Arsenal Kit Pod

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Arsenal Kit Pod

My brother Sam came back on the SoccerNomad podcast to discuss his Arsenal kit collection and Gunner kits through the years. We talked about the best and the worst, unicorn kits and more.

Images of kits we discussed:

FAVES

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Arsenal's Thierry Henry celebrates at the end of the game after the 1-0 win against Southampton

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WANT LIST

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

WORST

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Arsenal kit history resources

Historical Football Kits

Design Football pods

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The Arsenal Shirt: Iconic match worn shirts from the history of the Gunners by James Elkin (Author) and Simon Shakeshaft (Author)

Museum of Jerseys blog

SoccerNomad blog posts

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Thanks for listening! You can also subscribe via iTunes and please leave a rating and review. Follow me on twitter @austinlong1974.

Scarf Collection

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I’ve become a groundhopper, not to the extent of Paul Gerald or Peter Miles or Tony Incenzo, but I take pics, talk to people and write posts about teams, supporters and venues in the United States. But what about swag? As a big kit nerd, the obvious choice would be to get a shirt at each match, but that strategy has a couple of problems: 1) not every team has a merch store or even jerseys for sale; 2) at $55 to $100 a pop, a one stop/one shirt policy could get pricey; and 3) where would I put them all? I don’t have a mancave (yet) and as much as I would love to wear a different jersey every day, society and my workplace frown upon that.

So my solution has been to pick up a scarf at each game I attend. This strategy has paid off in several ways. Scarves are almost always available at games, and if not, readily available on club websites. Plus at $25 to $35 each, this is the better option financially. On top of that, scarves are packable and easy to display.

Here is my current collection:

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Favorite Teams

Manchester United–The club team I have been supporting for 20 years. One day I will make it to Old Trafford. C’mon you Reds!!

US Soccer–I have seen several US games over the years , and I continuing to engage my own country instead of wishing I was Croatian or Dutch or almost anything else.

Atlanta United–MLS club kicking off in 2017. I’m a season ticket holder and can’t wait for the team to launch and play their first game at Mercedes Benz Stadium.

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Groundhops

Seattle Sounders–One of my first trips and had an awesome time.

Chicago Fire–Used to watch them at Soldier Field. Saw the new home out in the middle of nowhere.

Portland TimbersStood with Timbers Army in a very unique environment.

Columbus CrewSaw one of the first games at this Soccer Specific Stadium and have been several times since.

FC DallasAnother facility out in the middle of nowhere but Dallas Beer Guardians more than made up for it.

DC UnitedGot to see DC United at RFK before they move to the new ground.

Houston DynamoAmazing venue and hopefully the team returns it past glory.

Atlanta Silverbacks–Former NASL team playing in NPSL, I have been to many games and worked for the Reserves team.

Charleston Battery–Fantastic USL team with great supporters playing an intimate venue filled with soccer memorabilia.

Lansing United–The club launched the summer before I left Lansing and is doing things right on and off the pitch.

Detroit City FC–My first taste of real supporter culture. It has been wonderful keeping an eye on this team from the first days.

Nashville FC–Vanderbilt Stadium wasn’t the greatest venue but wonderful fans.

Chattanooga FC–Love going up to Chattanooga. Real passion behind a successful NPSL club.

Birmingham Hammers–Met some fired up supporters for the Hammers’ first season. Looking forward to going back.

Georgia Revolution–Under new ownership, this club is providing players a stepping stone to next level.

Knoxville Force (Scruffy City Syndicate)–Growing club with ardent supporters, playing right in downtown Knoxville.

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Miscellaneous

Juventus–Fell in love with Alessandro Del Piero and followed the bianconeri until I decided to focus my soccer supporting efforts.

MSU Spartans–Went to many a game at DeMartin Stadium during my time in Lansing.

World Cup 2022–My wife won this in a raffle. It’s the scarf from the US 2022 World Cup bid.

American Outlaws Atlanta. I love hanging out with these passionate supporters of US Soccer.

Terminus Legion 2015–Joined this Supporter Group at the intersection of Atlanta and Soccer in 2015 after moving to Atlanta in 2014.

Terminus Legion 2016–Re-upped and run the soccer team and host the Terminus Legion podcast.

The General–Special edition summer scarf produced by Terminus Legion to celebrate the history of Atlanta.

Soccer in the Streets–An amazing organization that brings soccer to underserved youth in Atlanta. Just launched Station Soccer, a pitch on top of a transit station.

Castleberry Hill AC–An organization looking to use soccer to improve their community. Currently trying to build Old Trenholm in the shadow of Mercedes Benz Stadium.

 

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Top three scarves I have come across. . .

