The kit parade (part 2 of 2)

Thanks for joining us for the second part of our presentation of the 2017-18 Premier League kits. Let’s not beat around the bush.

WEST HAM

West Ham 1718The Hammers had a dull time at their new stadium last year, but managed to come in 11th, which isn’t that bad. The bottom half of the table last year was pretty rubbish overall, it has to be said.West Ham, aka the Armie Hammers, aka the Jeremy Irons,  are still with Umbro who are creating some simple kits, including a black away shirt. The home kit has a two-tone claret design that looks like the chevron shape of one of their kits from around 1978 I think it was? Their sponsor ‘Betway’ sounds like it should be in a list with ‘Between’ and ‘Betwixt’. Where will they come this season? Stay up, probably, but not better than 11th. They will have a third kit, which I believe is white with an ancient style West Ham badge.

LEICESTER CITY

Leicester 1718I remember when Leicester won the league. Seems impossible now in the age of multi-billion pound transfers and Pep Guardiola level coaches, but there was a time when teams like Leicester could do the impossible. Innocent times they were. Yes before you say “hang it was only last year”, just think about how different the world was back then in May 2016. Yeah? Now you see what I mean. Leicester managed to stay up after sacking their title-winning manager Ranieri, stopping their slide from Champions League to Championship, and got a respectable 12th place in the end. I think they will be a lot better this year, not champions but challenging for the European places. As long as they can find the net. The kit is ok, sticking with the gold trim again, and staying all blue (I’d like to see white shorts back, personally). Puma have given them decent clean kits again; Leicester never go in for snazzy nonsense.

STOKE CITY

Stoke 1718Probably time for Stoke to get relegated, I think. I just don’t see them staying up. The home kit is ok I suppose, the away kit has League One written all over it. The third kit is really imaginative. At least they are made by Macron, also the leader of Free France. Stoke are probably still too good to get relegated but I just have a feeling they will be down there. Mark Hughes might get sacked, I dunno.

CRYSTAL PALACE

Crystal Palace 1718It’s be great if at the centre of Selhurst Park they actually had a Dark Crystal floating above a shaft of air and fire. I like that Palace are in the Premier League and I hope they stay, I want as many London clubs up there as possible (well maybe not QPR). But the thing about Palace being in the PRemier League is that it’s a bit like being really excited about connecting with an old friend from the 90s again, hallo mate how you goin’ mate, wow you aint changed mate, good to see you mate, then friending them on Facebook, and then just being bored by all of their boring posts about work, that’s kind of who Crystal Palace are. If they were a Game of Thrones house they would be House Mallister. Their kit is still made by Macron, who make pretty good kits, but the new sponsor is a bit of a mess. “ManBetx”??

SWANSEA CITY

Swansea 1718Gylfi is going to leave Swansea again isn’t he. I love Gylfi Sigurdsson. He looks a bit like a younger Kevin Bacon, but with more Icelandic awesomeness. I though Swansea were going to drop like a dead duck last season (hang on, dead ducks float, right?) and they even had an American manager very briefly, Lord Voldemort’s stunt-double Bob Bradley and he didn’t last very long, but in the end they steadied the ship and stayed afloat. Will they go down this year? Maybe. I hope not, as I want to keep a bit of Welsh in the Premier League. Their away kit is quite Welsh, being in the classic red and green worn by the national team, while the third kit is in the also very patriotically Welsh colours of black and yellow, the colours of the flag of St. David. The home kit is classic Swansea white with black trim, made by Joma, who also make the Sampdoria shirt I own (so I can assure you they are quite good quality).

BURNLEY

Burnley 1718Burnley stayed in the Premier League, I am glad because I quite like them, but I wish their shorts were white this season. They are using a Puma template for the home kit, while the away kit has little horizontal pinstripes running along it that actually consists of the word ‘CLARETS’ over and over again. Which is an anagram of ‘SCARLET’. Frankly, I don’t give a damn. Burnley, like Swansea, also have one of those great Icelandic players we fell for last summer, Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson, who doesn’t look much like Kevin Bacon. Burnley will probably get a third kit, they all do.

WATFORD

Watford 1718Are we nearly there yet? I should have had a gap here around Watford. I like Watford, they are a kind of nearby club to where I am from (it’s actually about as far as Tottenham is but it’s outside London; the 142 bus goes straight there from Burnt Oak but it takes forever. You don”t care, sorry). There were quite a few Watford fans at my school as a kid (and one of my good friends in England, James, is a big Watford fan), I just remember them all singing about how much they hated Luton, oh they really hate Luton. I can’t say I’m a fan of the airport much. One of the greatest names ever associated with Watford (aside from the famous former owner who worked alongside him to make Watford great in the 80s, Elton John, yes my American friends, that Elton John, big lover of Watford) was Graham Taylor. He died in January and I must say I am very sad, I would have loved to have met him. Sure I fell into the whole ‘calling him a turnip’ category back in the day, when I listened to all the tabloids when he was England manager (only because he subbed off my beloved Gary Lineker) but listening to him talk about the game over the years, he was a proper geezer and right gentleman. However he made Watford play in red shorts (which I like) but Watford fans generally prefer them to play in black shorts. This year they are in adidas, and have an all red away kit, using a template similar to Middlesbrough last year, which looks like a car with some paint on its wheel has driven over it. By the way, did you know Watford is twinned with Whoville? Also with Wensleydale, Ware, Hounslow, Ypres, Wearside and Wichita.

NEWCASTLE UNITED

Newcastle 1718 copyThey had to come back up didn’t they! Led by the great Benitez, the Toon Army (not affiliated with Cartoon Network or Nicktoons) (or iToons), the Magpies and their black and white stripes are back in the big time. This time next year they will probably be back down in the little time again (no, I don’t think so this time, but lads, it’s Newcastle, they will find a way). I have a good mate Simon who is a long-suffering Newcastle fan. I would love it if they did a Man City and got a super rich owner, just love it. Their away kits are boring this year, has to be said. Not kidding anyone with that sponsir either, ‘Fun88’ but it’s better than their old ‘Wonga’ one. Prediction – top half of the table, knock knock knocking on Everton’s door. If they were a Westerosi house, definitely the Starks. Or maybe the Karstarks.

