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…

 

the kit parade (part 1 of 2)

Ok folks, that time of year has come upon us again, the start of the new PREMIER LEAGUE season. Am I excited? Totally! Have I missed football this summer? Totally! Am I nervous about the fact Spurs are playing at Wembley and have made no significant signings? Totally! This year marks 25 years since the Premier League began, having been previously the exact same thing but poorer and with fewer games on TV. It was an exciting time, the summer of 1992, and I remember it vividly. I was, you will be surprised to hear, a little bit obsessed with football kits and that was a great time for kits, baggy and colourful with ridiculous goalkeeper shirts and the transition from skimpy 80s style shorts to long baggy 90s style shorts. I will do a run-down of those 1992-93 kits at some point, redesigned in MS Paint, but in the meantime I am presenting to you my annual, long-awaited review of all of the new kits for each Premier League team, in order of appearance in last year’s table. So let’s waste no more time: kits out, socks up, let’s get shirty. Like a reverse Top of the Pops, we will start off with the Top Ten…

CHELSEA:

chelsea 1718 Let’s be honest. Spurs should have been in this spot. In many other seasons what Tottenham did would have been good enough to win the Premier League…but in 16-17, Chelsea were just even better. In fact in all Premier League history (since 92-93) their points total of 93 was the second-best (second only to Chelsea of 2004-05). It helped that they didn’t have a European campaign to distract them, but they also had a new coach, Antonio Conte, and he is pretty awesome. How will his difficult second season be? I don’t know, but they will probably be in the top three. Blah blah blah. They have ditched Adidas though, and now have a simple new kit made by Nike, who use the same template as pretty much every other team they make kits for this season (which is handy for someone making a lot of Nike kits in MS Paint, by the way). The away kit is just a direct reverse of the first. They will have a third kit for sure, as will most of the Nike teams, but since they aren’t released yet I’m not drawing the template (bit hard).

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR:

spurs 1718 My beloved, beloved Spurs left White Hart Lane in May for the last time, and will play all of 2017-18 at Wembley Stadium while the new Tottenham stadium is built on the site of the old Lane. Rainbows and sing-songs and a record points total and the most goals in the Premier League. Now the Lane is rubble, and Spurs have ditched Under Armour for a Nike template. Very very similar to the one Chelsea got. I really like the away shirt, and I like that Nike have just said, you know what, just wear the same navy shorts home and away (unlike last year’s very slightly different navy home and away shorts). In fact I ordered the away kit from the Spurs shop in the UK, best part of a month later, still not here. We will get a third kit, which is a kind of dark purple/black colour that reminds me of a chewy sweet. How will our season go? Kane, loads of goals again please, Erikson, totally amazing. We lost Walker and will probably lose Rose, full-backs who want a ton more cash. Don’t they know we have a stadium to build? Our team is nevertheless growing up strong, and Pocchettino has proven himself to be a remarkable coach. I don’t think we will win the league this year, unfortunately. Then again, I said that last year. (Oh yeah, I suppose I was right…but we were bloody good!) If we do, and I promise you this right now, if Spurs win the League I will put on ALL of my Tottenham shirts, every single one, and run around the streets of north Davis shouting COME ON YOU SPURS!

MANCHESTER CITY:

man city 1718It’s great having untold pots of cash. You can say, oh you want to earn double what you earn, come here then. But good luck selling players you have on those massive wages when they fall out of favour (looking at Samir Nasri, still on City’s books). Pep had a tepid first season, and has spent big this summer so he can have a Pep-tastic second season. It’s what he is best at, being at a club where you can just spend loads rather than actually be any good. They can buy millions of pounds worth of players and win a few games and everyone will call Pep a genius. They will start like lightning , but I don’t see them doing much.  Halfway through the next season, if City start to slump again, he will get glum and start saying he doesn’t like football any more. I don’t mind City though, I always liked their fans who were loyal when City were utterly terrible (just a reminder, just over ten years ago their manager was Stuart Pearce; I’d like to see Pep try to manage that team) and definitely don’t begrudge them their riches, after all those years in Fergie’s Shadow (TM). I like this season’s kit, another unimaginative Nike template, and white shorts is always better for City, but I am especially fond of the colour of the away kit, they’ve had a few nice ones in similar colours.

