As regular readers may know, I have been obsessed with collecting Panini's World Cup 2010 stickers recently. I spend hours poring over every tiny detail in the collector's album, wheedling out pointless facts that nobody really needs to know, but keep me from going hatstand.
For example, did you know that Honduras is the only country playing in the World Cup that is spelt the same in all eight languages that Panini use in their albums?
I have much more sympathy with the teams who have smiled for the camera when they posed for their photos - Germany in particular seem like such lovely boys. I wonder what the equivalent of "say cheese!" is in German?
Some of the French team are also smiling, but their stickers are spoilt by a nasty marble effect in the background.
My latest obsession (well, since yesterday evening anyway) is to match up players' birthdates with dates of Peel session broadcasts (as found in Ken Garner's excellent The Peel Sessions book). As most of the players were born in the 1980s, and much of my favourite music was made in the 1980s, I wondered who was born on the same day that the first Yeah Yeah Noh session was broadcast, and did it give them any luck in their career?
Well, I haven't found anyone born on 7th August 1984 yet (although I'll let you know when I do!), but I've checked out a few players, and here is what I've found so far:
Yakubu Aiyegbini, who has had a largely successful career in English football, helping the mighty Pompey to promotion eight years ago, before big money moves to puny Middlesbrough and Everton, but who will now be mostly remembered for his unbelievable miss in Nigeria's match with South Korea this week...was born on the same day that the fourth Birthday Party session was broadcast. The session did not include their song Figure Of Fun, which is unfortunately what Yakubu may have become. However, for his performances in Pompey's early Premiership years, he'll always be a hero to me.
Sulley Muntari, another ex-Pompey player, who recently argued with his coach and went off in a strop before being recalled to the Ghana squad, was born the night the final Farmer's Boys session was broadcast. This session included the song Sport For All, and also Walkabout, which seems appropriate for what he did last week. His coach may also have been thinking "whatever is he like?" during their argument (The Farmer's Boys' most well-known song). See if you can spot Sulley hiding in a tree in the illustration above.
David James, yet another Pompey player (if you've been paying attention, you may have spotted a theme with which players I've been checking out first)...was born on the same day that sessions by Fairport Convention and Osibisa were broadcast by the BBC. Hey, weren't Osibisa performing at the World Cup's opening ceremony? Have I inadvertently found an omen here? David James to lift the World Cup trophy in two weeks time? Yes? Yes? No?