I’ve always loved football-related fashion because it seemed to be the preferred style of the best dressed people.
For years I didn’t know the style was football-related because like all north Walian teenagers I was ignorant of cultural nuances, or to put it another way, I was a bit of a woollyback. If you had asked me I would not have been able to precisely define, or even tell you its name, the style that I liked. I only knew two things for definite about the style; it’s general look; smart trainers and jeans, and where to find it; the streets of Liverpool and Manchester.
When I was a teenager we would often make family visits to Liverpool or Manchester. Whilst we were there I always seemed to notice that lads wore trainers light years away from what was available in Llandudno. Their look felt unobtainable. Their footwear came from the cutting edge of style.
I already had a desire for sportswear before I started visiting the north western cities. Adverts like the one on the back of the Wales v Spain programme were to blame;
In 1985 my only interest in the Gazelles was the particular shade of green. I didn’t know, there was no way I could, about the cultural trends attached to wearing certain clothes.
Over the next few years I became fascinated by the world offered by 1980s sportswear. Those trips to the north west put certain ideas in my mind. I also watched tennis on tv. I wanted the styles worn by Borg (as seen in old clips), Becker and Edberg. I used to paw over the photospreads of players at home in Shoot! and Match because they were wearing similar styles as the tennis players. I wanted those styles so much!!!! The link with footballers meant I wanted the stuff all the more. Whenever I went to sports shops (at a time when sports shop were actually manned by people who knew what they were talking about) I saw adverts and I wanted those shoes, I wanted those shirts!!
Unfortunately the stuff still felt unobtainable. I was such a nice child I didn’t pressure my parents into trying to find stuff for me. Even though I had a clear idea of the style I was still unaware that a footballing subculture was related to the style.
The French must share some of the burden for the development of my burning desire to own a certain style of sportswear. Whenever our school had French exchange students they wore such exotic adidas footwear I couldn’t help but want some. One of my friends had a copy of the monthly French football magazine Onze Mondial and this made my longing even greater.
In the back of the magazine there was an advert for a shop called “FOOT CENTRE”. This magical and mythical shop offered a range of football shirts and sportswear that I could only dream of. Thanks to the advert my dreams became colour pictures in front of my eyes. I fantasised about the stock that the shop contained. The objects appeared to be tantalisingly in reach, all I needed to do was fill out the order form. In reality there were a couple of snags with this; a french order form is not like a British order form plus I needed to pay in francs. The objects of my desire were so close yet still so far away still. Therefore the sportswear was still an unobtainble ideal. I didn’t know where I could lay my hands on it in Britain and I lacked my own money. I couldn’t see a way to past this problem.
By the time I was able to gather funds through legalised child labour I still had problems. In my naive mind I thought I knew where I could get the stuff from!!! All I needed to do was order stuff from the catalogues that were owned by the family next door!!! Unfortunately streetwise people didn’t shop with Great Universal. I was still a woollyback in a streetwise world.
Since growing up I have managed to find out the name for my cherished style; ; “the Casual look”. Through reading around the subject and talking to other people I’ve found out that the look that I saw on the streets of the north west was actually a slight development on the original Casual style from the early to mid 1980s.
I may have liked what I saw in the late ’80s but I have grown to love the original style. Because I liked tennis in the 1980s the names Fila and Sergio Tacchini already had a certain resonance, they spoke of playboys at the tennis club in Monte Carlo. They spoke of living the good life;
The resonance became even stronger when my love of 1980s sportswear intertwined with my love of the casual style.
There has been good news in the last few years; the 1980s and the casual look have become fashionable. Thanks to the internet I finally have access to the look I’ve craved. As a consequence I have Llandudno’s largest collection of reproduction adidas trainers. I know that in a strict casual sense the reproduction sportswear is probably a bit of a cliche, and therefore bit of a no-no, but I’m not a casual. I just like the threads. I simply rejoice that I can finally wear stuff that I’ve wanted for ages.
In case you’re wondering I don’t endorse all aspects of casual culture, I can do without the violence and right-wing tinges. I just like the threads. In my own stupid mind the casuals were a re-incarnation of the 1960s mods and I like that.
12. Witnessing you team getting Hammered
Watching your team win is all fine and dandy and watching your team hammer another has a certain charm but these outcomes don’t tell you much. The only clear thing that both results tell you is that your team has scored more than the other team. The hammering goes a bit further because it tells you that the other team didn’t play very well, but that’s it. Neither of those possible match outcomes teaches you anything about life, they don’t allow spiritual growth.
On a superficial level watching your team hammer opponents appears to be very satisfying but this is pure illusion. When your team starts to dish out a real hammering you may even end up feeling a little frustrated. For example one day you may be watching your team and they happen to be leading 4-0 after 40 minutes. Of course this will probably make you feel happy but, will you remain happy? The scoreline offer hopes of seeing a record score but you can’t control the situation. Invariably the scoring does stop. Consequently you have to deal with failure of those hopes. This is not a good feeling.
