A professional’s view of branding in football
In a professional career spanning almost two decades, Simon Smith has played for over sixty-seven clubs. The ultimate utility player, as his pace has diminished Simon has managed to reinvent himself time and again, from poacher to holding midfielder, centre-back to goalkeeper. Now that his website has been closed down, we have exclusive access to his weekly column.
Firstly I’d like to offer my condolences to Cardiff City for losing out to West Ham in the playoffs. Secondly I’d like to offer my congratulations to the Hammers on getting through. A lot of the team at Upton Park deserve to be in the Premiership and it would be a shame if the caterers and programme vendors don’t get to once again ply their trade at the top level.
There aren’t many jobs where you’re gutted to be off on your holidays but I bet the Cardiff boys are. I certainly empathise with that gut-wrenching feeling that your season has finished too early as you sip cocktails on the Mallorca beach. Still, if the bossman says the squad is too big and puts you on gardening leave in February then you’ve got to respect his decision.
It looks like there could be some major changes at the City of Cardiff stadium as the chairbossman is looking to rebrand the club. Fans are up in arms about seeing the bluebirds potentially play in red, become known as the dragons and have a new club badge.
The Chairbossman wants to look out over a sea of red but if it’s anything like the one I saw in Israel then he’s going to be disappointed. That thing looked pretty blue to me! He says red brings vibrancy, good luck and happiness (you tell that to Danny Rose!) and apparently wants to make Cardiff more appealing to Asian markets but from what I’ve seen, if it isn’t a knock-off watch or a jade figurine, they’re not interested! Having said that, the missus got a belt that she is very happy with.
Also, am I the only one who can’t see the link between the colour red and dragons? Clarissa sky pluses that programme and we never miss an episode. Sure, Theo Paphitis occasionally wears a slightly too loud tie but generally the dragons are dressed in suits. If the owners really want to go for that vibe with the kit then black and white seems like the only obvious choice. As ever, those in the boardrooms don’t have the simple common sense of us ordinary folk!
There’s going to be a march in protest of the changes and as much as I hate to play the ‘goalkeepers’ union’ card, it does upset me to see so much action in response to changes to the outfield kit when Davis Marshall and Tom Heaton’s attire hasn’t even been discussed yet. Will they still be in yellow or does the chairbossman have plans in place for the bigger, padded shirts of his numbers 1 and 22 respectively?
Not many people know that keepers often have to design their own kits and I think it’s a disgrace. We’re left to fend for ourselves and told by the bossman to ‘wear whatever’ and anybody who remembers Ian Walker’s tops in the mid-nineties will know that we shouldn’t be given that power. It hurts to be isolated from the rest of the boys when the new kits arrive. We’re still footballers – if you kick us with studs do we not bleed? For too long keepers have been ignored in the footballing fashion stakes and it has led to some heartbreakingly misguided pleas for attention. I’m sure we all remember the migraine-inducing kits of Jorge Campos and the car crash that was big Dave Seaman’s Euro ’96 kit. I’m partly responsible for Seamo’s kit after telling him to go multicolour but in my defence nobody could reasonably expect him to lose the plot so spectacularly. It’s time for the powers that be to recognise these desperate cries for attention and start to make keepers feel like they matter. I can count the number of replica keeper kits I’ve seen in the stands on one hand. They’re so much warmer than normal kits that we should make a killing in the winter months but nobody gets on board and they certainly don’t march for us.
I still look back fondly on my time at Ninian Park and it will be strange to see the bluebirds not trot out in blue any more. I have a soft spot for blue kits but red isn’t really that much different. I suppose if you look at Johnny Walker whiskey then red label is the cheapest and worst while blue label is the most expensive and best, but the way Johnny Walker labels their Scotch is no way to decide what colour you play in – especially seeing as apparently Cardiff isn’t even in Scotland.
If the generous deal is done then it will feel like selling out and I can empathise with the Cardiff fans. It’s not exactly the same but I remember leaving my hometown club for more money and it felt strange and traitorous to have a different badge chaffing my nipple. But was I kissing it within two weeks of putting it on? You bet I was and I’m sure the Cardiff fans will be the same.
In other news, I want to say well done to Chelsea. Some people are saying the FA cup is losing its gravitas but the fact that it had to be moved back to 5:15 to fit in an extra two hours and fifteen minutes of build-up suggests to me that we’ve got nothing to worry about. It was a pretty good game and it’s just a shame that the goal-line technology argument once again raises its ugly head. Yes Peter Cech made a good save and yes the linesman got the decision bang on but does that mean the system works? I along with a number of notable journalists think that we shouldn’t be leaving such an important moment in the game down to the official – or to put it another way, chance. Can we be sure that he wasn’t distracted by a buxom lady in the crowd and only didn’t give the not a goal because he didn’t see it?
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