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I usually buy the team scarf at each match but when I was at the Chicago Fire tailgate, I saw people walking around this scarf and knew that I had to have it. The scarf tweaks the Chicago city flag, using navy blue bands to frame the edges instead of the sky blue and then uses the four red stars through the middle. Great looking piece.

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While standing with Timbers Army, I spotted a Battlestar Portlandia. Having just come out of my Battlestar Galactica geek phase, I really loved the merging of pop culture and sport. Doubt I will ever get my hands but one of these but a really slick design.

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A scarf from Detroit City FC’s inaugural season is one of my favorite scarves. All the design elements come together, with of color scheme of rouge and dark yellow, a clean font and the argyle print adding a wonderful touch. DCFC has absolutely crushed it from a brand and merch perspective from day one.

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If you want to see a real scarf collection, visit Kenny’s Football Scarves. He has over 2000 pieces organized by league and region.

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Read more about my groundhops and supporter group interactions at the SoccerNomad blog. Also check out the SoccerNomad podcast, which focuses on Supporter Groups and kit design. Finally follow me on twitter @austinlong1974.

Red or Dead

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Having enjoyed the Damned United so much, this book was on my to read list, and the focus of the Howler Book Club prompted me to pick up a copy.

As a fan of the game, I knew the name of Shankly and of the great Liverpool teams of the 70s adn 80s but not too much more than that. The book educated me on Liverpool in the 1960s, and how Shankly took over a team in the Second Division and built the foundation for the all-conquering side of Paisley. His tenets of hard work, pass and move and team spirit, as well as an intense connection with the fans from both himself and the players were strong elements of the book.

Red or Dead is quite long, coming in at over 700 pages. I got the book in hardcover and it’s pretty hefty. A relatively quick read, the narrator moves the reader through season after season, with short chapters covering pockets of time before the narrator moves on. The style is striking with the repetition of elements (line ups, household chores, pre-season, etc) used through the book. The choice of first person and these repetitive passages are interesting and consume the reader as Liverpool consumes the character of Shankly.

The manager works and works and works and then abruptly leaves. Not knowing the story, I was shocked as Shankly left the club on the verge of immortality. I actually enjoyed the post-Liverpool section more. I felt the narrator was more insightful, more reflective, more philosophical than the manager who was grinding every day, thinking about the next opponent, the next trophy. The continued involvement in the game and the community and the relationships with other clubs was another striking feature of the man’s legacy.

Not sure how to recommend this. If you’re a Liverpool fan, definitely read it. If you’re a soccer nerd, definitely read it. If you neither of those, you might enjoy another book better.

ATL Gooners

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SoccerNomad podcast: ATL Gooners

Some of the Atlanta Gooners came on the SoccerNomad podcast to talk about the Supporters Group and the club. From the 2016 Summer Tour to Highbury to the classic Manchester United/Arsenal games of the late 90s/early 2000s to kits, we covered a lot of ground and had a great conversation.

Find out more about the group on their various platforms:

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Learn more about Arsenal Football Club from the following resources:

Books

  • Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby
  • Invincible by Amy Lawrence
  • Addicted by Tony Adams

Blogs

SoccerNomad Blog posts on Arsenal

Arsenal America Supporter Groups

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Thanks for listening! You can also subscribe via iTunes and please leave a rating and review. Follow me on twitter @austinlong1974.

Mexico Home Shirt World Cup 1998

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The Mexican National Team of the 1990s was quite strong. After missing the 1990 World Cup due to using overage players at the 1988 CONCACAF U-20 Tournament, Mexico made both the 1994 and 1998 World Cups and won the 1993, 1996 and 1998 CONCACAF Gold Cups.

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Focusing on the road to France, CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying was marked by draws, with Mexico and the United States only winning of four of ten matches. El Tri won four and drew six to top the Hex table and were placed in a section with Holland, Belgium and South Korea. The competition started brightly as Mexico beat South Korea 3-1 in the opener. Draws followed against Belgium and the Netherlands but it was enough as Mexico moved on to the Round of 16 as the second placed team behind Holland. Germany was next up and Luis Hernandez opened the scoring just after halftime. However Die Mannschaft came back as Klinsmann equalized with 15 minutes to go and Bierhoff finished off the CONCACAF reps with only minutes remaining. (Match highlights)

mexico-shirtEl Tri strode onto the field in a very distinctive shirt, made by ABA Sport, who had taken over for Umbro and were followed by Atletica. I couldn’t find much about the company but did stumble across a facebook page, which has images of the many shirts the Mexican company has produced.

The shirt, also worn at the 1996 and 1998 Gold Cups, was mainly green with a white collar and cuffs, edged with red. In research for this post I learned that a dark red used to be main color for the Mexican home shirts rather than the green I was accustomed to. This switch was made in the late 50s and continues today. The main feature of the shirt was the Aztec tribal design that was shadow printed into the shirt. This video has a nice close up of the design and production elements.

