My earliest memories of football (outside of kicking a ball around with 20 or so other kids at the local park) are watching ‘Star Soccer’, along with the BBCs Match of the Day my weekly insight to the world of professional football.
Broadcast via ATV and concentrating on the highlights from that weeks Midlands located teams, home and away, it was my introduction to the pinnacle of the sport referred to as ‘the beautiful game’. I can’t recall any specific matches, or flashes of brilliance but what I do remember is seriously muddy pitches, soaked to the skin players, eeking out results from stuck in the mud balls hoofed forwards, semi assault tackles from hard man defenders and goals earned via scrambled efforts. Digging deep – workmanlike shifts, cynicical attitudes to do or die winning at any cost appeared to be the order of the day, pitch based flashes of brilliance and the sparkle of magic the modern game believes it thrives on were all too rare – the idea of attaching the word beautiful to the English game seemed like a nonsense. Except for the contribution of George Best.
Best emerged onto the English football scene in a Manchester United shirt at the tail end of the 1960’s. A naturally talented, Belfast born teenager playing alongside recent World Cup winners who would quickly reveal and bring an accelerated edge to the game, expanding the boundaries of a team sport, creating the template for the idea that individual moments of brilliance and sheer audacity and self belief could turn games that so much of current era football is all about.
Capturing the spirit of the times and extolling the virtues of youthful optimism Best seemed truly to have the world at his feet. On the pitch a quick witted audacity carried him ever upwards into the hearts and minds of a wider public consciousness. Off the pitch it’s difficult to say how much the glitz, glamour and clamour of universal intrusion weighed on this young mans shoulders. As the footballing seasons and accolades rolled on and in, the spotlight burning brighter the beautiful simplicity and creativity of his footballing exploits were pitted against darker, internal pressures, the results of which would years later garner as much attention (and for a period overshadow) his footballing brilliance.
Recently issued via the Suave Collective imprint Pete McKennas ‘Maradona Good, Pele Better, George Best’ is an affectionate, realists tribute to the story of Best. Affectionate in the sense that having been drawn to Old Trafford as a youngster by rumours and tales of wonderment McKennas memories of those early halcyon performances clearly burned brightly for him, realist in the way that Bests battle with alcoholism echo with loved ones for him closer to home. Part historic overview (there’s a fine section on Man U players who have donned the number 7 Shirt for the club), part personal recollections and part road trip (well sea trip) as McKenna recalls the balmy few days surrounding his decision to travel to Belfast to pay his respects and soak up the feeling of loss at Bests funeral in that city.
It’s this trip that Mckenna’s book built around. An escape of sorts from the pressures and confusions of his situation closer to home, a sudden urge to take some time and search to celebrate something he holds dear, to park to one side, for a moment, the weight of sadness to celebrate a memory of the goodness.
The journey hooks McKenna up with a fellow traveller, outwardly from a different world, but with whom, he shares not only a destination but a past. A past that celebrates, a search for goodness. The reveal of something magical wether it surfaces via a passage of play on a muddy football field or the momentary lift from the mundane supplied by the spinning of a previously ignored 45 rpm record in an ignored northern town. It’s these brilliant moments of light that flicker and shine, however briefly in the scheme of things, that this book seeks to remind us of and that our desire to seek perfection shouldn’t keep us from celebrating the moments which approach it.
‘Maradonna good, Pele better, George Best’ is well worthy of your hard earned and available from the suave collective click here to buy
Great looking small run publication from Japan with the bizarre title ‘Wind Blew in 4 Guys Heart at the same Time’ credited to Ben Sakamoto and Yoshinari Nishimura. Published in 1981 and said to feature a whole bunch of full bleed grainy shots depicting a range of street style prima-donas in Yoyogi Park in Shibuya.
A continual run of ‘looks’ appeared – each time with a new startling originality. Perfectly defined looks that had never been seen before that have since come to represent and define much about the specific eras they appeared in. Wether borne out of opposition to elements of their cultural times or built upon the pure celebration of fresh, youthful possibilities each of these street style scenes penetrated deep into Britains cultural psyche, spreading like wild fire in successive waves across the country.
Looks and scenes self-created on the streets and clubs across the country by wide eyed kids keen to claim space, eager for something they could call their own. Looks that they invented in a dual feast of one upmanship and a keenness to push things forward.
The history of pretty much all these looks are saluted in street style archivist Sam Knees latest book ‘The Bag I’m In’, saluted in fine, perfectly correct style via a collection of personal photographs from the periods. Photographs taken of and by friends from the late sixties onwards to the late nineties for no other reason than to capture the moment, the fun and freedom.
These are photographs that truly capture the most beautiful thing about all these scenes – that they were created and developed in isolation, away from any media intervention or signposting. Style statements initially made just for the hell of it – shirt, shoe, jacket and haircut choices borne from a desire to look different, to step away from the perceived norm, the urge to create, that later came to express a desire to simply belong before attention and mass adoption dampened the spark. Rightly, the stars of The Bag I’m In (a great title, with it’s nod to hipster jive speak, and one that every time I see it has me thinking of the Fred Neil track) are the kids centre stage in the photos – a smiling Suedehead girl in a window pane check button down, a row of lovingly quiffed teddy boys sitting on a wall, groups of Northern soulers caught on their way into that evenings sweet soul 45rpm led euphoria, Bowie kids shining like beings from another planet on grey streets, sharply dressed youths on polished scooters proudly presenting everything they could call their own at the time. All representing the same intent and desire- to forge there own path in their own unique way.
The conundrum with the myriad of street style, fashion tribes has always been between individualism, something requiring a boldness of nerve, and self belief versus the confines of a shared identity, an alternate ‘safety haven’ and sense of belonging. Each look/era revealed in the book fought with this, original looks birthed in isolated small groups that organically spread, catching fire, lighting up successive imaginations and ultimately burned out, spreading to the masses. Looks that were over a short few years diluted, the sheen of their original inception worn dull only to inspire the next generations fresh take and remodel of a previous blueprint.
Each of the books chapters is neatly split with concise introductions to the key scenes as they developed, the who, whys, and where they went next. This is where the interest and intrigue lies, with scenes overlapping, pushed forwards in equal parts via switches in hair length, trouser width, geography and subtle external cultural influences whilst at other times exploding in direct reaction to what came before.
Nestled at the back, skulking but inspirational (as I imagine the ‘style perpetrators’ featured within in their classrooms and youth clubs) are a set of illustrations of the key looks featured throughout. Away from the brick wall and graffiti strewn street backgrounds these images isolate and strip the looks back to fondly remembered, familiar checklists of components that together reveal a history British street styled looks in all their glory. It’s a beautifully presented tribute to all those individual scenes and the street led creativity they emerged from.
Massive thanks to anyone who has bought copies of the zine and/or t shirts this year. Bigger thanks to all who have helped making the zine happen, people like peter ‘dr deluxe’ jachimiak, mark mortimer, sam knee, ed armchair, bill routledge, weekenders review, craig cowburn, john south and rob lee. Cheers.
A specially prepared christmas message from subbaculture is featured below. Merry Christmas and a peaceful new year to all.
There are till copies of the latest subbaculture zine – packed with guaranteed street style goodness – a ton of words and some pictures on the search for the mod revival sound, the cycling jersey and mod, jesse hectors heroic pop and rock style, a history lesson on the birth of the retro scally, soccer tribes, us street gangs and interviews with musician and DC Fontana main man Mark Mortimer and street fashion archivist and author Sam Knee. What’s not to like? Same deal as last time, 200, individually numbered copies available, 40 copies left max – snap ‘em up here subbaculture shop this way