager of Crystal Palace in mid October.  Since November 3rd, the club has gone on a 14-game unbeaten run (8 wins and 6 draws).  Last weekend they vaulted into the playoff places, at fifth, in the League Championship (the 2nd Level).  Warnock is legendary for his mercurial temperment and sideline histrionics, but his ability to inspire squads to punch above their weight has been proven once again.   After beating early season promotion-favorites Wolverhampton away 0-3, Warnock said, “the pressure is off, because everyone thought we were going to get relegated.  We’re nowhere near the finished article, but we’re a hard team to play against, and can become a lot better.” 

Warnock believes Palace’s unbeaten run can be attributed in part to the lack of”big-time Charlies” on the squad.  Clinton Morrison has scored 10 goals in his last 12 league games (12 goals overall), and journeyman striker James Scowcroft has netted 7 times, including a stunning 30-yard volley last Saturday, at Molineux.  The battle for promotion has suddenly become more crowded.

Crystal Palace are the only club based in the southern part of South London which is in the Football League (the League is the top 4 Levels).    **{See this, about South London.}.    AFC Wimbledon, who are based nearby, are in the 7th Level.    Palace, also known as the Eagles, have been in the first division a mere 13 seasons, and their last two spells in the top flight (in 1997-’98, and 2004-’05) both lasted a single season.  Their first time in the top level was in 1969-’70.  Their best league finish was in 3rd place, in 1991.  They were also FA Cup Runners Up that year.  Their peak attendance was in 1972-’73, with an average gate of 30, 167. 

Thanks to Historical Football Kits website (historicalkits[dot]co[dot]uk):  the 5 older kits on the bottom right-hand side of the chart are copyright Historical Football kits, and reproduced by permission.   Thanks to Colours Of Football (colours-of-football[dot]com);  (mikefloate[dot]clara[dot]co[dot]uk);  (123football[dot]com).  Thanks to The Guardian UK; and to the Crystal Palace-mad website (

January 14, 2008

NFL Thumbnail Histories: the Cleveland Rams/ Los Angeles Rams/ St. Louis Rams.


The St. Louis Rams have a convoluted history. The NFL Rams’ franchise played 8 seasons in Cleveland, OH; 49 seasons in Los Angeles/Orange County, CA, and are currently [2011] playing their 17th season in St. Louis, MO. [Update, January 2016: after 21 seasons in St. Louis, the Rams franchise has moved back to Los Angeles, effective for the 2016 season, where they will play in the Los Ageles Coliseum (once again), for a projected 2 seasons, until the new stadium in Inglewood is built for the 2019 season - see this, NFL Returns to Los Angeles With Rams & Sleek Stadium (by Keith Flamer at]

The Rams’ NFL franchise traces its roots to the Cleveland Rams of the short-lived AFL (II) of 1936-37. This 6-then-8-team league lasted just 2 years. Attorney Homer Marshman founded the Cleveland Rams in 1936. His general manager Damon “Buzz” Wetzel suggested their nickname, after the Fordham (NY) Rams college football team (his favorite team). Like the Fordham Rams, the Cleveland Rams originally wore red and black (in the AFL in 1936, and in their first season in the NFL in 1937). After the Rams’ 1936 season in the AFL (II), where they finished in second place to the Boston Shamrocks, Marshman learned of the NFL’s intention of expanding for the 1937 season, and his bid was selected over bids from groups in Los Angeles and Houston (the NFL wished to keep its teams, at that point in time, in a concentrated area of the Northeast and the Upper Midwest). So the Cleveland Rams bolted from the AFL (II), after the 1936 season, and the Rams joined the NFL as an expansion team, while that AFL lasted one more season (1937), and folded. No front office or coaching staff, and just four 1936 Rams’ players made the jump over from the AFL of 1936 to the Cleveland Rams of the 1937 NFL. {See this photo of Mike Sebastian, William “Bud” Cooper, Harry “The Horse” Mattos, and Stan Pincura (the four members of the original AFL-mark-2 Cleveland Rams team [1936], who joined the new NFL Cleveland Rams team in 1937).} The NFL considers the AFL (II) (1936) version of the Cleveland Rams to be a separate entity.

The Cleveland Rams joined the NFL’s Western Division in 1937, making the league a balanced 10-team league again, and filling the gap left by the Cincinnati (football) Reds, who were an expansion team in 1933 (along with Pittsburgh and Philadelphia), but folded midway through the following season (1934). The Cleveland Rams played their first 2 NFL seasons in the cavernous Cleveland Municipal Stadium, but were barely able fill even a fraction of it. The club had a very poor first season, going 1-10. The next season they changed their uniforms to navy blue and yellow-orange; they finished 4-7. In 1939, the Cleveland Rams began playing in dark royal blue and yellow-orange, which would become the colors of the Rams’ franchise from 1939 to 1948, from 1950 to 1963, and from 1973 to 1999 (51 seasons). [The St. Louis Rams have been wearing navy blue and metallic gold since 2000.] The Cleveland Rams organization had a shaky start in the NFL, even playing in a high school football stadium for a while (in 1938, at Shaw Stadium in East Cleveland). They played at Municipal Stadium in 1936 and ’37, from 1939 to ’41, and in December 1945 in the NFL Championship Game. For some games in 1937, and for the 1942, 1944 and ’45 seasons, the Rams played mostly at League Park (which was home of the MLB team the Cleveland Indians from 1901 to 1946). The Cleveland Rams were forced to remain dormant for the 1943 season due to lack of players, because of World War II. The team never had a winning season until UCLA phenom Bob Waterfield was drafted by the team in early 1945. For the 1945 season, Warfield immediately started as quarterback. He also handled kicking and punting duties, as well as playing defensive back (with 20 interceptions in 4 years). Waterfield led the team to a 9-1 record, and they faced the Washington Redskins in the 1945 NFL Championship Game. The Rams beat the Redskins 15-14, on a frozen field, at the Cleveland Municipal Stadium, with Waterfield throwing touchdown passes of 37 and 44 yards. But the margin of victory was the 2 point safety that was awarded to the Rams, after a Redskin pass attempt in their end-zone struck the field goal crossbar, and fell to the ground. {1945 NFL Championship Game.} Bob Waterfield was voted the league’s Most Valuable Player for 1945. That was the first time in the NFL that a rookie won the honor.