The situation can become even worse if you manage see your team score the 5th or 6th goal. This may seem even better on a superficial level but in these circumstances one person’s joy is another’s humiliation. What kind of person actually truly enjoys seeing people humiliated? Which human will see hurt in the opposition keepers’ eyes, or the resigned slouch of his shoulders, and then wish futher embarrassment upon him? Watching your team hammer another does no good for a fans’ spiritual side. You gain nothing from humiliating an opponent.
Watching your team suffer a hammering is the most beneficial result for your soul. This statement may sound odd to the lay person but who really cares what they think, they usually know nothing. You benefit from a hammering in several ways;
Firstly your soul benefits from watching a humiliation; by witnessing a humiliation you have to deal with the humiliation. To succesfully deal with the so-called humiliation you have remain on a spiritual even keel. By remaining on an even keel you become a zen master. When you’re a zen master, nothing will ever faze you again, nothing in life and nothing on a football pitch. Your soul will remain balanced.
Secondly, it helps you to put the events in football matches, and life, into some kind of perspective.
Lastly, if glory comes too easily it’s not a glory that’s not worth having. Witnessing humiliation is therefore a necessary stop on the road to glory. If your journey does not take in some form of humiliating defeat can you say you deserve to see the glory? Without a hammering I doubt that you would appreciate the glory when it comes.
There are other, less spiritual, up sides to witnessing a hammering. Any idiot can enjoy the time that your side dishes out a hammering, and they often do. Hammerings draw gloating idiots like baying mobs draw morons, everybody wants the reflected glory. Idiots invariably choose me as their Maypole for dancing around.It’s weird when people turn up and celebrate as if the result actually means something. Sometimes these people even go off their heads with joy and start gloating. How can you enjoy the moment properly with people like that around you? There is no kudos in excessively gloryfying momentary success.
If you’re after kudos there is some to be had in uttering the immortal words; “Yeah very good, I see you’re enjoying our title win, but where were you when we lost 9-0 in the league cup?” Watch their unearned jollity crumble. It takes someone special to not only witness a hammering, but grow from it. Plebians watch a hammering, the special few grow from the experience. In short I take the Lutheran point of view ; a little suffering is good for the soul
13. The spirit of Ultra Culture
The world of the Ultras is mis-understood. To a lot of people an Ultra is a hooligan, a fighter, a scumbag with a scarf around their faces to protect them from the police’s tear gas or a right-wing psychopath that showers black players with racial abuse. This is obviously a narrow view of ultras. Ultras, accoding to Wikipedia are;
“………a type of sports fans renowned for their fanatical support and elaborate displays. They are predominantly European followers of football teams. The behavioral tendency of ultras groups includes the use of flares (primarily in tifo choreography), vocal support in large groups and the displaying of banners at football stadiums, all of which are designed to create an atmosphere which encourages their own team and intimidates opposing players and supporters.”
When you see fantastic pyrotechnics and amazing displays at football matches this is the mark of the Ultras. The displays don’t just happen, they need organizing, so the Ultras organise.
The giant banners that you see at matches don’t just happen either. A banner needs to be designed, then material needs to be bought, then the banner actually needs to be made. Ultras organise all this to help create the right display. The spirit of the Ultras is vital for football.
For example take the card displays that happen at British grounds they don’t just happen. they need physical help and computers to make them happen. Without the spirit of the Ultras they wouldn’t happen.
The spirit of the Ultras influenced me to make flags for Bangor City, I tried to introduce a little of Serie A into the Welsh Premier League by doing this and people seem to like them. The spirit has influenced the good people at Port Talbot too. Football needs flags and banners, therefore football needs Ultras.
Without the spirit of the Ultras football would be blanded into another branch of the grey leisure industry.
14. The anticipation
Without this there is nothing.
You wouldn’t get out of bed with a smile upon your face, you wouldn’t walk down the street with a skip in your step, your thoughts wouldn’t be taken over by fantastic possibilities, you wouldn’t spend all week looking forward to Saturday. It’s easy enough to think of examples that shows the place of anticipation but it’s probably morte effective to ask what life would be without anticipation ……………….
Well I’ve had a thought about that, I don’t think I would like that version of the world.
Football constantly gives me a sense of anticipation.
15. The Adidas Tango
The adidas Tango is simply best ball ever and I love it for this reason. I don’t mean I love it in that ironic “Weren’t the 1980s fantastic” kind of way (Thank you E4 and Top Man) and I don’t mean I love it in that laddish Four Fout Two kind of way either. I mean it it in the old fashioned love of objects way. I think that the adidas Tango is the most beautiful ball ever created.
The curved Tango shape moves a game more gracefully than any other ball. This is why I love the Tango, it makes football look better.
