Tag Archives: adidas

Kicker Conspiracy


The whole trainers thing has surely been done to death now, yet it doesn’t stop hundreds of bobble hat-clad, singing section types lining up outside Oi Polloi every 3 months to greet each dubious reissue of a so-called ‘classic’ pair of Adidas. Punters start queuing at 10pm the night before, get their picture snapped waving them above their heads for the MEN live blog and then rush home and stick them on eBay for £300 a pair. In truth, that was me to a certain extent a few years ago until I realised it was a) sad as fuck and b) at 40 I was too old to be wearing trainers.

I’d got to the stage where I was more bothered about owning certain trainers then actually wearing them… which is absolutely mental of course. That and the fact that Adidas became completely ubiquitous in the same way Stone Island did a few years previously. They became part of the uniform for clueless bellends who fancy themselves as football hooligans and who listen to Kasabian and Oasis. It’s not a good look. Nobody in their right mind wants to be wearing what fat lads from Doncaster wear, basically.

Anyway, I’m losing my thread here as this is supposed to be a book review. Golden Kicks – The Shoes That Changed Sport by Jason Coles (Bloomsbury, £16.99) is aimed squarely at the footwear fetishist demographic, and very nice it is too. It comes in hardback, coffee table format and contains lots of nice pictures and a couple of hundred words of historical perspective on all the designs featured. The stories behind each shoe are revealed via insights from both the people who made them and the athletes who wore them.

A nice book then, that would make a good Christmas present for any trainer obsessive in your life. Oh and please note the use of ‘trainers’, ie they aren’t ‘sneakers’ and they certainly aren’t ‘kicks’.

Copyright Red News – December 2016


A Child’s Claim To Fame


When the editor asked me to note down any recollections I had of United vs Barcelona in March 1984, I was shocked with the realisation that we were approaching the 30th anniversary of the game. THIRTY YEARS. Wow, where the fuck has that gone?

On reflection, 1984 was pretty miserable. My Dad’s work was sporadic at the time which meant there was very little spare cash floating about. Consequently, I was on free school dinners, rocking 4 stripe trainers off the market and riding round a purple Raleigh Chopper instead of the much-coveted Adidas Grand Slam and Mongoose BMX’s that my friends were enjoying. The news had stopped talking about imminent nuclear war and riots and was instead concerned with Torvill & Dean and the plight of the miners. Lionel Ritchie was Number 1 in the charts. None of this really registered with me to be honest, it was only background noise because I still had United to look forward to.

The Old Trafford of my childhood was nothing like the gigantic shrine to commercialism that stands in its place today. Back then, it was just a football ground that had barely changed in decades. If I had to sum up 1980’s OT in two words, they would probably be ‘faded glamour’. Paint peeling off rusty girders, cracked panes of glass, the stenches of chip fat, rancid burgers, bleach and perpetual under achievement – it was as grim as it was intoxicating.

United were doing pretty well by March, however. Unbeaten in 16 league games, we went top of the table 4 days prior to the Barca game after smashing Arsenal 4-0 at Old Trafford – a game notable for scores of people brandishing clipboards around the turnstiles, collecting signatures imploring the club not to sell Bryan Robson. It seems a quaint idea now, somewhat naive… but that’s how important Robbo was at the time. A figurehead, a leader, a genuine colossus – the sort of midfielder who comes along once in a generation. It was perhaps fitting then, that those United fans doing their best to persuade player and club to resist suitors from abroad, were rewarded days later with a performance that was probably the finest of his career.

Despite United possessing a genuine world class talent in Robson, Barcelona boasted an even greater star themselves in the shape of Diego Maradona – and just having the chance to see him in the flesh was a major event in itself. Back then there was no Champions League or televised football on the scale there is today – indeed I’d listened to the 1st leg, 2-0 reverse on the radio. The only time Maradona had ever really been seen was during the ’82 World Cup where he’d been largely anonymous and marked out of the tournament. Despite being this enigmatic, almost mythical figure, he was still generally considered to be the greatest player in the world – although he wouldn’t go on to prove that until the tournament in Mexico, 2 years later.

I’d been going to United for a couple of years by 1984 and had attended both previous European games that season, vs Dukla Prague (soon to be immortalised after being namechecked by legendary 80’s scouse pop-ironists Half Man Half Biscuit) and the never-again-to-be-heard-of Spartak Varna of Bulgaria. This was all very exciting in itself due to European football being all exotic and unknown and that, but drawing Barcelona in the QF was proper next level shit. It seemed about as big as it was ever gonna get.