LIVERPOOL:

liverpool 1718Liverpool’s kits are made by New Balance and the home kit is a pretty sweet one, a throwback to the 80s, the good ol’ days when Liver-poool were grreat. Like, proper grreat. Ian Rush, Kenny Dalglish, Mark Lawrenson. Modern Liverpool haven’t won a title in the Premier League era (in fact, not a single title since Maggie Thatcher left office). They won’t win it this season either, but they have a fun coach in Herr Klopp. So the second kit is interesting, a throwback to a famous green and white quartered kit from the mid-90s, the MacManaman / Redknapp / Collymore / Fowler era. I loved that kit, one of the best they ever had in my opinion. This one is nice but the green bits are pinstripes. The collar is boring. The third kit is orange. Or amber? Either way it should be in the middle so they can look like traffic lights. Eh eh eh.

ARSENAL:

arsenal 1718If you believe the newspapers, Arsenal have apparently stopped winning things under their manager Arsene Wenger (who has been in charge of the Gunners since the Herbert Chapman era). Oh, except for the FA Cup three out of the past four seasons. What is this devilry, do I defend Arsenal? No, not going to happen (those scars run too deep), but I am glad they have stuck with Arsene, and he has doggedly refused to move on. Since he has been at Arsenal, Mourinho has managed seven different clubs, one of them twice. Arsene has been at Arsenal so long, he was there when they were in Woolwich. When he arrived they were still called Dial Square and in fact the club is named after him. He is becoming the Guy Roux of French football managers. He was the Ronaldo to Fergie’s Messi. So now Arsenal find themselves away from the Champions League for the first time since it became the Champions League with an opportunity to fall out of the Europa League early and ‘do a Chelsea’. I have a feeling they just might do it you know, send ol’Arsey off with a final Premier League trophy before he retires on a high to a nice villa near Monaco and oh who are we kidding hey won’t win it and he will stay there forever… Oh the kits, yeah they are ok, Puma, second kit is nice, not too sure about the third kit though. Home socks are decent.

MANCHESTER UNITED:

man utd 1718Ok I hate saying this and I really hope they don’t, but United will win the league this year. I was hoping they would have a Liverpool sized post-Fergie title drought (or Tottenham-sized, even better) but it’s that Mourinho second season (is he still living out of the hotel?), they have spent biiiig (again, spend loads and they will call you a genius, Jose, if you win; try doing it at another club such as, I dunno, Leicester). Jose has more signings to make (stay away from Spurs! No seriously Daniel Levy hates you) and has offloaded aging stars Zlatan (whose book is no longer above mine in the amazon rankings, hooray!) and that fellow Rooney, who went back to boyhood club Everton (he looks younger already!). No I sense something is in the air, I think this is the year Jose will win his United title, and if you thought Trump’s gloats about his f***ing electoral college win were annoying enough, just wait for Jose Mourinho, the Gloaty One. The United kits this year, the home kit is pretty sweeet, I like the simple button-up collar and the short adidas stripes on the shoulder. The second kit is like a black version of their 1991-92 blue and white away kit, the one covered in what look like maple leaves which they won the Rumbelow’s Cup in (am I remembering that right? Normally I do my homework on this stuff but I can’t be bothered looking up who sponsored England’s third-tier trophy 25 years ago) (I’m all about remembering the Premier League 25 years ago though, huh) (now that is the proper definition of an elitist). Anyway United apparently liked that design so brought it back a quarter of a century later. The third kit is grey and has a picture of old United players on it, a statue from outside Old Trafford. I remember that other grey kit they had in the 90s, the one they had to change at half-time vs Southampton. Stop me if I’m boring you.

EVERTON:

everton 1718Everton got Rooney back, and they have a nice new Umbro kit. It is blue. Some bits are darker blue. I like the shorts. They are white. The socks are also white. Ok enough of this Jack and Jill talk. The greying away kit, a reference no doubt to the age of Everton’s tenure in the top flight, actually features a bizarre maze-like pattern running over the whole shirt which was designed to annoy me while trying to recreate it in pixels in MS Paint, like by line. Everton will probably have a third kit which will be in dark blue and purple with fluorescent yellow trim, but they hadn’t released it when I drew this. Everton are going to finish in 7th place this year. They are like the Wall at the North of Westeros, acting as a huge barrier to the between the Wildlings and the Top Six. Occasionally one Wildling will break through, as Leicester did, but in the end they all bend the knee.

