Author:  Chris Cooper | Football Finery.




If you are reading this then I am sure you will have a similar story to tell about how you fell in love with football.  My love affair with the game began at a young age, inspired by my dad, who took me to watch his (and now mine and my son's) beloved Spurs.  Do you remember your first match?  Difficult to forget, right?  Mine was a Spurs 2-1 victory away vs. Leicester City at Filbert Street in April 1985.


You boy in Tottenham Hotspur 1985/87 Football Kit


Goals by Mark Falco and Glenn Hoddle earned Tottenham the points that day, with a supporting cast that included the likes of Ardiles, Crooks, Perryman and Clemence.  The Foxes forward line that day of Alan Smith and Gary Lineker (plus Mark Bright on the bench) was none-to-shabby either.  However, as an eight-year-old, my striking memory from the day was seeing the players climb down from the team bus, so modern it seemed to be from space, curved, shiny, gleaming, with 'Holsten' boldly adorning its sides.   

Tottenham Hotspur team bus photo with players stood beside it


Just like that, I was hooked.  My first kit swiftly followed, the fabulous Spurs 1985/87 Hummel home strip (yes, that is Hoddle's signature on the photo of me in the kit above), along with a weekly subscription to Shoot! Magazine and a tooth-decaying obsession with Barrett's Football Candy Sticks - the collectible cards inside were 'ace', but I still cannot believe anyone thought kid's sweet cigarettes were a good idea?!  Panini's sticker books on the other hand, now you're talking. 


Barratts Candy Stick, Shoot! Magazine & Panini's Sticker Books


Many an hour was spent playing the classic tabletop football game, Subbuteo, but despite what felt like endless practice, my footballing fingertip skills failed to show any real promise. More suited to my abilities was the less technical, but extremely enjoyable, Cup Final.  Traditional games were supplemented with technology to further galvanize my growing love of football.  I remember spending an entire summer holiday playing the pioneering football management game, Brian Clough's Football Fortunes, a hybrid computer-board game, launched in 1987.  This later progressed of course to the brilliant Championship Manager, which opened my eyes to the wider football pyramid, European formations, the concept of squad rotation, and players such as Tommy Svindal Larsen, Ibrahima Bakayako, Taribo West & Jesper Blomqvist (my secret weapon was the always reliable Belgium midfielder, Marc Emmers, available on a free transfer in the 1996/97 version of the game.  Shhhhhhh, keep that gem to yourself).

A collection of Football games from the 1980s and 90s


I enjoyed some fabulous football TV growing up, including Football Focus, Match of the Day & The Big Match.  Much later, Tim Lovejoy & Helen Chamberlain's Soccer AM became essential viewing.  However, two standout shows left a huge impression on my football soul.  First, ITV's playful pairing of Ian St John and Jimmy Greaves, who entertained us on Saturday lunchtimes ahead of the day's games on the brilliant, Saint & Greavsie.  The other was C4's Football Italia, presented by the extremely knowledgeable, coffee-sipping, newspaper-pointing James Richardson; a program that opened my eyes to some of the game's greatest players, as well as fuelling my love of 90s Italian football shirts.  Absolute TV gold. 


Saint & Greavsie and James Richardson from Football Italia


As well as my beloved Spurs, international football has also been integral to my love of the game.  My first taste of a World Cup was Mexico 86 - what a fabulous introduction!  It had everything, including 24 x brilliant kits that have truly stood the test of time.  If I had to pick one, I'd probably go for the red Morocco away kit by Adidas, but I could equally settle for Denmark's iconic Hummel home shirt, Argentina's deep blue away number (just ask Steve Hodge), Belgium's rich red home jersey or possibly Paraguay's seriously splendid classic home shirt.  All of them, stunners. 


Some great kits from teh Mexico 1986 World Cup


Mexico 86 also brought us the brilliance of Maradona and his not-so-brilliant 'hand of God', as well as Francescoli, Butragueño, Scifo, Laudrup, Elkaer, Rummenigge, Platini, Socrates & Sanchez.  Oh and Gary Lineker and his golden boot too!  Throw in a few 'Mexican waves' and my first Panini sticker collection (Pique!) and there you have it, bosh, the magic of tournament football.  Count me in.  I've re-watched the story of this World Cup countless times, thanks to the ground-breaking documentary film, HERO: The Official Film of the 1986 FIFA World Cup, narrated by the great Michael Caine.  If you have not seen it, I implore you to do so.  Pure class. 


Video cassette:  HERO: The Story of teh Mexico 1986 World Cup


Other stand-out tournaments, for me, include Euro 88 - which brought us the now highly sort-after USSR & Holland 'Ipswich' design shirt, as well as the magnificence of Ruud Gullit & Marco van Basten. Italia 90 – stirs up memories of a weeping Paul Gascoigne, that David Platt volley, a first taste of penalty shootout disappointment, the power of Lothar Matthaus's left foot (and right foot!), and the arrival of Cameroon on the world stage with their fabulous green shirt / red short kit, as well Roger Mila iconic goal celebrations.  I could go on all day, but I need to get back to sourcing shirts for the site, photographing them, and getting them listed for you.  If I get started with the magnificent kits, players, and moments from USA 94 we will be here all day. 


Football tournament logos


The fabulous 'fabric of football', with its rich history of design, colour, and technological advancement, has been a constant throughout my cherished football journey, somehow weaving it all together.  It is hard to put down in words how a simple piece of polyester can make you feel, the memories it can evoke of players, teams, tournaments, cup runs, goals, individual moments of brilliance, success, and failure in equal measure, not to mention all those fabulous moments with fellow football fans, strangers, friends and family.  All of it, wonderful inspiration for Football Finery.  I have loved the journey so far and cannot wait to see where it takes me.