Tag Archives: footballers

​The Ever-Changing Football Boot

One of the current bones of contention within football as a global sport is that it trails behind other sports in regards to technology.

With rugby, tennis, cricket and other high-profile entertainment, they all currently grasp whatever high-end innovations that are to hand in order to benefit the sport and ensure that justice plays just as big a part in events as the entertainment itself.

Football though, is just about coming to terms with goalline technology, never mind utilising video references to see that huge decisions are called correctly. With the influx of exorbitant money comes the underlined necessity for these decisions to be infallible. The ramifications can be devastating otherwise.

Football is archaic in its approach, but in other areas, it is way ahead of the curve. Take the once humble football boot.

From its humble beginnings as merely an accessory worn to ensure toes were not broken when kicking the swollen and rigid leather ball, now they are alien in comparison to their dated siblings.

The never ending quest to find the sweetest of spots to strike the ball has led to some crazy calls and designs, and now to even name them ‘boots’ seems incongruent. They seem to resemble an elvish slipper, crafted from an angel’s sigh and offering zero protection whatsoever in order to maximise the ability of the player.

Where is the middle ground? Well, The Hot Stepanovs does not rest until answers are found. I delved deep and have found a man who has shunned the current trend for gaudy footwear made entirely from the skin of a butterfly. 

Yet he has also claimed it is lightweight and allows for skills, tricks and flicks to be just as optimal as ever.

Where is this heaven-sent boot? I spoke to boot designer Scott Michaels to get the info.

Hi Scott. First thing’s first. Your path did not exactly lead to designing football boots! How did you find yourself up to this point?

Scott – When I was fifteen, i used to play football five times a week. I remember all the cool brands of football boots the Premier League footballers were wearing at the time. I have always followed the different styles and brands closely. Now looking into the industry, I see most of these stylish independent boots have disappeared from the professional market.

From 18 years old, I ran my own hairdressing salon for ten years, I then started up a hairstyling brand called Hairbond. Hairbond is currently the largest British hairstyling brand in the World with over £20m retail value sold since we launched in 2010.

Through Hairbond consumer marketing, I used my passion for professional football which got me back involved in the game again and reignited my passion. With top Premier League players regularly promoting our products through social media it gave me the opportunity to create Hairbond photo shoots with Simon Mignolet and James Anderson as brand ambassadors.

What makes your boot so special?

Scott –  Our Heirship Seventeen is a premium heritage concept, built with new age technology, and getting the right product material was the most important part.

I have been working with a team comprised of sport scientists and professional footballers to design the boot.

We have sampled hundreds of materials from extremely lightweight carbon fibre (which gets damaged very easily), to old school Kangaroo leather (which is in my opinion unethical).  

The chosen material is Japanese Super Micro Fibre. This state of the art synthetic is – in my opinion – the best in the world for high performance professional football boots.

It’s more durable than premium leather and moulds better to the foot.  Our first release – the Heirship Seventeen – is also very lightweight when compared to alternatives and we have embossed ‘texture vents’ to enable a greater feel of the ball.

There will be a mixed stud boot for soft ground, and an Astro sole version, for artificial pitches launching this summer in a classic black as well as a Limited Edition white/gold edition. We are also planning a hard ground bladed technology release in both colours and a children’s edition later on in the year.

Your area of expertise seems to be marketing. How do you plan to ensure your wares reach the relevant parties – the footballers who will give your boot the platform it needs?

Scott – We already have over 100 professional players globally desperately waiting to try the boots and unlike most brands in the game we are not paying any players to wear the boots.

For professional football players, football boots are more than just a boot, they are the tool of their trade. We want footballers to choose our boots and the durability, comfort and performance of the need to be prioritised.

How much research went into making sure your offerings were the best they could be?

Scott – I have spent the last 12 months researching the very best global manufacturers and sourcing materials to make the boots innovative. All prototype samples were then sent out to a dozen active professionals to test through the rigors of training. I then worked with a premium shoe designer in Italy and the first boot Heirship Seventeen was born. We are launching them in 1 colour ways – classic black and a Matchmakers limited edition white and gold edition –  to celebrate the brands launch in 2017.

Do you think that your competitors boots are a factor in the frequency of injuries on the pitch? Was it a factor in the manufacture of yours?

Scott – Yes, injury prevention was something we have had to consider whilst designing the boots. I also believe a boot that provides more support is vital but without too much weight. Some players are playing 50 games a season and are running 12k per game. This is where our focus is regarding performance as we look at a footballers foot comfort over a marathon not a sprint. After thorough research, we believe that we have the right balance with the H17 boot which is still light weight but has the durability and comfort factor.

What is the next step for you, and what is the ultimate aim?

