Category Archives: Football

Sartorial Soccer: The Art of the Football Shirt

ARTISTRY, FLAMBOYANCE & FLAIR were on display on London’s Brick Lane as the Old Truman Brewery played host to a celebration of football shirt culture.

The Art of the Football Shirt, a pop-up exhibition from Jacket Required, delivered a gloriously nostalgic trip through football’s flirtation with graphic design and fashion, whilst looking at the game in it’s social context and place in popular culture.

Juventus, Napoli, Sampdoria, Style, football, culture, art, design
Classic Italian styling

From the elegant cut and slim stripes of classic 80s and 90s Italian styling to garish efforts from Japan and Mexico, curator Neal Heard explored football’s relationship with music, politics, fashion and design.

Football, politics, East Germany, CCCP, St Pauli, Fiorentina, Che Guevara, Stockport County

In an age of Nike led functional uniformity, where Chelsea’s away strip is just a shade away from Tottenham’s home kit, the collection reminds us of times where football shirts were bespoke creations embracing graphic design and inspiring streetwise fashion labels.

For those attending the two-day exhibit, the items on display transcended sportswear and were more akin to religious artefacts. On entry, visitors were treated to a view of eleven of the game’s most iconic designs.

Football, art, design, culture, kit, England 1966, West Germany 1990, Brazil, Milan, Celtic, Argentina, classic
The Art of the Football Shirt’s most iconic designs

There was the instantly recognisable rose-red 1966 England World Cup winners shirt. Unsullied by corporate sponsorship, the triumphant top is burned into our collective consciousness even if Bobby and the boys lifted the Jules Rimet Trophy many years before our births.

We wistfully admired the classic West Germany shirt from Italia 1990. A classic from Adidas’ heyday and a shirt so good that even sworn rivals acknowledge it was a bit special.

The brilliant orange of the Dutch 1988 European Championships winners, Denmark’s Mexico ’86 Hummel humdinger, the light blue and white of Argentina and the Brazil 1970 shirt that brought Pele and  joga bonito to the world’s attention in vivid technicolor. All iconic international strips, all rightfully held in the highest of esteem.

Football, the international language of playgrounds, public houses and boardrooms has the incredible ability to prompt middle aged men to openly talk about fashion.

Classic football shirts, design, Peru, Luton Town, Everton, Bedford Trucks, Aston Villa, Scotland

“Oooh. Sampdoria,” they drooled.

“Ah. Nagoya Grampus Eight,” they knowingly nodded.

“Is that bloody Oxford United?” they choked.

Art, design, football, Tottenham, Oxford United, Ipswich, Saudi Arabia, Everton, Newcastle United, Sampdoria

The most iconic football shirts are instantly recognisable and familiar the world over. To the initiated, an Ajax or Boca Juniors home shirt is easily identifiable a mile away and although often imitated, the all-white of Real Madrid or the Blaugrana of Barça stand for more than just sport.

For the nostalgic amongst us, the functional template designs of today’s sportswear brands wildly miss the point. Who draws pride in a shirt that’s sole purpose is to draw sweat away from the body? The uniform blandness of modern designs leads us to the unwritten rule that no man past voting age should ever wear a football shirt in public other than to watch his team at a major final. Give me Umbro’s Euro 96 grey of Gareth Southgate over Nike’s navy blue of today’s England away strip any day.

The Art of the Football Shirt was an opportunity to celebrate rivalries and tribal colours where the majestic Manchester United “snowflake” sat shoulder-to-shoulder with the silver sartorial elegance of Liverpool’s “Candy” away shirt.

Manchester United, Liverpool, adidas, classics, away kit, snowflake, Candy, silver, blue
Tribal colours: Classic graphical football shirts from Adidas’ late 1980s/early 1990s heyday

As much as there were glaring omissions (who could ignore the 20th century’s greatest moment of design flair? No not the Coca-Cola bottle. The QPR home shirt?) this was a chance to marvel at our game at its most beautiful.

The Art of the Football Shirt ran for two days between 26/27 July 2017. Neal Heard’s book, The Football Shirt Book: A Connoisseur’s Guide will be released in September.

Bob Marley, Nantes, football, design, art
The Nantes home shirt was apparently a favourite of Bob Marley’s

Flamengo, Lubrax, Dennis the Menace, QPR, BrazilThe fantastic Flamengo “Dennis the Menace” shirt

Tampa Bay Rowdies, Belgium, Rodney Marsh, soccer shirt, Admiral, Adidas, classics, design, art

New Order, Oasis, England, Bob Marley, Manchester City, football kit, design, music, world in motion
From Bob Marley to the Goldie Lookin’ Chain, the links between football and music are strong
Aberdeen, adidas, 1984, double, shirt, design, culture, classic
Commemorative shirt celebrating Aberdeen’s 1984 double-winning season

Grampus 8, Inter Milan, USA, classic football shirts

Politically inspired football shirts, Tibet, St Pauli, Fiorentina, art, design

Graphic design, football, arsenal, away kit, yellow, Liverpool, Manchester United

Classic football shirt design, art, fashion

The Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane, London, art, design, culture, fashion, football
The Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane, London
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Mel Johnson: Welcome Back to W12

Casting aside the pre-season cynicism that has been in evidence this summer, the return of scout Mel Johnson to QPR is a positive step for the club. 

Johnson links up with Ian Holloway for a second time and R’s fans will hope they can enjoy the same success in the transfer market as they did in their last spell together in Shepherds Bush.