The 1945 title game was the last game the Rams played in Cleveland. Their owner at the time, Daniel Reeves, claimed the team had lost $40,000 that year, despite winning the title. He was also threatened by the presence of a Cleveland team in the nascent All-America Football Conference (1946-1949). This league was formed in late 1944, but put off playing the 1945 season because of World War II. By late 1945, it was becoming apparent to the Rams management that this new AAFC team, to be called the Cleveland Browns, would put a dent in the already thin Rams’ fan support. Reeves began talking to the city of Los Angeles about playing at the 90,000 seat Memorial Coliseum. In January 1946, the Cleveland Rams moved west to California. When the Los Angeles Rams began play in the fall of 1946, they became the first major-league team in America to set up shop west of St. Louis, Missouri. Which is ironic, because 48 years later, the franchise would move to St.Louis.

The Los Angeles Rams ended up as trailblazers on another front, as well. Because the Memorial Coliseum commissioners stipulated that as part of the lease agreement, the Los Angeles Rams must be integrated. So the Rams signed two black UCLA players, Kenny Washington {see this}, and Woody Strode {see this}. The Los Angeles Rams played at the 90-to-100,000-capacity Memorial Coliseum from 1946 to 1979 ( 34 years).

And the Los Angeles Rams were trailblazers on yet another front…In 1948, Rams halfback and off-season commercial artist Fred Gehrke painted the team’s helmets with a set of ram’s horns. This became the first example of an insignia on the helmet of a pro football team. You can see an illustration of Gehrke’s 1948 LA Rams helmet, as well as all the helmet designs of the NFL Rams below. Here is an excerpt from the ‘Fred Gehrke‘ page at…
{excerpt}…’In the mid-1940s Gehrke toyed with the notion of painting a football helmet. Rams coach, Bob Snyder suggested that Fred paint a helmet with the ram horns on it that he could present to the team’s owner Dan Reeves. Fred painted two ram horns on an old college helmet and presented the design to Reeves, who was intrigued by the design. Reeves then contacted the NFL for a ruling on legality of having a football helmet painted. It was reported that the answer Reeves received from NFL was “You’re the owner; do what you want!” Reeves then tasked Gehrke to paint 75 helmets at $1.00 per helmet. The project took Gehrke the entire summer of 1948. The newly painted helmets debuted during a pre-season match-up between the Rams and Redskins at the Los Angeles Coliseum before a crowd of [77,000]. Upon seeing the new helmets the crowd began cheering which was followed by a five-minute standing ovation. To this day, Gehrke’s rams horn logo is still worn by the team.’…{end of except}.

Here is a good article on Gehrke and his designing of the Rams helmet logo, from Sports Illustrated, from Sept. 5 1994, by Mark Mandemach, ‘Rembrandt Of The Rams
Fred Gehrke got out his brushes and changed helmets forever
‘ (

Photo and Image credits above -

Below, courtesy of, here is a helmet history of the Cleveland/Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams that I put together…
Above: Helmet illustrations from:

The Los Angeles Rams were about to enter their glory days. They ended up playing in four NFL Championship Games between 1949 and 1955. And though they only won one NFL title in this period, in 1951, the greatness of this team cannot be diminished. Wide receivers Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch and Tom Fears were the Rams two big offensive weapons. Bob Waterfield, and from 1950 on, Norm Van Brocklin, both helmed the squad at quarterback. For a while the two worked in tandem, which is unheard of in pro football. To say the team emphasized the passing game would be an understatement. In 1950, the NFL began allowing unlimited substitutions, and the Rams exploited the rule change. The 1950 Rams ended up averaging an all-time NFL record 38.8 points per game that season {see this post on the 5 highest scoring teams in NFL history}. Their wide-open offense proved so popular that the Rams became the first pro football team to have all its games televised. Despite their local television deal, the LA Rams of the mid-to late 1950s still drew extremely well. In 1958, for example, when the Rams went 8-4, they averaged 83,680 per game (6 games), including 100,470 for the Chicago Bears and 100,202 for the Baltimore Colts.

Below, the Rams’ first star, QB/K/P/DB Bob Waterfield – Photo on left: seen with his high school sweetheart and wife of 20 years, the film star Jane Russell. Photo in middle: Waterfield seen charging down the sideline for a 13-yard touchdown run versus the [now-defunct] Baltimore Colts of 1951, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Sunday, October 22, 1950 – final score Los Angeles Rams 70, Baltimore Colts 27 {boxscore from, here}. At right is an [unattributed] illustration of Bob Waterfield in his 1948 LA Rams uniform (but with a 1950 Rams’ jersey {thanks for catching that, Tony A! [see comment #8, below in the Comments section]})….
Image credits – ’100 Greatest Quarterbacks in NFL History Part II: 50-21‘ (

There were two other successful periods for the Rams in Los Angeles. In the mid-to-late 1960s, the Rams featured the Fearsome Foursome, the great defensive line of Rosey Grier, Merlin Olsen, Deacon Jones, and Lamar Lundy. The 1967 Rams, who were led by head coach George Allen, went 11-2-1, and became the first NFL team to draw over a million spectators in a season (14 games [ie, home and away gate figures combined]). In 1969, Allen hired a 33-year old Dick Vermeil to be the NFL’s first-ever special teams’ coach; the Rams went 11-3 that year. But these Rams were never able to win in the playoffs. And the next good Rams teams, of the mid-to-late 1970s (who were coached by Chuck Knox) had the same problem, losing in the NFC Championship Game 4 times in 5 seasons (1974-76; 1978). The Los Angeles Rams did make it to the Super Bowl – once – in the 1979 season, but lost to Pittsburgh 31-19 in Super Bowl XIV.