SOUTHAMPTON:

southampton 1718If Southampton were a kingdom in Game of Thrones, they would be the Dornish. For literally no other reason than they are in the South. I tell you what though, I really like their new kits, made by Under Armour. The home kit is reminiscent of a famous Southampton kit from the 1980s (teams like doing that don’t they), which I have distant childhood memories of (I vaguely recall Kevin Keegan, big perms, and the words Rank Xerox). The away kit, and this is genius (Pep-level maybe?), but it’s what you would get if you took a Southampton shirt and inverted the colours. Mind. Blown. Southampton have Ronald Koeman as their manager (what? He’s at Everton now? Who replaced him? Claude Puel?) sorry, I mean, Frenchman Claude Puel is Southampton’s manager (sorry what? they sacked him? Who is in charge now? ‘Mauricio Pellegrino’? Really?) Southampton are now coached by their former coach and current Spurs boss Mauricio Pocchettino (what? oh right sorry, mis-heard) former Man City boss Manuel Pellegrini, who (eh? sorry what is it now? Not him either? Well who is this guy then? Are you sure that’s right?) Ok, Southampton, who have a new manager, will be looking to break past the Evertonian wall and into the top six or seven or whatever.

BOURNEMOUTH:

bournemouth 1718Hang on, sorry this must be wrong. It says here Bournemouth came ninth in the Premier League last season. Is that right, does that sound right? Apparently it is true! Wow, what times we live in. They have signed my dude Jermain Defoe, who I hope will keep scoring goals. Bournemouth is a popular south coast summer holiday destination and definitely isn’t known for being a favourite retirement destination for senior citizens who want to live beside the seaside (to quote myself from last season); Jermain definitely isn’t retiring. He spent a little while on loan at the Cherries a million years ago (scoring a bucket load, as he does). Bournemouth have replaced JD Sports with Umbro this year, and it’s a decent enough design, very plain. I think I preferred last season’s actually. Where will they finish this year? Jermain will keep them up! He couldn’t keep up Sunderland last year but he gave it a good go, bless him. I want the south coast teams to all be in the Premier League. We have Southampton, Bournemouth (I still don’t believe it), now Brighton have been promoted too, let’s get Portsmouth back, then we need to work on Exeter and Plymouth, oh and don’t forget Torquay United.

WEST BROMWICH ALBION:

West Brom 1718Okay last one in this segment, West Bromwich Albion, who came a dramatic tenth last season. I remember when Spurs used to come tenth and I’d be like, well, it’s the top half of the table, that’s something. West Bro have gone from mostly white with stripes to mostly blue with stripes. The back of the West Bra shirt is all blue. This is in my opinion just typical of 2017. The West Bruh away kit is an odd choice and I’m sure they will need a third kit. The new sponsor was fun to draw in MS Paint. My prediction for West Bruv is that they will come in mid-table, like between 9th and 13th, which should filled all Baggies fans with boundless optimism. Hey West Bro have the highest stadium in England at the Hawthorns so if this is still like Game of Thrones they are like the Knights of the Vale. Also the WBA Heavyweight boxing belt is named after them, so there’s a little known alternative factoid.

Ok part one is done, it’s late, and there are plenty more to come. Amazingly the Premier League season kicks off in about eleven hours from now (on a Friday? What, are they busy on Saturday or something?) so if you’re so inclined, do enjoy. I will be moaning about kits and making non-committal predictions and weak Game of Thrones comparisons a little while longer (oh and then I will finally show you my Venice sketches too…)

 

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 of euro 2016: groups e and f

The third and final kit review of the Euros. I should have done one for the Copa America too (Columbia’s home kit is now white?) but it took me a little by surprise. We are at the end of the Group Stages now and the worst teams are starting to pack up and go home, while the teams coming third in their groups are waiting to see whether they will be one of the four best-placed third-placed teams out of six, causing heads to implode trying to figure out the permutations and arrangements. Albania for example might yet go home if other teams are deemed to have done better. In the case of teams having identical records, it goes down to goals scored, goals against, coefficient, length of beards, number of supporters arrested (outside the ground against inside the ground), and if they are still tied after all of that then Cristiano Ronaldo gets to judge how much of a “big country” or “small country” mentality a team has. It’s a complicated system. I still think it should all come down to kit design. On that note, let’s crack on with the final two groups: E and F.

