There’s a horrible feeling of sadness and loss when a World Cup is over. Like the end of a summer holiday romance, only much, much worse. I walk past the office wallchart that no one’s got the heart to remove, study the group games from blazing hot June and sigh: “Oh Uruguay, remember that first heady rush of excitement when we were just getting to know each other? … ”
It’s all right for my colleagues with big adventures ahead of them. “Enjoy Cove Rangers,” said one, collecting his accreditation. “Enjoy the Faroes,” remarked the other. How am I going to amuse myself until the leagues start up again? Well, you don’t have to worry about me. I’m currently lost in my favourite new Twitter feed and feeling like I’m 14 again. That was the age when music and football gloriously collided for your correspondent, which is what happens on the Bands FC site. Like all whizzo ideas it’s stunningly simple: if you favourite rock group were a football team who would they be?
The results, beautifully imagined, are clubs crests which are sometimes mashed up with band insignia, although sometimes not. For instance, the Wu Tang Clan are Wolverhampton Wanderers. The hip-hop supergroup featuring Ol’ Dirty Bastard use a yellow bat on a black background; the English Premier newcomers which were once the domain of Ol’ Derek Dougan have a black wolf on a yellow, strictly old gold, background. It’s just that we’d never noticed or thought of the similarities before. But look at the badge for The Cure – why are they Nottingham Forest when giant-haired goth Robert Smith comes from Blackpool and his combo were formed in West Sussex? Ah, but what was their first hit single called, the one demystified by Smith like this: “It’s just about a forest”? That’s right, A Forest.
Sometimes the juxtapositions are preposterous, weird and downright alarming. Partick Thistle/Throbbing Gristle? What could possibly connect quaint, lovely and occasionally patronised Partick Thistle with a bunch of performance-art bampots who mixed confrontation with industrial noise and real blood” “Er, they rhyme,” explains Bands FC co-creator Mark Liptrott. “There are no rules for this. The link can be geographic or allegiance or just similar-sounding names, for instance: the Charlatans = Charlton Athletic.”
It was a post-summer rockfest discussion between the Charlatans lead singer Tim Burgess, Nick Fraser who organises the band’s merchandise and designer Liptrott which got the ball rolling. Liptrott again: “We were talking about the World Cup, past tournaments when we collected stickers, the obscure facts about teams and players we obsessed about as kids – and also the obscure facts we kne w concerning bands and records.”
For me, the site assuages some guilt. When I was a 14-year-old schoolboy the collision between football and music wasn’t actually glorious at all. I loved football and then when I discovered music I stopped loving it. For some reason I decided I couldn’t, didn’t want to, love both. I always felt bad about that but Bands FC brings us all back together in happy harmony. What was I thinking? One minute I was defacing the covers of Edinburgh Corporation Education Department jotters with football team names, favourite players, lists of honours – and, yes, badges. In English lessons the only story of mine ever read out in class concerned an awayday at East Fife. In Drama I only ever had the confidence to “act” when I was pretending to an excitable radio commentator.
And then – bam, or maybe wham-bam-thankyou-mam – music. I cancelled my subscription to Shoot! and started reading Sounds cover-to-cover, from the front-page headlines about bass guitarists quitting over “musical differences” to the small ads at the back for loon pants. Suddenly it was band names I was scrawling everywhere, and especially on the gas-mask bag from the Army & Navy Store which I used as a satchel. If the band didn’t have their own typography – eg Black Sabbath’s lightning bolts – then they got bubble-writing. If they didn’t have insignia then I made some, although sadly my efforts lacked the flair and humour of Bands FC.
Let’s do a quick tour of the Scottish divisions with these guys: on Hibernian’s crest there are two pair of specs and I think we all know which famous fans are being acknowledged. Hearts meanwhile get Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band. At first I didn’t get this one, didn’t want to accept it – so spitting was my rage that the brilliant weirdos behind Trout Mask Replica and Lick My Decals Off, Baby might in fact be Jambos. Then I realised: there’s a “heart” in the name, that’s all it is. Phew! Queen of the South are appropriated by Queens of the Stone Age. Well, do you know for sure that the Californian heavy rockers aren’t Doonhamers and devotees of the unerring goal skills of Stephen Dobbie? Ayr United’s badge, meanwhile, is borrowed by a particularly cool combo, the French electronica duo Air, with “The Honest Men” legend replaced by “Amour, Imagination, Reve”.
“We haven’t disclosed how we came up with every badge – we want people to work out the connection for themselves,” adds Liptrott. “But it’s funny how some have got hung up on geography, for instance pointing out that Talking Heads emerged from the CBGBs scene in downtown New York so what are they doing on the Dumbarton badge?” Well, every Scottish music/football fan knows that chief Heid David Byrne is a Son of the Rock having been born there.
Bands love the badges. Daft Punk, normally uncommunicative behind metal masks, have requested their Eiffel Tower design. Franz Ferdinand are thrilled to be FK Sarajevo, the team from the city where Archduke FF was bumped off. And, poignantly, Frightened Rabbit want to sell their crest to aid a charity in late singer Scott Hutchison’s memory. On a football shirt nowadays badges have been swamped by sponsors’ names. Here they strike a chord and make a terrific comeback.