Words – Tom Farmer (@tomfarmer5000 @TomFarmerJourno)
For me, there is something natural and intrinsic about the relationship between guitars and footballs. Or bass drums and goalposts. Or the rasping vocals of a lead singer and the euphoric, cathartic scream in an away end after a stoppage-time winner. Like a kebab after a particularly chaotic night out, music culture often adds to the football experience, and vice-versa. There is one more thing that unites these two things: fashion. The singers in bands and fans in the stands tend to wear similar clothes. Many musicians and footballers becoming fashion icons. From Kevin Keegan’s mullet to Liam Gallagher’s parkas, there is no doubt that football, music and fashion form some sort of cultural triangle.
It is then no surprise that musician-inspired football shirts are such a phenomenon, as well as a nice little earner for football clubs. With Fontaines DC releasing a special away kit with Dublin-based Bohemians FC, I take a look through some of the weird and wonderful times where music and football fashion coincided.
FONTAINES DC X BOHEMIANS FC
With Fontaines DC’s eclectic fashion sense and fascination with Irish poetry, it is a genius stroke of luck that the biggest football team in Dublin is called “Bohemians FC”. All in aid of combating Dublin’s rising homeless problem, the Bohs’ away shirt is sponsored by the city’s (current) favourite post-punk sons. The strip is a piece of beauty, with thick gum white and thin burgundy strips, topped off with a smart colour. With a shirt sponsored by Fontaines DC and produced by legendary Gaelic sports brand O’Neills, there is something beautifully Irish about this shirt, as well as being a stylish football-music combination. Needless to say, I want one.
THE LIBERTINES X MARGATE FC
Legendary garage-rock band the Libertines’ obsession with seaside town Margate is no secret. With the “Boys in the Band” opening a multi-use hotel, bar and recording studio in the town, becoming the shirt sponsors of the local football team was an obvious next step. Whilst Carl Barat probably considers himself too sophisticated for football, Pete Doherty is a massive Queens Park Rangers fan, once infamously being ejected from the ground when he was caught snorting cocaine in the toilets. Mind you, if you had to watch QPR every week, turning to Class A drugs would be a natural reaction. All Margate FC’s kits have the band’s classic logo plastered on, whilst definitely having some Libs flair about them. Margate FC has got form with football/music shirts, following a snazzy shirt sponsored by Ska outfit Bad Manners in the 1980s. These shirts, however, a piece of beauty.
MOTORHEAD X GREENBANK FC UNDER-10’S
Perhaps the most niche of all kits on this list, the coming-together of a Lincolnshire youth team and rock royalty was bizarre for a number of reasons. The kit came about through a coach named Gary Weight, who worked in music and acquired Motorhead frontman Lemmy’s email. After taking a punt asking the band for sponsorship, the band duly agreed. The kit was subsequently named in FourFourTwo’s “top 50 football shirts ever”. The best thing about the shirt? Due to a colour clash with FA officials, the shirt was never worn in a league game. This shirt seems like a very weird fever dream, but a small part of football-music history nonetheless.
JAKE BUGG X NOTTS COUNTY
As well as having the unique accolade of being an indie solo artist with a debut album hitting Number One, Jake Bugg was also the first ever musician to sponsor a Football League team. Remember that one for when pub quizzes return. Notts County are also the oldest club in the Football League itself, so for a relatively insignificant team, County are the kings of niche football trivia. Although the shirt hasn’t got the flair of the Margate FC or Bohemians shirts, there is greater poignancy in Bugg’s name plastered over the infamous black and white. Bugg is a lifelong County fan, spending his childhood in the stands at Meadow Lane. The shirt is symbolic of a Nottingham lad made good.
WET WET WET X CLYDEBANK FC
After somehow finding musical fame and riches, Scottish soft rock band Wet Wet Wet decided it was time to give back. Clydebank FC, the band’s local semi-professional football team, were the lucky recipients of a lucrative sponsorship deal. However, they were slightly less lucky with the kit designs chosen by the lads. Whilst the kits were so uncool that they are now seen as quite aesthetic, I pity the 6”2 striker with a skinhead that had to play in the Scottish lower leagues with “Wet Wet Wet” plastered across his chest.
THE PRODIGY X EASTLEIGH RED UNDER-13’S
Another slightly fever dream-esque shirt collaboration, with sweary and (let’s face it) scary The Prodigy teaming up with eleven 12 year-old boys. The partnership emerged after Prodigy co-founder Liam Howlett heard that the youth team trained to the track “Warrior’s Dance”. For a season, the team played with the iconic ant logo on the front of their shirts, embedding themselves into football history. I wonder whether this was where the partnership ended; I would like to believe that their 5”2 goalkeeper had two spikes of hair dyed green, the team began playing a form of Keith Flint-inspired “electronic-punk football” and ran out to “Smack my b*tch up”. Somehow, I’m sceptical of this. Cool shirt, though.
Which shirt is your favourite? Which band would you want to sponsoring your football club? Leave a comment below and make sure you’ve rated your favourite!