Tag Archives: casuals

Kicking Television


Whilst debate continues to rumble on amongst United fans about whether Wayne Rooney should be dropped in light of his ongoing lack of form, tv viewers were recently treated to an “unprecedented”, behind-the-scenes profile of the man courtesy of the Beeb in Rooney: The Man Behind the Goals. As far as titles go, I might have plumped for ‘Wayne’s World’, personally.

The programme was commissioned to mark the fact that Rooney has now reached 50 international goals – a landmark haul that Gary Lineker was careful to remind us of at least a dozen times. The footage shown of a teenage Rooney served as a reminder of what an utterly devastating player he was in his youth, completely at odds with the waning Wayne we see toiling away in 2015.

Disappointingly, despite promising much more, there was very little revealed about “the man behind the goals”. Indeed, the most remarkable thing about this documentary was how little about Wayne Rooney we managed to learn over the course of an hour. Instead we were treated to about 20 minutes footage of Wazza playing with his kids, 10 minutes of him driving round Croxteth, 20 minutes of vox-pop plaudits from his fellow pros and 10 minutes of non-insightful musings from the man himself.

Rather than giving us stunning revelations such as “fatherhood has matured him” and “he’s a great captain”, I couldn’t help feeling the whole thing was a giant missed opportunity. It would have been so much more illuminating if instead, Lineker had gone off-piste and started rummaging round his house ‘Come Dine With Me’-style. Rather than simply teasing us with mentions of Wayne’s love of live music and flair for writing poetry, it would have proved far more entertaining if they’d cracked open a couple of bottles of wine and got the karaoke machine out whilst Lineker went delving into Colleen’s knicker drawer in search of said poems. Maybe next time.

It’s been a been a while since there’s been a reverential documentary detailing the life and times of Sir Alex Ferguson, so hot on the heels of exposing what makes Wayne Rooney tick, BBC1 followed up this up with Sir Alex Ferguson: Secrets of Success. This programme decided to forgo the already done-to-death biography format and instead went with the premise of Fergie’s new-found status as one of the world’s foremost thinkers in the field of management in business.

Fergie Harvard

Post-retirement, Fergie has managed to swerve the £500 a night after-dinner speaking circuit so beloved of ex-pros. Instead, he finds himself invited to speak at educational institutions alongside Harvard professors. The format seems to be that the academics start the ball rolling by presenting their theories in lecture theatres full of graduate trainees, before Fergie takes to the mic and dismisses all conventional wisdom with his inimitable brand of icumfigovaness.

It’s an incredible (and no doubt very lucrative) gig that Fergie has got for himself, and it doesn’t seem to matter a jot that his pearls of wisdom are simply common sense methods familiar to any manager in any workplace the world over. Nevertheless, the sway that Fergie has in these circles shows no sign of abating any time soon. Everyone sits there totally enrapt in the presence of such a legendary figure, collectively ignoring the fact that his experiences in charge of a football club aren’t in any way related to their own career aspirations of managing a team of 30 stockbrokers.

Out of all the usual faces lined up to pay homage to Ferguson and his greatness, only Tony Blair had the balls to admit that Fergie’s “just get rid of them” mantra doesn’t actually translate to a normal (not that 10 Downing Street can be considered normal) workplace. How utterly bizarre though, that the former Prime Minister actually sought out the opinions of a footballer manager whilst agonising over a proposed cabinet restructuring.

One of the comedic highlights of 2014 was BBC3’s Football Fight Club, a ‘hard-hitting’ documentary exploring “some of the most active youth firms in the country.” As far as hoolie porn goes, last year’s effort was stone cold classic. We met Dante from Spurs, attempting to kick his habit by fighting trees in a forest pretending they were Chelsea; there was a chubby lad from Bury retiring from active service at 18 to become a sensitive singer-songwriter; and of course there was Carl, leader of City’s ‘infamous’ Blazing Squad, memorably driving round Stockport with his 16 year old accomplices trying to arrange a “4 on 4” with West Ham.

