Mascot Monday: Boilerman (West Brom)

Embed from Getty Images

Welcome to a new series of posts designed to brighten up your Mondays! First off, we’re heading to West Brom to meet Boilerman, the hot water hero we didn’t know we needed. As aficionados of bonkers football mascots (and there are many out there), we here at ASRV absolutely love Boilerman – although we’re still trying to work out how he actually sees anything at all out of that suit…

Name: Boilerman

Club: West Bromwich Albion

Mascot since: 2018

Species: Er… a combi boiler. On legs. Wearing a cap.

Friends & Family: Baggie Bird (see photo below)

Social Media: Twitter, Facebook.

Notes: A promotional mascot for WBA sponsors Ideal Boilers, Boilerman was introduced to the fans at the Hawthorns in August 2018. He was an instant social media hit, discussed on both local and national news websites – and has even released his own clothing line (a first for a football mascot?).

Boilerman and Baggie Bird
Boilerman hanging out with his mate Baggie Bird.

If you’ve got any suggestions for future Mascot Mondays, let us know!



(George) Best of Both Worlds?

George Best - Pinterest screenshot

Algorithms. Dontcha just love them? Sometimes they do amazing things (like imaging black holes), and sometimes…. well, sometimes they get a little ahead of themselves (no, Twitter, we really don’t want to follow Piers Morgan).

We particularly liked this amusing instance of what can only be called algorithm confusion (above), found while we were updating the ASRV Pinterest recently (our Pinterest is definitely worth a look, btw. Lots and lots of amazing images from over a century of football).

Like many social media-type sites, Pinterest will suggest what it decides is the most relevant of your subject boards for each picture you save, but sometimes it gets it just a little bit wrong…

For example, you might assume that it would recommend filing a pic of the legendary footballing genius, bad boy and inveterate ladies man George Best on, say, the Football or Northern Ireland boards. We certainly did.

But if you look at the top right hand corner of the screenshot above, you’ll see that, according to the Pinterest algorithm, the most appropriate board for George is actually… guess what?

That’s right. Women’s Football.

Well, yes. And no. We’re still giggling.

We suspect Georgie Boy would definitely approve though…

ASRV on Pinterest

ASRV on Twitter

CB on Instagram


The Three v. The Six: A European Football Story

'The Three v The Six' programme front cover
‘The Three v The Six’ programme front cover

Long ago, way back even before the ASRV Editor was born, Britain joined the Common Market (the precursor to the European Union). To commemorate this momentous step forward in post-war international relations, how did we celebrate? That’s right, we arranged a football match…

With Brexit looming ever closer (or not, as the case may be), we thought it might be interesting to revisit this game forty-six years on – and maybe see how the football world reacted to our entry into Europe.

Held at Wembley Stadium on January 3rd 1973, this was a match between ‘The Three’, the countries who had just joined the Common Market (the UK, Ireland and Denmark), and ‘The Six’, the countries who were already members (West Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and France).

England 1966: England manager Sir Alf Ramsey
Manager of ‘The Three’, Sir Alf Ramsey

Some seriously famous names took to the Wembley pitch for both sides, including Bobby Charlton, Pat Jennings, Bobby Moore, Johnny Giles, Franz Beckenbauer, Dino Zoff, Berti Vogts, and Gerd Müller to name but a few.

‘The Three’ were managed by Sir Alf Ramsey, and ‘The Six’ by Helmut Schön (Ramsey’s German opposite number in the 1966 World Cup final). Interviewed about the match, Sir Alf refused to be drawn on the political side of things, commenting only that “[a]ll big Wembley occasions should be cherished”.

The players were equally vague about their views on the matter in a way that you’d never see today. Pat Jennings declared himself “really not interested” in the Common Market, and Alan Ball simply had concerns about “whether or not it will make my family’s summer holidays cheaper”.

Johnny Giles was more on message with an Irish viewpoint:

A small country like Ireland needs close business and trade links with other European nations, so I’m certainly in favour.

Their concerns were more with the game itself, obviously. But they needn’t have worried. Poor old Helmut Schön was on the losing side at Wembley again, as ‘The Three’ scored twice with no reply in the second half – the goals coming from Denmark’s Henning Jensen and Scotland’s Colin Stein. Quite a start to this new European adventure…

If you’d like to see those goals, here’s a newsreel snippet from the game:

Many thanks to Sid, who uncovered this unusual (and strangely relevant) match!

The Very Merry Mindstretching ASRV Christmas Football Quiz – The Answers!

Soccer ball

Apologies for the delay in posting these – we’re acutely aware it’s now March, and we should have done this weeks ago! Thank you to everyone who had a go at this quiz and has waited patiently for the results – we hope you enjoyed it and it kept your brains ticking over during the Christmas period…


1) These days, football at Christmas is usually associated with Boxing Day. That hasn’t always been the case though. In which year was a full league programme last played on Christmas Day itself in England?