BRIGHTON AND HOVE ALBION

Brighton 1718 copyYes folks you read that right – BRIGHTON AND HOVE ALBION are in the Premier League! They deserved it too, and their boss is one of my favourite former Spurs players, Chris Hughton. Now I am old enough to remember Brighton, aka The Seagulls,  in the top flight back in the 80s, with that big guy Steve Foster who wore the headband, he was a proper Roy of the Rovers style legend (probably because I remember reading about his life story in Roy when I was a kid, remember they used to do that? I never thought I would see Brighton up in among the big boys again but here they are, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Burnley, Watford, Bournemouth, Stoke, Huddersfield, Swansea, and Man City. Their kit is a simple Nike template with the Brighton stripes. I remember when they had stripey shorts too, a long time ago. I think Brighton will stay up, but only just. I stayed up once in Brighton, New Years Eve, all night, went to like seven parties with this group of people, interesting night but I got lost coming back to the place I was kipping over and ended up walking round and round for ages this place called Seven Dials, a roundabout that had seven streets coming off of it. I knew it was one of those streets, but which one, I had no clue. It was very much daylight and 2001 by the time I finally found it. I remember one of the guys living at this house was a Dr Who fan, or a “Brighton Whovian” as a said, instantly thinking that’s a terrible pun as I said it. Like that has ever stopped me saying terrible puns. So anyway, do watch the Seagulls this season, they will really Brighton your day…

HUDDERSFIELD TOWN

Huddersfield 1718 copyI am so thrilled that Huddersfield are finally in the Premier League. I can’t believe it, it doesn’t sound true. That makes three teams with blue and white stripes in the top flight of English football since I don’t even know when (and one of them isn’t even Sheffield Wednesday). Huddersfield, aka The Terriers, are wearing a really interesting design for their maiden Premier League appearance, the stripes appear to be made of tiny circles. The spots of red really go well with the light blue and white, and they also have one of those sponsors with a lot of Chinese writing beneath it. I have to say I enjoy recreating those in MS Paint, not super acuurately but as best as I can do. The away kit, is, yeah but the third kit is oh my good look at that! My MS Paint skills do it no justice but it is based on an away kit they wore back in the 90s, I think, I do remember it. There were some crazy kits back then, craaaazy kits (I fully approve of 90s crazy kits). Huddersfield were great back in the day, that is almost a century ago, winning three league titles in a row back in the 1920s, yes, Huddersfield have more league title trophies than Spurs. Dammit.

And that is it, these are the new kits of the English Premier League season. I predict Man U will win it, though I’m not confident of that, and the following will go down: Stoke, Huddersfield (sorry Terriers), and Swansea. Though I am famously terrible at predictions. Now, I will be posting more kits soon, some of the different ones from around Europe, but in the meantime sit back and enjoy the footy, the urban sketches are coming back next post…

 

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shirts, shorts, socks – part three

Finally, we get around to part three of the new Premier League kits for 2016-17. We’re three games in so far, the big rich clubs who couldn’t distinguish their clunis from their articulatio cubiti last year have all won their first three with big Zlatan/Hazard/Pep shaped victories. As Leicester showed last year though, this league is not just about the big clubs, so let’s focus on the ones who are down near the bottom, the teams who avoided relagtion last year, and the three teams who were promoted from whatever the second division is called these days.

PREMIER LEAGUE PART THREE: THE LAST (AND PROBABLY LEAST) SIX

CRYSTAL PALACE:

Crystal Palace 1617Nice to see Palace still in the top flight, and spending money too. I wish they had won the Cup last year, though Pardew’s little dance was just too much. Will they do well this year? Yeah, they should stay up, because they have a nice pair of kits. The home one seems to have more blue than usual, forgoing the stripes for a large blue band. It’s pretty stylish. The away kit hearkens back to older Palace kits, and I like it when they have a yellow change. The original Crystal Palace was in Hyde Park housing the Great Exhibition of 1851 – the year ironically in which the hated ‘windows tax’ was abolished (you would be taxed for how many windows you had on your house, MPs called it “daylight robbery”), Crystal Palace was a building made entirely of windows). Well, let’s hope Palace prove to give us a “Great Exhibition” this year, otherwise their Premier League status will go out the window. I’m here all week, folks.

BOURNEMOUTH:

Bournemouth 1617Sorry, this one must have gotten mixed up, there’s no way Bournemouth are still in the Premier League. What? They are? What witchcraft is this, when Bournemouth are in the Premier League, (a league of which Leicester City are the reigning champions?), and they just went and signed Jack Wilshere on loan from Arsenal. Bournemouth is known for being a favourite retirement destination for senior citizens who want to live beside the seaside. Wilshere is in his early 20s, I dunno, kids get older every year don’t they. Their home kit is decent again, the third kit is a bit of an ugly shade of mint ice cream, probably tastes very nice down on the beach though.  I love the away kit though, it has a similar design to last year’s Marseille away kit. Bournemouth are the Cherries; let’s hope their season has one on top.

SUNDERLAND:

Sunderland 1617Ok, I’m sorry, but last year Sunderland were the absolutest shittest. They were dreadful, utterly gobsmackingly awful. So how the bloody hell are they still in the Premier League? Oh right, three teams were actually worse than them. But how? Oh right, Norwich, Newcastle and oh my god you’re right, Aston Villa, they were just crap. Well Sunderland avoided relegation because they brought in Samwise Allardyce, who Don’t Be Goin Down, bro. So they should be ok, because he will keep them up. What? He left? Where is he – what? Managing England? Bloody-hell. At least England will avoid relegation now too. So who did they bring in? Someone good I bet, with a solid record. Hold on, David Moyes? Now, to be fair, he is probably a good man for the job. Nobody in the world could have taken over from Fergie at United, but he was always pretty solid in the past, and there’s no reason he wouldn’t be able to pull Sunderland into shape and keep them up. He won’t though, because unfortunately they have decided on what is by far the ugliest away kit in the whole division, and for that crime against kits they must go down to the EFL and think about what they have done. Also for being the city whose early ‘leave’ vote in the referendum was the moment when the pound plummeted. Although ironically, this meant that it became cheaper for me to buy football kits in England. That purple and hot pink thing though looks a bit too cheap; who would buy that? Except maybe 1980s New-Mutants-era Magneto, he probably would. Verdict this year? Days of Fuchsia Past.