In 1980 the Rams moved south-east of the Upton Park neighborhood of south Los Angeles (where the Coliseum is located), to Anaheim, Orange County, CA and Anahiem Stadium (home of the MLB team the California Angels). The Rams needed a smaller stadium, because the dreaded blackout rule was killing them – they couldn’t come close to selling out the then-93,000-capacity Coliseum, so their product was being diminished in their home town because games were being blacked out. The solution was a smaller venue. The Rams played at the 69,000-capacity Anaheim Stadium for 15 seasons (1980-94), but that situation never really worked out for the Rams (or, actually, for the Angels as well, because the renovations made at the stadium to accommodate the Rams ruined the atmosphere for baseball games there, and after the Rams left, the Angels pretty much gutted the stadium and returned it to the respectable, mid-40,000-capacity ballpark it originally was). By the early 1990s, the Rams were foundering, both on-field and with respect to waning fan interest and another inadaquete stadium situation. They found that neither Orange County nor the city of Los Angeles was willing to build a new stadium, and, true to the tenor of the times, the Los Angeles Rams became yet another NFL team in the first half of the 1990s that openly courted other cities (to get a free stadium). Baltimore, MD was first sought after (Baltimore would steal the Browns from Cleveland soon after, in 1995/96), but that deal fell through.

The city of St. Louis, now 7 years without an NFL team, stepped up with a sweetheart deal, and the Rams moved back east, to St. Louis, Missouri. The St. Louis Rams did not change their uniforms at all when they first moved to Missouri (they did do an overhaul of their gear in 2000 [right after they had won the Super Bowl], switching to navy blue and turning their rams’ horns and trim color from yellow-orange to metallic gold). For the first half of the 1995 season, the Rams played at Busch Stadium (II), then moved into the publicly-financed Trans World Dome in November 1995 [the stadium is now called the Edward Jones Dome].

The Rams continued their lackluster form until ex-Eagles coach Dick Vermeil came out of retirement, returning to the Rams’ organization and taking the Rams’ head coach job in 1997. The Rams of this era became a very high-powered offensive force that featured WR Isaac Bruce and RB Marshall Faulk (Hall of Fame, 2011) and were led by a QB, Kurt Warner, who came out of nowhere – from the Iowa Barnstormers of the now-defunct Arena Football League. Warner went from stocking supermarket shelves to hoisting the Super Bowl trophy in 5 years flat. In the 1999 season, in Super Bowl XXXIV [39], the Rams beat the Tennessee Titans by a score of 23-16, with the final touchdown a 73-yard completion from Warner to Bruce, and with the win clinched by a last-second, one-yard-line tackle by Rams’ linebacker Mike Jones on Titans’ WR Kevin Dyson {see this ‘Final play of Super Bowl XXXIV‘}.

Photo credits – unattributed at, ‘Top 10 NFL games of the 2000s‘.

The Rams won 2 NFL Championship titles (1946 [as the Cleveland Rams], 1951 [as the Los Angeles Rams]).
St. Louis Rams: 1 Super Bowl title (1999).
The Rams are 1-2 in Super Bowl appearances [losing to the Steelers in the 1979 season, and losing to the Patriots in the 2000 season].

Thanks to the contributors to the pages at, ‘NFC West‘.

Special thanks to Tim Brulia, Bill Schaefer and Rob Holecko of the Gridiron Uniforms Database, for giving permission to use images from their gridiron uniform database.

January 13, 2008

Junior Hockey in Canada: The Ontario Hockey League, 2007-08 season.

Filed under: Canada,Canada>OHL,Hockey — admin @ 7:25 am

Please note: I have made a more recent map-and-post of the OHL (April 2016), here:
Ontario Hockey League (OHL): location-map with: 2015-16 attendance data, OHL titles & CHL/Memorial Cup titles listed/+ illustrations for the 6 OHL teams with the best-percent-capacity figures in 2015-16 (Oshawa Generals, London Knights, Kitchener Rangers, Barrie Colts, Guelph Storm, Niagara IceDogs).

I have family in Canada.  Several relations there have wondered why I haven’t focused on Canadian Hockey, here on this site.  This should keep them happy, for a while.

The Ontario Hockey League, or OHL, is one of 3 junior hockey leagues based in Canada.  The 3 leagues constitute the Canadian Hockey League.  The other two are the WHL (the Western Hockey League), and the QMJHL (the Qubec Major Junior Hockey League).  All three leagues are for players aged 15 to 20.  All three leagues have a few teams from the United States in them.  The OHL has 3 American clubs: 2 from Michigan (which is a hotbed for minor-league hockey), and 1 from Pennsylvania.  [The QMJHL has just one US team, from Maine; the WHL has 5 US teams, all from the Pacific Northwest.]   {Find out more about the CHL, here.}

When I decided to do a map of the OHL, I figured most teams would average around 2 or 3,000 per game.  Actually, the median is more like 3,500.   This is pretty respectable, when you consider that this is basically a developmental league for teenagers.  And there are some pretty solid draws in this league.  The London Knights are the attendance leaders, at 9,000, this season.  But they hadn’t translated their ability to draw crowds into any sort of success on ice, until two years ago, when they finally won an OHL Title.  Ottawa has an NHL franchise, yet still shows solid support for it’s junior club, the Ottawa 67′s: they are getting 7,700 per game this season.  The Kitchener Rangers are the other “big” club in this league: their average gate this season is 5,900.