When I was younger I used to like watching “Race for the Championship”, the Video review of the 1983-’84 season. I remember a goal from a Norwich City v Notts County match more than anything else. Basically a Norwich player scored with a 20 yard shot that had a trajectory that was parallel to the ground. It was quite a special goal anyway but the Tango made this goal look even better than it was.
On the action reply the ball seemed to spin through the air as it flew into the goal at great speed. The Tango shape appeared to give the ball a more beautiful trajectory. The goal looked even better because the ball span at the foot of the net.
When I was younger I wanted a Tango and luckliy I was given a rather good Tango for christmas one year. When I developed an interest in Subbuteo there was only one style of ball that I was going to have;
I liked the Tango so much I even had trainers with a Tango design;
The basic Tango design was so good they used a ball baring it in every World Cup and European Championships from 1978-2000. Of all the other examples I particularly liked the Azteca from Mexico ’86. I have such cherished images of the Tango shape from World football I can’t help but be attracted to its image.
When adidas announced the Tango shape was due to make a return for Euro 2012 I couldn’t help but feel happy.
I don’t like the point behind segregation but I like the effect it creates in stadium. I like to see a crowd where there are distinctive colour blocks as it’s a great sight. You can see the effect of colour in the following examples;
17. Getting Lost in Wikipedia
If you’ve never gone on a Wikipedia safari you should. I can’t recommend it highly enough as it’s amazing what you can find out during its course.
A Wikipedia safari is the easiest thing in the world to go on. All you need to is click on some of the blue hyperlinks when they take your fancy. It’s amazing where they will take you. After my latest safari I now know the following;
– West Germany played part of West Germany (The Sarrland) during the 1954 world cup qualifiers.
– David Rocastles’ Cousin, Craig, plays in the MLS, as does Konrad Warzycha, the son Ex-Everton player Robert Warzycha .
– Ex Liverpool and Newcastle goalkeeper Mike Hooper is now a Door Supervisor, that’s bouncer to you and me.
– Ex-Everton shortarse Adrian Heath now manages the Orlando City Soccer Club.
– Roy Wegerle was voted NASL Rookie of the Year in 1984.
– Rainer Bohnhof is the only player to have played in 3 European Championship finals.
– Catalonia, the Basque Country, South Ossetia and Abkhazia are members of the European Union of Futsal.
– The USSR and Wales made their World cup final debuts in the same year.
Why not try it for yourself, it’s bit of fun.
18. Looking at football photos
There’s nothing to this, you just look at photos and use your imagination. Try to imagine what it felt like to be around then, try to imagine what happened just before the picture was taken. Try to imagine what’s happening;
(A big acknowledgement to Footy Sphere for finding some of these)
19. Playing in defence
Strikers may get all the glory but your football afficienado will know that the success of team is built on the sturdy foundations made by a sturdy defence. The fancy dans up front may be the pin ups but without the steely defence they would not be able to flounce around with the ball.
If football is a house the defence is not only the foundations it’s also the main load-baring wall because it takes the strains placed upon it and remain in place. The defence is also mortar between the bricks of the house because the defence hold things together. The defence is also the bathroom and washing machine because it cleans everything up. The defence is also the spare key that’s attached to a string by the letterbox because i also rescutes hopeless situation. The defence is the key to football.
When you’re a defender you gladly accept the historic resposibility that is placed upon you. You wear your badge of homour with pride. When I played in defence I gained such a special satifaction from blocking shots, tackling people and disposessing others that I began to take on the persona of Clint Eastwood’s “Man with No Name”. I literally exuded authority and this led to the moniker “The Wall” from the denizens of Llandudno’s cultural quarter.
In one legendary match – a match that is still talked of in Llandudno’s not very easily pleased cultural quarter – I performed my defensive duties which such aplomb that the right winger swapped sides. This is the ultimate admission of failure from an attacking player and it was the first time that Llandudno had seen this event in the flesh. At the time I remember that this was particularly satisfying as the bigmouth fancied himself as a bit of a player.
Here’s how the legendary match panned out; for the first few times that I beat him to the ball he remained calm. Then I kept on beating him and the muttering started, there is no sweeter sound than this for a defender. After the next few times he started swearing at his teamamtes, as if it was their fault he couldn’t beat me. He tried nudging me, he tried pushing me but that didn’t work, he tried leaving his foot in and I laughed to myself. I’d got him in my pocket. Then he swapped sides, so I followed him and stopped him time after time. I felt an enormous sense of well-being at the end of the match.
Strikers have a tangible and self-glorifying sense of glory, defenders have a more self-efacing style of glory. We have a quite determination to keep the score at nil. We are proper players, we are proper men, we are complete men.
20. The official world cup films
I like the official world cup film because they provide a different view of the action. For example the Mexico ’70 film used cameras on the opposite side of the Azteca Stadium from the TV camera.
All of the world cup films are great but Hero is my favourite. Here it is;