BURNLEY

Burnley 1617

I like Burnley. I saw them play Spurs years ago in the 190s in the League Cup, I think it was called the Endsleigh League Cup or something back then, and they had a cool Mitre kit, and Tony Cottee I think. It was ages ago. I like their accent too. Their kit of claret and blue and white puts them in the claret and blue category of clubs, your Villas and West Hams, something classic and old-fashioned about them. This kit is alright, not amazing but it does its job. The away kit is similarly ok. I don’t know. I haven’t really got anything bad to say about Burnley. I’m glad they are up in the top flight. Ok I’ll say one bad thing, they sound a bit like a team from Roy of the Rovers. You know how they all had names like Eastoke, Burndean, Blackport Rovers, those generic made-up dull-sounding English small-town names. Actually that isn’t a bad thing, that is bloody cool. Will they get relegated? I hope not, but I think they might. Unless Roy Race comes out of retirement and brings his famous Rocket! Sorry.

MIDDLESBROUGH

Middlesbrough 1617

Middlesbrough, aka “Boro”, aka “Bro”, or “Bra” for short, were promoted (or were they “bro-moted”?) from the Championship, passing Newcastle on the way down, and now they can have a north-east derby with Sunderland, who, well, they don’t really see it as a derby, because theirs is with Newcastle. Get your own damn local derby, bra! they say. Who with, bro? I dunno, Hull City is only down the road, be a derby with them. Nah that’s too far, bra. So Middlesbrough’s home shirt looks like it was left in the road when the street-line painters were in town. I mean look at it.  And they put that blue line under it to make it look like they meant it. The away kit is ok I suppose if you need a very very very dark blue shirt with a chevron made of three shades of aqua on it. But in tandem with the home kit it looks like they got pull into a Dulux paint demonstration. I expect a big fluffy dog to show up. How will Boro do this year? Will they have a brush with relegation, or will they get into the Eu-bro-pa League? Yeah, I know that was clutching at straws.

HULL CITY

Hull City 1617

Hull are definitely getting relegated. Except, they have started well. They were unlucky to lose to Man U, otherwise they might be top of the league. Well not top, but you know what I mean. They do have a nice home kit, wide black and amber stripes, none of the tiger-stripes of old, and they also aren’t called FC Tigers of Hullchester United Bros, or whatever that owner wanted to call them.The away kit will come in handy if they play someone in amber, otherwise don’t you think they may need another kit with a little less black? Hull is one of those places that nobody wants to go to, because they haven’t been there, and because (like coastal neighbours Grimsby and Scunthorpe, it just sounds a bit crap – it actually got named in a book as the most ‘Crap Town’ in Britain) but I’ll have you know, Hull is actually really cool. I say this with absolutely no personal experience of the place, but Hull is the 2017 European City of Culture. That’s right. They don’t just give that to anyone; Plovdiv, Wroclaw, Turku, Linz, the list goes on. Philip Larkin was from here. So was Maureen Lipman, she used to be funny. Even better, the Housemartins, and the Beautiful South, who were, top paraphrase Alan Partridge, the band the Housemartins could have been. Fat Boy Slim: the DJ the Housemartins could have been. A lot of music came from Hull; Roland Gift, remember him? No? Kingmaker? I had one of their singles. Actually it isn’t even called Hull, it’s Kingston-upon-Hull, so it’s even better. Even the author of Crap Towns has changed his mind. I really want to go to Hull; as an urban sketcher, it sounds pretty interesting. I also used to occasionally visit Scarborough, further up the coast, and I like it up that way, in the Ridings. Will the Tigers stay up? I’m going to give you the truth, the Hull truth and nothing bu- no, no they won’t.

Ok this is your lot. I might maybe do kits for the Champions League, maybe not the group stages, maybe the knockouts. If Spurs are still in it by that point. In the meantime, have a fun football season, and look out for all these shirts. I guarantee that when you see Middlesbro’ play you will be bro-splaining to every-bro about their unfortunate street-line-paint bra-ccident.

shorts, shorts, socks – part 2

Right, part two of the Premier League kit round up, and without further ado, let’s get going…

PREMIER LEAGUE PART TWO: THE MIDDLING MID-TABLE

LIVERPOOL:

Liverpool 1617

When I was a kid Liverpool were pretty much the best team in the world. Not to me of course, I supported the even greater Spurs, but that Liverpool team of Rush, Dalglish, Hansen, then Beardsley, Barnes, Aldridge, the Grobelaar years basically, they were spellbindingly good. They are less so these days, no league titles since 1990 (yeah, more than Spurs) but with Klopp at the helm, maybe they can claw it back into the top four again. They opened with a 4-3 win at Arsenal which sounds good, but 4-3 games don’t mean championship form. Their kit is pretty slick and basic, gold trim, nothing fancy. The away kit has a few little flashes here and there, but the third kit is an odd lime green of the sort that these days, we look at and say, whatever. If it isn’t a broccoli kit or a ham kit or a human interior anatomy kit I’m not even interested. Prediction? Fifth or sixth I suppose.