1957 (a few games were played on Christmas Day of 1958, but not a full programme)

2) Santa is very real. Or, at least, FC Santa Claus is a very real football club with a very festive name. Which country are they from?


3) Which famous Argentinian goalscorer was equally festively nicknamed ‘El Ángel Gabriel’?

Gabriel Batistuta

4) What is another, more seasonal, name for the 4-3-2-1 formation?

The Christmas Tree

5) Historically, they are probably the best known and most successful of all the women’s football teams that came out of the munitions factories of World War One. They played (and won) their first match on Christmas Day 1917 in front of a crowd of ten thousand. Who were they?

The Dick, Kerr Ladies

6) There are numerous English teams that are (or have been) nicknamed ‘The Robins’. Can you name TWO of them?

Any two of these:


Bracknell Town

Bristol City

Carshalton Athletic

Charlton Athletic (no longer used)

Cheltenham Town

Evesham United

Ilkston FC

Swindon Town

7) In Scotland, you’ll find teams playing at grounds with names that sound like the kind of place you’d go to get your Christmas tree (yeah, we’re reaching!), such as Fir Park and Fir Hill. Which two clubs play at these grounds?

Motherwell and Partick Thistle respectively. This one stumped a lot of you!

8) If you need lights for your tree, you might want to head over to Sunderland, where they have a whole stadium of the stuff! However, there’s also another ‘Stadium of Light’, the Estádio da Luz. Where is it, and who plays there?

LisbonBenfica (there have actually been two stadiums known by this name in Lisbon over the decades).

9) Since there’s always a classic musical on the telly over Christmas, which TWO British teams are most closely associated with the song from the film and stage show Carousel, ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’?

Liverpool and Celtic

10) Another Christmas movie TV staple is Mary Poppins. Which legendary striker received this as a (not very flattering) nickname?

Alan Shearer


11) In January 2018, football lost the trailblazing West Brom legend Cyrille Regis, who sadly died aged only 59. At WBA in the late 1970s, Regis was known as one of the club’s ‘Three Degrees’. Who were the other two?

Laurie Cunningham and Brendon Batson

12) What was unusual about the FA Cup third round tie between Brighton & Hove Albion and Crystal Palace in January 2018?

The first competitive match in England to have VAR technology available. In the end, it wasn’t used.

13) By the end of the 2017-18 campaign, Manchester City had become the first club to score 100 points in a top flight season. Ten years earlier, Derby County set a more unwanted record for the fewest points scored in a season. How many points did Derby get in 2007-08?

Eleven points. That’s a whole 89 points fewer than City a decade later!

14) In the group stages of the 2017-18 UEFA Champions League, five cities had two clubs each in the draw. Which cities? (Bonus Point for the clubs too!)

The five cities were:

Lisbon (Benfica/Sporting CP)

London (Chelsea/Spurs)

Madrid (Atletico/Real)

Manchester (City/United)

Moscow (CSKA/Spartak)

15) Which legendary football commentator retired from the BBC in May 2018?

John Motson – the man who gave us our name. We love you, Motty!

16) In the 2018 World Cup, the fabulous Harry Kane scored a hat-trick in England’s 6-1 drubbing of Panama. Only one other hat-trick was scored at this World Cup. Who scored it?

Cristiano Ronaldo, in the 3-3 group stage draw between Portugal and Spain.

17) Who set (another) unwanted record, this time at the World Cup, for being the first player to score an own goal in the Final?

Croatia’s Mario Mandzukic.

18) In fact, a record number of own goals were scored in the tournament as a whole. How many?


19) If you follow us on Twitter, you’ll have seen us enthusing about the very excellent Homeless World Cup project back in November. In which city did it take place?

Mexico City

20) At the end of November 2018, Robbie Keane announced his retirement from football. After a long career going back to the late 1990s, he ends it as the Republic of Ireland’s all-time top scorer, and is still very much loved at numerous clubs. Including loan deals, how many different club sides did he play for at senior level?

Eleven in total.


Coventry City

Inter Milan

Leeds United (he also had a separate loan period here)


Celtic (loan)

West Ham (loan)

LA Galaxy

Aston Villa (loan)




21) You might be surprised to know that the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup (basically the American version of the FA Cup) is one of the oldest football cup competitions in the world. In which year did it begin?


22) Since the Premier League was founded in 1992, 49 different clubs have played in it. Which SIX of those clubs have, to date, never been relegated from the EPL?

The six clubs are:





Manchester United


(Aston Villa were also on this list until they were relegated to the Championship at the end of the 2015-16 season).

23) Of all the clubs who won the old First Division title in the pre-EPL era, only one has never played in the Premier League. Who are they?

Preston North End

24) During the 1997-98 Bundesliga season, which player became the first goalkeeper to score a goal from open play in that league?