Blazing squad

The producers of Football Fight Club don’t try to innovate, they instead stick rigidly with the tried and tested ‘Danny Dyer format’ that’s become the standard for the hoolimentary genre. There are numerous shots of dogs roaming bleak-looking council estates, gangs of kids stood on street corners with their hoods pulled up and a voiceover from a sociology and media studies graduate, explaining in hushed tones about ‘meets’ and ‘top boys’ and ‘banning orders’.

As well as catching up with Carl and Dante, this year’s follow up film introduced some new aspiring Cass Pennants. First we met with Brogan (17) from Lanarkshire, unique due to being a girl and for having seen Nick Love’s adaptation of ‘The Firm’ and taken it seriously. Unusually for a teenage wannabe hoolie, Brogan eschewed the pub as part of her pre-match routine. Instead she met up with her Hamilton Academical’s youth firm cohorts (ages ranging from 9-16) on a piece of waste ground, where they jumped up and down singing songs in their impenetrable accent sharing a small bottle of Buckfast. I’m not making any of this up by the way.

Then we met Denny from Wolverhampton, invited by Dante to travel down to London to ‘mob up’ with Spurs in order to fulfil his long-held ambition of taking on a “top continental firm”. Unfortunately, the game selected was Fiorentina at home, where clearly, nothing was ever likely to happen. By way of consolation, Denny travelled back home on the last train out of Euston gazing wistfully at footage of Feyenoord getting a kicking off the Italian plod the same night. What a pity the programme’s meagre budget didn’t extend to buying the lad a passport and sending him and the film crew out to Rome instead.

Blazing Squad Carl, meanwhile, was still holed up in his Bury flat bemoaning his misfortune of being off the scene due to serving a football banning order. Not really a surprising development when you consider he went on national television last year incriminating himself for an hour. Still, the end was in sight and Carl’s ban was soon due to expire – his preparations for which, we discovered, comprised of getting a new tattoo and buying an Ellesse tracksuit top. Apparently, he was also “looking forward to Derby Day”. Gulp. Be careful out there, reds.

Copyright Red News – October 2015


Cool For Hats


Last seen on the OT terraces sometime in the mid-80’s, the bobble hat has been on the comeback trail for a few years now. It remains the favoured headwear of Scandinavian-looking, beardy types whose natural habitat is Manchester’s Northern Quarter as well as casually minded football fans of a certain vintage. The arctic conditions of the last few months have given rise to significant sightings of bobbles at the match, the nattiest of which are the work of Nick Dydyna, one of the two brothers behind the recently formed Rosso Bianco Nero 1878. Red News sat down for a beer with Nick recently to discuss all things bobble-related.

RN: How did this all start?

RBN: We knew there was a market for quality, United related gear but it just never seems to be on offer. Then about 10 weeks ago we released our first 2 hats which sold steadily via our website. Barney from Red News put an advert in the fanzine, Red Issue followed suit and from there it just took off.

RN: I first became aware of you via Twitter…

RBN: Yeah, Twitter enabled us to spread the word about the product, though what really helped us was that a lot of respected lads quickly bought into the idea. My brother and I had thought about doing this for a long time but we’d never done anything about it, so we just decided to take a chance. It was a bit of a risk but we’ve now sold about 600 hats in 10 weeks…I think the extended winter helped too. We seem to have hit on a bit of a niche which we knew was there, but I couldn’t have predicted we’d do so well, so fast.

RN: The last couple of hats you’ve released have sold out in minutes…

RBN: Yeah, it’s been mad. I think we’re giving people a product with a bit of exclusivity that they know they are not gonna see everywhere. Going forward, that’s what we want to do but it’s hard because people go on our site and since we’ve sold out so fast, there’s nothing available to buy!

We’ve got loads of ideas for next season based on old programmes and old games, there’s plenty to go at. In the meantime we’re working on our first polo shirts and pin badges. For the pin badges we’re working with a designer we met on Twitter, his stuff is really smart…it’s nice to be working with other exclusive, little businesses. With everything we do, we’re trying to use local suppliers and manufacturers.