STOKE CITY:

Stoke 1617

“But could he do it on a rainy Tuesday night in Stoke?” Is the oft-mentioned cliche when speaking of fancy foreign football fops frolicking about the field. Hardly anyone ever says it about the man who washes cars and waters gardens mid-week in the evenings in Stoke. Stoke were the team of Stanley Matthews (them and Blackpool), one of the greatest ever footballers ever to come out of England. But enough reminiscing about the wizard of dribble; stoke’s kits are made by Macron this year and are smart, quite nice, bit boring perhaps that is ok. How will Stoke do this year? Well if they can do it on rainy Tuesday nights in other places than Stoke they will stay up. Next…

CHELSEA:

Chelsea 1617

Well well well, Chelsea, fancy seeing you down here rubbing shoulders with the common folk, the Stokes and the Watfords. Weren’t you reigning champions a year ago? Mourinho got sacked, your rich guy players farted around, and then you celebrated a 2-2 draw with Spurs like you had won the league again. Well with a top new manager in Conte they might find their form again, but I can’t see them getting back to top spot so quickly. The kits are nice though, I’ll say that. Even the second one. Prediction? Fourth. I dunno.

EVERTON:

Everton 1617

Ronald Koeman is now the manager of the Toffeemen. I loved him when he scored that rocket for Barcelona in the 1992 European Cup final against Sampdoria (I liked both those teams). I hated him when he helped knock England out of the World Cup qualifiers in 1993. I hope he does well at Everton. They will finish mid-table again. I don’t know, 8th. The kits are nice, home kit is simple, Umbro doing a decent job, though the sponsor having a picture of two elephants standing under a fountain, what is that supposed to be exactly? Maybe it’s fireworks? Two elephants playing with fireworks. Or is it spaghetti, and explosion of spaghetti? I don’t know. The second kit is nice, dark. I like the third kit, yellow. Hard to muster up much enthusiasm for these though when you have two elephants standing under a massive exploding spaghetti fountain.

SWANSEA CITY: Swansea 1617

Swansea have done away with flashy Adidas detailing and switched to the classy Joma for 16-17, going for a pure clean white look. The sponsor has a dash of blue which then turns into the away kit, a gradient affair that has an overall calming effect on anyone who sees it, like a peaceful lake or a waterfall. this is scientifically proven to reduce instances of hooliganism in football grounds, so effectively they are bringing a message of peace over from the southern Welsh coast. they will need a third kit. how about an angry fiery red? Fun fact. Swans, did you know they are all owned by the Queen, swans? Where will Swansea finish this year? I don’t know. 11th maybe. 200th. I don’t know. They’ll be fine, they’ll stay up.

WATFORD:

Watford 1617

How are Watford still in the Premier League? Well midtable last time so I suppose they weren’t too bad. I just thought they would go down. Oh right, Villa, Norwich and Newcastle were completely pants. This year the Hornets have ditched Puma for ‘Dryworld’. Dryworld? Who the bloody hell are they? The kits are fairly ho-hum, none of the buzzing horizontal stripes from last year, and why does the away kit have black socks in an all white kit when the home kit has black socks? Answer me that Dryworld, whoever the hell you are. Where will Watford finish? I think this year they go down. Sorry Watford fans. You’re still better than Luton.

WEST BROMWICH ALBION:

West Brom 1617

“West Brom” or “WBA”? Nobody calls them “WBA” any more. Well I don’t think so anyway. For all I know they do it all the time, I don’t know, I don’t live in England. West Brom, the great survivors. How do they stay up every year when it looks like they should just go down? I think it’s Horcruxes. I think that is their secret. I think Saido Berhaino found out and that is why they won’t let him leave. I do like their kit this year, one of the nicest. The light blue trim makes a nice addition and goes well with the Baggies blue. The away shirt is black with pinstripes. It looks nice. West Brom will stay up again. They will not win the league like Leicester did. Unless they use the Imperiatus curse of course.

Ok that was the middle, stay tuned for the bottom six.

shirts, shorts, socks…

In a few hours, finally, the football is back. I know you are thinking that only five minutes ago we had Euro 2016 and yes, sure, and of course the Olympics is going on, and right, ok if you can get past all the swimming and gymnastics, sure there is technically some football going on, but tomorrow the Premier League starts a new seson, Spurs will be back, and all will be well again. Last season was so fun. Leicester winning the league, Spurs having a blast, Mourinho getting sacked, Villa finally going down, it was a Rollercoaster within a Helter Skelter within a, er, Ghost Train? Waltzers? This season the Big Boys are hoping to be back – United have Mourinho (didn’t he, last season, er..), City have Guardiola, Chelsea have Conte, there’s Zlatan, Pogba, and of course Arsenal have bought…er… This whole silly soap opera of the Premier League is back and I love it. I’m so cynical about everything else in the world (seriously, how many swimming events are there at the Olympics, does Phelps get extra gold medals just for taking a shower afterwards?) but for this I am as excited as I was when I was ten, and of course what I love the most are all the new kits. And so as is now becoming tradition here is the first of three posts going over the new outfits for the season, along with, I dunno, a prediction based on nothing whatsoever. For those of you who enjoy reading about football kits / soccer uniforms, read on! For those who don’t… I’ll be back posting my sketches from Manchester tomorrow. All of these kits were drawn by me in old-school MS Paint, and are presented in the order they came in last year’s Premier League. I’ll try to keep it brief.

PREMIER LEAGUE PART ONE: THE TRULY MAGNIFICENT SEVEN

LEICESTER CITY: Leicester 1617Last season I predicted that Leicester would be champions. No, no I didn’t. I said they’d either go down (sad Lineker face) or stay up (happy Lineker face). Lineker himself promised to present Match of the Day in his underpants if the Foxes won the League. They only went and did it. Everyone loves Ranieri. Vardy couldn’t stop scoring. Mahrez tore teams apart.  They surely can’t do it again, can they, but…you can’t rule out Vardy and the Foxes. Their kits this year are in Leicester’s typically straightforward, nothing silly fashion. The subtle pattern on the shirt is similar to Slovakia’s in the Euros, but otherwise is smart and classy. They ARE the champions.

