Tag Archives: football

bright green boots

diadora boot
My son’s first football boots. Or as they say here, ‘soccer shoes’. No, no they say ‘cleats’. It took me years to work out what ‘cleats’ meant. They are the studs. Anyway, my son has finally started playing football (soccer, cleatball, or whatever) and he loves it. These are his new (and very green) diadora boots, sketched in the S&B Alpha book.

Me, I am the referee. Refereeing under-six, three-a-side was very nerve-racking. I had my first game, twenty-minutes long, in which it actually rained (our first rain in months and months). It went ok. I need a stopwatch!

Football boots are so bright and colourful these days. When I was a kid they were all black, with a white logo (usually white; Roy of the Rovers I remember had a yellow Nike logo at some point). Then there’s the old brown leather boots; I think of that other strip in Roy, “Billy’s Boots”, with those ancient and possibly magical boots. (Good idea for a comic strip, “Pete’s Cleats”…) Speaking of Roy, I should go back and find all the old “You are the Ref” strips, though of course they have those in the Guardian now. Maybe I’ll learn something…

més que un club

Camp Nou, Barcelona

As you may know, I like football. My team, miles above anyone else, is Tottenham Hotspur. however ever since I was a kid I’ve always had a soft spot for FC Barcelona. Back in the 1980s, my favourite striker Steve Archibald went there, and a couple of years later Gary Lineker (a hero to a ten year old) signed for them too. I loved their simple stripes, and was always in awe and disbelief when I would see pictures of their stadium, the Camp Nou (or Nou Camp as it was sometimes called). I used to get butterflies coming into White Hart Lane as a kid, seeing all those people, hearing the roar, back before it was all-seater and when the stands were much smaller. The stands at Camp Nou however, they had three tiers. THREE TIERS! Wow, that must feel like the stadium goes on forever! I always wanted to go there, and so I would occasionally follow them growing up to catch a glimpse of that enormous stadium with its roaring crowd and its three tiers. Barcelona were special, refusing to have any sponsorship on their kit until only a couple of seasons ago, and being governed primarily by and for the fans. This was a proper club; no, it was more than a club. That is their motto, més que un club. I liked Italian football too and particularly liked Sampdoria (it was their unique shirts, plus Mancini and Vialli), so the 1992 European Cup Final at Wembley, when it was still the proper European Cup, was one of my favourite non-Spurs-related matches. Barcelona wore an orange kit, and changed into the home kit for the celebration at the end. I used to go down to Soccerscene on Carnaby Street and find those two kits and just look at them, feel them, dream about pulling one of them on and walking out at the Camp Nou. Of course, that all paled next to my love of Spurs, but it’s been a lifelong ambition nevertheless.

Cut to 2013. If I was going to Barcelona, I was going to the Camp Nou, goddamit. On the second day there I put on my 2012-13 Barça shirt, took the Metro out to Collblanc (after another massive chocolate-filled pastry), and paid my money for the ‘Camp Nou Experience’. It isn’t cheap, but this is the Camp Nou! They need that money to buy Neymar. There were a lot of other people there, so the museum was pretty crowded. There was an enormous trophy cabinet stretching the whole length of the museum, which may well have been even bigger had Franco not bombed the stadium during the Spanish Civil War and destroyed many of the cups (lots were saved by a quick-thinking employee). The entire history of the club was on display, from its foundation by Swiss immigrant Hans Kamper (aka Joan Gamper), who chose the ‘blaugrana‘ colours based on his team FC Basel back home, through the days of repression by Franco, through the period of the legendary players Kubala and Cruyff, through the ‘Dream Team’ of the early 90s, right up to the modern super era of tiki-taka, Messi and the Champions Leagues. A special cabinet was made for the four European Cups (the three later ‘Champions League’ trophies are slightly bigger than the first 1992 cup), and there was another special area devoted to Lionel Messi and his ballons d’or and golden boots. I couldn’t sketch too much, being crowded by so many people, but also there was so much to see I just wanted to see it all.

Camp Nou Experience

I toured the stadium, taking the stairs up up up to the top of the highest tier, and back down again. I came out and looked at the stadium, as impressive as I’d imagined it, though not filled with supporters and noise. In these days of super stadia, the Camp Nou still felt like a huge cauldron of magic. I sketched as best I could, as hordes of young kids on outings, some not much older than my own son, made noise and threw bottles and things all around me. I didn’t mind, and they all left me alone to sketch, in fact they were kind enough to take pictures of me holding my sketchbook afterwards. There I am look, one happy sketcher. Lifelong dream of visiting (and sketching) the Camp Nou – check.