RN: What about the future?

RBN: First and foremost, we’re really passionate about United so that’s what we want to do despite having had interest from other clubs. That’s baffled me really, we’ve sold hats to Arsenal and Forest fans…the lads from Aberdeen have really got onto it as well as people from overseas.

We’ve thought about perhaps approaching small, independently owned shops maybe Oi Polloi or Ran, someone like that – on a personal level it would be a buzz to see our stuff in a shop one day. We’ve been sounded out by a couple of the stalls at OT to supply them but I think we’re offering something on a different quality level and appealing to a different kind of market. Essentially we’re just making stuff we like ourselves, if other people like it too then that’s great.


Copyright Red News – May 2013


3 Stripes Up The Side

Other than my family and United, the longest relationship I’ve managed to maintain throughout my life is with Adidas trainers. There’s nothing particularly unique about that, they remain the footwear brand of choice for right-thinking men of advancing years everywhere. And by right-thinking, obviously I’m referring to us traditionalists who tut-tut at Phil Jones’ highlights and who’d happily choose to go barefoot rather than support the current hipster fuckwit-led trend for Espadrilles. Anyway, as has been exhaustively documented elsewhere, there’s a definite kinship in existence between Adidas and us lot reared on the terraces of North West-based football clubs.

My relationship with die marke mit den 3 streifen began whilst in primary school, back in about 1980. Before the age of 7 or 8, you rarely question what you are wearing – it was shoes (Clarks if you were posh) for school and Woolies black pumps for PE. Trainers were something you would wear for playing out in on evenings and weekends – and trainers were just trainers, you had one pair and you’d wear them until they were knackered or you grew out of them. They were functional, not fashionable…until I first laid eyes on a pair of Adidas Kick.

I don’t recall who was wearing them, but once I’d clocked a pair they suddenly seemed ubiquitous. Everyone seemed to have them – everyone except me. Shiny black leather, black rubber toe bumper, gum sole and the classic three white stripes adorning the side of each shoe. Adidas…A-dee-das…even the name was cool – trainers soon became an obsession of sorts.

I was always a clumsy kid. Flat footed, no sense of balance, crap at football despite playing about 8 hours a day throughout my childhood – my speciality was walking into lamp-posts. The situation wasn’t help by the fact that from about 8-10, I’d routinely walk around with my eyes glued to peoples’ feet. I was a committed trainer spotter.

Unfortunately for me, the economic realities of the time meant I wasn’t able to join in the fun. Despite my protestations, the fact my dad was out of work for long periods during that era dictated that any household income was blown on trivial things such as bills, food and clothing as opposed to kitting out the adolescent first-born in expensive foreign footwear. I was still in no-name specials off the market whilst the rest of the world was proudly flaunting West Germany’s finest.

Enforced abstinence only fuelled my interest though, and all kinds of exotic sounding brands and names sprung up around that era. Instead of your basic Adidas, Patrick, Puma and (urrgh) Gola football-type shoes, suddenly it was all about the tennis. Minimalist-looking Stan Smiths had been around for a bit – though I could never get my head around them because they were Adidas yet they didn’t have stripes.

So Nike Wimbledon (as sported by McEnroe), Puma G.Vilas and Diadora Borg Elite briefly became chief objects of desire. It remained all about the Adidas for me though, whilst Ivan Lendl no doubt looks back with some frustration at his inability to win a Wimbledon title, in my eyes he was de-facto champion every year because he had the smartest footwear.

By the mid-80s my folks had split and as the dust settled, I was delighted to discover that ‘proper’ trainers were finally on offer as a means of consolation. I wasn’t complaining.  Sambas, TRX, Jeans, Gazelle…I even enjoyed a brief fling with Nike during that time. The overall look consisted of Lee cords, polo shirts and crew neck jumpers – wardrobe staples that still see me right a quarter of a century on. My hair is no longer permed though, thankfully.