Scott – To position Matchmakers as the designer labelled boot brand in football. We also see Matchmakers as a premium niche alternative to mass market sports brands. I believe with the boot technology and the swagger of Matchmakers we have something different to the rest. I also think with my marketing experience dealing with the same demographic will help us in new ways to market our products. I also think our immediate success in football boots could lead us into other sports such as both codes of rugby and golf.

It will be very interesting to watch the progress of this brand, especially with the advances this boot boasts of.

Please check out stylomatchmakers.com in April for more information on this fantastic product.

Beware the False Herald…..

Originally posted on Goonersphere

It would seem that the media got a little carried away with our defeat at the hands of our dear neighbours. Not only did they get to see us being taught a lesson by our rivals but they also got to see their next pedestal-warmer.

Harry Kane.

Ugly Kane

I may be criticised for raining on Kane’s parade but am I the only one who feels that he hasn’t entirely proved himself yet? He hasn’t played one full season in the top-flight and has yet to ply his trade against the cream of Europe  – yet articles such as this huge pile of hyperbole

lend credence to the theory that journalists enjoy the ending to a game of Jenga rather than the taking part.

Talking of articles that are written solely to infuriate and include nothing other than frothing – take a gander at respected pundit Danny Murphy’s comments

This is another domino in a long line of toppled pieces. The previous fallen hero? Look no further than the current incumbent of the title ‘England’s Saviour’ as it is one of his team mates. Andros Townsend.

Only last year, hacks were clamouring for Andros to be labelled as England’s one true talent as he had a knack for going past a player. The reason Townsend raised his profile so much is that his style was in direct contrast to the national side. Not since the days of Glenn Hoddle in France ’98 have we had an England side with even the remotest of swaggers in their game. Townsend racing past a prone full-back was a thrilling sight as NO-ONE had done it in an England jersey for so long.

Poor Andros has fallen to earth with a crash and now lives solely on the goal-bonuses he receives for scoring spot-kicks. Other than that he seems to be treading along a path well-worn by Aaron Lennon.

It is not solely national sides that enjoy a dash of pedestal-smashing. Club sides all over Europe all have a player that is ‘The Next Big Thing’. These labels are so heavy a burden that they sometimes are responsible for the crushing death of a career. For every Robbie Fowler you have a Neil Mellor. Ditto for Joe Cole and Ravel Morrison.  Either way, with media adulation comes a fierce spotlight that with extended exposure comes the inevitable fallout.

As Gooners, we’ve seen a long line of starlets that had the shelf-life of a DairyLea CheeseSlice. Francis Jeffers. Quincy-Owusu-Obeyie. Jay-Emanuel-Thomas. Graham Barrett. Sanchez Watt. Tomas Danilevicius? The graveyard for Wunderkinds careers is vast and ever-growing. A living can be forged as a journeyman of the lower-leagues and perchance a few seasons sharing the limelight in the Premiership with a promoted team willing to take a gamble on a former child prodigy can be achieved. The dream however, is still dashed.

Arsenal youth team celebrate Arsenal-yth-2000

For luminaries of their chosen field to hang an albatross of gargantuan weight around a player of undoubted promise – as these journalists have done with Harry Kane – is a potential death knell and at the very least shoddy, ill-advised scrawling. Kane has bagged 22 goals this season in 34 appearances. On the face of things, that is exemplary. What it doesn’t mention is that his stats for the season are severely bloated by scoring seven in seven in Tottenham’s Europa League campaign – facing off against such worthy adversaries as FC QuestionMark of lower Slovenia and Sporting Club de Whothefuckareya no doubt do his figures the world of good. His League stats though are still International class, he has 12 in 20 League apps.

For him to be heralded as the healer of England’s ills is preposterous. There is no doubt in my mind that he deserves an England chance – but what of Charlie Austin? Wasn’t he the flavour of the month in December? Surely if they are England-class then form is temporary? What about a player that bagged 15 goals in the same amount of time? In a far more limited side? That would surely warrant the fiercest of spotlights? Well, that player was Michael Ricketts.


My point is that haste is not the best tactic when judging a player. Danny Murphy has simply seen a wagon speeding by in his peripheral vision and realised that it was travelling quicker than his own pedestrian career. Hence him jumping on it and attempting to take the reins and thus being responsible for the potential mardi gras if Kane does fulfill his potential.

Let us see if Kane continues what is currently a purple patch. Let us see if Ross Barkley can find his best position. Let us hope that The Ox can find consistency to match his endeavour and skill. Let’s not hinder them as they attempt to take off. Unless Kane stays at spurs. Then hinder away.

By @JokmanAFC

Giroud and Sliding Doors….

