The phenomenon, the trend and the beauty of retro sportswear

Words by Billy Hodder

“I believe there will always be a market for original, retro sportswear. I think it’s just human nature to enjoy reminiscing about stuff. It’s all about the memories really.” – Tom Allen, founder of classic eleven football shirts.

A sensation where 30-year-old football shirts can be sold for close to £200. A phenomenon where your rotten, broken and miserable football boots can now be sold for 5 times the value they were purchased for 15-years-ago. A trend which see’s teenagers searching, probing and delving into every corner of their local charity shop to try and unearth a hidden 1990’s Adidas original shellsuit. Retro sportswear is ironically nothing new, but the beauty of it has created jobs, businesses, trends and worldwide fashion tendencies.

When you boxed away your 1994 AC Milan strip to the dark and damp confides of your attic only to be protected by the irremovable cobwebs you probably didn’t expect to one day see your son desperately digging it out, you didn’t expect to see teenagers walking into nightclubs proudly sporting the same Fila tracksuit tops that you used to wear, did you? But we live in a time where so many of us didn’t expect to be spending our weeks wage on shirts that smell of our Gran’s curtains. But that smell is the smell of history, a nod to the good things in life, a nod the things that don’t exist anymore. A nod to Johan Cruyff’s hips, a nod to the very tears that dripped from Paul Gascoigne’s rosy cheeks in the summer of 1990, a nod to Ole Gonnar Solskjaer’s right foot on a late evening in Barcelona in 1999, a nod to heritage.

We live in a world where sportswear and particularly retro sportswear has become a trend far external to the world of sports. A world where the likes of superstars such as Jonah Hill and Drake can be seen wearing a very certain pink away Juventus top for no other reason than because it’s fashion.

In 2006 friends Matt and Doug who both studied at University in Manchester founded a business in their student home on the foundations of credit cards and student loans. This business was built entirely on the principle and idea of selling classic sportswear, and so Classic Football Shirts was born. Fast forward to 2011 and the business that started in their bedrooms had now moved into a 15,000 foot warehouse which contained over 50,000 items of kit room stock from AC Milan through a deal from the previous year. By 2013 they were working with 50 clubs and 20 brands worldwide and in 2016 they found themselves with over 100,000 followers on all social media platforms and with 25 individuals working for them.

Danny Taylor who now handles the marketing for Classic Football Shirts told us “Trends in fashion often work in cycles and nostalgia and retro sportswear has become more and more popular but we anticipate that growth to sustain itself rather than fade away.” Danny adds, “People want choice and not everyone wants to look identical at the game but still be able to show off their team colours. So for fans who want to make an investment that offers individuality and value for money then retro will always be a popular alternative. It’s also a gentle nod of appreciation to the past, reminiscing about a proud history or successful seasons from a year gone by.”

When discussing certain trends Danny notes “The late 1980’s and early 1990’s seems to be a very popular era due to the growth in TV coverage raising the game to new levels and the designs really stepped up in terms of style. Iconic shirts like the West Germany 1990 shirt and Holland 1988 are still regarded by many as the greatest shirts of all time.”

Tom Allen who is the founder of Classic Eleven Football Shirts also adds, “1990s shirts are the most emerging, and that’s due to the generation that lived through it now wanting a taste of it again. In the 2020s I would expect the 00s to be the most emerging, and on it goes. Aside from that, the legend of yesteryear are always going to be the shirts that people want; Del Piero, Batistuta, Beckham, Zidane, etc.”

While Classic Eleven Football Shirts was set up in 2013 Tom tells us that “its origins go back go back to 2006 when I started collecting football shirts with a view to simply saving some ‘future classics’ for later years. The World Cup in Germany was in full swing so the first shirt I bought was a France 2006 away with Zidane on the back – and talk about beginners luck because that shirt is now worth around 4 times the original retail price! After a few years I sold a few and realised I had a little money on some, and that’s where it started to get more serious. Fast forward a few years and I set up Classic11.com and we now have 1000s of original old football shirts in stock.”