The most successful clubs on the ice, historically, are two clubs northeast of Toronto.  The Oshawa Generals got their name from their first sponsor, General Motors.  They have won 12 OHL Titles, but they haven’t won one since 1997.  The Peterborough Petes have won 9 OHL Titles, their last in 2006.  Oshawa is drawing decent crowds (4,700); the Petes less so (2,900).  But Peterborough is not a big city, with a population of around 75,000.  Speaking of small towns, check out Owen Sound.  Nestled at the foot of the Bruce Peninsula, on the shore of the beautiful Georgian Bay, this hamlet of 22,000 really supports it’s team…2,400 per game, or over 10% of the town’s occupants.  I guess they’re like the Green Bay Packers of junior hockey.  They used to be called the Platers, after an electro-plating company that owned them.  Why the heck did they change their name ?  The Owen Sound Platers is like the coolest name I’ve heard in ages.

Speaking of interesting names, try these on for size.  [All these are defunct teams, of course.]   The Guelph Biltmore Mad Hatters (after a local hat company);  the St. Catherines Teepees (in the days before political correctness);  the Hamilton Fincups (an amalgamation of the two family names of the owners);  the Port Colborne Recreationalists;  and my favorite, the Stratford Midgets, which sounds like a band of Shakespearian dwarves.

One more thing about names.  The Plymouth Whalers actually do have a connection to the old Hartford Whalers, of WHA, and NHL (circa 1980′s and 90′s) fame.  They are owned by the same group that owns the Carolina Hurricanes (whom the Hartford Whalers morphed into).  And again with the small-town theme: Plymouth is 25 miles west of Detroit, with a population of around 28,000.  The Plymouth Whalers are the reigning champions of the OHL. 

Special thanks to the Niagara Ice Dogs Fans Forum, and “Strohs,” a puck-head accountant with a good deal of time on his hands.  He did the numbers-crunching; I stumbled onto it.

January 11, 2008

West Bromwich Albion FC.

Filed under: Engl. Promotion Candidates — admin @ 5:14 pm

West Bromwich Albion are the only English club to win promotion to the top flight, and the FA Cup, in the same season.  They did this in 1930-’31.   Their greatest season was in 1953-’54, when they won the FA Cup, and finished 2nd in the League (losing the title to Wolverhampton by 4 points).  It was also the club’s best season at the turnstiles: they averaged 38, 110.

These days, the Baggies have become a real yo-yo club.  But fans should console themselves that the club has come a long way from their form of 15 years ago. In 1993, they were in the old League Two (the 3rd Level), and drawing only around 15,000 per game.

I hope Albion gets promoted this season from the League Championship (the 2nd Level), because they play a very up-tempo, attacking style of football.  They should have been promoted last season, but were upset by Derby County, in the playoff final.  They certainly would have fared better than Derby in the Premier League, this season.

After failing to gain promotion last spring, West Brom lost some good players, like Diomansy Kamara (to Fulham), and Jason Koumas (to Wigan), but they are actually a more solid club, this season.  Players like Kevin Phillips, Zoltan Gera, and the underrated winger Jonathan Greening were smart in sticking with manager Tony Mowbray.  And Slovenian midfielder Robert Koren has been a revelation.   Come May, it could very well turn out that Koumas and Kamara will wish they stayed in the West Midlands, when both their clubs go down, , and West Bromwich goes up.    **{See this thumbnail history of West Bromwich Albion FC, from the Albion Road website;  coincidence in names entirely unintentional.}

Thanks to Historical Football Kits website (historicalkits[dot]co[dot]uk).   All the kits on the left-hand side of the chart are copyright Historical Kits, and used by permission.  Thanks to the Colours Of Football website (colours-of-football[dot]com).  Thanks to viewimages websit (viewimages[dot]com).  Thanks to Albion Road website (albionroad[dot]com).

NFL Thumbnail Histories: the Philadelphia Eagles, the Pittsburgh Pirates/ Steelers.

Click below for for full screen, with Map.

Note: click on the image of the Eagles’ helmets (at the top of the page) to see my map of the NFL circa 1920-1960, plus Steelers’ helmets.

In the late 1920′s, the Frankford Yellow Jackets, of Philadelphia, were a solid franchise.  They had won the 1926 NFL Title, and could draw around 15,000 fans to their games, even though they had to play on Saturdays.  This was because of the draconian “Blue Laws” in the state of Pennsylvania, which curtailed many activities on Sundays, including the playing of professional sporting matches.  But in a few years, the Yellow Jackets became just another casualty of the Great Depression.  They folded part-way through the 1931 season.

In 1933, Pennsylvania relaxed the Blue Laws.  That cleared the way for the NFL to establish a stronger presence there.  That year, three new franchises joined the NFL, two of them from the Keystone State:  the Philadelphia Eagles, and the Pittsburgh (Football) Pirates.  The third new team was the Cincinnati (Football) Reds, who only lasted one and a half seasons.

The Philadelphia Eagles inherited the defunct Yellow Jackets’ franchise, though only a few players came over (I could only find one:  center Art Koeninger).    The Pittsburgh Pirates mimicked the town’s basball club with their name, but changed their name to the Steelers, in 1940, in honor of the region’s steel-making industry.  Both clubs were pretty poor in their first decade: the Eagles failed to post a winning season;  the Steelers finally managed one in their tenth year, in 1942.   At the height of World War II, in 1943, the two clubs were forced to merge, due to the lack of able-bodied men on the domestic front.  They were officially called the Philadelphia Eagles, but fans began calling them the “Steagles.”  [Also, the NFL record book refers to them as "Phil-Pit."] 
The Eagles had a rather interesting helmet design in the late 1940′s, and early 1950′s.  Some call it the feather design, but it was the result of simply having a contrasting color (silver) follow the seam on their green leather helmet.  When the NFL switched from leather to hard shell plastic helmets, around 1949-’50, the Eagles had the helmet manufacturer maintain this wavy shape on the helmets.  (You can see the leather version of the helmet, on my map.)   **{See this page from the Helmet Hut site.}

After the War, the Eagles, under Earle “Greasy” Neale,  turned into a great team, and won the Title in back-to-back seasons, led by Fullback Steve Van Buren, and End Pete Pihos.  The Eagles won their last Title in 1960, led by QB Norm Van Brocklin, and LB Chuck Bednarik. {See this NFL Films’ 4-minute clip on, ‘Chuck Bednarik video‘ [note: that famous hit by Bednarik on Frank Gifford can be seen at the 2:20 point of the video].} The Eagles were the only team to beat Vince Lombardi and his Packers, in the playoffs.  {See this article from the site, from Jan.2011, by Jeré Longman, ‘Eagles’ 1960 Victory Was an N.F.L. Turning Point‘.