After sweating on whether or not I’d actually get a ticket – my Dad was often lax in buying the requisite two programmes per game for the tokens – there was much relief when he confirmed it was all sorted. I had a ticket in my hand: Stretford Groundside Junior, for the scarcely credible by today’s standards sum of £1.20.


Although we always paid into the Stretford End (a season ticket or LMTB wasn’t a necessity back then), we never watched the game there because being sub-5ft and weighing about 5 stone at the time, I’d probably have been trampled to death. Instead we had a regular arrangement going with the old boy on the gate, who was paid £1 per game to let us through to the seats upstairs in E-Stand. Not that we ever sat down, our spec was right behind the goal at the top – stood up against the handrail.

That handrail was the bane of my life for a couple of years, since its height was exactly level with my line of sight. This meant I had two options: either I could watch the game on tiptoes with my chin resting on top or more comfortably, with my brow resting on the bar whilst peering underneath. As a result, I’d usually leave the match sporting a horizontal indent on my forehead that would remain visible for the next couple of hours.

The game, as has been recounted many times since that night, was absolutely incredible. I’ve been at pretty much every big match in the intervening 30 years and nothing, perhaps only the white noise madness of that five minutes in the Nou Camp in ’99, comes close to the atmosphere generated. As a kid, I just recall being absolutely ecstatic to have experienced it first-hand and almost overwhelmed with happiness and relief following the final whistle. Before writing this I watched the 10 minute highlights clip on YouTube again and it genuinely makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

It’s the 3rd goal that does it. Wilkins picking the ball up in his own half and wheeling his arm, signalling for everyone to bomb forward. Robson clips a glorious ball out wide that’s met by Arthur Albiston and by the time his cross enters the box, the Stretford End are already celebrating the goal. Just listen to it, it’s mad. The cross comes in and the strangulated “YESSSSSSSS…” starts whilst the ball is still in the air. Whiteside heads it back across the penalty area and then Stapleton buries it. Bedlam. The cheering starts about 3 seconds before the ball hits the net.


It was Robson’s night. Footage shows him absolutely exhausted at the end as he’s chaired off the pitch by hoards of cavorting wedge haircuts in stonewashed denim and Pringle jumpers. He staggers up the tunnel and is first gripped by Ron Atkinson, then looks in dire need of oxygen as he’s interviewed by Elton Welsby. Sadly, and typically for the era, our campaign fell to pieces after that. Arnold Muhren never kicked another ball that season, Robson was crucially injured for the 2nd leg of the Juventus semi and United limped home in the league, scoring only 8 goals and winning twice in our final 10 games. At least Robbo stayed though, with the board deciding to cash in on Ray Wilkins instead.

Despite being present as a 10 year old kid, I was fully aware of the night’s significance as it just felt absolutely huge in comparison to any game I’d attended previously. To this day, my Dad still describes it as “the best ever” and he’s been going to the match since the early 60’s – so that will do for me too. “Barcelona, Real Madrid, they will make a gallant bid, but United are the greatest team of all.” Damn right.

It was, quite simply, the greatest of the great Old Trafford nights.

Copyright Red News – March 2014


Serenity Now


Champions again. 11 months later than hoped for, title No. 20 is in the bag and we can finally look forward to a little respite on the “Aguerooooooooo….” front. I’m reasonably confident MOTD will remove the clip from their opening titles next season and one assumes that Sky might cease playing it every 15 minutes. Persuading every single City fan I know to change their ringtone might prove a tad ambitious, however.

Despite talk of trebles and doubles ultimately proving just that, we’re left with a more than satisfactory single to savour – one that all of us would have settled for before a ball was kicked. Of course winning the league is always something to cherish, but winning it back from ‘them’ after ‘that’? This title feels more cathartic than celebratory.

After the final day drama last season, history will no doubt show this years title was won at a canter – but I remained somewhat twitchy up to the point we went 3-0 up v’s Villa. The bookies paying out early happens every year now, but the fact pretty much the whole of the football world (with the exception of Brian Kidd) declared the title race over and done with weeks ago only increased my sense of agitation. Talksport were dismissively telling listeners, “United have nothing to play for” prior to the West Ham game – pretty much the same line they were trotting out on the night we lost at Wigan 12 months previously. “Nothing to play for”? – we still needed another 7 points for fuck’s sake.

So despite being ‘inevitable’ and a ‘procession’ it never felt entirely comfortable. The thrills and spills of the opening half of the season were replaced by a return of the defensively solid, wildly unspectacular football that’s become our trademark over the last 3-4 years. Whilst there were some fantastic moments with late winners and goonage aplenty, it’s difficult to recall many games where the team performed for 90 minutes – the manner of the crucial 3 away victories at Liverpool, Chelsea and City being especially indicative.

