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Branch Of Science


I have written a piece about U.S. Gold’s World Cup USA 94, which will be published on the Branch Of Science website.

The website, which launches on Monday 3 March, is edited by Seb Patrick, the co-creator of ‘A Brief History Of Time Travel‘.

It is devoted to football culture, and there will be launch articles about a football sticker book and ITV’s coverage of the 1970 World Cup.

My Kind Of Town: Issue 11

My Kind Of Town

I’m pleased to announce that Heron Publications have republished my feature about Sheffield Wednesday’s away record in the mid-1970s.

The latest edition of their magazine, My Kind Of Town, is a football special, which also includes articles about Wednesday’s David Ford and Sheffield United’s Mick Jones.

The magazine, priced at £4.99, is available from Heron Publications’ website and selected branches of Waterstones.

Tony Wilson and hyperlinks

Tony Wilson co-founded Factory Records in the 1970s.

Tony Wilson co-founded Factory Records in the 1970s. Image courtesy of Eadaoinflynn via Flickr.

Personally, providing external hyperlinks on a web page is an important part of the journalistic toolbox.

It is ethically sound to reference other websites – particularly if they have been used for research purposes – and transparency is usually a key virtue.

Also, providing relevant and working hyperlinks should enhance a user’s involvement in a particular story or feature.

If a particular user is interested in reading more about farming or Pokémon, then journalists can showcase their ability to act as a guide and not a gatekeeper.

It’s a function that we should not ignore. After all, if attempts are not made to add value and provide the best possible online experience for users, they will be less inclined to return.

During an interview with MP3 Magazine about his pay-for-download website, music33, Tony Wilson shared my views about hyperlinks.

Music downloads may have changed since 2001 but, as shown by the following passage, Wilson’s sage words haven’t.

“This is how it works: there’s a Manchester label that we like, called Skam. We go and see the two guys. They give us a Skam sampler, which includes a band called Boards of Canada. We get it up on the site, you can listen to them. Then you can go check out their own website. If you like what they’re about, you go back to our site and buy a song from the label. The added content comes in the form of the clickthroughs and links to the artist’s own pages. There’s a depth of experience there – and that’s very important: You mustn’t fear linking to label websites and taking them away from your own – if your site is good enough people will come back.”

Non web sources

Anon (2001) Hallelujah! MP3 Magazine, January 2001, p.30-33.

Ward, M. (2002) Journalism Online. Oxford: Elsevier Science.

Number One: an occasional journalistic gem

Number One was a pop music magazine for teenagers.

Number One was a pop music magazine for teenagers.

The music chart fanzine, Chartwatch, once described Number One as being “embarrassing to buy”.

And those words were faintly true.

The defunct magazine was certainly less useful as a research tool than Music Week and Record Mirror, and it also lacked the wit of Smash Hits.

Essentially, it lacked substance AND flair.

It doesn’t look good, and you could understand why the editors of Chartwatch said “you can only buy that [Number One] if you have a kid sister”.

But an edition from 15 August 1987 showed that, on the odd occasion, it was a magazine worth buying.

Unlike the national newspapers, the magazine was not afraid to praise Tyne Tees Television’s ‘The Roxy’ after it started to defeat ‘Top Of The Pops’ in the ratings.

And a feature that looked at Aled Jones’ bedroom included an amusing anecdote about The Observer and a ‘My Little Pony’ duvet cover.

Best of all, though, it featured Phil Cornwell’s Gilbert The Alien – from CITV’s ‘Get Fresh’ and ‘Gilbert’s Fridge’ – reviewing the singles, which included a superb range of political and cultural references.

A review of John Farnham’s ‘Pressure Down’, for instance, mentioned Benjamin Disraeli and Richard Gough, while Morrissey was described as having “blatantly misguided optimism”.

The conclusion is that more demented retro puppets should be employed as music magazine contributors.

I mean, how can you go wrong with referencing Icelandic flu and a pneumatic drill, with regards to Dr. Robert, Jeffrey Archer and Paul Daniels?

Non-web sources

Cornwell, P. (1987) Singles. Number One, Saturday August 15 1987, p.42.

Hancock, John and Rawlings, Neil. (1991) Editorial. Chartwatch, June 1991, p.3.

Martin, A. (1987) Inside Aled Jones’ Bedroom!! Number One, Saturday August 15 1987, p.28-29.

Thomas, P. (1987) The Roxy Rocks On. Number One, Saturday August 15, 1987, p.14-15.

Sheffield Wednesday vs. Liverpool: what a strange match!

Three different Sheffield Wednesday footballers played in goal during their match against Liverpool in May 1997.

There were some odd matches during Sheffield Wednesday’s tenure in the Premier League.

