Book Review: The A to Z of Weird & Wonderful Football Shirts – Broccoli, Beer & Bruised Bananas by Richard Johnson

2020 will be remembered as the year that the coronavirus brought the world to a standstill and devastatingly took the lives of thousands across the globe. What we all took for granted in our day-to-day existence will hopefully, once this passes, be treasured and appreciated, whether this be our family and friends, going out for a meal or a drink, or simply just stepping outside our own front door.

Currently, football as with all sport across the world, apart from a handful of countries, has come to a complete halt, with in England the Premier League and the EFL Divisions suspended in the hope they can be completed as some point, whilst some leagues in the football pyramid have been voided – for them, 2019/20 the season that never was. So with no games to attend or cover ‘live’, the gap in all forms of media (broadcast, written, social etc.) has been filled with re-runs of past fixtures and seasons, with people also turning nostalgically to their football memorabilia for any fix they can get. Given that, the release of The A to Z of Weird & Wonderful Football Shirts – Broccoli, Beer & Bruised Bananas by Richard Johnson could not have been better timed.

Growing up in the early 70s, football kits were pretty plain affairs, with many clubs not even having club badges adorning the shirts. Towards the end of that decade, the kit manufacturer Admiral stirred things up with creations never seen before and come the 80s and the advancement in fabrics and design, football shirts developed even further and would never be the same again. For the book’s author, Coventry City fan, Richard Johnson, the 1986 World Cup in Mexico got him hooked on starting his shirt collection, which he continues to this day. Indeed, this collection forms the basis of this quite magical but mad book.

How can you describe it? Well, to use the catchphrase of a well-known wood preserver, the book ‘does exactly what it says on the tin’, the contents are arranged alphabetically, the shirts are indeed weird and wonderful, and yes, you will find some examples which feature broccoli and beer!

Contents wise, the book features shirts in various categories, with some useful notes on the club, country or occasion the shirt commemorates, with some additional longer pieces from the author including one about his first football shirt.

The range of shirts are from all over the world, featuring clubs and kit manufacturer’s unfamiliar to this reviewer. It is interesting too, to see how various countries different regulations in relation to shirt sponsors are, with the strict guidelines of the English game, smashed by shirts from abroad that are simply one walking collection of adverts.

On a personal level, the Oktoberfest section (pages 136-139) featuring specially designed shirts from 1860 Munich to mark the annual beer festival are simply genius. But there are pages and pages more. Take your pick!

Whether you are interested in football or not, the colourful, crazy, creative shirts contained within the book will undoubtedly make you smile. Some of the designs are iconic, others are just simply bonkers. It’s a book you simply can’t put down as you turn another page in anticipation of what comes next.

(Conker Editions Ltd. March 2020. Paperback 208pp)


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Posted April 11, 2020 by Editor in category "Reviews

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