IMG_2665

Another room featured a massive interactive area where you could see video clips of goals and events from all of the club’s history. I saw a great Lineker hat-trick vs Real Madrid, the moment where Maradona had his legs sawn off, Archibald knocking one in against Juventus, Messi’s first match, Iniesta with more hair, the 2006 vistory over Arsenal, and of course, the thunderbolt free kick by Ronald Koeman at Wembley.IMG_2646 IMG_2639I didn’t get one of those cheesy photos they offered of me lifting the Champions League trophy. I’ll do that next time. I did spend a great deal of time in their two-floor superstore, the FCBotiga, Before I knew it, it was well after three o’clock, and I’d somehow managed to spend all day there. There was still a lot more sketching to go that day, surely! And this was all I’d managed. I didn’t mind. I’d finally been to the Camp Nou.

the armchair view

watching spurs beat swansea

This was sketched last week, while watching Spurs beating Swansea City. I am SO GLAD the football is back. Now, we lost today against the south London nomads Arsenal (grrrrr), fair result, at least we didn’t lose 5-2 like the past couple of seasons. Spurs then formally announced the sale of Gareth Bale for a hundred million Euro, a ridiculous world record (someone hasn’t told Real Madrid Spain are in recession). Good luck Gareth, six years at the Lane and a Spurs legend. This is our living room sketched on a Sunday morning in the Seawhite sketchbook, with a dark blue uni-ball signo um-151 pen. We then watched the Formula 1 Grand Prix. Boys club morning.

froggy’s and footy

froggy's
This is Froggy’s. Last Saturday during the sketchcrawl I was hungry, so came in here for one of their amazing burgers. I don’t eat ‘burgers’ exactly, not being a red-meat-ivore, but here they will substitute the meat in any of their delicious burger with chicken or a gardenburger. I got a chicken jalapeno burger and let me tell you, it was really good. I ate, had a cold beer, sketched the bar and watched some of the footy. Confederations Cup, Brazil vs Italy on one screen, Mexico vs Japan on the other. Brazil won (you can make out Neymar on the screen there), but let me tell you, I was unhappy that Brazil wore white shorts with the yellow shirts instead of blue. Italy in all blue I don’t like either, but their odd all blue meant Brazil just didn’t look right. I am highly opinionated on football kits, as you may know. Yeah yeah, I know they wore white shorts vs Spain in 1978 and 1986, well that was wrong too. But this is more wrong because Italy v Brazil, man, 1970, Carlos Alberto, Jairzinho, Pele, 1994, Baggio, Romario, Cafuf, all of them guys. Anyway as I pondered this I sketched, and added Froggy’s (sketched beofre of course) to my ever growing collection of Davis bar drawings. Many of which I have put together into a handy guide below. This will make a nice poster. I have two or three more Davis bars to add (by the way, many below are the same bar, just different sketches) and then maybe I will have a poster. And a hangover, probably.
inside the bars of davis

the great dane

michael laudrup

Another football drawing, this one is Michael Laudrup, the Danish manager of Welsh team Swansea City. I love Laudrup. He is forever-young, good-looking-but-man’s-man, right attitude, and in his first year at Swansea he has led them to their first major trophy ever. Swansea City as a club are great too, and it’s great to see a Welsh side gaining so much respect in the Premier League. Laudrup was a great player in his day too, as was younger brother Brian, but Michael was The Man. Total man-crush of course (he’s competing with AVB and Mancini), so he had to get drawn on a Chinese envelope in brown pen. I’m enjoying this series. And I have a lot of these envelopes this year…

all gone quiet over there

arsene wenger
Monsieur Arsene Wenger. Long-time manager of Arsenal, my club’s arch-rivals. Since he arrived at Arsenal in 1996 from Japan, that club (who, for those unfamiliar with English football club geography, are a South London team from Woolwich residing in North London temporarily for the past century or so, a few miles south of native North London team Tottenham Hotspur, my team) went into terminal incline, winning big trophy after big trophy as if some day winning trophies would go out of fashion. Meanwhile, Spurs remained fashionably trophy-free, except for a couple of league cups, the ‘thinking man’s trophy’, and beat Arsenal hands down in the ‘number of managers’ league table. Now Tottenham are flying high as the top London club (check the league table, Chelsea, it does not lie), third in the table, while Arsenal are languishing in a lowly fifth, with only the prospect of a second-leg Champions League tie against Bayern Munich to keep them entertained. “Champions League”, haha - you don’t even have to be a Champion to be in it. It’s like a game at a kid’s party where you tell the kid who came last that “they’re a winner too”. With a fashionably hip seven years without a trophy, and an attitude at the club that 4th place is the same as getting a trophy for the cabinet, Arsene is riding high, being talked about more than ever, and his players are so good that other competing clubs are lining up to buy them.