Set your mind back to the glorious win Vs Aston Villa. It’s far easier to do than to reminisce on a defeat. The haze of a convincing triumph adds a layer of protective varnish on memories, making them far easier to recall. This particular 3pts was a virtual highlights reel for our attacking players, with runs and slide-rule passes aplenty. Have I set the tone sufficiently?

Despite Hector Bellerin scoring his 1st professional goal and Theo finishing with aplomb, the main vision that floods back is Mesut Ozil’s lackadaisical backheel through ball that sent Giroud on his way for the first goal.

Ozil assist

It was a beautiful sight that got better with slow-motion and repeated viewings. It encapsulated everything Mesut Ozil represents. I’ve got so carried away just thinking about it that I’ve missed my point entirely. I was at the game and such was the perfection of the pass from Ozil, that Giroud had nearly half a pitch to run before approaching the box. He did so whilst under the attention of two Villa men as well. Continue reading Giroud and Sliding Doors….

Little Mozart – If you Love Football then you Love Rosicky.

The cavernous arena reverberates the continuous hum that is emanating from the masses. The very same masses that have gathered to watch a genius at work.

The man who would lead his enraptured audience on a merry dance enters the fray and is greeted with raucous cheer. The symphonies that he has created in the past have left many speechless. The crowd that now focused on the diminutive magician were hoping to be privy to another magical display.


Little Mozart. Tomas Rosicky. The man that Marco Reus idolises. The moniker that the title refers to is apt. Continue reading Little Mozart – If you Love Football then you Love Rosicky.

Our Striker Shootout

Originally posted on Goonersphere.

 Everyone loves a Western.

The dusty, sun-baked ground, the ramshackle buildings blasted by the harsh conditions. Horses whinnying in a wordless whine. The organist at the local watering hole playing an endless string of gabbering melodies that paper over the cracks of the miserable existence the denizens of this godforsaken place suffer from day to day.

The scene is suitably set. Now picture three men wearing suitable cowboy-esque garb. Sitting at a table that leans so much that it looks like it has imbibed lashings of the liquid that passes for liquor in this bar. They each stand up, hitch up their gun belts and leave their offerings in the spittoon at the door.

The saloon doors swing open.

cowboy-by-saloon-doors-jill-battaglia Continue reading Our Striker Shootout

Vic Groves – A Tribute.

Originally posted on the Online Gooner Fanzine.
First of all, this isn’t meant to be an in depth look at Vic Groves’s career at Arsenal. No, I’ll leave that to people much better than me to do that and do the great man justice. This is a tribute to the values he upheld and the love he had for our club.

Unfortunately, it is an unwelcome result of a dearth of silverware that Vic Groves doesn’t adorn the exterior of The Emirates. Silverware normally cements player names firmly into the annals of ‘Club Greats’. The ’32 Greats” that stand on the outside walls of our modern stadium doesn’t have a rigid criteria, but if there were certain requirements – then Vic would meet them.

I confess to ignorance regarding the current hero of this piece. It wasn’t until I read two books that I became aware of his exploits. I heartily recommend Geordie on the Wing by Dave Seager and Red Letter Days by Jon Spurling which expertly highlight the era which Groves performed so admirably.

As a Gooner, I think it is important to learn as much of our vibrant and extensive history as we can. Not many clubs in our country can boast of such a gleaming back story so we shouldn’t take it for granted. Just check out The Arsenal History  to get a taste of what our club has to offer. Such fascinating tales and gallant heroes. Vic Groves was one of them.

Vic sadly passed away in January. A gentleman and a brilliant servant to our club, he will be sadly missed by all who came into contact with him. This list will be rather long however, as he was always one of the first to help newcomers at Arsenal during his playing days on the pitch and whilst he worked in his car garage near Highbury – as was his way.

Vic started his career as a professional at Leyton Orient in 1954 and such was his prolific form at Brisbane Road, that the next season he was Highbury bound. He played as an ‘Inside-Forward’, which in today’s parlance would be a ‘No.10’. So his tactical knowledge would have been on point.This was obviously the case as Vic signed for us in the 1955/56 season,

Injuries were to blight the first few seasons of Vics promising fledgling career though. A persistent knee injury followed by a niggling back complaint hampered his progress. It wasn’t until 1958 that he finally started to string some appearances together and show the Gooner faithful why he was signed. In 1959, he changed his position to Wing-Half, which in my limited understanding I would describe as a wide-forward. Everything was set for Vic to establish himself and push on and he duly delivered. 1959 was also the year that Groves became Arsenal Captain, a distinction he carried until 1962.