The Steelers wore yellow-orange headgear up to 1963, when they switched to black, to better show off their American Iron & Steel Institute “Steelmark.”  The details on the Steelers distinctive crest are oulined here [note, I usually avoid this site, but this article is pretty comprehensive.  If you want even more on this, go to the Wikipedia entry, 'Pittsburgh Steelers/Logos and unifiorm'.   Below are two Steelers programmes, from 1945,and 1955.  I think it's interesting to note that the earlier one is four-color, and the later one is black and white.   pittsburgh_programmes.gif

Through the 1950's and '60's Steelers were pretty much the worst franchise in the NFL (not counting the expansion teams, like the Saints).  They had won no Titles, and were chronically cash-strapped.  But the "lovable losers" finally began to prevail, through solid scouting, and then the arrival of coach Chuck Noll, in 1969.  Franco Harris' "immaculate reception" in the 1972 playoffs was like an indication that their time had finally come.  Divine intervention.  Those Steelers went on to win 4 NFL Super Bowl Titles in 6 seasons, from 1974 to 1979.  

There is a book written during the period right before those Championship days, that I would like to recommend, called  "About Three Bricks Shy...And The Load Filled Up," by Roy Blount, Jr.  He wrote it while he was a reporter for Sports Illustrated magazine, when he was allowed access to the whole team during pre-season training camp.  It is one of the best books I've read in the whole sports genre: it's hilarious, and it really gives you a feel of the era.  Unfortunately, it is out of print, but that's what Amazon is for.  

Thanks to  UK Black and Gold website (pittsburghsteelers[dot]co[dot]uk), for the photos of the programmes;  (helmethut[dot]com);  (nearmintcards[dot]com).

January 10, 2008

NFL Thumbnail Histories: the New York Giants, the Portsmouth Spartans/ Detroit Lions, the Boston/ Washington Redskins.

Click on the following image to see the ‘NFL 1920-1960 Map’, plus the 3 teams’ thumbnail histories…


The New York Giants were formed in 1925.  As was the fashion of the day, the new NFL franchise adopted the nickname of one of the city’s baseball teams.  The team was often referred to as the New York Football Giants.  The Giants have played their home games on northern Manhattan Island (the Polo Grounds);  The Bronx, NY (Yankee Stadium);  New Haven, Connecticut (the Yale Bowl); Queens, NY (Shea Stadium);  and, currently, East Rutherford, New Jersey (Giants Stadium).

The Detroit Lions started out as the Portsmouth Spartans, from the small southern Ohio city of Portsmouth.   The Spartans existed from 1930 to 1933, and were an extremely competitive squad.  They just missed out on winning the NFL Title in 2 of their 3 seasons, and played in the first-ever NFL playoff game.  It was played indoors, in Chicago stadium (inclemate weather forced the league to stage the game this way).  They sported purple and gold uniforms.   **{See this page from the Portsmouth Spartans Historical Society website.}     The Spartans, deep in debt, were bought by Detroit, Michigan businessman George A. Richards, in 1934, and moved north to the Motor City.  As the Detroit Lions, they won the NFL Title two seasons later (1935).


It may seem odd that such a small town as Portsmouth, Ohio could host an NFL franchise, but it was in character with the NFL of the early 1930′s.   Another team from an unlikely location during this era was the Staten Island (NY) Stapletons, who existed from 1929 to 1932.  They wore black jersey fronts/white jersey backs. The Stapletons were yet another franchise killed off by the Great Depression.  The only vestige of the small-town era of the NFL is, of course, the Green Bay Packers.

The Washington Redskins began in New England, as the Boston Braves, in 1932.  They changed their name the next year, to the Redskins.  The franchise moved to Washington, DC, in 1937.  Like the Lions, the Washington Redskins had swift success in their new city, winning the NFL Title in their first season in the nation’s capital.

Thanks to Detroit Lions official site (detroitlions[dot]com);  (helmethut[dot]com);  (nearmintcards[dot]com).      

January 9, 2008

NFL Thumbnail Histories: the Chicago Bears; the Chicago/ St. Louis/ Arizona Cardinals; the Green Bay Packers.

Filed under: NFL/ Gridiron Football — admin @ 10:04 am

Click on the image below, to see full chart, with map.

The Chicago Bears began in Decatur, Illinois.  The Arizona Cardinals began in Chicago, Illinois, and are the oldest team in the National Football League.  They date back to the late 19-century, as the Morgan Athletic Club, which soon became the Racine Cardinals football team (Racine is a street in Chicago).   The Green Bay Packers have always been in the small northern Wisconson city of Green Bay (100,000 population), although they played half of their games in Milwaukee, Wisconson, for 41 seasons.  In 1995, the club decided they had a strong (and hardy: it really gets cold up there) enough fan base to play all of their home games in Green Bay’s Lambeau Field.

The Green Bay Packers wore dark blue and yellow uniforms for most of their first 30 years (1919-’49).  In the 1950′s, the Packers wore bright green and mustard-yellow uniforms for a few years, then went back to navy and mustard-yellow.  In 1959, legendary head coach Vince Lombardi revamped their uniforms, changing their jerseys to dark hunter green, and their pants and helmets to a bright yellow-orange.  [They call it gold, but gold means metallic, and more ocher-colored.  Like Notre Dame's helmet, which actually uses real gold in the paint.  [I know, I sound like a real geek, here, but there are vast amounts of people who are willing to argue these fine points ...just go to, and you'll see.]  