For example, during Wednesday’s game against Nottingham Forest in March 1996, Chris Woods picked up an injury and Steve Nicol ended up donning the gloves for the final 45 minutes.

Unsurprisingly, they lost 3-1 after Forest’s Paul McGregor and Bryan Roy scored in the second half.

Also, in February 2000, the Owls were beating Derby County 3-1 in stoppage time. However, with minutes to spare, they ended up drawing, thanks to goals from Craig Burley and Malcolm Christie.

Booth is a goalie

But there was an even stranger match in May 1997, when Sheffield Wednesday drew 1-1 with Liverpool.

I’m not talking about O’Neill Donaldson’s goal; I’m talking about their goalkeeping dilemma.

Firstly, after making a string of fine saves, Kevin Pressman pulled his hamstring and was replaced by débutante Matt Clarke.

However, within ten minutes, Clarke was given his marching orders, after being judged to have handled outside the penalty area.

Striker Andy Booth – who was hardly the most agile footballer – wore Clarke’s jersey for the reminder of the match, and Jamie Redknapp immediately equalised with the awarded free kick.

The phrase, “strange but true”, is very apt in this instance.

(Possibly) the greatest clip on YouTube

Between 1991 and 2012, Saint Etienne have released eight studio albums. Image courtesy of Dexter Mixwith via Flickr.

I enjoy trying to find extremely awkward music clips on YouTube. Perhaps a bit too much.

And Saint Etienne are one of my favourite bands.

So you can imagine how I yelped after discovering their appearance on the early morning children’s show, ‘Saturday Disney’.

There are some great highlights, here. The most prominent part of the clip is a radio-controlled car race between lead singer Sarah Cracknell and Home & Away’s Tristan Bancks.

Sarah awkwardly potters around a bunch of youngsters, Tristan jovially veers towards casual sexism, and Ms Cracknell even chugs an inflatable bottle of champagne!

And things get even better during the credits, which showed some of the programme’s highlights.

These included children holding placards stating “peace” and “understanding” during Saint Etienne’s performance (I’m guessing that they were promoting ‘Hug My Soul’), mixed with clips of stock car racing and kids getting gunged.

It’s so brilliantly awkward. YouTube really is the best thing, isn’t it?

Dogtanian: why wasn’t it part of CITV’s Old Skool Weekend?

Children’s ITV aired ‘The Return of Dogtanian’ in 1991. Photo courtesy of San Sharma via Flickr.

It shouldn’t surprise you that I really enjoyed the CITV Channel’s Old Skool Weekend.

Revisiting the likes of ‘How 2’, ‘Woof!’, ‘Fun House’ and ‘Huxley Pig’ was a lot of fun, while ‘Spatz’ and the 1990s reboot of ‘The Tomorrow People’ were much better than I had remembered.

And, of course, it was interesting to see that Thames Television and Carlton Television’s interpretations of ‘Mike and Angelo’ were completely different.

However, while browsing through the #OldSkoolWeekend hashtag on Twitter, I noticed that there were a number of tweets wondering why the cartoon franchise, Dogtanian, was ignored.

‘Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds’

At first glance, the answer would be because ‘Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds’ was imported by Children’s BBC in 1985.

Also, because they regularly repeated the series during the mid-to-late 1980s, many people would associate ‘Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds’ with the BBC, rather than ITV.

Although it is true that Children’s ITV repeated it from January 1990, neither the BBC nor ITV had any involvement with the production of the programme.

This is because it was produced by B.R.B. Internacional, a Spanish animation studio.

Furthermore, Matt Bowen, a programme scheduler for the CITV Channel, tweeted that the weekend only focused on “core” programmes (i.e. shows that were produced or co-produced by ITV) rather than acquisitions such as ‘Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds’.

‘The Return of Dogtanian’

However, the existence of a sequel, 1991′s ‘The Return of Dogtanian’, complicates this matter.

Thames Television, one of ITV’s former regional franchises, co-produced the 26-part series, along with T.V.E. and B.R.B. Internacional.

This means that it was a “core” Children’s ITV programme and could have been repeated – particularly as ‘Fraggle Rock’ (a TVS co-production) and ‘The Tomorrow People’ (a Thames Television co-production in 1992, and a Central Television co-production in 1994 and 1995) were part of the Old Skool Weekend.

But there were different reasons why some Children’s ITV programmes were not scheduled.

For example, ‘Emu’s All Live Pink Windmill Show’ and ‘ZZZap!’ were omitted due to licensing issues. Also, ‘The Return of Dogtanian’ was excluded because it “didn’t make initial shortlists due to other shows taking priority”.

As you can see, putting together such a schedule was no easy task and being a “fly on the wall” would have been a great experience.

Thank you, the producers of the Old Skool Weekend. You did a grand job.