GROUP E

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND

Republic of Ireland-Euro2016My team. Well, them and Northern Ireland. And England I suppose, though I’ve a soft spot for Wales, etc. Gone are the days however when I knew the names of all the players – Tony Cascarino, John Aldridge, Pat Bonner, Ray Houghton, you know, Phil Babb, all those guys. Now, I know Robbie Keane, and all the other guys. The same to be honest can be said of any team, international or club, except of course for Spurs, even though I watch football all the time, read football magazines and collect football sticker albums. “I Am Forty”. I do have a lot of Ireland shirts though, dating back to the USA 94 kit (the special jersey my mum got me commemorating Ireland beating England in 1988 doesn’t really count, I doesn’t fit any more too). My favourite is the last one, more of an old rugby shirt style, and this new one does something similar, but is a little less to my liking, although the orange trim is quite tastefully minimal. It’s still a much nicer shirt than, for example, the Northern Ireland home shirt. The away is alright, the little stripes on the arm look like something someone suggested and then looked at it afterwards and said, “meh, but who cares”. Now the Irish started well, being unlucky to only get a draw out of the Sweden game, but they got utterly tonked by Belgium. Yeah, we may not beat Italy in the last game but you never know. I still have a t-shirt celebrating “beating Italian ass on American grass” in 1994. Come on Ireland!

ITALY

Italy-Euro2016Italy have started well, couple of decent wins. They defend well, have a good manager in Conte (Chelsea-bound), and the best national anthem of all, probably. The kit is decent as well, simple effort, unfussy (they like the word ‘fussy’ these football kit describers, “it’s a bit of a fussy design” they say, to make themselves sound like real fashion and design afficionados) (I like “unfussy” because it’s not really a word; well it wasn’t, but I suppose it is now). Italy don’t have the superstars of old (well, they still do, like Buffon, but they are actually old) (Buffon by the way, the legendary goalkeeper, is my man-crush, he’s a handsome chap is Gigi). I like Italy but I need to explore a bit more of it, I’ve been to Venice three times but that’s really it. On the third time in Venice, I got engaged to my wife. Happy memories! Italy – the Azzurri – wear blue because that was the colour of the royal house of Savoy, and boy do they wear it well. The traditional white away kit has the Italian flag running down the middle.

SWEDEN

Sweden-Euro2016Sweden is all about Zlatan. It shouldn’t be, but it is. He rolls around the pitch being a genius looking frustrated that the rest of his team aren’t all Zlatans, but if the were all Zlatans then he would not be Zlatan. Zlatan has what you might describe as a rather large ego. In fact it’s better to just zlatan the way Zlatan does. This zlatan is the latest zlatan to come from Zlatidas and features three zlatans down the zlatan and a slightly more zlatan shade of zlatan. The away zlatan is zlataning, with its zlatanesque zlatans. In the first zlatan, Zlatan were zlatan to get a zlatan against the Republic of Zlatan who I felt zlataned the whole zlatan, though Zlatan did zlatan the zlatan the zlataned the Zlat defender to zlatan an own-zlatan. Ok Zlat’s enough of Zlat. I do like an Adidas Sweden kit, thinking back to the great Swedish side of the early 90s (or “BZ” as Zlatstorians prefer to number those years), Tomas Brolin and co. This one is lovely. Shame you won’t see much more of it this summer.