Before his departure for Tottenham Hotspur 12 years ago, Johnson helped Rangers identify and sign players including Lee Cook, Gareth Ainsworth, Dan Shittu, Marc Bircham and Lee Camp; all of whom still fondly remembered in W12.

Since then Johnson has worked at Liverpool and West Brom as well as Spurs (where he apparently recommended an 18 year-old left-back by the name of Gareth Bale to the Lillywhites) and has a wider network of contacts for it.

He returns to QPR with a brief to scout the south of England and Europe and told qpr.co.uk he is happy to be back at Loftus Rd:

“I’ve gone away, travelled around the world, and built up so many great contacts in football.”

“My heart has always been at Rangers and I’m just so excited to be back.”

“Characters”

Personally, the spell where Johnson worked under Ian Holloway is up there with the most enjoyable periods of football I’ve seen in 30 years of watching Rangers. It was a time when I felt that the club and fans were truly in-step with one and other, long before the bloated excesses that would characterise the club in later years.

With the exception of that summer under Neil Warnock where Rangers brought Shaun Derry, Clint Hill, Paddy Kenny and Jamie Mackie through the entrance doors on South Africa Road; I can’t think of a time the club has worked so hard and so well in the transfer market as under Johnson and Holloway. Working on a shoe-string budget, QPR set about signing the right characters rather than signing big names or average players just to fill a position.

Johnson joins the club at a time when there has been criticism on social media that the club have not been bold or ambitious enough in the transfer window, but if Johnson’s arrival is a signal of the club being run as a stable and sustainable club in the Rangers tradition of yore then I’m all for it.

A club looking to find young, hungry players the supporters can bang the walls at Loftus Road for is a far better prospect than one where agents and mercenaries run the show.

Welcome back Mel, finding a new Danny Shittu and the next Stan Bowles would be a nice start!

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Is Safe Standing on Hammers’ horizon?

WEST HAM co-Chairman David Gold has confirmed the club are exploring the introduction of safe standing at the London Stadium.

The Safe Standing movement gathered momentum this summer when Celtic devoted a section of Parkhead to rail seating having received the go-ahead from Glasgow City Council.

Now, with the Hammers seeking to establish an identity for the former Olympic Stadium after 112 years at the Boleyn Ground; Gold says he wants the London Stadium to be the first Premier League ground to embrace safe standing.

Continue reading Is Safe Standing on Hammers’ horizon?

Confusion clouds Kosovo debut

KOSOVO head into their first competitive fixture on Monday evening, still waiting to hear whether players of Kosovar roots who have represented other countries will be eligible to play. Continue reading Confusion clouds Kosovo debut

Renaissance Man: Why Hart’s not broken by Torino move

JOE HART has completed his transfer deadline day move to Torino on a season long loan and becomes the first English goalkeeper to play in Serie A. 

Rather than a humiliating come down, as portrayed by sections of the Premier League obsessed media; the deal will rejuvenate Hart’s career.

Continue reading Renaissance Man: Why Hart’s not broken by Torino move

Six of the Best: Bald Goalkeepers

WILLY CABALLERO has started the season as Pep Guardiola’s first choice goalkeeper, replacing Head and Shoulders’ poster boy Joe Hart as Manchester City’s number 1.

Manchester City's Willy Caballero
Willy Caballero celebrates City’s League Cup victory

After Zinedine Zidane, the original Ronaldo, Bobby Charlton and Ray Wilkins, we’ve become used to brilliantly bald outfield players, yet up until recently, the sight of follicly-challenged goalkeepers has been a relative rarity.

Following many years in the sporting wilderness, slap-headed stoppers are becoming increasingly common in the game, yet Caballero 34, is still one of a comparatively select band of bald goalkeepers.

Continue reading Six of the Best: Bald Goalkeepers

Forever England: Remembering Evelyn Lintott

On a foreign field one hundred years ago, Evelyn Lintott heard the whistle blow and gallantly answered his country’s call for the final time.

On the 1st of July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme, England international footballer Lintott led the West Yorkshire Regiment’s 15th Battalion, a so-called Footballers’ Battalion known as the Leeds Pals over the top and into the cauldron of war.

Evelyn Henry Lintott would be one of 19,241 British servicemen to be killed on that day. He was just 33 years of age.

Continue reading Forever England: Remembering Evelyn Lintott

Destiny calls for El Niño and Atleti

What do you get for the man who has everything?

For Fernando Torres, a man who has won the World Cup and European Championships (twice) with Spain, Champions League, Europa League and an FA Cup with Chelsea; the chance to deliver a first European Cup to his boyhood club Atletico Madrid may just eclipse all previous glories.

Continue reading Destiny calls for El Niño and Atleti

“Celebrating” the first two years of kieranrobinson.com

TWO YEARS AGO I found myself between jobs and in need of something to keep me out of the pub.

Occupying that period of time some men call “gardening leave” with actual horticultural pursuits was never going to be an option, so on May the 1st 2014, I accepted a challenge to write 500 words on the “positive aspects” of the Lance Armstrong affair, and so kieranrobinson.com was born.

Since then, my ramblings and half-baked observations have received some really positive feedback from many people with brains much bigger than my own and led to some quite interesting invitations. In fact, I’m proud to say that articles from this very website have been seen by people in no fewer than 118 countries across the globe from Zimbabwe to Albania (though strangely we still await our first visit from North Korea). 

Continue reading “Celebrating” the first two years of kieranrobinson.com

Football needs no fanfare

There was a time not so long ago when going to a game of football was an altogether different experience to an evening at the theatre or the opera.

Continue reading Football needs no fanfare