ARSENAL:Arsenal 1617 In case you were not aware, Arsenal came second last year. Nobody is quite sure how that happened, but it did, and Spurs came third. I was annoyed because Spurs haven’t come above Arsenal for about twenty years, and it came at the end of a season when Spurs were generally mercurial and Arsenal were generally stale, but the table doesn’t lie. I think the impression I got from the players is, 2nd and 3rd, who cares – it’s not 1st, and both go straight into the Champions League, so it’s practically  the same – let’s get ready for the Euros. Anyway Arsenal’s kit – the home kit’s collar is a throwback to the team of 92-93, remember Tony Adams dropping Steve Morrow? They won a couple of cups that season, and looking at the table that year, oh, they came two places below Spurs. Away kits are pretty nice. Prediction: Wenger’s final year, but they won’t win it. Maybe.

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR: Tottenham 1617 If you have ever followed me on Twitter, you will be well aware this is my team. Last season was epic, albeit ending on a down note, but a year ago if anyone said “Spurs will come third” I would have bitten their hand off and thrown away the key. Kane, Alli, Lloris, Alderweireld, Dier, we were so much fun to watch. Spurs will be in the Champions League this year but playing at Wembley, as part of White Hart Lane is already gone, with the rest being demolished at the end of the season. We move into the new ground, being built over part of the current one, in 18-19. This year’s prediction…third would be a very big achievement again, to be fair – we have enough to go all the way, we have a pretty sharp and solid team, bolstered with new boy Jansson, but those billionaire Big Boys want their cake back. Our kits are absolutely lovely. I have so enjoyed the Under Armour years. The home kit is superb, but the away kits are classics. I have the third kit, my son has the second kit. We kick off tomorrow away at Everton. Come on you Spurs!

MANCHESTER CITY: Man City 1617City have a new manager in Pep Guardiola, who has long been coveted by England and finally graces us with his tiki-taka. Being at a club funded by billionaires should make the transition from the biggest club in Germany and one of the two biggest in Spain that bit easier for him, though England is slightly more competitive, and he won’t necessarily walk it. City have a very strong squad though, which probably just needs a bit of managerial know-how. So their kit is ok, the shirt is stylish in that Vapor template Nike really loves, but there go Nike with those different colour socks gimmick they are beating the hell out of this year. The away kit takes that catchphrase even further with unusually wild yellow socks. Verdict? They will get better than fourth, but might not win it.

MANCHESTER UNITED: UMan Utd 1617nited sacked Van Gaal, and brought in Jose Mourinho. Not content with one massive ego they bought Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who makes sure he is at a club that will win titles every year (I’m surprised Zlatan didn’t sign for Michael Phelps). Then they spent just under a hundred million quid on Paul Pogba, who they let go a few years before. They really really want to win the league again, and sure, they might be in a position to now…but do you remember Chelsea sacking Jose last year? So their kits. The home shirt is bizarre, having two halves of different reds, with a honeycomb border down the middle (I now know that this is because the bee is the symbol of Manchester, hence the honeycombs). The pattern comes up again on the sleeves of their third kit. The second kit is nice; my image doesn’t do the blue pattern much justice, but it’s a nice shade, and I like a United away kit in that sort of blue. Will they win the league? Probably, or maybe not – they have the Europa League to worry about first…

SOUTHAMPTON: Southampton 1617Ronald Koeman has left, but the Saints have been a decent team the past few years so I expect that to continue. Actually I don’t know. I do know that I love their kit. Under Armour have taken over and this home kit is an unusual design, but it feels like the sort of thing Southampton would do. Even the sponsor works well. Their away kit of grey and dark grey is a little less inspired but looks alright. I bet you anything they get a third kit before the year is out. Where will they finish up this year? Top ten, I reckon. I don’t know. I think when you get to this part of the table you kind of stop caring. They might make Europa League, or they might not. I’m not making for a good pundit, am I.

WEST HAM UNITED: West Ham 1617The Hammers left the Boleyn Ground last season as you probably heard, and have moved into the Olympic Stadium in Stratford. That will be an interesting change for them. Their kit is standard claret top with blue arms stuff, nothing fancy. The special commemorative third kit, which is not an all black kit but very very very dark blue, refers to their founding as Thames Ironworks FC (TIWFC), who wore dark blue and one time had a British flag on their chest. West Ham have simplified their badge to just show the crossed hammers once more. Also they have added the word “London” to the badge in case people don’t know which city West Ham is in. Other London clubs have yet to catch on to this, causing massive confusion among the tourists. I doubt it will be a classic first season at Stratford, but a healthy mid-table should do it.

Okay then! If you got this far and found it vaguely interesting then you are in luck, part two will come in the next couple of weeks with part three following after that. In the meantime, back to the urban sketches…

the kits are alright (part 3 of 3)

The World Cup Final is upon us. The semi-finals were a little unbelievable: Brazil, oh Brazil. Didn’t I say, “keep the white shorts“? Didn’t I say that? I think I did. “Those white shorts look better Brazil, they’re lucky, don’t change back to blue!” Brazil wore their proper combination of yellow / blue / white, and…um…. let’s say the last time Brazil suffered a home World Cup humiliation, in 1950, they wore their once-traditional white shirts…and never wore them again. It’s safe to say their 7-1 defeat to the Germans (a scoreline which flattered Brazil) was a little bit more humiliating, given their galactic history since the Maracanazo against Uruguay. Maybe it’s time to change to, I dunno, all green or something. Germany wore the nicer of their two kits, the black-and-red Flamengo kit, but I think they could have run around in big frilly Victorian dresses and still score at least four goals. And then there was Argentina vs Holland, the polar opposite. I got very excited when I saw Holland in orange shirts and white shorts, against Argentina in their proper black shorts with the blue and white striped shirts. They looked right, finally. Unfortunately it was a match so boring, not even the proper-ness of the kits could rescue it. Who won again? I don’t care.

And as we prepare for the final (Germany against who was it again?), an all-Adidas, all-wrong-shorts affair, here is my run-down of the rest of the World Cup kits. I promise to post some of my recent out-and-about sketches very soon, but the World Cup month is nearly over, and boy will I miss it. I’m sure you won’t!

