Saturday, 19 July 2014

Review: 'Admiral: Kit Man' by Bert Patrick

These days it seems perfectly acceptable to discuss football kit design without having any knowledge of its bounteous history. The trouble is, few people can speak with any authority about the production of football kits in Britain, which is why the release of Bert Patrick's new book has caused such a ripple of excitement.

'Admiral: Kit man' is a rare chance to find out how one of the great football brands rose to prominence in the 1970's and disappeared almost completely thereafter, as described by its figurehead and managing director. What you'll gain from reading the title depends largely on your prior knowledge of football kit design, but even a self-imposed expert will find something of note to take away from this pleasant paperback.

The story of Admiral, the Leicester-based football kit makers, begins in the 1960's when Patrick became the owner of a local underwear manufacturer, Cook & Hurst. Sensing a need to diversify in order to generate greater profits, the company rightly gauged an increase in football fanaticism after the 1966 World Cup and began making plans to produce and supply kit independently for teams far and wide.

What follows is a remarkable story of success forged through the amiable nature and astute dealings of the author. Starting off with the securing of a kit contract to supply Don Revie's Leeds United team in the early 70's, we learn of Patrick's impressive ability to gain further business with many other clubs thereafter. National team contracts also followed as England and Wales jumped on the Admiral bandwagon.

Two of the many photos seen in 'Admiral: Kit Man'
As Bert Patrick added more and more domestic signings to his portfolio, he started looking further afield and soon teams in Europe, the Middle East and the USA were adopting the Admiral brand. Yet just as business was truly booming for Patrick and his company, the growing market for cheap foreign imported merchandise started to impact greatly on Admiral's once bulging revenues. Within a few short years, Patrick was forced to sell Admiral to a Dutch Oil company and by the early 1980's, their name had become a virtual non-entity in British football.

The tale is an interesting one and well worth telling. We hear of Patrick's many meetings with important figures from British football history and his occasional dealings with the BBC and the Football Association, to say nothing of the many business trips he made around the world. All very fascinating, but after reading the book I was still left with a hunger to get a bit more detail. What of the kit designs that were never adopted or the fine details of some of the contracts he helped to rubber-stamp? What were Bert Patrick's favourite kit designs and what did he think of the work of Admiral's competitors?

Unfortunately these are watered down by the copious colour photographs showing off all too many Admiral kits. On average, there's a photo on every third pages of this book, and that's too much given that most readers will already know what the great Admiral kits looked like. John Devlin's excellent kit illustrations also make an appearance to expand on the imagery further still, but I'd have kept those and cut the photographs by at least half in return for more of Bert Patrick's dialogue.

John Devlin's kit illustrations, as featured in the book
Though the text is fine, in and of itself, it's sadly let down by the obvious misspelling of the names of players and managers. With references to Keith Bircumshaw, John Lyle and Franz Bechenbauer, the book loses a little of its credibility - something that could have been easily avoided if someone had bothered to double-check the details. The flow of the narrative is also vague at times, not always following a chronological order and liable to diversion at odd tangents.

For all that, though, it's still a very nice book, and it leaves you feeling an undeniable admiration for the author and the way he brought so much colour and interest to British soccer throughout the 1970's. Many happy memories of Admiral's fine kit designs are brought to mind as you turn every page, and you can't help wishing the company was still as prominent today as it was all those years ago. Perhaps one day it will be, but for now it's nice to know that Bert Patrick's achievements have been proudly recorded for future generations to read.

'Admiral: Kit Man' by Bert Patrick is available via Amazon UK, Waterstones and all good book stores. RRP: £10.99

Thursday, 10 July 2014

The Football Attic Podcast World Cup Extra No.1

There's a World Cup on don't ya know! To that end, Rich teamed up with Jay from to discuss the competition so far.

The original plan was to record one a week, but as you may well know with Attic podcasts, that sort of regularity just ain't gonna happen!

As it goes, this one was recorded just before the last lot of group games started, so it's kinda way out of date, but hey... we'll put it out there anyway... Unjoy!

Subscribe on iTunes or download here. Alternatively, catch The Football Attic Podcast on Square One Football Radio.

See also:
The Football Attic Podcast archive

The Football Attic Podcast 19 - World Cup Films

What better way to celebrate the spectacle that is a World Cup Finals than by distilling all the excitement and drama of four weeks of football into a 90 minute film... with all that excitement and drama removed?  Yes folks, welcome to the world of the Official FIFA Films of the World Cup!

Chris and Rich dissect all the existing films in what some might call a reductive manner... we'd say it's a fitting tribute... ;-)

Warning - contains gross stereotypes and regional accents!

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The Football Attic Podcast archive

Friday, 4 July 2014

Retro Random Video: ITV World Cup 78 (again)

Way back at the start of the year, we brought you a wonderful video clip (courtesy of our good friend Geoff Downs) that showed just what ITV's coverage of the 1978 World Cup was like. In short, it had Brian Moore and a two dubious hair styles worn no doubt for a bet by Andy Gray and Kevin Keegan.