The team uses this same basic design for their uniforms to this day.  The ‘G in a football-shaped oval crest’ that graces their helmet was introduced in 1961.    **{See the Packer’s helmets, from 1957 to present, from The Helmets, Helmets, Helmets website.}  This site does not cover NFL helmets from the first three decades (1920-50), so I decided to do it myself.  Hence, the thumbnail profiles you see here, and can see in the posts I will make in the next 3 days.  It is really hard to find information, especially images, of NFL uniforms from the early days.  So I was forced to go to sources like trading cards.  But what really made the project viable was the Helmet Hut website, which is one of my favorite sites. (

Green Bay is the smallest city by far to have a team in one of the 4 biggest major leagues in North America.  Those leagues, of course, are the National Football League;  Major League Baseball;  the National Basketball Association;  and the National Hockey League.  According to the US Census Bureau, Green Bay is the 153rd largest metropolitan area in America.  The next smallest city to have a team in these 4 leagues is Raleigh, North Carolina, which is the 51st largest metro area.  The Carolina Hurricanes, of the NHL, play there.  So that means there are over 100 cities not as fortunate as Green Bay, in having a big league team.  Back “The Pack” !

{See 2005 US Census Bureau figures, here.}

Thanks to Helmet Hut site  (helmethut[dot]com);   Nearmint’s Vintage Football Cards (nearmintcard[dot]com);   Chris Creamer’s Sports Logos Page (sportslogos[dot]net).  Also special thanks to the Sports E-cyclopedia website for team’s stadiums history (sportsecyclopedia[dot]com).

January 8, 2008

NFL Timeline, with Map: 1920-1933 / A history of the Dayton Triangles’ franchise; and a brief mention of the 1926 NFL-champions the Frankford Yellow Jackets, and the 1928 NFL-champions the Providence Steam Roller / Plus an illustrated list of all defunct NFL teams that played at least 4 seasons.


The early days of the National Football League are criminally under-reported.  In America, there is a gigantic publishing industry for books on baseball… the glorious days of yore, and all that.  Academic sorts just love going on and on about baseball’s storied past.  Meanwhile, the amount of books on professional gridiron football’s wild and wooly formative years is scant.  I think publishers think Joe-six-pack NFL fan doesn’t read books, let alone buy them.  There might be some truth to this, because after all, NFL football appeals to the short attention-span viewer, with its segmented run of play, flashy graphics, and over the top style of reporting by the announcers. 

Very few NFL fans know about the Dayton Triangles,  the Frankford Yellow Jackets,  and the Providence Steam Roller.  

The Dayton Triangles were an original team from the APFA, which was formed in 1920.  [The American Professional Football Association became the NFL in 1922.]  The Triangles wore dark-royal-blue-and-white uniforms, with zebra-striped sleeves.  The Dayton Triangles played 10 seasons in the league, before moving to Brooklyn, NY, in 1930.       **{See this history of the Dayton Triangles.}

The Triangles became known as the Brooklyn Dodgers when they moved east, in 1930.  This team had no affiliation with the Major League Baseball club known as the Brooklyn Dodgers.   The Brooklyn Football Dodgers played 16 seasons in the NFL, from 1930 to 1945, when they were forced to merge with the NFL’s Boston Yanks.  {See this.}  The Boston Yanks moved to New York as the Bulldogs, then the Yanks, but were sold back to the league, in  1952.  This franchise was awarded to a group of businessmen in Dallas, Texas, in 1952, but the Dallas Texans of 1952 couldn’t draw enough fans to the Cotton Bowl, and went belly-up. As it was in the middle of the season, the league took over the club, and played the last couple of games as a traveling team with a base in Hershey, PA. The last two games the Dallas Texans played after being taken over by the league were as the home team versus the Chicago Bears in the Rubber Bowl in Akron, OH on Thanksgiving Day in 1952 [the only game the hapless Dallas Texans of the NFL ever won], and against the Lions in Detroit.

The NFL does not recognize the link between the original Dallas Texans (1952), and the second Baltimore Colts (1953-1984), even though the roster of the old Texans (including players like Art Donovan, and Gino Marchetti) was transferred to the Baltimore Colts, in 1953.  {see this.}  The second Baltimore Colts also maintained the blue and white color scheme of the old Dallas Texans (as well as that of the Dayton Triangles).  [The original Baltimore Colts played 3 seasons in the AAFC, and one season in the NFL, from 1947 to 1950, and wore green and silver uniforms.]    Here is a great article written by NFL historian Bob Carroll (at, {‘How to get from Dayton to Indianapolis by way of Brooklyn, Boston, New York, Dallas, Hershey and Baltimore }.    The second Baltimore Colts existed from 1953 to March 29, 1984, when owner Robert Irsay, threatened with seizure of his franchise by the Maryland State Legislature (due to a dispute over the stadium), snuck the team’s entire possessions out in U-Haul moving vans, at 3 in the morning…  destination, Indianapolis, Indiana, and the newly built Hoosier Dome.  The Indianapolis Colts have remained in their dome stadium since then, finally winning an NFL Title in last season’s Super Bowl.  {See this article, from USA Today, during last year’s NFL playoffs.}

The Frankford Yellow Jackets and the Providence Steam Roller are the last two defunct teams to win an NFL championship.  The Frankford Yellow Jackets were in the NFL from 1924 to 1931, and were from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  They sported dark blue and yellow uniforms.  They won the NFL Title in 1926.  The Providence Steam Roller, from Rhode Island, were in the NFL from 1925 to 1931.  They wore black, with orange trim.  They won the NFL Title in 1928.  They played in a 10,000 seat bicycle velodrome (seriously).  {See this.}  Basically, the Great Depression killed off both these teams.  The NFL was no money-making venture back then, to say the least.  
Click this icon for a list of all defunct NFL teams that played at least 4 seasons..