Similarly, Mike Maxwell who set up the football shirt collective which is a community and a marketplace to trade vintage shirts and products inspired by classic moments, tells us that it also started from humble beginnings “My mates and I have always collected football shirts. But as we got older we had less chance to wear them. Couldn’t wear them to work, played less football and our wives didn’t let us wear them on a Saturday night. So I set up the site to give people a chance to show off their collections. It started on Instagram and then grew into a blog sharing stories of people’s first shirts. And we realised it was very emotive. Whether a footballer, journalist or fan everyone has a memory of their first shirt.”

Mike goes on to tell us, “The biggest trend we’ve seen is that vintage sportwear goes beyond just vintage football shirts. There is a growing market in t shirts, hats and art work.” This is certainly true with so many now looking to fill their wardrobes with retro trainers, tracksuits and caps.

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19-year-old University of Swansea student Jamie Lovell sighs deeply when we meet him and almost regretfully tells us “I must have spent something silly like nearly £200 on just tracksuit jackets alone. But that’s my thing, that’s my look. People know me for my classic and slightly outrageous, original jackets. I’d rather spunk my money on classic streetwear that represents and reflects an era. Why wear some boring rubbish from high street places like Topman? Do you really want to be out there looking like every other Jack, Jill and Mary?”

Jamie also gives a nod to the classic football shirts; “I spent almost an entirety of a festival last summer in one of my Dad’s old AC Milan tops. When it comes to my own team, Hull City, I’d much rather be spending my money on classic Hull tops from previous decades than ridiculous money on shirts being released every season.”

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To visit the classic football shirts site click here.

To visit classic 11 football shirts click here.

To visit the football shirt collective click here.

Special thanks to Danny Taylor, Tom Allen and Mike Maxwell.

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Are fans being priced out of football? 2017 review

Words by Billy Hodder.

“What is a club in any case? Not the buildings or the directors or the people who are paid to represent it. It’s not the television contracts, get-out-clauses, marketing departments or executive boxes. It’s the noise, the passion, the feeling of belonging, the pride in your city. It’s a small boy clambering up a stadium steps for the first time, gripping his father’s hand, gawping at that hallowed stretch of turf beneath him and, without being able to do a thing about it, falling in love.” – Extract from ‘Newcastle, My Kind of Toon’ by Sir Bobby Robson.

For decades football has been regarded as the workingman’s game. A form of escapism to channel your worries, energy and aspirations into something else. To sit back and support your club. Your club is your club for so many reasons, Dennis Bergkamp once said “When you start supporting a football club, you don’t support it because of the trophies, or a player, or history, you support it because you found yourself somewhere there; found a place where you belong.” But, one thing that we all share is that your club would be nothing without your fans. However, can football still be regarded as the workingman’s game when it can cost close to £100 just to watch 90 minutes? Is football really a sport that cares for its fans when you have to pay £60 just to wear their colours? Or is it the victim of business savvy globalisation, branding and exploitation? Are fans being priced out of their very own game?

In spring 2016 The FA announced a £30 cap on away tickets in the Premier League. The cap means that the average price for an away ticket in the Premier League has fallen from £46.44 to £29.44, that’s a 37% decrease! Good news, right? Further, the 2016 BBC price of football report has found that Hull City, Liverpool and Manchester City have all decreased their cheapest match-day tickets. Alongside this many clubs such as Arsenal and Chelsea have continued to freeze the prices of many of their tickets despite an inflation rate of 0.9% in the last year.

However, the English game remains in a position where a season ticket at a fifth tier club like Sutton United can cost exactly the same as a season ticket for top tier Portuguese Primeria giants FC Porto (£86). The £30 away ticket cap was not extended further than the Premier League which means the average price of an away ticket in the Championship in now greater than that of an away ticket at the Premier League at £31.57. We must also remember that a season ticket at Arsenal football club can cost up to £2,013 a season, that’s over a £100 for every home game.

We spoke to Phil Wall, a board member of the Arsenal Supporters Trust, who told us “Arsenal are in the fortunate position of being close to central London, and that coupled with a reputation going back to Herbert Chapman and enhanced by the brilliant early years of Arsene Wenger’s reign means that the club is attractive to corporate ticket buyers and is also a tourist attraction in an age of global travel. That’s what keeps the stadium full, but it’s not necessarily an advantage to the long-term grass-roots supporters.”