Needless to say that must have whet your appetite for the rarely seen delights of ITV Sport's logo-shaped studio and everything else besides, so here's another clip for you. This time, we go back to the start of the tournament and a chance to see part of the opening ceremony, again presided over by Brian Moore and Kevin Keegan.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

World Cup super groups

In case you hadn't noticed, we're coming to the end of that beautiful bubble known as 'the First Round of the World Cup'. It's beautiful because the 32 greatest footballing nations in the world are thrown together into eight groups of four in a curious, sometimes bizarre mix of geography, playing ability and experience.

It all starts with the draw, usually made six months or more before the tournament begins. Upon completion, it's as much as we can do to ponder on the deliciously random permutations that have been set before us. Will 'Team A' beat 'Team B'? Will 'Team C' top the group? Will 'Team D' cause an upset or two?

Before a ball has been kicked, we take it upon ourselves to figure out whether any given group is a good one, a great one, or even a 'Group of Death.' It is a time when we can dream about the things we will see and the battles that will ensue - and all, initially at least, within the confines of each of those fabulous First Round groups.

So what is it that gives a group so much potential for excitement? Regardless of how it might eventually pan out, what makes a First Round group look good on paper? Having given the matter some thought, I arrived at the three main criteria that would lead me to the greatest groups in World Cup history - in principle, at least.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Panini's World Cup 'Nearly Men'

Question: What connects the following football players? Andy Gray, Carlos Alberto, Ruud Gullit, Kenny Dalglish, Eder, Phil Neville and Robert Pires.

Need a few more clues? How about Steven Gerrard, Roberto Bettega, Dan Petrescu, Fabrizio Ravanelli and David Beckham?

The answer? They've all appeared in a Panini World Cup sticker album but failed to appear in the World Cup tournament it was commemorating.

It happens more often than you think and for good reason. As if to officially begin the countdown to a World Cup tournament, Panini launch their official sticker collections several weeks in advance. It gives you ample opportunity to familiarise yourself with all the names and faces waiting to create a patchwork of footballing wonderment in front of your very eyes in the days to come.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Fantasy Nostalgia: How to get Scotland into World Cup Round 2...

Football is full of traditions. Whether it's the need to go for a pre-match pint of beer or the irresistible desire to support the little team in a 'David v Goliath' cup tie, there are some things we can't help ourselves doing where football's concerned.

Another tradition, especially if you're English, is to remind those kindly Scottish folk that their national team are as likely to reach the Second Round of the World Cup as it is of winning the Nobel Prize for Literature. It's an old joke and getting more and more worn out with every passing year.

Yet a friend of The Football Attic, Andrew Rockall, seems to have come up with a valid reason why Scotland failed to progress beyond the group stage of at least one World Cup Finals. Andrew writes:

'Have you ever wondered how the 1982 World Cup would have played out if they'd used a different format - say the one used in 1986?'

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Up For The World Cup (1986)

Under what circumstances can a large piece of printed paper be given such reverence and adoration? When it is printed with the fixtures for the first World Cup to ever ignite your growing love of international football.

The 1986 World Cup was going to be majestic in all its colour and magnificence. I'd seen bits of the 1982 tournament, but it had all arrived slightly too early for me, as if I'd become a fan of The Beatles in the year they split up. Fragmented imagery and an awareness of past glories was fine, but I wanted to see what a new World Cup would really be like. My eyes were wide open and I simply couldn't wait.

In order to get myself in the right frame of mind for Mexico '86, I bought and read whatever items I could find as part of a relentless campaign to educate myself on this sensational sporting spectacle. World Soccer magazine (a publication I'd discovered in 1985) helped, to say nothing of Shoot! and Match Weekly, and that was without the growing mountain of memorabilia being created in readiness for the event.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Commercial Break: Match Weekly 'Quiz Disc' (1981)

Back at the start of January 2014, we recorded Football Attic Podcast 15 on the subject of Shoot! and Match magazine, and as has become traditional, we put out an appeal ahead of the recording to ask for your memories of either.

While many people regaled us with their remembrances of Shoot's League Ladders, two of you tugged our coats to tell us about a long-forgotten give-away gift in Match Weekly magazine.

Andrew Rockall said at the time: "Match gave away a flexidisc record with a quiz on it. Hoddle, Peter Withe and stretching my memory I think… Alan Kennedy were the contestants. Hosted by Mike Ingham, it was a three-parter and the discs were coloured 7-inch."

Monday, 26 May 2014

The Football Attic Podcast 18 - World Cup Top 3s

The 2014 World Cup is less than a month away, so what better way to mark that occasion than by talking for an hour and a half about previous World Cups? We've done that before? What? Naaaaah! This is different cos like we are doin top 3s innit. Sick blud!

So sit back and hear all about the spectacular Soviet goal machine, Bulgarian tantrums and Scottish capitulations!

And just what is Rich's problem with 2002?

Subscribe on iTunes or download here. Alternatively, catch The Football Attic Podcast on Square One Football Radio.

See also:
The Football Attic Podcast archive