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The shirt certainly divides opinion. While some find it garish, the writers at Complex ranked it #6 in their greatest shirts of all time, going as far as to say,

For a collector of retro kits, this is either your grail or an image from your nightmares. If you can get your hands on one of these, you’ve just bought yourself a conversation starter for every single social event you wear this out to.

I love it because it is a one off shirt with historical references. My wife picked up a knock off on a missionary trip to Mexico. She wore it from time to time until it was stolen at a laundromat. Such is life. Don’t know if I could ever own one as a US fan but still a great design.

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Additional Resources

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Read the rest of my Strip Club posts here and follow me on twitter @austinlong1974.

Fan Experiences in England and the United States

Paul Gerald is a self described soccer nut and is working on a  book, An American’s Guide to Soccer in England, which he plans to have his book out in the summer of 2017. He has been on the SoccerNomad podcast to talk about his trips.

After our last chat he shared some similarities and differences between being a soccer fan in England and the United States.

I have been fortunate enough to see experiences in my soccer life of late: going to more than 35 games in England and seeing my beloved Portland Timbers win the MLS Cup in person.

The latter was a magical night at the end of a magical run and gave me a taste of Major League Soccer away days. The former is part of research for a book, a sort of travel and cultural guide to the English game

Here a couple of comparisons of the fan experience in each country:

Stadium Locations

In the US, many stadiums are on the edge of town and/or were originally built for American football. There are exceptions – all three Pacific Northwest stadiums, for example – but other places like Kansas City’s Sporting Park are between an outlet mall and a racetrack, and RFK Stadium in DC was original built as a multi sport facility in the 1960s and abandoned by the Redskins years ago, for good reason.

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In England, most stadiums are smack in the middle of town. Chelsea, for example, are one of the great clubs in the world, with a cabinet full of trophies. But their stadium, the sparkling 42,000-seat Stamford Bridge, is about a two-minute walk from a tube station in a busy neighborhood in West London. The same is true for Liverpool, Everton, Newcastle, and many others.

Some of the newer grounds are rather stale and on the edge of town (Stoke and West Ham, for example), but I give the advantage here to England.

Stadium Size

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Here there is some similarity, except for MLS sides who play in giant stadiums made for the NFL. The biggest club stadium in England is Old Trafford, home of Manchester United, with about 75,000 seats. The next five biggest are between 50,000 and 60,000, and after No. 10 it’s all under 40,000. In the Premier League they get as small as 20,000 at Swansea City and 11,000 (!) at Bournemouth.

The average purpose-built MLS stadium is around 20,000. So we’ll call this one a draw.

Weather

The vast majority of seats in English stadiums are covered – as they need to be, since the season runs from August to May and at least half of that is rain with temps in the 30s and 40s. In the US, we have the sense to play in the summer and sit in the sun. Advantage MLS.

Local Rivalries

My Timbers have the league’s most heated rivalry with Seattle, which is “only” 170 miles away. For comparison, Liverpool and Everton are one mile from each other. Queens Park Rangers and Fulham, two bitter West London rivals, are three miles apart. You could walk to those two and Chelsea in a total of six miles. It goes on and on. Big advantage England.

Away Fans

By rule, but not always in practice, away fans are supposed to get 10% of tickets to an English match, and up to three times that for a Cup tie. This means that throughout the Premier League, and in many lower league games, there are generally thousands of away fans singing their guts out the whole game. The biggest I saw was 9,000 Sunderland fans at Manchester United.

Look what they did when they scored a late goal in that game.

At the vast majority of MLS games, the best that can be hoped for are pockets of away fans, and away goals are met with a weird, eerie silence. Advantage England.

Distraction Action

Before games in England you get a lot of announcements and ads on the big screen – if the stadium has one, and most do. And there’s an on-field announcer whom everyone ignores. During the game? Nothing. They won’t even show a replay if it will piss anybody off. And I know of one club, Crystal Palace, that has a dance team.

In the US, you get some sponsorship messages here and there, but it’s much better than the nonsense at an NBA or NFL game. English people love that stuff, by the way; they think it’s like going to a circus. For soccer, though, we’ll call this one a draw.

Singing and Chanting

Near as I can tell, MLS culture is pretty much an adoption of English culture, all the way to the point of people wearing scarves to a game in 90-degree weather. There’s plenty of singing in both places, but from what I have seen, MLS severely lacks two things: spontaneity and player-specific songs. There are also very few opening game anthems in the US, which we need to work on.

Here’s 57,000 West Ham fans sing “Blowing Bubbles,” East London accent and all, at their new home stadium.

Slight advantage: England.