BELGIUM

Belgium-Euro2016Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner. This is my favourite kit of the Euros. I have a soft spot for Belgium having lived there for a year back in 1999-2000 (I lived right across the street from the stadium in Charleroi where England played Germany, remember that one, fans of chair-throwing and water-cannons? I’ve wanted a Belgian shirt for a long time and they have had so many duffers (those Burrda ones for example) but I think I will stump for this one. The yellow is a more day-glo shade and the black on the chest really offsets that red. I can imagine wearing this while wandering the streets of Brussels with a sketchbook. The away shirt is nice too, reminds me of a cycling jersey, since the sport of cycling is very popular in Belgium. That year I spent there was very formative in many ways for me, though I could have been more creative with my time, I felt I didn’t get a lot done. I had a guitar and wrote some songs, I did a lot of personal writing but very little concrete stuff of substance, I drew a little bit but not that much, and I didn’t know many people so would just go to the chip shop and then to the local pub with the other locals, but looking back I think all of this was a life-long inspiration of as-yet-unformed ideas. Maybe I was just lazy. I would go up to Brussels and spend the whole day going around the city on the streetcar reading novels, then go to see a movie, go for a beer, and get lost on the Belgian train system trying to get home. And then there is the rain, the endless, constant rain. I think of all of this when I see that Belgian football badge, and I’m glad I got to know the place for that one year. As for the football team, I like them because they have a few of the best Spurs players on the team, though I’m not a fan of their goalie Thibault Courtois, because he a) plays for Chelsea and b) looks like the Republican speaker Paul Ryan.

GROUP F

AUSTRIA

Austria-Euro2016Okay, I am drifting in these reviews a little, lets get back to the kits. Austria have a standard enough Puma kit, which is red because a few years ago when they co-hosted the Euros with Switzerland, who also wear red Puma kits. Austria used to wear white withblack shorts, so when they turned up to the party wearing EXACTLY THE SAME BLOODY CLOTHES AS SWITZERLAND, the Swiss just facepalmed at their neighbours, oh you are so embarrassing. Oh right, next you are going to copy the whole mountains, watches and cuckoo clocks thing too aren’t you. Well this time, they still wear red but their away kit looks decidedly more like traditional Austria (which was itself, er, very similar to Germany). I first went to Austria in 1991 with my German class from school, spending two weeks with a family in Vorarlberg. When I was a kid I had a pen-pal from Vienna, and was always so impressed at Austrian handwriting. European handwriting is generally much nicer looking than messy English handwriting; French might be the best, but I like German too. Here I go again, talking about handwriting, completely unrelated to the football shirts. Let’s hope these Puma kits don’t rip easily like the Swiss ones in that game against France – four of the shirts had massive holes torn into them, prompting hilarious jokes about Swiss Cheese. Austria had been quietly fancied before these Euros, but it looks like they will be dropping out very soon.

HUNGARY

Hungary-Euro2016Right, so Austria vs Hungary conjured up images of the old Habsburg Empire, and it was all, oh yeah. Back in the 1920s Austria had the ‘Wunderteam’ (which roughly means “wonder team”), but in the 1950s, Hungary truly were the wonder team. How they managed to not win the World Cup in 1954 is a mystery matched by Holland not winning it in 1974 or 1978. The team of Puskas, the Mighty Magyars, famously destroyed England at Wembley in 1953, dubbed the Match of the Century. They will always have a legendary history. In modern times Hungary have been decidedly more shit. Come on, they have. Which is why it’s so exciting that they are back in the big time now, and they’ve done alright so far, beating Austria, and managing a draw with, er, Iceland. The kit, classic colour combo, and an Adidas template which is two years old (tsk, living in the past). I had some great Hungarian friends when I was younger, back in London. Another friend of mine (who is English and an actor) goes to Budapest several times a year, as it’s a common place for TV and film production.

ICELAND

Iceland-Euro2016Now this really is a surprise. Iceland? The land of actual ice? They qualified ahead of the Netherlands. Holland! The Dutch! Iceland are I suppose our substitute for not having Scotland there, it’s kind of close enough. They have a fairly recent history of football, and some famed Icelanders have become Premier League stars (Eidur Gudjohnson, Gylfi Sigurdsson). Everyone loves Iceland (except Cristiano Ronaldo). Of course, I’ve liked them since they were called Bejam. Alright you won’t get that one if you’re not British. Basically there is a chain of food stores, predominantly frozen food, and they also sell fridges and freezers, and they are called Iceland; well they used to be called Bejam before changing their name. It was a bit like Snickers used to be Marathon. I actually spent a day delivering fridge-freezers for Iceland with my brother-in-law around Hampshire a couple of decades ago. None of this is relevant of course. The kit here is made by Italian company Errea, I always like their designs though this one is kind of okay. In years to come it will be an Icelandic classic. Will Iceland go through to round two? Probably. I hope so. Their away kit is very similar to the one worn by the Allied POW team from Escape to Victory. I hope their goalkeeper is better than Sylvester Stallone.