January 7, 2008

Football Clubs of Northern and Northeastern England, including Cumbria, Tyne-and-Wear, Durham, Humberside, and Lincolnshire.

Filed under: England's Regions — admin @ 6:47 am


[Listed numerically in order of highest average attendance, within the context of the entire 92-club English Football League.]

3. Newcastle United: 50,686 avg. attendance, in ’06-’07; up 0.4%, this season.  Newcastle sit 11th, in the Premiere League.  Alex Ferguson took 3 and a half years to finally win a trophy with Manchester United (hired in Nov., 1986/ FA Cup, in May, 1990).  Many Newcastle fans aren’t even giving Sam Allardyce 6 months to show results. 

11. Sunderland: 31,887, avg. attendance, in ’06-’07; up 36%, this season.  Sunderland are in the relegation zone, at 18th place, in the Premier League.   The Black Cats might be doomed to be the biggest yo-yo club in the world.  When you have the country’s 11th-biggest average gate, while not even in the top flight, you are a relatively big club.  When you are relegated, then promoted 4 times in 12 seasons, then you are a yo-yo club.  And when you are back in the Premier League’s relegation zone this late into the season, nothing has changed. 

13. Middlesbrough: 27,730 avg. attendance, in ’06-’07; down 5%, this season.  Middlesbrough sit 15th, in the Premier League.   Middlesbrough finds a way to get a good result, every few games (like beating league-leaders Arsenal).  But then they look uninspired, for games at a time.  One wonders when owner Steve Gibson’s patience with Gareth Southgate will end. 

32. Hull City: 18,758 avg. attendance, in ’06-’07; down 9%, this season.  Hull sit 9th, in the League Championship (the 2nd Level).   The Tigers continue their gradual climb.  Hull City was a 4th Level club as recently as 2004.    Hull is the 10th largest city in Great Britain [and until 2008 promotion, was the largest city to have never had a football club in the English first division]. 

50. Carlisle United: 7,907 avg. attendance, in ’06-’07; down 5%, this season.  Carlisle sit in the promotion places, at 2nd, in League One (the 3rd Level).   Carlisle is hampered by being the most isolated club in the League.  The Cumbrians have had 2 promotions in 3 years; they could go up again, but the presence of 2 big clubs in this league this season (Leeds and Nottingham Forest) will make it difficult.

62. Scunthorpe United: 5,669 avg. attendance, in ’06-’07; up 19%, this season. Scunthorpe sit in the relegation zone, at 22nd, in the League Championship.   The Iron might be a victim of the highly competitive caliber of the current League Championship.  Anyone can literally beat anyone, but someone has to be relegated, and it will probably be at least 2 of the 3 minnows (Scunthorpe, Colchester, and Blackpool) punching above their weight in the second tier, this season.

69. Lincoln City: 5,176 avg. attendance, in ’06-’07; down 28%, this season.  Lincoln City sit 21st, in League two (the 4th Level).   The Imps have lost in the playoffs for an astounding 5 straight seasons.  This season, they started out so poorly, they were in the relegation zone.  But new manager Peter Jackson (ex-Huddersfield Town boss) has righted the ship.

70. Hartlepool United: 5,087 avg. attendance, in ’06-’07; down 3%, this season.  Hartlepool sit 15th, in League One (the 3rd Level).  Relegated in ’06, ”Pools” bounced right back to the third tier last spring. 

79. Grimsby Town: 4,379 avg. attendance; down 0.3%, this season.  Grimsby sit 15th, in League Two (the 4th Level).  Talk about keeping the status quo: The Mariners are at the same spot they finished last season, 15th; and their attendance is almost exactly the same. 

82. Darlington: 3,814 avg. attendance, in ’06-’07; up 8%, this season.  Darlington are in the playoff places, at 6th, in League Two (the 4th Level).  The Quakers ownership might have over-estimated their potential fan base.  The club currently plays to a creepy 16% capacity in their new white elephant, The Balfour Webnet Stadium.  Crowds are up from last year, though, and will likely increase further, if they gain promotion.  Last year they faltered down the stretch, finishing 11th.

92. Boston United: 2,152 avg. attendance, in ’06-’07; down 32%, this season.  Boston United are now out of the League, after double-relegation (one relegation for finishing second-to-last place in League Two; one more relegation for financial irregularities).  They sit 10th, in the Blue Square North Division (6th Level). 

**List of all 92 Clubs from the 2006-’07 English Football League  [with Average Attendance/ Titles/ FA Cups/ Seasons in First Level.**

List, Clubs #1 to #46  (Manchester United, to Southened United), click here.attendancemaplegendcombinedleagues.gif

List, Clubs #47 to #92  (Milwall to Boston United), clickattendancemaplegendcombinedleagues2.gif here. 

!!!Note: To best read the lists, left-click on thumbnail (duh), then left-click to enlarge the list; then diminish screen twice [via pressing "SHIFT," and "-"  keys simultaneously.] 

January 5, 2008

Football Clubs of Essex, Herts, and East Anglia (and adjacent areas).

Filed under: England's Regions — admin @ 11:32 pm


East Anglia comprises Norfolk (Norwich City), Suffolk (Ipswich Town), and Cambridgeshire (Peterborough United).   East Anglia is very rural, and agricultural-based.  Ipswich Town’s nickname is the Tractor Boys, and Norwich is the only major city in Britain not linked to a motorway, or waterway.  Herts is short for Hertfordshire (Watford), and is in the heart of the north London commuter belt.  It is home to many large corporations, like Tescos supermarket chain.  In recent years, this county has increasingly become a bedroom community for the expanding London metropolis.   I have also included the clubs from Bedfordshire (Luton Town), Buckinghamshire (Wycombe Wanderers and MK Dons), and Kent (Gillingham).

