Flicking through Neal Heard’s excellent A Lover’s Guide to Football Shirts you’ll see a lot of gems and many of them are Le Coq Sportif creations — the 1983 A.S. Monaco shirt with the Bally sponsorship being a great example. The joy of flipping through a book like that is seeing the curious eccentricities that players wore in front of the baying masses and realising that some designs I hated in the 1990s have aged well in their audacity, with contemporary, skin-tight, referential, remixed, tactically homaged pieces from high-profile designers lacking any of that same magic. To this day, I’m mystified at the time when American retail chain Champs stocked and advertised Coventry, Bournemouth and Chester City replicas in The Source magazine, a onetime monthly bible of hip-hop.
Why did they pick these three sides for export? It was heartening to see that they included the Corbett’s bookies, Peugeot and Yellow Coaches logos — provincial triumphs in pages scattered with big jewels and ostentatious Pelle Pelle leathers and logo splattered XXL streetwear. A.F.C. Bournemouth were pretty much broke and finished 16th in the second division that season, Chester City were about that third division life and were dissolved six years ago and Coventry fared best in the trio, clinging onto Premiership status in 1997 and evading relegation by three points.
Adding to the unusual nature of the promotion, Brand Nubian’s DJ Alamo fronted the campaign in his Coventry shirt — nobody could accuse anyone of fully glory hunting here, but he probably picked them because they were the best side in the collection. Sadly, while I remember seeing Keith Murray in a Tottenham shirt for a live performance a couple of years prior, to the best of my knowledge, this ad never triggered a craze — no Diamond D sightings in a Yeovil number or Smoothe Da Hustler in an Alloa shirt.