Liverpool dominated us for the best part of the game and we only began to get a foot in the game once they’d had a man sent off; the trip to Stamford Bridge saw us storm into the lead then go to pieces before Clattenburg intervened and handed us back the initiative; RVP’s free kick at City, surely THE moment of the season – came off the back of a 20 minute spell where we’d barely had a kick and were hanging on desperately for a point. 3 pivotal games, 3 slightly fortuitous yet insanely satisfying wins. Our luck couldn’t last.

If those 3 fixtures were representative of United pre-Christmas, the 3 games biggest games during the 2nd half of the season resulted in 3 disappointing defeats. Madrid sent us out of Europe by winning at OT, a fairly abject performance saw us lose to Chelsea in the cup replay and City were well worth their victory in the recent derby. Our form aside from these games was solid enough but it’s fair to say, very rarely set the pulse racing. Winning is great of course and makes even the most uninspiring football palatable, but Manchester United should be about more than just winning.

Nevertheless, perhaps it’s slightly churlish to be airing these gripes now and instead we should instead focus on some good, old fashioned ballooning in light of what the management and squad have achieved – and it is a huge achievement. It won’t be celebrated with quite the same gusto that we’ve greeted previous trophies with, but that’s just an unfortunate consequence of us having gorged on success over the last 20 years.

My 40th is fast approaching and it occurred to me the other day that most of my first 2 decades were spent longing to see United win the league. That finally happened just prior to my 20th, so since then I’ve seen it happen another 12 times. 12 titles in 20 years – after it had taken us over 100 seasons of playing league football to amass the previous 8. If you’d informed me in the summer of 1992 that was going to occur, I’d have most likely called you a lying bastard before politely enquiring where you’d got your drugs from.

Whilst we can look forward to a relaxing few weeks receiving begrudging guards of honour and watching the tombola XL, the Berts are quietly licking their wounds and steadfastly maintaining an FA Cup will represent progress. After the awful noise which followed their title win last May, they’re pleasingly silent at present – no doubt gathering their breath for another sustained period of self-aggrandising bullshit should they overcome Wigan at Wembley. I received a solitary text from an alright one after the Villa game offering congratulations, this having been inundated with gloating messages at the close of last season. I didn’t bother sending any nonsense out myself, just having the knowledge that they’re hurting is enough.

Talking of pain, the serene ending to the season at OT is in marked contrast to the misery currently being experienced by supporters of Liverpool FC. If the manner of our title win feels ever so slightly anticlimactic, then do console yourself with the fact it’s gone down like a cup of cold sick on Merseyside. I’ve managed to go the whole season without mentioning Brendan Rodgers, mainly due to the fact I’m not sure where to begin – the man is truly a gift that keeps on giving. One expects he’ll be given another season before the scousers tire of his bluster, which is a relief because in the meantime he’s doing a fantastic job of promising an awful lot whilst in reality, delivering very little.

Rodgers, let’s not forget, wasn’t even first choice when he came in last summer. Roberto Martinez sussed the job was going to be a nightmare given the financial constraints in place following Dalglish’s extended shopping spree so sensibly gave them the swerve. It was clear FSG needed a good communicator after the PR disaster overseen by ‘Kenny’ and they got one. A master exponent of kind of flattering, syrupy rhetoric the scousers lap up, Rodgers is very good at talking so they took to him immediately. They called him ‘Brendan’ whereas everyone else pissed themselves laughing and called him ‘a dickhead’.

In fairness to Rodgers, he’s on a hiding to nothing ultimately – despite his brief surely not extending much beyond ‘manage expectations’. Although welcomed as ‘one of us’ after speaking in hushed tones about ‘class’, ‘dignity’ and ‘the Liverpool way’, it’ll be a surprise if he’s still there at the end of next season. It must be soul destroying for them at present: United champions, yet another slow realisation their owners aren’t going to pour millions in, manager a national laughing stock and their best player finally proving beyond all reasonable doubt he’s the biggest cunt in football. 23 years since they won the league now, roll on 2016…

Before I sign off, one last thing that’s been bugging me. Not content with insisting everyone should stand up for the Busby Babes every 10 minutes, I hear certain denizens of Stretford End Tier 2 spent part of the recent derby waving their JD Sports Adidas above their heads whilst bellowing ‘shoes off for the Busby Babes’. Here’s an idea for anyone involved – why not take it a step further and do something truly original? How about removing your shoes and beating yourselves unconscious with them instead?

Enjoy the summer and see you next season.

Copyright Red News – May 2013