PORTUGAL

Portugal-Euro2016This is the age of the one-superstar-dominating-the-team. When I say that I don’t mean the 2010s, I mean the past century or so. For Sweden it is now Zlatan. For Portugal, who have always had a lot of great players, the main man is, well you know who it is. He has a great freekick record at major tournaments – 36 taken, none scored.He added to this in the recent 0-0 against Austria, even missing a penalty to boot. I imagine he is the sort of person to invite his friends over to watch him play video games, declining to let them actually play because it wouldn’t be fair, he’d just win against them. But whenever Messi calls and asks for a quick round of MarioKart he always pretends to be washing his hair (haha, “pretends”). Portugal won’t win it; maybe after he retires.The kit is alright, another Nike Vapor template, with the different colour socks thing Nike are playing with like they bloody invented it. The away kit is a garishly ugly greeny-teal colour I just can’t understand. Ok fine it’s “interesting”. It was probably his idea, you-know-who. No not Voldemort. I went to Portugal in 2011 for the urban sketching symposium and had a lovely time in Lisbon, eating sardines and drawing fire hydrants.

And that is all you get. This was possibly the most rambly post I have ever done so if you have made it this far, thanks for just scrolling to the end, now go back and actually read it properly please. There will be a test later. Anyway, back to the actual footy.

the kits of euro 2016: groups c and d

Have you been enjoying the Euros? I don’t mean the currency, the “Euro”, though if you have been enjoying those then good on you. I remember the changeover, I was living in France at the time, when it seemed like every other Franc was a counterfeit, the switch to the Euro was pretty welcome. Fourteen years on, and I live in America and don’t care. For the record I do care really, but I want to talk about the football, not European Single Currency (remember when they used to use that term? Hey, remember the “Ecu”? Again, not relevant, I’ll get back to the footy.) The Euro 2016 tournament is over a week old and already teams are out. Well Romania is for sure, having lost today to Albania. France drew with the Swiss and wore a different white away kit than the one they sell in the shops, the one I drew in my last post about the Euro 2016 kits, which had a red arm and a blue arm. Apparently UEFA didn’t like that, too confusing for their referees, so they wore something else. Still a France kit, still a Nike kit; I wish they had gone with green and white stripes like when they had to change into a local club’s teamwear during the 1978 World Cup in Argentina. I was two and didn’t even see it but still remember it to this day. So without further ado, here is the second of three posts where I tell you about the football shirts of Euro 2016. So you know, I’ve been doing some normal non-soccer-jersey-related urban sketching as well, as I spent a week vacationing down in San Diego, and will scan and post those soon.

GROUP C

GERMANY

Germany-Euro2016Whenever there is a major football tournament, you usually start out by giving the trophy to Germany by default and then coming up with compelling reasons why they shouldn’t win it. If you can’t think of any, Germany get the trophy. That’s how football actually works. Gary Lineker famously said that football was “a simple game: twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win.” I’m pretty sure he meant 120 minutes plus penalties. Will they win Euro 2016? Ich weiss nicht. However, the kit is CLASSIC GERMANY, none of the nonsense white shorts and red chevrons seen in the last World Cup. Simple, except for the stupid big gold World Cup shield in the middle (FIFA, is there a more tasteful way of saying “We Are The Champions, Mein Freund?”). It looks lovely and if they won in this kit they’d deserve it. Right. The away kit. Ach du lieber Gott, was ist das? Ok I like Germany to have a green away kit, tradition. But this thing is just nonsense. The dummkopfest thing about it? It is reversible. Ah, that’s brilliant I hear you say, wunderbar, but the inside is lime green and meant to resemble a training pinny. Just, why? That idea is just the wurst.

