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…)

 

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audere est facere

THFC tickets
I’m so sad. My beloved team, Tottenham Hotspur, are playing at their home White Hart Lane for the very last time. Kick-off against Manchester Untied is in about an hour, a selection of my many Spurs shirts are hanging around the living room, and my head is in all the memories from down the years. Tottenham have played at White Hart Lane since 1899, but we need a big upgrade, so we are moving to Wembley Stadium for a year (“Spurs are on their way to Wembley…”, Ossie’s Dream is one of my favourite songs), while the new stadium is being finished. The new stadium is actually on the site of White Hart Lane so we’re not really moving permanent location, but the ground is just next door, currently being built, about the swallow the old ground within like a giant Pac-Man. The old Paxton Road North Stand is where the new South Stand will be in the new stadium; I wonder if we’ll still refer to it as the Paxton end?

I love being a Spurs fan right now. We’ve had a lot of lean years since the 1990s, but the past decade we have been building a much better consistency and this year in particular we’ve been better than any time in my life. It’s just, Chelsea were a bit better, so they won the title on Friday. We have thus far gone the entire season unbeaten at The Lane (first time since the mid-sixties), and I really hope that record continues today against Manchester United. I don’t think it will, I think the occasion and the fact we are mathematically unable to catch Chelsea will have an effect on the players but that’s just me being an experienced Spurs fan. We have been incredible this year (and finally came above Arsenal, confirmed with a 2-0 victory in the last North London Derby at The Lane – I wish that had been the stadium’s Finale!).

I drew these tickets that I have lying around at home. The newest was from a game I went to with my older brother John, nephew Leo, and son Luke; my final game. the one above was from a game against Everton that I went to with my mate Terry in 2000. The other two aren’t mine, I think they were my brother’s. It’s through my big brother that I became a Spurs fan. The early 80s had Ossie Ardiles, Glenn Hoddle, Steve Archibald, Garth Crooks, Ricky Villa, my heroes. “When I grow up, I want to be Ossie Ardiles” I wrote once at school. My brother took me to my first game at the Lane in 1983, a 2-1 defeat to Everton (Mark Falco scored for us, Johnny missed it because he went to the toilet). I will never ever forget the first time, approaching the ground, the long walk up Tottenham High Road from Seven Sisters tube station, hearing the crowd roar as the Lane comes into view, but its emerging from the tunnel, seeing the green of the pitch, the sound of the thousands of fans (the swearing, the songs about Arsenal…), the players I’d only seen on TV or in football magazines actually there moving about in front of me; it was like magic. It never really stopped being like that either, every time I would go. I do love a football stadium, but none more than The Lane. My brother used to go to every game (ever-present in 80-81 and 81-82)  and started taking me, but we couldn’t afford to go too often; I do remember one game, an evening cup match against Birmingham, we turned up late to see if we could just be let in, but the only places left were in the member’s area, so Johnny spent his last few quid getting us memberships so we could get in (Spurs beat Birmingham 5-0). Because we got membership that year (I was a Junior Member, got all the fun stuff in the post), we were able to go to the FA Cup Final at Wembley (my first Wembley experience; we lost 3-2 to Coventry, I was devastated). We went a few times that year though, 86-87, watching Clive Allen score a bunch of goals. The years of Lineker and Gascoigne came, followed by the Sheringham, Anderton, Barmby, Klinsmann years, followed by some truly pants seasons with the likes of Ramon Vega and Sergiy Rebrov turning out for us. I would only go once every couple of years, tickets being pricey for my meagre budget and always selling out. The stadium changed a lot though – while I’m sad about the departure, the stadium looks totally different from when I was a kid (the North and South stands used to be much smaller, and back then we had standing on the Shelf and big barriers; I spent a lot of time on the shoulders of taller fans!). Since we moved out here to America I’ve been to a couple of games on trips back, to make sure my son got to experience The Lane, seeing Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Hugo Lloris, before we inevitably moved into a 21st Century ground. That will come, we hope, in 2018. It’s still “at” White Hart Lane, you still go to exactly the same place to get there, but it will be different. One corner has already been taken down; the rest starts coming down tomorrow. We will always be Tottenham, Super Tottenham, We are Tottenham, FROM THE LANE.