THE WORLD CUP KITS: PART THREE

  • MEXICO: (Adidas) mexicoMexico’s kit is a winning design this time around. Mexico have had some crazy outfits in the past (not to mention the fluorescent day-glo highlighter pen costume of their 1994 goalie, Campos), but this one has little lightning strikes on the home shirt, and little zigzags all over the red away shirt. No plain white shirts, no not-well-thought-out black shirts, just classic and unique designs. My son was a big fan, so I got him the green one, and it’s a really nice top, very well cut both front and back. Mexico were unlucky to go out.
  • NETHERLANDS: (Nike) netherlandsOrange is the new Orange. This is a very simple design from the Oranje this time around, nothing interesting but it is clean and thankfully not all one colour, with the white shorts (though all-orange was worn three times, which I think looks a bit too much like a Tango-taste-sensation, Tony). The proper outfit eventually came out against Argentina in the semis…ah yes, they lost that on penalties. The away kit got a couple of outings, an all-blue number in varying shades, which was bloody difficult to reproduce in MS Paint, I do hope you appreciate that one. This was forever be the kit worn when Robin Van Persie scored that header as they destroyed Spain.
  • NIGERIA: (Adidas) nigeriaOne shade of green isn’t enough. Two shades work much better. Nigeria have a mixed kit history, their best in my opinion being the 1994 home and away outfits. This is a decent effort, in the current Adidas template of choice, with a unique enough colour scheme. Nigeria played pretty well in the end and it was a shame to see them go out, but France just had a better kit. Not that quality of kit is what sees a team through (cf: Germany in the World Cup Final, if they wear white). From the TV screen though this shade is conveniently football-pitch-coloured. The away kit is all-white, I suppose.
  • PORTUGAL: (Nike) portugalRonaldo Ronaldo Ronaldo Ronaldo. If only. This was a very do-not-adjust-your-sets design from Nike (remember when you had to adjust your sets? Ah, the olden days) in two shades of red with a little green trim. I preferred the one they had at the last World Cup, the red with white shorts and green socks, but they were just so abject in this one that they did not even get a chance to wear their white and navy away kit, which is a shame as it was very nice. This is how England’s kit should have looked. Now, both this one and that one are in the out-first-round bargain bin.
  • RUSSIA: (Adidas) russiaI’ll first talk about the away kit, whose design is based upon how Yuri Gagarin (I think, or it may have been that dog Laika) saw the Earth from space. Funnily enough this is the same view Germany got of the field when they played against Brazil, miles and miles of space. I think it’s one of the nicest shirts at the tournament, though a bit disappointed it doesn’t come with big space helmets. The first shirt however is back in the USSR. Well, it would be if the USSR ever wore shirts like that, which I’m pretty certain they didn’t (preferring a more communist shade of red with a white trim and CCCP across the shirt; FIFA probably wouldn’t approve of that now). Nice try, Russia. They did move back to all-red a few years ago when they decided the Russian-flag-inspired white-blue-red wasn’t really their thing. I wonder what they will go for when they host the next World Cup. Hopefully a different manager, who actually likes football.
  • SOUTH KOREA: (Nike) south korea Korea’s kit was a pretty decent effort from Nike, which gave the effect of a French schoolkid wearing a backpack. That is a reference to when I was a teenager and you could always tell the foreign exchange students by the way they wore their backpacks, ie, with both straps. English schoolkids always wore backpacks with just one strap, as though it was so uncool to have both straps on. The away kit goes for what I can only think is a reference to a hitherto-unknown sub-culture who wears two backpacks one-strap at a time.  That must be pretty uncomfortable. It’s a tidy short though that would have looked nice on England, but alas both are now in the gone-home-early bargain bin.
  • SPAIN: (Adidas) spainOh dear. End of an era. Don’t mess with tradition Adidas, it never, ever works (except for Germany and Argentina to name two completely obvious exceptions). Ok, so Spain ditched their blue shorts, and plumped for a golden rather than yellow trim. They are the reigning World and double-European champions after all. They can do what they want, even include little pinstripes all over the shirt (what is it with that this World Cup?). But I mourned the loss of blue shorts in this design. Not for long though, as they’ll get them back next time no doubt. Now here’s a thing, Spain had three kits this World Cup, played three games and wore all of them. Their black second kit, a striking Chelsea-esque design with an ‘electric yellow’ trim (what is it with ‘electric’ yellow, electricity is blue*, or white, you have got a very funny electric company if your electricity is yellow) (*ask David Bowie if you don’t believe me) was apparently too dark for their opening match against Holland (who play in orange, but in that match they played in blue, I’m so confused) so FIFA told them to make a white kit, not available in the shops. This white one has little pinstripes too. Spain, the intergalactic-everything-champions, were the first team out. End of an era? Yes, but they’ll get the blue shorts back, and the good players too.
  • SWITZERLAND: (Puma) switzerlandRed home, white away. What do you want? It’s Switzerland, it’s what they do. They aren’t going to suddenly go all experimental and mess about with tradition and add whole new swatches. Or Swatches, for that. But don’t be deceived into thinking this is a boring kit. Those white stripes down the side actually open up to reveal a whole array of camping knives, tin-openers, nail files, corkscrews and other obvious cliches. No I actually like this shirt a lot, it’s pretty neat and timeless without being boring. 
  • URUGUAY: (Puma) uruguayThe collar of La Celeste’s famous sky blue home shirt looks as though a bite has been taken out of it, can’t imagine who’d do that. Yes there really is only one thing that can be talked about with regards Uruguay in this World Cup isn’t there, and it’s such a shame because they could have been so much better. They did well to get out of the groups after all. The Puma kits were pretty nice, with a cool little Uruguay flag-inspired bit on the arm. “Bit on the arm?” Oops, slip of the tongue there.
  • USA: (Nike) USAUSA! USA! Livin in America, coast to coast, across the nation. This World Cup, with its heroic team of endless tryers and its superhuman goalkeeper, has been massively popular over here in my adopted home. It’s funny that nobody will remember the home shirt, which they wore more often, but the Captain America-like away kit (maybe it’s more Iron Patriot) became an instant classic after their opening victory against Ghana. At Soccer and Lifestyle this shirt sold out very quickly, and I regret not getting it now. The home shirt is very stylish, like a polo shirt, one of the nicest they’ve had in a while. I live in America. I feel good.