I actually feel sorry for Arsene Wenger. Despite about fifteen years of living in an undeniably massive Arsenal-shaped shadow, until just a few years ago, I cant deny that he is one of the game’s true legends. He changed Arsenal from being boring-boring 1-0 merchants to one of the most exciting teams in the world. When they did that invincible season, nearly a decade ago, and Thierry Henry was in my mind the best player in the world, it was pretty hard to argue with that. With no trophies for the past seven years, even many Arsenal fans are calling for Monsieur Wenger to call it ‘un jour’. His methods were a revolution in their time, but their time has passed. Ferguson, on the other hand, continues to win, win, win. Arsenal are not competing in the age of the Billionaires, the Chelsea-City nouveaux-riches, but despite banking their money on every turn they are increasingly being seen as the Weakest Link (but then, compare them with how Liverpool have fallen). and as Spurs rise and rise, I should be laughing at them as I go, but I’m finding myself feeling sorry for them. They are not the lottery-winners of your Chelseas and your Citys (and your, um, QPRs), and I do believe that in the long run acting sensibly with football money will pay off, but well, selling your best players to your rivals, that’s just silly. When games go badly on the pitch for Arsenal it is amplified; Wenger was accused of not taking the FA Cup seriously when they were knocked out by lowly opposition, and he angrily retorted that he has won that competition four times, arguing “name me one manager who has won it more” (the answer is Alex Ferguson, by the way, if not counting dead managers in which case there are three others). Last Sunday, Spurs beat Arsenal 2-1 in a big derby game, but if it had gone the other way, we’d have only been a point apart. At a similar time last year they beat us 5-2, and we were something like ten points ahead – and Arsenal ended up catching us, beating us to third place. That is the measure of Wenger, he can still pull it off. I’m sure he would prefer to leave on a high, finish his Arsenal career with one last big trophy, but if he doesn’t (and as devoutly Tottenham and anti-Arsenal as I am, the romantic in me kind of hopes that he does), I hope he isn’t forced out by the impatient salmon-sandwich bunch at the Emirates. If he should go, they’ll soon realize that their club will have lost their greatest figure since Herbert Chapman.

Drawn on a Chinese envelope in uni-ball sign um-151 (brown and red) with white gel pen.

the boy bale

gareth bale

He’s been brilliant lately, hasn’t he? This is Gareth Bale, Tottenham Hotspur’s great young Welsh star, drawn on another Chinese envelope. I have him up between the drawings of Messi and Ronaldo next to my desk, and he is probably in that company. His free kicks lately have been spectacular, Spurs have barely needed a striker with Bale moving about up front. He needs to do something about his barnet though. Young people, eh.

schoolboy’s own stuff

gazza
Paul Gascoigne, as I will always think of him. For those who read my blog and don’t know the names of every footballer I mention (and I mention a few), Paul Gascoigne – aka “Gazza” – was a player from the late 1980s to early 2000s, who had perhaps his greatest playing period while a young cheeky lad in the white shirts of Tottenham, scoring a bullet of a free-kick against Arsenal in the FA Cup Semi-Final in 1991. As an England player he was perhaps the most ‘gifted’ player of his generation, playing with unrivaled passion yet a tinge of tragedy, famously crying on the pitch after receiving a yellow card (undeservedly) in the 1990 World Cup semi-final against West Germany, meaning he would have missed the final, if England had been any good at penalties. He became a national hero and an international icon. His golden spell at Tottenham ended with an FA Cup medal in 1991, though he never finished that match, having been so hyped up that he attempted to kick a hole in the chest of one player (laughed off by the Gazza-loving ref) before seriously injuring himself trying to remove the legs of Nottingham Forest’s Cary Charles. That injury put him out for a year, after which he was transferred to Lazio, and so on and so on. You can look up his history in Wikipedia or something. While he had a few moments of wonder, such as his amazing goal against Scotland at Euro 96, Gazza never quite reached the heights we knew he was capable of. Injury, personal issues, drinking, (cf Chris Evans and Jimmy Five-Bellies), famously being left out of the 98 World Cup squad, he never could live up to the hype of being Gazza. For me and so many other Tottenham fans, that free kick against Arsenal was the defining moment (and for me, all the more fun as I watched the match with my Arsenal-supporting dad). At his best there was nobody in the country even close.
Gazza has had a lot of trouble in his life since his glory days, alcoholism, domestic troubles, mental health issues. And now last week he was admitted into a treatment centre in the US, having suffered another setback in his health. It’s unlikely he will ever be free of his demons, but I’ll always think of him like this, young, cheeky and brilliant.