Wall went on to tell us “A lot of people have been priced out of going to Arsenal. The club are keen to tell us at every opportunity that prices have risen very little since the move to the new stadium – less than inflation over the period since 2006. What they don’t say is how much prices went up in the 15 years from 1990.” Wall, added “Attendances at Arsenal are still high, and even if the ground isn’t full the tickets have been sold, so that isn’t the concern. The concern is more that supporters who went for decades are no longer able to, and had most been priced out by 2006.”

When asked about what Arsenal Supporters Trust does to try and counteract extortionate ticket prices, Wall tells us “At Arsenal specifically we do a lot to highlight and publicise where the club’s money comes from and where it goes, so that supporters can see what they’re paying for. We’re represented on the Supporters’ Forum that Arsenal run, and we raise issues there and at the club’s AGM. We’ve also campaigned on lower prices for under-18s to attract the next generation of fans, and improvements to the club’s Ticket Exchange to make it easier for unused tickets to be resold, especially closer to kick-off times.”

Wall is not only a member of the Arsenal Supporters Trust but has been involved in other great work such as the New York Times video below on money in football which he co-wrote.

When asked whether making football affordable is an impossible task, Wall answers, “It’s not impossible, but it is really difficult.” Wall, continues “It’s likely to need government intervention if we’re ever going to get back to the days of clubs being seen as community assets run for the benefit of supporters, but in the meantime we continue to highlight the problems and keep pressure on to make football affordable for those who want to go. Clubs and TV companies know that supporters in stadiums are part of the appeal for armchair watchers around the world, so they don’t want to price too many out.”

Wall maintains, “The key is for fans to work together, but it’s extremely difficult to get enough people working together effectively when they may have no other common interest than the football team they happen to support. A lot of the time they don’t even agree with each other about what they want for their team! It’s a question of picking the right targets and aiming for small victories that will add up over time.” Wall points towards the FSF’s Twenty’s Plenty campaign which aims to have all away tickets capped at £20 and played a major part in the initial £30 cap coming to fruition, Wall states “The FSF’s Twenty’s Plenty campaign is the best example in recent times of concerted action by a large number of fans to gain concessions from the clubs.”

Liam Thompson, a spoke person from the Football Supporters federation told us, “Our Twenty’s Plenty campaign has been running since 2013 and we reckon it’s saved match-going fans millions of fans millions of pounds over the years. We’ve been working with fan groups and clubs across the country to secure cheaper tickets and selling the benefits of reciprocal deals – where clubs agree a mutual price for away fans visiting both fixtures.” Thompson continues “The success of the Twenty’s Plenty campaign so far has been down to that concerted effort from supporters across the country. They’ve been lobbying their own clubs and league bodies in a very convincing way. Here at the FSF we’ll continue to help fans make the case for cheaper tickets.”

When discussing the current state of money within football Thompson takes a positive stance over a negative one and points out “a lot of clubs offer good value, my own season ticket at Newcastle United works out at about £20 a game, which most people would think is reasonable” adding that “Despite this, the 20-30 year trend of ticket prices going up and up seems to be slowing down, with prices across the country beginning to plateau.”

Thompson goes on to note “Fans are a vital part of the TV ‘product’ this is sold to broadcasters in the UK and overseas and should be recognised by football clubs as such. If noisy, passionate match-going fans are priced-out, the value of those TV rights would plummet. Part of that increasing TV revenue has to be used to keep football affordable and accessible to all. It’s by no means an impossible task – recent breakthroughs have shown that the football industry responds when supporters up the pressure.”

It is clear that with campaigns such as Twenty’s Plenty are making a change. Fans more than ever are starting to turn against the tide that is milking them for so much of their money. Last season saw Liverpool fans stage a walk out in the 77th minute during a home game against Sunderland in protest against a match day ticket rising to £77 and were joined alongside Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher. Examples like these and the video below show that football fans very much do have a voice and when they come together it will be heard.

However, there are still examples of money immobilizing fans from the game they love. The 2016 BBC price of football findings extended far beyond ticket prices and found that 31% of clubs in the top four English Leagues have increased the prices of junior shirts (Manchester United’s priced the most at £50). So many of us can recall vividly our first ever football strip as a child. The arguments that spiraled into tantrums surrounding your mothers comments that “no, you cannot wear your Tottenham Hotspur away strip 22 days in a row without it being washed”. But what is football when a parent has to give up a days wage just so their child can support the team they love in that very teams colour?

