"Fashion has played a major part in the elevation of footballers to iconic status in modern society. Whether it be George Best's famous clothes shop, Alan Hudson's haircut or David Beckham's unique dress sense, the worlds of fashion and football have often intertwined. In From Best To Beckham, this relationship is brilliantly brought to life for the very first time. Entertaining and informative, the journey starts with the abolition of the maximum wage in the early 60's and focuses on key names, including George Best and Bobby Moore.

There are new interviews with 70's footballers such as Steve Perryman, Alan Hudson and Mike Summerbee, as well as with a wider range of famous names, like the tailor Dougie Hayward, who designed Bobby Moores suits. As well as documenting this unique history, the authors also talk to
players such as Millwall's Darren Ward and examine in depth the huge impact that England captain David Beckham has had on his contemporaries.
The book does not just focus on the players, however, It also charts the many influential street fashions that emanated from the terraces over the years, notably the widespread popularity of the Skinhead in the late '60's
and the birth of the Casual in the mid-70's. To that end, the authors have unearthed many fascinating testimonies from fans of all
persuasions, including the singer Kevin Rowland, the writer Irvine Welsh and members of Cardiff's notorious Soul Crew.

From Best to Beckham is a unique book: an amalgamation of history and entertainment mixed into one riveting read. It is brought to life by photographs taken by the great Terry O'Neill, one of the first lensman to spot and celebrate this remarkable relationship."

From Best to Beckham... A journey through Fashion and Football

The clothes may well `make the man' - but when worn by a world-famous footballer they also make front-page news. As fans will always follow every haircut and style statement made by footballing fashion icons like David Beckham.

However, this link between football and fashion is long-standing, first forged in the 60s when the term ``players' appearances'' took on a whole new meaning. Now a ground-breaking new book, `The Fashion of Football,' traces the phenomenon of players looking the part off the pitch as well as on and how this fascination with fashion turned the terraces into seething catwalks for those in the know. For co-authors Paolo Hewitt, a football fashion expert and former Tottenham Hotspur trialist, and Mark Baxter, Millwall's very own Mod culture connoisseur, researching and writing the book was indeed a labour of love. ``I'm a 60s fan and I got an idea for the book after seeing a photograph of George Best in the latest Carnaby Street fashions of the day,'' Mark told The Weekly News. ``I wondered where I could find a book with similar photographs of other players. ``It's the old cliche, but I couldn't find a book like it anywhere and I thought, `Is there a gap here?'

``The book starts in 1962, when wage restrictions were lifted, the players had to spend their big wages somewhere so they started looking more and more flamboyant. From then on it was a natural progression, from Best to Beckham. ``Paolo and I sat down and drew up a list of players that we remembered from over the years who'd stood out because of their haircuts, clothes, or off-the-pitch stories we'd heard about them and, basically, we wrote to them all.''

Most of the players were only too keen to help, but the interviews were far from formal - and as Mark was to find out, former Chelsea favourite Alan Hudson may well be past his 70s best, but it still takes a decent man-marker to keep up with him!

``Alan was very hard to nail down to one place,'' said Mark, ``but a boxing promoter friend of ours told us he was going to attend a boxing press conference. The idea was that we would come along and have a chat with him in the bar afterwards. ``Suddenly, Hudson's mobile phone rang and he was gone, I'd lost him in a second,'' explained Mark, ``but I was told he'd gone to this local drinking bar and I had to laugh, because when I got there it was just like the old ` Winchester Club' from the `Minder' series - even down to a barman called Dave!

``Hudson's `holding court' with these 30 guys and all I had was a ragged piece of paper and a biro, but he was great and he told me about how he'd always been into his clothes, even before the football, which is probably why the fashion-conscious fans took to him.''

As Paolo pointed out, once the players at the highest level became more aware that `the beautiful game' should be played by `the beautiful people,' it spawned a friendly rivalry over who knew the best outfitters. ``Hudson told us about his team-mate Peter Osgood, whom he described as a `country farmer' in need of advice as to which were the best London clothes shops,'' said Paolo. ``According to Hudson, just a week later Osgood was giving the fashion tips to other players, as if he was the one who'd found the right shops!''

Across the river in north London, trends were being kept firmly in check by tradition, as Paolo found out when he chatted with Frank McLintock, the captain of Arsenal's first double-winning side of 1971.

``The club uniform was very strict in the 70s,'' said Paolo, ``and Frank told me how whenever he thinks of the manager, Bertie Mee, it's not about him talking tactics or giving instructions from the touchline, it's only of him saying ``collar and tie, collar and tie!'' However, a gifted maverick with a style to match will always be a crowd favourite and while Highbury's North Bank faithful took the likes of Charlie George and, later, Charlie Nicholas to their hearts, up the road at Tottenham Paolo recalls how Steve Perryman gained respect on `The Shelf.'

``He came out onto the pitch with this really short haircut and we were all convinced he was a skinhead - it was like, `he's one of us!','' laughed Paolo.

``But as he explained to me, he'd been down at Brentford working on his mother's market stall and decided he needed a haircut. The barber who cut it also cut a lot of boxers' hair, so he'd shaved it short and Steve thought nothing more about it, but for us on the terraces he became the original `Spurs skinhead.'

``I've met some real heroes of mine before, from Marvin Gaye to Stevie Wonder and James Brown, but when Steve Perryman first came into the room I couldn't say a word!'' admitted Paolo on meeting his hero.

As football fashion became more sophisticated, players employed the services of experts such as `Tony The Tailor,' who cut Paul Gascoigne's sharpest suit for his press conference on signing for Italian club Lazio.

``Tony told me it was an immaculate purple mohair, three-buttoned suit,'' explained Paolo, ``all the world's press were there and, this being Italy, the first question was `where did you get your suit?' Tony thought, `I've got it made' - until Gascoinge replies `What this? The rag-and-bone man!''

Football has often been described as a game of two halves and in keeping with this, `The Fashion of Football' is similarly divided, with part two focussing on the punters rather than the players. ``In the 60s, London was where it was all happening, all the youth cults started there'' said Paolo, ``and what London football fans did by default,
following England's World Cup win in 1966, the game becoming a national obsession and the motorways opening up, was to take their fashions all around the country.

``From talking to Kevin Rowland, the lead singer of Dexys Midnight Runners, we heard of how when Wolves were playing a London team their supporters knew who the away fans were because of their short hair.``Unfortunately for Kevin, a Wolves' supporter living in and London travelling home with his short haircut, it was only his Wolves' scarf which stopped him from being a target.

``Football, much more than say music, popularised fashions across the country,'' said Paolo, ``it started with the skinheads and it's carried on ever since, right up to the Casuals and their sportswear.''

As Mark and Paolo pointed out, fashions in the stands change faster than some Premiership managers' jobs, as a must-have brand which filters through the ranks on one particular month is as dated as a `mullet' haircut the next, but only the keenest eye would spot the subtle changes within football's ever-evolving sub-cultures.

``Whenever you look around you, there'll always be someone who's `cutting edge','' said Mark ``and football's the same. I've even noticed men at Millwall recently wearing Birkenstock sandals because the weather was hot - and I never thought I'd see that day,'' he laughed.

 

 

 

 

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