Essex (Southend United, and Colchester United) has been a dormitory area for London workers for decades.  The southern half of the county can be described as built up/run down: Southend is a famous sea-side resort area that has seen better days.  The northern half of Essex is similar to Suffolk, in terms of it being less citified and more bucolic.   Layer Road, Colchester United’s home, is a real throwback.  Other League Championship clubs do not like coming to this 6,200-capacity bandbox relic.

Layer Road will be gone after this season, when Colchester United move to a new 10,000 seat stadium, outside of town, called (believe it or not) Cuckoo Farm.  I really hope Colchester survives the drop this season [Editor's note: they didn't]. 

2006-’07 Season Average Attendance/ % Change, this season (so far)./ League Standing.  [Clubs listed in numerical order, within the context of the entire 92-club English Football League.]

16. Norwich City: 24,545 avg. attendance, in ’06-’07; down 0.5%, this season.  Norwich sit 20th, in the League Championship (the 2nd Level).  The Canaries have been playing much better since Glen Roeder took over, as manager.  They look like they will soon be safe from relegation worries.  This is a club with a large, and loyal fan base, and they don’t deserve to be in the third tier.   

22. Ipswich Town: 22,445 avg. attendance;  down 7%, this season.  Ipswich sit in the playoff place, at 6th place, in the League Championship (the 2nd Level).  The Tractor Boys are undefeated, at home, in the league, but are dreadful away.  They play exciting up-tempo passing football, much in the tradition of the Ipswich side that won the 1978 FA Cup, under Bobby Robson.  But don’t expect them to have a serious run at promotion, unless they start winning on the road.norwich_ipswich.gif   

33. Watford: 18,751 avg. attendance, in ’06-’07; down 11%, this season.  Watford are in the promotion places, at 2nd place (tied on points, for first place, with West Bromwich, and Bristol City), in the League Championship (the 2nd Level).  The Hornets has been slipping, lately, after a great start.  This was following their humiliating last-place finish in, and relegation from, the Premier League last season.  Their promotion chances have went from a near-lock, to more like 50-50, due to their poor recent form and the glut of competitive clubs in the second tier. watford.gif  

46. Southend United: 10,024 avg. attendance, in ’06-’07; down 22%, this season.  Southend sit 11th, in League One (the 3rd Level).  The Shrimpers haven’t recovered from their single season foray into the 2nd Level, and selling prolific striker Freddy Eastwood (to Wolves).  They have a pretty large fan base for an historically third level club.  But in the last 20 years, they have spent more time on either side of the third tier…8 seasons in the 4th Level, 5 seasons in the 3rd Level, and 7 seasons in the 2nd Level.   

49. Luton Town: 8,580 avg. attendance, in ’06-’07; down 23%, this season.  Luton, after going into administration, and being deducted 10 points, are in the relegation zone, at 21st place, in League One (the 3rd Level).   Luton were helped tremendously by making it to the 3rd Round of the FA Cup, and receiving broadcast revenues from their fixture with Liverpool, on Sunday.  It meant the players could actually get paid, for the first time in several weeks.  They seem to have been through the worst of it, and are playing well in the league, recently, so they will probably avoid back-to-back relegations.  What the Hatters really need is a new stadium.   Their Kenilworth Road Ground is dilapidated, and the club are unable to expand it, due to it’s location in a residential neighborhood.  One entrance to the ground actually goes under some homes.  This is a club that won the League Cup in 1988, and has spent 16 seasons in the top flight, so their current plight is a shame.

 56. Gillingham: 6,282 avg. attendance, in ’06-’07; up 0.2%, this season.  Gillingham sit 18th, in League One (the 3rd Level).   The Gills are a club that has spent most of it’s existence in the 3rd Level, except for a 5-year spell recently in the second tier (2000-’05).    southend_luton_gillingham.gif   

57. MK Dons: 6,034 avg. attendance, in ’06-’07; up 40 %, this season.  Milton Keynes Dons are in First place in League Two (the 4th Level), leading by 11 points.  Energized by their brand new, 22,000-seat “stadium:mk,” the high-scoring Dons seem a sure bet to return to the 3rd Level.  Whether they will ever make it back to the top-flight, where the original club (Wimbledon FC) spent 14 legendary seasons (and won the 1988 FA Cup), remains to be seen.  There is much ill-will towards this club, which pulled up stakes, and moved to a gentrified “new town,”  like some cynical American sports franchise fleeing to the Sun Belt.

67. Colchester United: 5,466 avg. attendance, in ’06-’07; down 0.6%, this season.  Colchester are in the relegation zone, at 21st place, in the League Championship (the 2nd Level).  Colchester shocked the League Championship last season , with a 10th place finish.  It was the U’s first-ever season in the second tier.   But en route, they were forced to sell versatile fullback/midfielder Greg Halford last January (he’s now on Sunderland).  Then they sold a big offensive threat, Chris Iwelumo (who is racking them up now with Charlton).  Then league-leading 24-goal scorer Jamie Cureton asked out, saying the club lacked ambition (he’s now on Norwich).   All this has seriously set Colchester back, and they’ll likely be in a relegation battle until May.  Manager Geraint Williams has admitted he has to try to find talent on the cheap, during the January transfer window.   Lead scorer/ assists leader is 22-year old Irish winger Mark Yeates, who is deadly accurate with his curling free kicks.  42-year old Teddy Sheringham is doing his swan song here. 

72. Wycombe Wanderers: 4,983 avg. attendance, in ’06-’07; down 12%, this season.  Wycombe are in the promotion places, at 7th place, in League Two (the 4th Level).  The Chairboys spent 10 seasons in the 3rd Level, and are keen to return; they’ve fizzled in the playoffs 2 of the last 3 years.

83. Peterborough United: 4,662 avg. attendance, in ’06-’07; up 14 %, this season.  Peterborough sit in the promotion spots, at 5th, in the League Two.  “The Posh” are on the upswing, with deep pocketed new ownership, and a place in the 4th Round of the 2007-’08 FA Cup.  They are favored by many to gain promotion to League One.   

Thanks to Colours Of Football for the kits (

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