N is for… Nabisco England Soccer Stars Tactic Cards

This set of 8 football cards with psychedelic illustrations of top England players on the front, and black and white illustrations of tactical hints on the back, were issued in 1977.

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You had to collect the tokens from boxes of Shredded Wheat and send them off (enclosing a stamped addressed envelope – very important that) to the Nabisco marketing department.

In return, you got a small set featuring 8 large cards (2 x 4 footballers – Mike Channon, Gerry Francis, Kevin Keegan, and, somewhat bizarrely, Colin Todd) plus a cardboard folder to keep the cards in.

The folder has a message from Gerry Francis on the back, plus a printed facsimile autograph of the player.

I picked mine up for a reasonable sum from an ebay seller, as a postage saver for a badge I wanted (an old brass and enamel Halifax Town badge).

My cards came with provenance – a letter from R Davis, Brand Manager at Nabisco, who apologised for the delay in sending the cards out:

I apologise for the delay involved in sending these to you, but unfortunately you did not enclose a stamped addressed envelope with your application. We have a limited amount of cards and wallets and we felt it was fairer to give priority to those applications with a s.a.e. enclosed. We have now dealt with all properly completed applications and I am pleased to enclose your requirements.

NEAR POST – THE EXPLOSIVE TALENT OF OUSSAMA AYTOUR

Footballers might display explosive pace on the football field, but Lebanese World Cup star Oussama Aytour had explosive talent off it.

In 1995, Aytour was arrested for bomb making by the Met. Acting on a tip off, the capital’s finest visited the player in his brother’s Fulham home where he was staying. They found a homemade explosive device there and Aytour admitted to having constructed it.

Perhaps the strangest thing about the whole episode was that Aytour wasn’t tried as a potential terrorist.

When the case came to court, the highly creative Aytour said that he was bored and had made the bomb as a hobby project.

The judge fined him £300 plus court costs.

Huddersfield Subbuteo star Coen Townsend bidding for world cup glory

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SUBBUTEO star Coen Townsend is well on his way to being the world’s best

March 2012: from the Huddersfield Daily Examiner, “Huddersfield Subbuteo star Coen Townsend bidding for world cup glory

“SUBBUTEO star Coen Townsend is well on his way to being the world’s best.

The 10-year-old table football addict has moved up the rankings and is now the world’s eleventh best player at Under 12 level – making him England’s highest ranked player in any category.

Dad Philip said Coen was now hoping for glory at the Subbuteo World Cup, to be held in Manchester this July.

He said: “He’s doing really well, he’s won four international ranking tournaments this season and it all bodes well for the World Cup.

“He’s the England captain for the under 12s and it’s going to be a massive event – there will be teams there from over the world.”

The Kirkburton Middle School pupil, who is also ranked number 13 in the world at Under 15 level, has been travelling across the country to take on his rivals and is now joint top of the leaderboard for most tournament wins, making him one of the favourites to win the World Cup title at Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium.

Philip added: “Next season will be even bigger as we’ll be doing a lot more travelling to Europe and hopefully we’ll get him to world number one with any luck!””