Sunday, October 28, 2012

Don't let Uncle Mark get drunk

Welcome to Arsene Wenger's Coat, a safe haven from all that's fashionable in football today.

You may be familiar with my Charlton ramblings at God, Charlton and Punk Rock, you may even  have read nostalgic articles i wrote for both The Football Attic and The Two Unfortunates. Arsene Wenger's Coat is a home for anything that doesn't really fit in anywhere else. Don't try and understand it though, it may be warm and cosy but it's ugly and often laughed at!

Recent posts at The Football Attic have centered around the topic of kit design, classic iconic shirts that still evoke golden memories. But what of today's offerings? Templates are still a mainstay of all but the elite, however there is a jewel or two hidden waiting to be discovered by the masses. Liverpool and Tottenham have come under the spotlight of late for their third kits, created by both the colour blind and those with fond memories of seeing Blackburn Rovers playing on a black and white TV. These are both concepts from manufacturers just breaking into the world of football, yet some of the more established names are worryingly average and far less creative.

One sportswear firm i've always had a soft spot for are Kappa. The Italian company are famous for their tight fitting jerseys, almost reminiscent of cycling tops. Never ashamed of a big logo they've somehow managed to remain classy in the process.

Watching the BBC's football flagship 'Match of the Day' at the weekend i caught my first glimpse of Fulham's third kit, a prime example of the Italian marque's finesse. An exquisite all black affair with a gold and white sash, the back to back man and women are as large as you'd expect on the shorts, they also make an appearance on the shoulders, whilst the main shirt sponsor is reduced to only three inches below a very well positioned club crest.

The sash oozes class, it's always a popular addition in South America both with the iconic Peru kit and also many club sides. Whether it gives Fulham a little touch of the Samba magic on the pitch remains to be seen, although you'd argue it certainly suited the style of a certain Dimitar Berbatov. Only Chelsea, AFC Bournemouth, Carlisle United, Sheffield United and AFC Wimbledon also contain the sash in their closet this season, but it's only Fulham that don't interrupt it with the sponsor name. Hat's off to Kappa, this is indeed my personal favourite of the season so far, the irony however of returning to the studio direct from the Madejski to Mark Lawrenson lounging over his chair in an almost Jabba the Hutt pose was quite disturbing. Lawro may not be the only former pro to have added a few pounds since living a life of luxury dining out on the profits of a Saturday analyzing football, but he's certainly the shabbiest.

In some kind of defense, he came from a period of footballers like Tony Grealish and Gerry Ryan, also both former Brighton stars, where an unkempt mop of hair twinned with a beard or a moustache was considered the norm.

My Panini albums were full of footballers with what was then a fashionable addition of facial hair. Lawro was no exception and was of course blessed with a great head of hair, it's a certainty that no matter how grey it may go he'll never be afflicted with baldness.

It's what's happened since that let's the honorary Irishman down. He has a fondness for vertically striped shirts, not the most flattering of designs for a man rotund in the mid-drift. On Saturday's show it was clearly visible how the lower buttons were straining and the vest underneath was peeking out in between them. Before i'm shot down in flames i'll point out that my stomach is a lot larger than it was in my prime too. I however will wear some light knitwear to cover any embarrassing flaws in my attire. What can be Lawro's excuse? He even has the girls in the BBC wardrobe and make up department to point him in the direction of his short failings.

Does he make up for his visual unhappiness with electric 'second to none' analysis and match commentary? Of course not, he's more akin to a younger version of Father Jack grunting his disapproval. Content enough when sitting in the studio chewing the fat with his old team mate Hansen and Walker's own Gary Lineker, yet a miserable sod of Meldrew stature when sat in the commentary box. Everyone's dream job and he makes it sound a chore. If it wasn't the God given right of all men to get more and more cantankerous the older they get i'd be slightly put out by his nonchalance.

There's a little bit of you that has to love him, every family has their own Mark Lawrenson. An Uncle who lives alone, who gets no advice on how to shop and dress, who begrudgingly turns up at family functions getting moodier and moodier the longer they are there. Their attendance isn't out of duty but more the chance to bag a good square meal and as much free alcohol as is possible. We are all under strict orders not to keep refilling his glass but secretly want to as he gets far funnier and ruder the more drink he consumes. Once he's drifting in and out of sleep we all talk under our breath remarking on how each time we see him he's let himself go more and more, i believe we also may even draw straws to see who has him round for Christmas dinner that year.

Poor old Lawro, he does get some stick. I believe it's all justified.

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