And so that is that. Thanks for sticking with me this far. Oh, you didn’t? Well never mind. It’s back to nice sketches of little downtown buildings very soon. For now, there’s a World Cup Final to watch.

kits out! (part 1 of 3)

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WORLD CUP 2014 FOOTBALL KITS

As you may be acutely aware I rather like football shirts. Way more than I even like fire hydrants, which is saying something, I know, but it’s true. Every season I eagerly await news of any new kit release, clicking on links to reports of what Partick Thistle’s away shirt might look like, nodding appreciatively when teams like Nantes announce a new deal with Umbro, or shaking my head at the width of stripes on a new Milan jersey. The World Cup therefore is as much about the kits as it is about the players – I know more about the kits, for one thing (whereas I barely recognised half the England team, though that guy up front with the big mop of hair looked familiar, Dwayne Rodney I think he was called). So here is a helpfully-unillustrated run-down of the kits of each team at this year’s World Cup. Non-kit-enthusiasts, look away now (my next post will be a nice urban sketch I promise).

Before I start, here are some kit stats:

  • BRAND WITH MOST TEAMS (GROUP STAGE): Nike (10). Followed by Adidas (9), Puma (8) and Burrda, Joma, Lotto, Marathon, and Uhlsport (1 each) – no Umbro this year!
  • BRAND WITH MOST TEAMS (ROUND OF 16): Nike / Adidas (5 each), followed by Puma (4), Burrda and Lotto (1 each)
  • BRAND WITH MOST TEAMS (QUARTER-FINALS): Nike / Adidas (3 each), followed by  Burrda and Lotto (1 each). Bad luck Puma!
  • MOST PREDOMINANT HOME SHIRT COLOUR: White (9)*, then Red (8)*, Blue (5)*, Yellow (4), Green (3), Orange (2).  *Croatia are red/white, so I didn’t include but are arguably predominantly red; Argentina have blue stripes but are definitely more white this year.
  • MOST PREDOMINANT CHANGE SHIRT COLOUR (WHETHER WORN OR NOT): White (14), followed by Blue (8) and Red (6)
  • COUNTRY WITH MOST KITS: Spain (3), and they wore all of them. Brazil have a third too but will not wear the black one.
  • COUNTRIES WITH ALL-ONE-COLOUR HOME KITS (official, not the matchday FIFA-enforced variants): 17 (out of 32). 9 are all-white.

And now for my thoughts on the countries. I’m going to give this to you in three parts. It will be alphabetical. And all of the kit illustrations are mine, created in old-school MS Paint…

PART ONE:

  • ALGERIA : (Puma) Les Fennecs (Dalgeria 2014esert Foxes) have been one of the popular teams in this tournament, and I like their kits. Simple design but with a nice shade of green trim, which from the TV viewers point of view makes them blend in with the pitch. Puma kits tend to be more form-fitting these days so muscular physiques show up more. Some very muscular players in this World Cup too. In Algeria’s green away kit they look rather Hulk-esque.
  • ARGENTINA : (Adidas) argentina 2014Controversial. For the first time ever, Argentina have decided to go with white shorts instead of black as their official home shorts – as have Germany, as you’ll see. Sure they’ve been made to wear white shorts before (1990 World Cup I think) but it was not the official combination. Still…it doesn’t actually look bad. The home shirt (with it’s black trim!) looks nice, the blue stripes being graded lighter at the bottom to apparently make them look like a flag in the wind (what?). But lack of black shorts? Controversial. I’m surprised Maradona hasn’t gone on TV saying it’s a Malvinas-based conspiracy by FIFA and the Sunday Mirror. I suppose we can blame Adidas. They’ve done this a few times this World Cup, as you’ll see. I love that graded blue away kit though, one of the top five in this cup.
  • AUSTRALIA: (Nike) australiaDecent 1st kit, with a yellow top reminiscent of one Brazil had recently, with dark green Shorts, and – excitingly – white socks! This is a big deal. Fans had campaigned for years to have white socks again, after more than two decades. And you think I’m crazy about these things. Well done Nike. The 2nd kit is nice, dark blue with gold trim, always a winning combination for me. The collar is very retro, 70s-esque. Think Prisoner Cell Block H.
  • BELGIUM: (Burrda) belgiumLes Diables Rouges have had some nice kits in the past, and Burrda have have some questionable kits. Burrda… it sounds like something Taggart would say in his tough Scottish growl. “Aye, there’s been another Burrda”. They’re a Swiss company apparently. These kits are alright. The massive crown motif is different. At least they are unique, no other Burrdas at this World Cup, or any. Black change kit a little zany, plus a yellow third kit based on the home shirt, all have that round Belgian flag collar which is nice. Allez les Belges!
  • BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA: (Adidas) bosniaFirst World Cup for Bosnia-Herzegovina, who were previously in a Legea kit, but they obviously decided last minute that Legea were too non-league for them and switched to Adidas, who to be fair quickly gave them a template you’d probably find in the non-league. Boring. But World Cup kits aren’t always interesting.  Not like I devote hours and hours of my time to them or anything…
  • BRAZIL: (Nike)brazil It’s Brazil, what do you want? Well blue shorts for one. Twice in this tournament they have turned out in non-trad white shorts with the classic yellow shirts. That is WRONG! This is BRAZIL! Most recognizable combination in history. So, home kit is not bad, collar’s a bit “meh”, not much else to the design, nothing unique to say “this is our World Cup! We are spectacular!” The blue 2nd kit has nice detailing, though I prefer a white collar. For some reason they have a black 3rd kit (or is it dark grey?) which they won’t wear, which is a shame because the shorts have peculiar multi-coloured horizontal stripes. Which is not something you see every day. Now…the question is, if Brazil get to the final and lose in yellow, will they retire it? When they lost to Uruguay at the Maracan in 1950 they wore white, their usual colour. It was such a tragedy they swore not to wear white shirts again, and then had a competition to choose a new combination. The winner was yellow shirts, green collar, blue shorts and white socks. So I ask you, will they change kits again if they lose? Not likely!
  • CAMEROON: (Puma) cameroonThe Indomitable Lions have one of the most vibrant kits at this cup, with a very busy pattern that has their nickname repeated throughout. It’s just a shame the team were not as busy on the pitch. I’m surprised Puma didn’t make nice long pockets on the shorts for the players to safely stash their bonus cash. The yellow second kit has the same pattern, while the white 3rd kit was, let’s face it, a bit hopeful. Cameroon have a fun kit history though, always good for some innovation. Remember the full bodysuit one with the lion-claw slashes on the side? And who can forget the sleeveless top from over a decade ago, that looked like a basketball top, which FIFA said they couldn’t wear at the World Cup. They had to sew on black sleeves. Shame, it was a classic.
  • CHILE: (Puma) : chileChile have been one of everybody’s favourite second teams (along with Mexico, Algeria, and about half a dozen or so others), and their Puma kit is very decent. That collar looks like it’s going to be round and then in the middle it’s like, oh hello, pointing downwards. The collar on the away kit probably got worried it was too low cut and so added a little bit extra beneath it. Sorry, they’re not that interesting, I’m grasping here. But they are decent, and the home is one for the hipsters to wear on their Saturday morning kickaround before going to the barbers for a tattoo and eating a latte on their organic wind-powered bike.
  • COLOMBIA: (Adidas) : colombiaOk Colombia, we have to talk. Listen, everyone’s happy you’re such a great team now, even without Falcao, but your kit combo just jars a little. It’s the white. It’s those sloping lines. I used to like the old yellow Umbro kits with the blue shorts, Carlos Valderrama, Faustino Asprilla, and who can forget the goalie Rene Higuita with his metalist’s hair, long runs up the pitch and his scorpion kicks. However, I have a feeling this kit will grow on me considerably, and with a good World Cup it could be one to remember. In thirty years time adidas or whoever will be making their shirts then (under armour or someone) will be bringing out kits to look like this one. A future retro classic.
  • COSTA RICA: (Lotto): costa ricaNice to see Lotto having a kit at the World Cup. Actually it would be if it were one of those kits from back when Holland had them, 1994, around then. These days Lotto kits are a bit of a mess. Costa Rica has that wavy bizarro-Peru thing going on and the collar seems to stop then start again several times. Yet, like the team, I kinda like it. It kinda works. No 1990-era lucky black-and-white stripes from them this time, though they seem to have adopted their white kit as being ‘lucky’ this time. FIFA will be pleased.
  • CROATIA: (Nike): croatiaBefore every international tournament kit release season I say to myself, I’m going to close my eyes and imagine what Croatia will do, will it be red and white squares for home with a blue away kit that has those red and white squares along the trim? Oh yes, that again. Home kit is nice, but I prefer more white than the red on the sleeves, but what do I know. Apparently their first kit in 1990 had the red sleeves. Not too much you can do with an already memorable design so they keep it simple. I for one, in this age of attempted homogenizing international kits, am glad this kit exists. With blue socks (as they wore in the opening match) it works even better. 
  • ECUADOR: (Marathon) ecuadorA sunny kit, made by Marathon who are an Ecuadorean company which is very nice. The change kit is just a reverse. Another for the hipsters, though they didn’t make it out of the group stage this time around. Nice little sun element around the badge. Not much else to say really, it’s flag-coloured.