Pies. Pies are indefinitely one of the most significant and greatest ever-present and pervading parts of football. They’re there to keep you warm on a winters evening when your goalkeeper has been sent off and your team are struggling to get the ball out of your own half. But even they have seen an increase in price above the rate of inflation with eight clubs charging £4 or over just for a pie.

In 1992 when the football league split to form the Premier League the first TV deal was signed for £50 million. Fast-forward to the current season and the current deal is worth £8 billion. If the rest of the British economy and inflation had risen at this rate then an 800g loaf of bread would now be worth £86.40.

Are fans being priced out of football? Yes. But, are fans willing to allow themselves to be priced out of football? No. Movements such as Twentys Plenty and protests show that the solidarity of fans is far greater than the hunger for cash of business minded owners and greedy chief executives. Yes, in the last 15 years we have watched so many clubs be compromised, be strangled for a worldwide, corporate appeal to investors and tourists. But, without fans football has no appeal, no character and no foundations. Fans will always be listened to for they are spine to football as a sport. Yes, the changes may be slow and they may be small. But, they will happen.

Special thanks to Phil Wall, Liam Thompson, The Arsenal Supporters Trust and The Football Supporters Federation.

 To view the BBC’s 2017 price of football findings in full please go here – http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/37953195

 

 

Jay-Jay Okocha- So Good They Named Him Twice

A letter of love to Jay-Jay Okocha. 

A dancer, a magician, a composer, an artist and then a footballer. You cannot be too pretentious when describing the way Jay-Jay Okocha used to play. Because to put it quite simply, he didn’t play – he performed. This is a declaration of infatuation for Augustine Azuka “Jay-Jay” Okocha.

Okocha was a pioneer. A pioneer to children, a pioneer to fans, a revolutionist in how to express yourself with a ball at your feet. Modern football is obsessed with statistics. To the extent where now a player is often judged purely on their pass completion, average minute to chance created and distance covered. Ronaldo and Messi are phenomenal footballers, but that is all they are – footballers. They are stat machines, like robots. They are fixated on goal to game ratios. Okocha was a much missed agitator to this. If you look at his stats, you would not be impressed. But if you watched him play, you would be captivated, you would be mesmerized and enthralled by a player who simply played for fun.

Many of us fell in love with Okocha at the latter stages of his career when he moved to England. Not to a big London club. To Botlon. Bolton Wanderers, where he was managed by Big Sam Allardyce and often involved in relegation battles. Okocha somehow, to much disbelief, thrived in a rigid system alongside the likes of Kevin Davies and Keven Nolan. A team that depended heavily on long balls and long throw-ins had a wildcard, that wildcard was Okocha.

He was a maverick, a bohemian dissenter. A man who would cooly attempt rainbow-flicks against the likes of Sol Campbell. A man who used to make defenders dance. Okocha could break legs without touching a single man. All he needed was a ball at his feet. His intricate and mazy runs would leave defenders untangling their legs for weeks. He could tangle a piece of metal, he could leave a knot in anyones legs. Those tangled earphones at the bottom of your bag? Probably Okocha’s doing.

He went missing in many a game. He didn’t do much pressing or running off the ball. And he had a rather unjust and disappointing end to his career at Hull City. But that can be excused, that can be forgotten. Because Jay-Jay Okocha never claimed to be a 90 minute player. Jay-Jay Okocha is more of a 4 minute YouTube compilation player. But that’s why we love him.

In 1993 he did this to Oliver Kahn (one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time).

 

Sam Allardyce was recently asked who his dream captain was as a manger. Big Sam has had a lot of captains. But when answering he didn’t hesitate or take anytime. “Jay-Jay Okocha”. Okocha could speak multiple languages and was apparently always willing to give time to anyone who he felt needed it. In an interview with the BBC Okocha described how he learnt to play football in the streets of Africa and only occasionally was able to source an actual football to play with. When he rarely was able to use a real football as a child he labelled these moments as “amazing”.

