Tag Archives: trainers

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


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


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