Fixtures and results so far
Reserve team fixtures
Youth team fixtures
Al Wilkinson's poetry
The Meek that was
Stats and analysis
Man of the match awards
The season in pictures
Euro 2004 preview
What came before
Review previous campaigns covered by Cod Almighty
25 May 2004
I am in a right quandary at the moment. In essence it should have been a snap decision. But it's been at the back of my mind for the past three weeks. I have added layer upon layer of over-complication to this puzzle. What should have been simple has become a right conundrum. And all I am pondering is do I buy a Town shirt.
You see, I am going to Barcelona in a couple of weeks time. I need some time off. The break in that convenient break between the domestic and international footie. Leave just after the play-off finals. Be back just in time (by two hours) for the first game of Euro 2004. And when I visit the Catalan capital, with all its colour and vibrancy, I want to be wearing a black and white Town top. I want people in that football crazy city to see who I jolly well support. And that means being up to date. It just wouldn't do parading an out of date kit.
Problem is I don't usually buy a Town shirt. The first, last and only one I bought was the snazzy Lotto one. If we were to play like Juve, look like Juve, then I wanted to wear Juve. Aspirations. Since then I have built up a collection of Town shirts. Yet I didn't buy them. I've been given them. Some through acts of generosity. Others are the side effect of sponsoring a player. (Coincidentally, all these shirts currently adorn my table football as a dust cover.) You see, I've never been mad keen on buying Town shirts.
For one thing, since the Lotto effort I've not liked any of the shirts. People tried arguing the merits of the Avec Wembley-era kit, with its rounded collar. The later v-neck collars were supposed to be "more my thing" - spoiled by that Dixons orange. Never mind the inferior quality of the Jarvis one – I didn't want to be a walking advert for a dodgy company. And that maroon – yuck!
I've never been convinced by the persuasion that the tops actually looked nice, let alone looked fashionable. And why should I need convincing? I should see a shirt and go: "Ooo, new Town top, I like that, I'll have me one of those, thank you very much." And since you might ask: if I am going to buy something to wear then I want it to look cool.
For another thing, I don't like the material. There's the well publicised risk of nipple rub that the material promotes. Yes, you can alleviate this - rub some Vaseline over your teats. Makes the top stick to your chest though. And is this the kind of feeling you want when you nip to the pub? When you're watching TV? When you're doing the gardening? When your workplace has a 'dress down' day (every day for me)? Thought not.
I am man enough to admit that clothing made from 100 per cent polyester tends to accelerate my reaching prominent levels of BO. And they're usually static-laden. I put on my costume and feel like a superhero with electrical powers. Very weak electrical powers. For two minutes anyway. And why isn't my nemesis nearby when this happens?
I admit I've worn these shirts the odd time. In my local Sainsbury's - in an attempt to goad a few snide remarks from the Bradford-supporting locals. Or for a kickaround. Or when a sense of triumph overwhelms me on a Monday morning and I want to walk into work with chest puffed out, proudly bearing my club's colours. And I realize it wasn't enjoyable. I can stand the occasional quip. I love the moment of gloat, even if no-one else gives a toss. It's just...the feeling of the thing against my skin. I'd never have made a professional footballer, inability to play football aside.
This is a lot to persist with at 30 to 40 quid a go - which is my third point. That's a lot of money on something that will last a season, tops. That it is a great big advert for some retailer I don't care about. (The fact we bought our car from Dixons is coincidental.) That they feel so bloody awful. All that money being my pocket money for a month. Ah, what a loyal fan I am. No commitment because I don't want to buy a top.
And yet this year Town have a nice kit. Simple, clean, yum yum. Lovely. Even though Pete has reservations about the back of the shirt. I don't mind the Young's logo, even. A company rooted in the town, even though I hear about their barely minimum wages. What difference does it make that it's made by Nike? It's a nice top full stop. Actually, it being made by Nike does make a difference. That's another reason not to buy one – number four. Being a conscientious Guardian reader, I shouldn't support sweatshops by parting with my cash. Do I? But if I don't buy my top, will those underpaid people still get paid? If I don't buy that top then the skint club won't my get money. No, no. Stand firm, man! The top is made. It's here, halfway across the world. The exploited workers been paid. Nike will notice that non-custom, oh yes. And I attend games. The club will have my money that way.
I could just try for a real retro top. It won't be up-to-dayte but it will be non-polyester. And supposedly 'classic'. There are those old-school ones on the Toffs website. Long sleeves though. There's an air of early 90s Buckley-era cool to long sleeves - Dave Gilbert et al. But long sleeves are also for the Paul Inces of this world. And they don't suit me. Secretly I've always quite fancied a cool 70s St Etienne effort. If I was going to get anything from Toffs it'd have to be that, definitely.
I'm not going to get myself a new top am I? No matter how hard I try I can't persuade myself to do it. I've got as far as filling out an order using the club's online shop. But I just couldn't bring myself to make that final, fatal mouse click. There are people out there who can make that snap decision. "Ooo, new Town top, I like that, I'll have me one of those, thank you very much." I envy them.