Phew! Join me for Part Two, which will come when I’ve drawn more kits…

so let’s see your kit for games

27, football shirts

#27 of 30. Some of you know my love for football shirts (or soccer uniforms, if you prefer). I’m a bit of a connoisseur, an enthusiast. Not really a collector, but I have a few. I have a Spurs away kit from the early 90s which is signed by Klinsmann, Sheringham, Anderton, Ardiles, and the rest. I do wear my tops at weekends sometimes, but all that static polyester turns me into a walking van de graaf generator. 

I’ve wanted to have a chat – my annual chat, for sure – about this season’s footy kits. All summer I checked daily the following sites, footballshirtculture.com and football-shirts.co.uk, for news on every new shirt release around the world. As always, the South American and smaller British clubs choose practically naked women to promote their tops (almost oxymoronic there); see Linfield’s away kit if you don’t believe me. Some kits this year have been nice – England’s new tailored home kit is lovely, and is the first England kit I’d even consider buying. I’m incredibly envious of Arsenal’s two new away shirts. But there have once more been a slew of lame blah-blah kits this year, with few really original designs for clubs, particularly from the larger companies such as Nike and Puma. Oh, Puma – will I ever like a Puma kit? It’s funny, because the answer to that is yes – I will always like the previous one better than the new one, because they are getting worse. The current windscreen-wipers /chevron template they are overusing has produced some horrific results, but none more ghastly than Tottenham’s current home kit. Awful sponsor aside, the introduction of yellow streaks (cue jokes all over N5, “what do you mean ‘introduction'”, etc) to produce this monstrosity means I’ll be waiting another year for a home kit I might want. It’s not just Puma though – even Adidas have gone for the shock factor with Newcastle’s new yellow-and-custard striped away shirt. Poor Newcastle – they get relegated, and are then told to wear that shirt in front of thousands – okay, hundreds – of people.

But the foulest kit, the most shocking kit of all time perhaps, even more so than Arsenal’s early 90s away kit, has to be Partick Thistle’s new away kit, surely done as a bet, a pink/grey/white camouflage kit. It just has to be a joke. It’s chavalicious. And Puma again.

You can see many of the best and worst kits of all time at perhaps my favourite site on the net: historical football kits. The research these guys have done at HFK is beyond phenomenal, showing images of shirts from all years of English and Scottish football. Its readers help out by forwarding any information they may have; I once sent them a photo I’d found of the Spurs laundry-lady hanging out kits in the mid-30s, showing that we wore navy and white hoops away. Highly exciting stuff for the football kit historian!

And so there you have it, my football kit obsession. It’s funny really, because apart from the beloved adidas trainers, I actually really hate most sportswear.