Vic left our club in the 1964/65 season, after 9 years. No glittering accolades were lifted during his time, but plaudits and the glowing respect of his peers had been earned and stockpiled. Even during his injury-peppered seasons – he carried himself as he always did – like a true Arsenal player. The man oozed class and cared deeply for the club he played for. Perry Groves, his second cousin, carried on that tradition throughout his own playing career.


A lot is made of the phrase ‘ The Arsenal Way’. Many paraphrase it, a lot use it but take no heed of its meaning. It is the way you carry yourself as an Arsenal player. The very manner that you are perceived. Arsenal players now wear matchday suits before a game. That is an embodiment of the ‘Arsenal Way’. Youth Trainers at Arsenal endeavoured to school their young charges of what was expected of them as representatives of Arsenal Football Club. Geordie Armstrong – former teammate of Vic Groves – was one of these trainers. He went to great lengths to extol the virtues of this way of life. Well, Vic Groves was a perfect example.

Hopefully the Club will commemorate a true professional who squeezed every last drop of effort into every one of his 203 appearances for them. I have no doubt that if a minutes silence is held, then in true Vic Groves fashion, it will be impeccably observed.

Consider this a salute to a true Arsenal Hero. R.I.P Vic Groves.


The Importance of the Skippers Armband

Memories of your favourite footballing moments normally involve a triumphant derby or a victorious team with a Cup held aloft. I give you permission to activate nostalgia. Cast your mind back to your own favourite. As I type I’m now at Wembley and the team have climbed the stairs to finally get their hands on the Cup. Our Captain, mouth agape in a grimace of joy, has the Cup in his hands and it looks like he never wants to give it back,

The Captain Holds the Cup
The Captain Holds the Cup
The Captain of the team reaps the glory in the bad times and suffers the worst of the wrath in the leaner of times. Under duress, the Captain must deliver words of inspiration and give looks of pure conviction. He must be the man that does not wilt under the most blazing of fires. As the flames lick lasciviously at his flesh, he must stand firm and set an example to the younger of his squadron. They must look up to him, want to play harder for him.

Continue reading The Importance of the Skippers Armband

Arsenal C.S.I

Originally posted on Goonersphere

The brash journalist had put noses out of joint in the past. It was this very attribute that would make obtaining the story of his career that bit more difficult. He wouldn’t let that stop him though. He had risen to the top of sports broadcasting for good reason and with that lofty position came with it some invaluable connections. It wasn’t what you knew, it was who you knew.
The driving rain and constant barrage of wind from the coast left all who were unshielded with an unabashed yearning for their living room and the central heating on. It was those type of days that are always used as a yardstick for Lionel Messi’s talent. ‘ Could he do it on a wet and windy Tuesday in Southampton though?’
The egotist hack made his way to the police tape which cordoned off St Marys stadium, home of Southampton Football Club. After nonchalantly attempting to duck under the tape and being firmly rebuffed by the Officer who stood sentry, he fished his mobile from his overcoat pocket and dialled.

Continue reading Arsenal C.S.I

Stamping Out Stamping – Time for Punishment.

The League Cup Semi Final 2nd Leg featuring Chelsea and Liverpool brought to the fore an issue that has pestered Professional Football for too long, rearing its petulant head with unwanted regularity. No, not the Stevie Gerrard Fan Club. The problem is stamping.

Costa stamp

With Diego Costa’s ‘challenge‘ on Martin Skrtel came a wish from the native Brazilian Brazilian to cause injury to the Slovakian defender.

Continue reading Stamping Out Stamping – Time for Punishment.

Krystian Bielik – Polish Prodigy or The New New Bischoff?

Originally posted on www.Goonersphere.com

Now that the infernal hullabaloo over the transfer window has ended and Jim White’s Ketamine stash has been emptied for another 6 months, we can take a look at our additions.

With all the frothing surrounding Gabriel & his move to shore up our backline, you could be forgiven for forgetting about Kristian Bielik; our new midfield starlet.
The footballing cosmos is littered with false dawns. For every legitimate ‘ New Maradona’, there are thousands of  ‘New Zidane’ and ‘New Bjorn Tore Kvarme’s’ who eventually – after being blinded by the dazzling media attention and left to stumble down their respective countries League pyramid – find themselves at Dumbarton as part-time striker, full-time groundsman/Kitman/Barkeep. When the lights stop dazzling, it’s easy to get dizzy and take a wrong turn.

Taken a wrong turn....
Taken a wrong turn….

It isn’t a pitfall that is exclusive to trigger-happy managers or cash-flagrant clubs. Every club, never mind the League nor the Gaffer at the helm, has found that not everything that glitters is gold – and that an agents promise that his client is truly the incarnate of Puskas’ talent – is often just the same phooey that is bandied around at every contract meeting but with extra glitter.
Continue reading Krystian Bielik – Polish Prodigy or The New New Bischoff?