Perhaps that is what made him into the player he was. He was not monitored and pushed by youth academies, he was allowed to express and a learn his trade in the streets. Okocha is a dying breed. In a time where we are obsessed with statistics we should cherish and remember players like Jay-Jay Okocha. For he was one of a kind.

Thank you Jay-Jay, thank you making me and so many fall in love with the beautiful game. 

Pep puts his Willy before his Hart

GUEST POST FROM CHRIS DARWEN

What a load of pants…..

Well, that was worth waiting for, wasn’t it? We had months of build up, we had suspense, there was uncertainty. We didn’t know what was going to happen. All that before the standard football anti-climax. Gary Lineker and his “pants” is what I am referring to, of course. And I use “pants” in its loosest sense, almost as loose as the fit on Gary’s boxers. If the rest of Lineker’s clothes were sized to the same scale as the boxer shorts branded with crest of the champions, Lineker would look like a child in his father’s suit.

Anyway, at least Gary turned up on Saturday which was more than could be said for Leicester. Heading to newly promoted Hull, the team with no manager and a mere 13 fit senior professionals, City were surprisingly underwhelming, losing 2-1. The game did see the Premier League’s first ever synchronised double overhead kick, with Diomande just shading Hernandez for the ownership of the goal. Mahrez netted from the spot before Snodgrass rifled home a winning goal that suggests, finally, that the Leicester dream is over. It is so over that Vardy took to punching himself in the face.
  
Pep puts his Willy before his Hart…

Pep is already doing his best to become a true Manchester lad, choosing his Willy over his Hart on a Saturday night out in town. Joe Hart was dropped due to the fact he is not very good at passing the ball, as opposed to not very good at keeping the ball out of the net which would have been far more obvious. Guardiola is already baffling the television pundits who, supposedly, would have researched the fact that he likes his full backs to sit infield when in possession. Research? Not one bit of it as McManaman and Hoddle were so baffled by the inverted full back concept that I switched to Spanish commentary to listen to commentators that are familiar with the Catalan’s ways. Pep did not have it all his own way as Sunderland’s new manager David Moyes looked like he was going to escape with a point following Defoe’s leveller. However, what happened next was classic Moyes. Defoe off, Paddy McNair on to shore things up and defend the point in the hand. The only problem was Paddy McNair had a Paddy McNair and scored the own-goal that gave City all three points. There was nothing McNair could really have done to be fair to him except, maybe, not join Sunderland in the first place. Still, there is a bit for Pep to learn. You cannot just rock up and stick Kolarov in at centre back and expect everything to fall into place.

Jose in selecting Mata shock…

We also caught our first glimpse of a Jose Mourinho Manchester United side. Fellaini and Mata started, which cannot be Jose still angling for new players, can it? With Pogba still recovering from his summer holiday it was left to the afore mentioned Spaniard, Rooney and Zlatan with a fine goal to see off Eddie Howe’s men. Jose is Jose after all and putting money on United to regain a Champions League place seems money well invested already. Mourinho has also assured Depay and Rashford that they have a future at United, whilst not reassuring Tyler Blackett, James Wilson and Will Keane. Straight up the A19 lads, I think that’s where United’s new reserve team plays? Januzaj can give you directions.

Defending is for cowards…

  

Titles are not won or lost in the first game, a fact that might be some comfort to Arsene Wenger. Both he and Klopp have been known as tactical innovators in their respective careers and clearly both are attempting to win the league playing some kind of “defenderless” football. Sure, there were eight of them on the field in theory but they were pretty hard to spot throughout the 90 minutes. Walcott missed a penalty, which could well be Arsenal’s 2016/17 season summed up before it even gets going. The fact that he scored 60 seconds later is irrelevant as King Klopp’s side tore Arsenal to pieces before clocking off twenty minutes early.

It rhymes with Pele, right?