DSC01781DSC01775

Goodbye White Hart Lane! Thanks for all the memories! COME ON YOU SPURS!

the boy bale

gareth bale

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

schoolboy’s own stuff

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

AVB-in

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

white hart lane

tottenham high road
White Hart Lane Stadium, on Tottenham High Road, home of the mighty Spurs. Well, we could be a bit mightier, but still we’re pretty mighty. We ‘might’ have come third, etc, we ‘might’ have gotten into the Champions League, Harry ‘might’ have committed to staying about four months ago rather than let uncertainty about England affect our previously epic season, etc. It’s all water under the Stamford Bridge now (by the way we did finish above  Chelsea, though of course Arsenal pipped us in the end). Ah well! New season, new manager, new kit, new dawn at White Hart Lane. New stadium too, in a few years time, or so the plan goes. I hadn’t been up there in a good while, to the Lane, so on tis one day when a day trip to Brighton was aborted due to very bad traffic, my friend drove me over to Tottenham to look around the Spurs shop (I picked up a nice retro 1981 Cup Final top), and gave me a bit of time to sketch the stadium. There’s no truly great angle to draw it from the outside, so I chose a spot which I think sums up this block. Many of the older buildings which were there the last time I visited have been knocked down, in preparation for the possible new ground, to be built directly north of the current ground which Spurs have occupied since 1899. My older brother, an ever-present at the Lane for several years as a boy himself, took me to games when I was a kid, back in the days of Hoddle, Ossie, Falco, Clemence, the Allens. Whatever happens with this club, I will always have that. The thrill of approaching the stadium after a long walk up the High Road from Seven Sisters, and entering the ground which was smaller then but seemed massive with the packed terraced crowds, reading the matchday programme while bigger men around me sang, swore, shouted and clapped, as real-life football sticker heroes ran around the perfect turf; now that was football.

I didn’t have a great deal of time to sketch, so I drew the stadium and the outline work of the rest, and finished off the detailing and colour later on. I had to make sure there was a lamp-post – legend has it that the grammar school boys who founded the club as Hotspur FC in 1882 would meet beneath a lamp-post (and shortly after that they sacked their first manager, changed the lightbulb and ushered in a new dawn, the first of many).

know what i mean harry?

harry redknapp

Do you know the difference between Basil Fawlty and Victor Meldrew? There is a broad range of character defects between the two but I’ve narrowed it down to this – things tend to happen to Victor, without them necessarily being his fault, whereas Basil’s woes are almost always entirely his fault and pretty preventable. As the episode of Fawlty Towers goes on you see him diggin further and further into a hole which it is almost impossible to get out of, and you can just tell is going to get worse. So what about Harry Redknapp?

I won’t go into the story, footy fans know it, non-footy fans have turned off already. Harry has been great for Spurs and may continue to be but this England job thing hangs over the whole club. Sure the FA are waiting on their decision – but I think it might make things a lot easier if Harry actually came out and said if he will or will not take it if offered. Spurs’s season since this whole thing came up has resembled an episode of Fawlty Towers (at least, I can’t get the image of Basil/Harry falling off the ladder trying to ‘look at girl in room’, that being the champions league), and wondering whether this business-end-of-season-collapse is Harry’s fault for not committing or the FA’s fault for not asking. That is, is Harry a Basil or a Victor?

Hmm. If someone had said to me in mid February when we were nine points clear of Arsenal that two months later we’d be six points behind them and sinking, I’d have said “I don’t believe it!” Now I keep imaging Harry picking up a puppy instead of a phone.