clash of the titans

lionel messicristiano ronaldo
As you know I don’t like getting wrapped up in unnecessary hyperbole, but we are living in a time of absolute legends, of whom our grandchildren’s grandchildren will tell tales of unfettered genius and unrivaled skill. Yes, I’m talking about the Tale of Two Footballers, the great sporting rivalry of our time, the main reason TV companies around the world are trying to convince you to spend some of your lunch hour watching the first leg of a Spanish Cup semi-final. Yes, I’m talking about Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, and unfortunately for our Portuguese friend, we really are all obliged to say their names in that order for all eternity. They are Mozart and Salieri, McEnroe and Borg, Pepsi and Coke, the USA and the USSR, Tesco and Sainsburys, er, Professor X and Magneto…
It’s easy to get carried away. For sure, they are the talismanic figures of their teams, Spain’s ridiculously massive Barcelona and Real Madrid (the Celtic and Rangers of La Liga, the Target and WalMart, etc). And fair enough, they both scored so many goals over the past couple of years that no other player in their league comes close, but that’s not to say…oh, let’s accept it, they are unbelievably great footballers. The 2012 Ballon d’Or ceremony recently was another clash between the two titans (oh, and Andres Iniesta, who many smart folk said really should have won it, though he of course doesn’t have the huge bags of goals but did win a European Championship with Spain, not that international football means anything any more). Ronaldo had an outstanding year, finishing 2011-2012 with a whopping 60 goals – sixty, and he’s not actually a striker – and a Spanish league title. But oh no, even though Barcelona didn’t win anything, Lionel Messi had to go and get 73. That is SEVENTY-THREE, in one season, a European record, and that is just for his club. Yeah, he’s not a traditional striker either. Then when he broke Gerd Mueller’s world record for number of goals scored in a single calendar year, well, Messi just had to get that fourth consecutive Ballon d’Or.
I like Cristiano Ronaldo. It’s easy to paint him as the villain, self-obsessed and sulky, and even more so when compared to the cuddly selfless mercurial goody two-amazing-shoes Messi. (I imagine Ronaldo standing there, fist clenched, “Messi!”) When he first broke out as a young lad at United, with his funny step-over and his waving of invisible yellow cards he was pretty easy to deride, but what a player he became. Ronaldo just gets better and better and better. And as he does so, Messi gets better and better and better and better. I often wonder if they spur each other on to reach new levels of greatness; I get the impression Messi would be doing this anyway. Their habit of collecting goals each week really is like an arms race. Ronaldo got a hat-trick at the weekend; so Messi scored four. (“Messi!”). In any other age, our Cristiano would be the legend. What can he do? I would drown my sorrows in hair gel too.

AVB-in

AVB
AVB – or Andre Villas-Boas as he prefers to be called – is the manager of Tottenham Hotspur. He is also Manager of the Month for December, following Spurs’ fantastic run lately. He is young too, and the first Spurs manager ever who is younger than me. He doesn’t like shaving (I can relate, though I can’t do stubble for very long without getting grumpy about it). I drew him yesterday lunchtime, when I was too tired to leave the office for lunch, and stayed in to draw on one of many envelopes I get at this time of year (this one is from Shandong University in China). It has been a very busy week, with an even busier one to come. In fact I was so tired yesterday that when I got home I fell asleep almost straight away, and when I woke up at half past five this morning this man was on the TV, leading Spurs in a 0-0 draw against his predecessor, Harry Redknapp, now boss of bottom-placed QPR. I like AVB. “A valuable boss.”