POLAND

Poland-Euro2016Remember the last Euros, held jointly in Poland and Ukraine? Poland didn’t do so well. They went out in Round 1. They don’t have the pressure of being the hosts this time so might do better. So far they have drawn with Germany, and narrowly beaten Northern Ireland. Also this time you can come third and still get through so they are probably ok. They do have a superstar striker in Robert Lewandowski who is destined to be like all the other star strikers in these Euros and score nothing at all. The kit is a basic Nike template (“Vapor” as Nike calls it; “Vapid” would be more appropriate) though if you look very closely you can see little curvy lines meant to represent historical Polish Winged Hussars, because obviously. Nike shirts by the way are made from 16 recycled plastic bottles, because of course. That will be $90 please. The away kit is just like the home kit but red. I’ve been to Poland, Krakow to be precise. Some skinheads stole my glasses (I got them back though). I’d like to go and sketch Gdansk some day.

UKRAINE

Ukraine-Euro2016Remember the last Euros, held jointly in Poland and Ukraine? Ukraine did marginally better than Poland but still went out in Round One. Their kit had a nice traditional Ukrainian pattern on it. This time is features a strange yellow plaid pattern that I assume is a tribute to Rupert Bear’s yellow tartan trousers. Rupert (I’m guessing) is probably hugely popular in Ukraine along with his friends Bill Badger and that elephant one I always forget. Edward Trunk, that’s it. I used to get the Rupert annual every Christmas, I loved Rupert. I even loved the Frog Song by Paul McCartney, I watched that video over and over when I was 9. I hope they play that at one of Ukraine’s games, “We all…stand…together (bom bom!)” So far, Ukraine have been pretty awful, losing their first two games 2-0, being eliminated already. They still have to play one more game – against their old co-hosts Poland, who will probably be qualifying for the next round by then. They might roll out that blue kit for that game. The blue tartan kit by the way is I assume a tribute to the Scotland team, to be worn when going out of competitions early.

NORTHERN IRELAND

Northern Ireland-Euro2016I’ve waited so long for this!!! Since Mexico 1986, to be precise, when I was ten. Since then I have of course followed the Republic’s rise in football stature; my family is from both sides of Ireland, so I root for them both, and I’m overjoyed that both made it to France 2016.  Northern Ireland qualified in style, topping their group. As for the kit, well…I do like when Northern Ireland adds a bit of dark blue into their designs (a reminder of St.Patrick’s Blue, the original colours of the Irish national team back in the Olden Days) and it distinguishes them more from the kit of the Republic but this kit is, um, divisive. Not for any political reason, I mean it’s just not that good of a shirt design. When it came out petitions were formed to get it changed to something more reminiscent of the great ’82 and ’86 World Cup teams, but to no avail. You might think that strange band across the middle looks sort of stylish, but it isn’t. The team of course are not fashionable anyway, and they don’t mind that. The away kit is alright, something about a simple white Northern Irish shirt that has a classic feel to it; they have messed about with it a lot in recent years. They have won a game already though, beating Ukraine 2-0, and who knows – they may just get a result against the Germans. I certainly hope so!

GROUP D

CROATIA

Croatia-Euro2016I love Croatia’s unique home shirts, but this time they will very likely wear all blue in every game. So, UEFA, here is an idea. Tell teams to release their kits after the draw has been made for the Euros. Then, if any team is in a group with Croatia, they should refrain from having a red shirt when their home is white, or a white shirt when their home is red, but go for something that doesn’t clash with red and white shirts. Blue, or green, or black or yellow or turquoise (ahem, UEFA, Turkey did actually do that). That way, Croatia can actually wear their home kit without confusing your already confused referees. Because as a fan of Croatia’s unique home shirt design, made so famous in Euro 96 and World Cup 98, I want to see it on show. Okay, Euro 2012 they did wear it twice. Alright, they wore a lot it in the 2014 World Cup too. But in Euro 2008 it was blue only, and this time around it looks like the same will happen. The current iteration of the famous red and white chessboard is made to look like a flag flying in the breeze, which by the way Nike is really hard to draw in MS Paint, thanks for that, so I had to take the checkers and distort them in Photoshop. It’s not entirely accurate but you get the general idea. I’ve never been to Croatia, but it’s been on my list of Places I’ll Get To Eventually since I was a kid in the 80s, when my sister was a travel agent for Lunn Poly and I would read the “Yugotours” brochures at her work. “Why don’t Yugo someday?” I would say to anyway who would listen like it was the funniest thing in the world. Hey it was better than the Lunn Poly “Get Away!” adverts that used to be on TV all the time.

