Monday, 01 April 2024 13:40

What's there to get hot under England's collar about?

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What's there to get hot under England's collar about?

Mark Perryman gets to grips with Nike v St. George, with image above by Hugh Tisdall

"This virtue signalling, namby-pamby, pearl-clutching, woke nonsense must stop now. Any more and I'll be on the first flight to Rwanda."

- Lee Anderson

Wembley Stadium, Saturday morning – with a bunch of friends I spent four hours laying out 7000 cards that just before kick-off for the friendly England v Brazil were held up by fans to form a huge St. George Cross.

I've been doing the same for the past 26 years. So do I have a view on 'shirt-gate'? Yes, just a bit.

'Raise the Flag' started in 1998 after I went to Rome for Italy v England, a vital World Cup qualifier. A night of mayhem, Italian fans chucking everything they had at us, the Italian riot police wading in to England's end with their batons flying, not caring who they hit, and after the game (the best 0-0 I've ever seen, England had qualified for World Cup '98) we're all kept back for 2 hours with the lights off.

However just before kick-off the Italian fans had held up cards to form the Italian flag. It was a magnificent sight. Which left me thinking why don't we do something like that for England? It took six months to persuade the FA but for the last home friendly before France '98, with Philosophy Football co-founder Hugh Tisdale adapting the ingenious Italian's 'mosaic' method to Wembley and thousands of England fans holding up red and white cards to form a huge St George Cross Flag, we finally did it. And ever since!

For me and Hugh 'Raise the Flag' has become a small business organising stadium crowd effects, mainly for football, some rugby, London 2012, the late Queen, Take That and Bruce Springsteen. But for England games we do the effect on a not-for-profit basis because it all began with us being England fans. 

And for all those countless fans' St. George Cross flags we've created not once have we seen the need to add a line of navy blue, indigo, purple, scarlet or brown. It's our flag, so why mess with it?

But then no flag has ever been created by a fashion company. 

Long ago Nike gave up being an outfit producing kit for serious sportsmen and sportswomen. That's an historic side-line, for Nike their big business today is as a fashion brand. Whether its trainers or England shirts what they're selling is fashion not something to actually play sport in. And with a football shirt design for entirely commercial reasons only lasting a maximum of two years this necessitates a new look to make a basic kit colour, a white shirt in England's case, different. Hence the multicoloured flag, and nothing to get too hot under the collar about (sic).

Rather more irksome is why change the kit every two years at all? To make money of course, and at an almighty £125 for the match replica version, £85 to be worn in the stands. That's for something that is basically a bri-nylon T-shirt, with a sell-by date of two years hence. And unless England win the World Cup wearing it, 58 years and counting, never likely to be worn again.

So of course a touch of colour to the flag to make the 2024 edition of this vastly overpriced short life item is what is required to make it a tad different because this kind of thing is what the entire replica shirt business is based on.

Me? I prefer the sheer simplicity of the flag. The ways fans make it our own. Nobody forces us to hold up those cards to 'Raise the Flag' we do it because we want to, it means something to us. But best of all how fans 'deface' the flag, adding our club name and badge, pub, family and mates' names to make it truly ours.

A bri-nylon, overpriced and short shelf life England shirt? Despite following England to four World Cups, four Euros and countless away trips I've never seen the need to purchase one. Preferring (obligatory product placement) a tournament T-shirt instead from Philosophy Football, of course.   

And as for those manufacturing all this confected rage. Nigel Farage, Barbour jacket and corduroy trousers, never, ever, seen him in an England shirt, have you?

Rent-a-gob Lee Anderson, the man who boycotted England's first time since 1966 in a Tournament Final, Euro 2021, because they're now a team of the 'woke' aka they take the knee as an act of solidarity with all, including team mates, who face racist abuse or worse.

Keir Starmer, so eager to please he tells the Sun he's against the St. George Cross being tampered with. This from a leader who cares so much about the St. George flag that he authorised Labour Party membership cards in Scotland with the Scottish Saltire on them, fine; in Wales with the Welsh Flag on them, good; but in England no St. George Cross on Labour membership cards. Opportunism and hypocrisy doesn't even begin to describe this Sir Keir.

It's our flag. It's not a fashion icon. It's not a battleground for politicians' soundbites.

We're perfectly capable of making what we will with it ourselves. No thankyou very much.


Philosophy Football's Lee Anderson St. George Cross T-shirt is available from here

Read 252 times Last modified on Monday, 01 April 2024 14:20