Both Spurs and Everton start the new season full of hope. Spurs will be hoping to push on from last season’s surprisingly pleasing season and Everton finally have some money and a manager who has proven adept and spending transfer kitties wisely in the past. Therefore a draw was the most likely outcome at Goodison and that is exactly what we got. One mystery remained after the final whistle and I confess to having not looked this up. Dele Alli seems to have dropped his last name and only has his first name on the back of his shirt now. Well, if it is good enough for Sergio Busquets…

Southampton and Watford matched Middlesboro and Stoke in the 1-1 stakes, debut goals for Southampton’s Redmond and Boro’s Negredo. Burnley and Swansea also managed to match Palace and WBA for incredibly dull 1-0 wins for the away sides. After the match Pulis said he felt his side were a little stale and hoped for some new faces before the window shuts. I don’t think it’s the players Tony, it’s your tactics. Still, you won’t get relegated. Burnley, on the other hand, they just might.

Conclusion…

What have we learned from the first weekend of real football? Leicester having two speed merchants up top is a great idea, but it would help if they didn’t both run in the same direction. Mike Phelan may come to regret winning that match as he could well end up getting the gig and becoming the first manager sacked this season. Pep is going to bring a style of football that is going to confuse both pundits and average players, so watch out Delph I think your number might be up. United will be exactly the same as every other Mourinho side, Arsene has delayed his retirement one season too long yet again and Jurgen Klopp is building something very, very special. I mean, he even got Adam Lallana to beat the keeper.

PS: Have you subscribed to http://www.talesfromthetopflight.com yet? You really should. You’ll get a free digital copy of our last publication “Thoughts on Euro 2016.” Catchy title, right? Plus by subscribing you’ll get the daily post before you’ve even had time to check Facebook each morning. Do it.

5 reasons Big Sam would make a glorious England manager

Sam Allardyce, or to me and you – Big Sam, is currently the favorite to be the next England manager and to succeed the self-imploding and horrifying shambles of Roy Hodgson.

From Preston to Blackpool, from Blackburn to Bolton, from Notts County to West Ham and from Sunderland to Newcastle, Big Sam has been ‘around the block’ for want of a better term. You think of Big Sam and you think of a relegation battle, you think of Big Sam and you think of long balls, aggressive football and physicality. You think of Big Sam and you probably don’t think of the England job. So why is Sam Allardyce, a boy who grew up with dyslexia and lived in a council house in Dudley being tipped to be the next England manager? But more importantly, why, why might it not be a completely awful idea?

1) He’s Tactically Astute

Is he? Long ball Sam? You sure? Well, yes. There are a lot of accusations made by football fans alike that Sam Allardyce endorses route one football, which may have some truth, but to tarnish his name by claiming he only plays long ball football would be unfair and unjust. Many players that have worked under Allardyce have endorsed his strong man-managment skills and Sam himself is a keen advocate of sports science and was veritably one of the pioneers in embedding sports science in English football. He’s externally keen on complementing his management with technology and statistics and is far from the old-school whistle and clipboard image that many have of him.

While it might not be perfect tiki-taka football under Big Sam, it will not be boring route 1 football. Although Sam’s thoughts on tiki-tala football are marvelous – “tippy tappy bollocks”…….

2) He’s ‘Proper’ 

He’s the sort of bloke your dad would go down the pub with for a pint and a curry and a chat about scaffolding. He has plenty of brown sauce with his bacon sarnie in the morning and doesn’t slow down for cyclists. He does his own DIY and doesn’t have a personal trainer. He most definitely owns a Nokia and certainly won’t take a selfie on snapchat with the dog filter. Basically, Big Sam is your working-class Dad and if it wasn’t for football he would probably be driving a van and coming round to fix your boiler. But that’s what makes him so honorable and so perfect. What I’m trying to say is that Sam Allardyce is a proper fucking bloke and he hates diving, look……..

3) He’s Fucking Hard And Will Not Tolerate Shit 

As a player he was known as “super Sam bionic man” due to his ability to clatter his opponents in a 50/50 challenge and to get up completely unharmed and apparently unfazed. Dave Basset claimed that “he was what I called a ball-playing defender…… if he wasn’t playing with the ball he was playing with your balls.” Can you really invisage Raheem Sterling trying to tell Big Sam that he’s too tired to play, just imagine what Sam’s reaction would have been if he’d been the England manager when Beckham turned up with those fucking blonde cornrows. He’s hard, he won’t take your shit, not even yours Jamie Vardy. Here he is enjoying a touchline scrap last season…..