TURKEY

Turkey-Euro2016Turkey usually go for a nice safe kit design, a bit like Poland, not doing too much out of the ordinary, so when I saw this one it was like WHOAH BABY, what the? The home kit is red but with black diagonal criss-crossing lines that get thicker as they go down the shirt. Really quite difficult to pull off in MS Paint – I spent a very long time trying to do it – so in the end just took the pattern into Photoshop and added a gradient over the top, before bringing it back into Paint. Black shorts and socks! Albania are looking at this and doing the Muttley grumble, “rinkumshinkunrurkey!” It looks damn fine. And then there is the away kit! Same design but white and turquoise, with for some reason red socks. It’s pretty lovely, very calming. So the Turkey team, will they do well? Probably not. They have lost their first two games and will probably not stick around much longer. Shame, because if it comes to a tie-breaker and kit design is a deciding factor, I reckon they’d do alright. Also they are looking good for the beardiest team of the tournament (though Joe Ledley of Wales is winning that particular honour all by himself). I should do a guide to facial hair of Euro 2016, and then another dedicated to players’ actual barnets too. If any of you have the Panini sticker album, check out the obviously-some-sort-of-disguise of Olkay Sahan. Definitely expect him to pull that off at some point in a game, whip out a microphone and turn into the ghost of Jeremy Beadle, strolling about the pitch.

CZECH REPUBLIC

Czech Republic-Euro2016I like it when the Czechs have red shirts, white shorts and blue socks. But oh no, they had to do an all-red number, and have weird pointy-down chevron things splashing down the middle pointing down at their shorts for some completely innocent reason. Well, there are no other kits quite like it in these Euros, so that’s something. The away kit is standard Puma fare, white with that blue that was missing from the home kit. Yawn. I’ve been the the Czech Republic twice, just to Prague, both in my early 20s which involved a lot of cheap beer (“pivo”) and a few cheap hostels too. Me and my mate Tel went there for the best part of a fortnight. I wanted to look at old buildings and bridges; he wanted to look for video stores. We took the old overnight Eurolines bus there and back, this was right before cheap airlines really took off. I still have a small mug that I bought there with a little drawing of a man lying down being all happy and stuff. The naivety of youth.

SPAIN

Spain-Euro2016And finally, from one set of favourites Germany to the other set, Spain, reigning European champions, and looking for a three-in-a-row victory. In the last World Cup Spain had a horrifying all-red kit which thankfully led to them being knocked out early before it could do more damage to my sensitive disposition, but this time they are back with what I must say is one of their best ever kit designs. Red with yellow trim (Adidas stripes under the arms this time, I like it), proper blue shorts, and black socks (well, very very very dark blue). As it should be. I am happy. Adidas, you are knocking it out of the park this year. And then there is the away kit…I sense the room go quiet, people pausing at their drinks and looking over nervously, and I slowly start to smile, and nod my approval, and the whole room erupts in celebration. What a crazy and beautiful kit! All those triangles, all those bits of yellow and red, it looks a bit like one they had 20-odd years ago but put into a blender. I love it. I enjoyed making this one. I was ten when I first went to Spain on a family holiday. It was to Ibiza, the Mexico 86 World Cup was on, I remember going by myself to a local restaurant (while my family were either at the pool or a nearby pub, the Snooty Fox I believe it was called) to watch a game and eat beans on toast. As for the team, they have started in style, qualifying for the second phase after two wins. Spain are back!

And that is that. Join me again when I show you the kits of Groups E and F, the final groups, and in the meantime enjoy the rest of the Euros, while they last. The football tournament, that is, not the currency. Though if you enjoy the currency, do enjoy that while it lasts as well.