Jens Lehmann

25) Which English Championship side was once famous for having a pub at every corner of their ground? (Bonus Point for the name of the ground too)

Brentford – Griffin Park

26) To date, only one non-English club has ever won the FA Cup. Who are they, and in which year did they win?

Cardiff City won in 1927, beating Arsenal in the final

27) One of the greatest of all the football legends, this player has been showered with accolades and awards for many years – including an honorary British knighthood. Who is he?

He is the revered Brazilian forward and sometime politician Pele. He received the honour from the Queen in 1997.

28) Who is (probably) the only footballer to have won an Oscar?

Neil Paterson (1915-1995). He played for Leith Athletic and Dundee United before becoming a writer and journalist. Won the Best Adapted Screenplay award at the 1959 Oscars for ‘Room At The Top’ (1958), which was taken from the novel of the same name by John Braine.

29) There is only one footballer on the famous Peter Blake-designed cover of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. Who was he?

Albert Stubbins, who played for Liverpool between 1946 and 1953.

30) The Italian Serie A side Juventus have long been famous for their distinctive black and white striped shirts, but which British club did they ‘borrow’ these colours from?

Notts County

So, how did you do…?


“Pele… What a save!”: On remembering Gordon Banks

Gordon Banks, World Cup 1970
Gordon Banks at the 1970 World Cup

CB writes…

He is the glory of English football. He’s also the glory of global football. He’s among the best goalkeepers in history. That’s only a small group when we talk about the best ones. This defines Gordon Banks – Marcelo Bielsa, Leeds United manager

The word ‘legend’ is frequently thrown about in football, often in reference to those who are, objectively, merely average players. But Gordon Banks, the England World Cup winning goalkeeper who died last week at the age of 81, really was a legend.

Easily the greatest English keeper of all time, he is still most famous for his truly astonishing, defying-the-laws-of-physics save from Pelé in the 1970 World Cup (in a tribute to Banks, his international team-mate Sir Bobby Charlton commented “Even though I was on the pitch and have seen it many times since, I still don’t know how he saved that header from Pelé”).

The safe hands of the ‘Banks of England’ were also the foundation of that world-beating England side that lifted the Jules Rimet trophy at Wembley Stadium in 1966. Somewhat ironically, Banks was later responsible for saving a penalty from West Ham’s ’66 hat-trick hero Geoff Hurst in the semi-final of the 1971-72 League Cup – and it’s a cracking save too!

Born ten years after England’s Wembley triumph, I grew up on tales of 1966 from my father. Along with his brother and their dad, he attended every one of England’s World Cup matches that year, including the famous final (incidentally, dad always maintained that Geoff Hurst goal didn’t go in. And he was right, it didn’t).

I knew who Gordon Banks was and what he’d done from an early age (even though I am too young to have ever seen him play). He was revered in my family, which makes his death feel almost like a personal loss. And I am sure I am not the only one to feel that way.

An inspiration to generations of fans and world-class goalkeepers alike, and, by all accounts, a bloody nice man too, his memory will live on. Stoke City, one of his former clubs, will be paying him a unique tribute this weekend – have a look at this:

I hope he’s having a pint and a catch-up with Bobby Moore right now….

A Work in Progress: The New Lane

The New Lane, 2018 (1)

CB writes…

Just before the old White Hart Lane was demolished in May 2017, I paid a visit to that venerable north London icon to take some photos and say goodbye to the old place. Towards the end of last year, almost eighteen months and numerous frustrating delays to the new stadium later, I decided it was about time I went back to see what was going on.

The stadium was clearly unfinished on the sunny autumn day I visited, cranes still looming over the site and hard hatted builders ambling round doing whatever it is that stadium builders do. However, there’s no denying that it looks amazing. I have yet to see inside, but those who have seem to be pretty impressed. Only time will tell if it’s a worthy replacement for the original White Hart Lane…

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Matthew Le Tissier’s weird hidden talent…

Rubik's Cube

The second in an occasional series of footballers with unusual abilities. If you know of any other players who might fit the bill, get in touch!

If you grew up watching football in the 1980s and 1990s, you couldn’t fail to miss Matthew Le Tissier – although missing was never really his style. In his pomp, ‘Le God’, as he was fondly known by Southampton fans, was pretty much unstoppable.

Although the Channel Islander was only capped a mere eight times for England, he was the scorer of more than 200 goals for the Saints over more than a decade and a half, and he was also that rare beast – a one-club man for the entirety of his professional career.

He was bloody good at football, and it turns out he’s a whizz with the old Rubik’s Cube too, as you can see from this BBC Guernsey clip. Two minutes and nine seconds ain’t bad at all!

Having been kids in the 1980s we naturally approve of such retro antics, and are now wondering if there are any footballers out there with a particular talent for the yo-yo…