4) We All Love Him 

He’s one of us, he’s an England fan and he’s relatable. Chances are you know many people yourself who remind you of Big Sam. We’re tired of zonal marking, illustrious and complicated formations that only actually work on Fifa. Sam Allardyce once appeared on James Corden’s Sky show A league Of Their Own – he did the gangnam style dance and ate an animals testicle. He laughs in the face of divers and he’s worked his way up from the bottom. He’s a normal bloke who loves throwing filthy moves that any Dad would be proud of…..

5) Who Else?

Bilic? Prehaps, but it’s unlikely the FA could get him. Eddie Howe is far too young and inexperienced at this stage and the only other English options left are Pardew, Sherwood and Southgate. Pardew dances on the touch-line when his team scores like a disgraced boyband member on ITV2’s big reunion – the man’s an embarrassment, no thank you. Southgate can’t even score a penalty himself for England, how can he inspire others – “yeah lads, just go out there and strike it how I would, wait, no, no not like me, shit.”. Sherwood? Let’s just leave that one for another day.

Sam Allardyce isn’t perfect. But he doesn’t claim to be. He’s not your cultured foreign manager in a three-piece designer suit who obsesses over ‘triangles’ and zonal-marking. But he has an abundance of passion. He’s quintessentially British. Just his name possesses more authority than Roy Hodgson ever had. There’s no way he would have Harry Kane taking his first ever competitive corner at a major tournament. Imagine meeting your girlfriends parents for the first time and her dad is Sam Allardyce, you’d shit your Tesco value pants in an instant. There’s two key components to a great manager – a will to win and chewing gum, Big Sam has both in excessive amounts. Jermaine Defoe and Andy Carroll get your England shirts out lads, because Samuel Allardyce from Old Park Farm Estate is coming, and he’s coming for the England job.

Are the Republic of Ireland fans the best at Euro 2016?

Fixing cars, cleaning up mess, belting out Westlife and uniting with other nations for spontaneous ABBA sing-a-longs. The Republic of Ireland fans are not conforming to the hooligans mentality set by Russian and English thugs but are instead showing everyone that not all football fans are d*cks.

Instead of throwing or smashing bottles like other nations have in France, Irish fans helped authorities clean up as they proudly chanted “the boys in green  clean up!”…

Not only are their cleaning up manors on point, but so are their Westlife impressions. This viral video shows Irish fans uniting in a clip that is bound to make you smile…

While other nations have encountered some violent confrontation with locals in France (cough Russia cough) Irish fans are helping to fix their cars!..

They are certainly front runners for having the greatest banners and flags this tournament also! Our favorite is that ‘all night long’ one!…

And then there’s this. They came together with a few Swedish fans to belt out a bit of ABBA showing us that you don’t just have to fight with other nations!

This is certainly a nice distraction from the violence that we have seen from some nations in the last few weeks, and we can only tip our hat to the superb Irish fans who are showing the rest of Europe just how to behave at a major tournament.

England fans, players and coaches all go f*cking mental

After going one-nil down to a Gareth Bale wonder-strike it was looking bleak for all English fans. But inspired substitutions saw England clinch a heroic 2-1 victory against Wales with Daniel Sturridge scoring the winner in the dying seconds.

And just about everyone who’s English, went f*cking mad.

This English fan-zone erupted as Daniel Sturridge poked the ball past Wayne Hennessy!..

 

But even at home in Bristol, these fans at Ashton Gate showed just how much it meant..

And then there was Gary Neville, the former England right-back and Manchester United legend completely forgot that he was no longer a player as he ran from the dugout to celebrate with the players!..

More footage from Lille showed just how much it meant to England fans who had saved all their money to travel to France (and this was only when Vardy scored to make it 1-1)..

Gary Linekar, Rio Ferdinand and Alan Shearer have had their great moments for England in the past, but even they could not hold in their glee in The BBC studio when Daniel Sturidge scored…

And finally, the skipper, Wayne Rooney, answered jibes from Gareth Bale that England lacked passion by grabbing a camera and screaming down it for all the world to hear!..

And this lads only reaction was to two foot his best mate!!…

One thing for sure is that it’s not easy being an England fan, but we wouldn’t change it for the world!