Eating and Drinking

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My favorite thing to tell English people is that not only can we drink inside an American stadium, there are people walking around to sell you beer! They absolutely cannot believe this. Ever since about 1990, when they started cracking down on hooligan culture, it is against English law to consume alcohol while you can see a soccer pitch – even in a suite. They also have no concept of what tailgating is, but they think it sounds utterly amazing and can’t wait to get over here and try it out.

Big, big advantage to the USA here.

Fan Behavior

The biggest misconception about English fans is that they are all hooligans. In fact, in 35 or so games I’ve been to, I have felt uncomfortable exactly twice: When I wore my Fulham colors outside Sheffield’s Bramhall Lane after a tense draw (lesson learned) and the time I naively wore a red jacket to a game at Everton (bigger lesson learned).

Still, I give the advantage to the Yanks here. The level of obscenity and abuse (at their own team, most of the time) is really over the top at English grounds – one reason that almost all have a family-friendly area. In the US, except for maybe a few of the derbies, fans mix together well, and everybody really seems out to have a good time.

One big disadvantage to MLS, though: I cannot believe how many American fans talk during the game and get up to walk around. Neither of these happen during the game in England, except when people beat the rush to the beer stand before halftime. It is all about watching, and knowing, the game.

Taken as a whole, seeing soccer in England reminds me of going to college football games in the South when I was a kid: It was mostly local teams with lots of fans there, TV and in-game distraction didn’t get in the way, and the stadiums felt cozy and intense. The English are in the slow process of replacing their old grounds and losing some of that atmosphere, but for now, and for my money, there’s no better sporting experience in the world than heading down to an English ground for a Saturday afternoon kickoff, with scarves and songs flying. I hope to run into you there sometime.

Check out my website, EnglishSoccerGuide.com, and follow along on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for reading. For MLS and EPL fans, what have your experiences been? Let us know in the comments below.

Liverpool Away Shirt 1998/99

 

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In the late 90s Liverpool were on a run of four consecutive top four finishes, but a good start to the 1998/99 season soon dissipated and December saw the Reds in 12th. They would eventually finish 7th and outside the European places. The Reds didn’t find much success in the cups, losing at the second hurdle in both the League and FA Cups. Spurs eliminated Liverpool from the League Cup and Liverpool’s encounter with Manchester United at the end of January has gone down in United folklore, with the Red Devils turning the match around in the dying minutes on their way to the Treble. Celta Vigo knocked out Liverpool in the Third Round of the UEFA Cup.

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The following season, Liverpool began to reshape the squad and finished 4th. After a poor start to the season, the Reds had a stretch from October to April where they only lost twice in the league. There was no cup glory as Southampton beat Liverpool at the Dell in the Third Round of the League Cup and Blackburn sent LFC packing in the Fourth Round of the FA Cup.

evans-houllierThis was an era of transition for the club, as Roy Evans left in November of 1998 to be replaced by Gérard Houllier, who would stay with the club for almost six years. The playing staff turned over as well with McAteer and Harkness leaving in 1998, followed by McManaman, Jones, and Ince in 1999. Berger, Song, Friedel, Heskey, Hyypiä, Henchoz and Hamann came in to lead the club forward.

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LFC Change Kit 1892-1896

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LFC Change Kit for Ajax match in 1966

As for the kit, white was the color of LFC’s first away strip and was used almost exclusively until the 1980s, with the exception being a red yoke kit in the early 1900s and vertically striped shirts used from 1911-1921. Yellow was introduced as a third shirt in the 1960s and eventually added to the change strip palette in 1982. After almost a ten year absence the white change shirt reappeared for the 1998/99 season. The kit would be rolled over as a third strip for the following season.

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LFC Change Kit 1998/99 and Third Kit 1999/00

The strip was manufactured by Reebok, who had the contract from 1996 to 2006 and featured a white shirt, black shorts and white socks, pretty much the standard template from the 1930s to the 1980s. The shirt was very clean with red bands edged in black down the sleeves and a white overlapped v-neck collar with black and red trim. The shorts continued the red band and the white socks had a hint of red and black on the turnovers and featured a red Reebok logo on the shin. I also found an all white version in my research which echoed the change strip from 1985/86.

Also of note was the club badge. There are several great sources on the history of the Liverpool badge (Design Football and Ajjam is a Red) and this particular shirt had the badge inside of a large oval. The club returned to more of a shield in following incarnations.

As a Manchester United fan, you may be wondering why I had a shirt from the most hated of rivals. A friend of mine picked it up at TJ Maxx and gave it to me not knowing football history. This was the only Reebok jersey I ever owned, and it was light and breathable. I actually kind of liked it but eventually the shirt was given to Goodwill as to not tarnish my United collection.

Let me know what you think about the shirt. If you’re a Liverpool fan, chime in about memories from those years.

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Special thanks

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Read the rest of my Strip Club posts here and follow me on twitter @austinlong1974.