Madchester came and went (we’ll gloss over that era as clothes and shoes became of secondary importance due to other umm…’interests’); as jeans returned to sensible widths it was time to consider footwear again. There were bargains to be had if you knew where to look. I can recall picking up deadstock pairs of Stan Smith and Puma States round then for the princely sum of £12 each – high street shops didn’t understand the enduring appeal of vintage designs, to them it was simply a case of moving on ageing stock.

To compete with the rise of Air Jordan and abominations on offer from the likes of British Knights, Troop and Travel Fox, Adidas rebranded themselves as Adidas Performance and the classic gear was now marketed separately under the Originals banner – so the classic trefoil logo lived on.

Adi had cottoned on to the fact they had a dedicated set of punters who weren’t interested in the buzzwords of the time like ‘innovation’ and ‘technology’ – they simply wanted suede in nice colours and a flat sole. In a market containing things like the Reebok Pump (a shoe you could literally ‘pump up’ – christ knows what for), trainers were re-released that hadn’t been seen in a decade or so. As I was now earning for the first time and, pre-kids and mortgage, had a fair bit of disposable income – I was free to indulge myself.

By the turn of the millennium, the internet had changed things again. Not only did it prove a valuable resource of information and archive material, websites and message boards enabled like-minded fetishists to communicate with each other for the first time. This, and attempts to cash-in on the ‘casuals’ scene (films like Awaydays and an endless stream of Hoolie literature of mostly lamentable quality) helped ramp up interest, and the growth of eBay led to prices rising to ridiculous levels on the second hand market. Yes, people happily pay exorbitant prices for 25 year old, pre-worn trainers.

The true extent of this interest was hammered home to me in May 2010, turning up outside Size in town for the long awaited re-release of the semi-legendary Adidas Manchester – originally brought out to coincide with 2002’s Commonwealth Games. I knew there would be plenty of others on the case, though I didn’t expect to see about 400 people ahead of me in the queue at 6am on a Saturday morning. Mental.

Stalwart Red Issue scribe Life of Smiley recently commented on the fact he’d clocked a sample pair of Adidas Noel Gallagher on the internet, and their very existence made him shudder to the extent he was questioning his brand allegiance – amen to that, brother. His words got me thinking though: how old is too old to be buying trainers? And more pertinently, am I too old now?

I don’t mean trainers for doing the garden in or nipping to the shop or playing sport, I’m talking about wearing trainers for going out. Over the years I’ve built up what’s turned out to be a collection of sorts – nothing too valuable or mega-rare, just stuff that I like. In recent times I’ve even kept the boxes too, mainly for storage purposes so they’re not filling up the bottom of wardrobes and getting crushed. I’ve probably got about 25 pairs in total, a number which some people may shrug at and others will find hilarious – but I find I’m wearing them less and less.

It’s always rained here, but these days I refuse to even contemplate wearing a pristine pair of Stockholm if there’s even the slightest possibility of a shower – it’d be an affront to a classic. More and more often I’ll put on a pair and just think ‘naaah, not right…need shoes’. Pairs in more ‘eccentric’ colourways have gradually been relegated to the back of my thinking, ditto white trainers. I’d never have thought it conceivable that Adidas might join the likes of Henri Lloyd, Burberry, Ralph and Lacoste in the ‘stuff I used to wear’ category…slowly but surely, that’s the way it’s going.

I’ve become increasingly conscious that I can be seen sporting similar footwear to lads 20 years younger – and that’s not a good look since my first grey hairs have started to appear. If I don’t change a habit of a lifetime, I’m in grave danger of falling into the same camp as these 50 year old balloons you see wearing baseball caps and Stone Island – still attempting to live out their Danny Dyer fantasies at an age they should know better.

So my dearest Adi, it’s time to suggest that our 30 year relationship has run it’s course and we should go our separate ways. We’ve had a great time together, you were my first love, but I’ve grown up and feel I’m looking for something different now. Out of respect for you, I want to be totally upfront and admit I’ve recently developed feelings for a pair of Native Craftworks Trail Shoes I’ve met on the internet…it’s not you, it’s me…honest…I won’t forget you x

Copyright Red News – October 2011