Offside’s Premier League A-Z: B is for balls and boots

B is for balls and boots…

Where would we be without footballs and football boots?

Simon Stacpoole.
Simon Stacpoole.

Once they were the Spartan, bare essentials required to get a proper game under way,  but now balls and boots have  taken on a life of their own. They are now yet another frontier on which the rampant commercialism of football is carried forward.

Simon Stacpoole: Jose Mourinho keeps the ball away from Steven Gerrard and Jon Flanagan.
Simon Stacpoole: Jose Mourinho keeps the ball away from Steven Gerrard and Jon Flanagan.

It’s not all bad however. The colours, the designs and the variety of these increasingly glamourous accessories has lead to plenty of intriguing images to snap up and display.

From the Mitre balls of the 90s to the pretentiously named Nike offerings that have been the official balls of the Premier League since 2000, there’s been plenty of iconic footballs over the years.

Thankfully however, the identity and the purpose of the player on the ball is yet to be overshadowed by the ball itself, at least not like how the Jabulani came to hover over the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Long shots, volleyed screamers, thumping headers, simple tap-ins: the English Premier League has produced goals of all shapes and sizes since its formation in 1992. Perhaps we can and should breathe a sigh of relief and show a bit of gratitude for the  lack of funny business the league has had to deal with in that regard.

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When it comes to boots on the other hand, it seems like there’s long been a proxy war going between the traditionalists and fashionistas. For the plain black boot hard-liners, it seems that this is a war that’s been lost. The horse bolted long ago, galloping off into the sunset with a garish, moulded, synthetic leather numbers on each of its hooves.

Yet once again, perhaps the photographers and the football fans—regardless of how much they pine for the days of Puma Kings, when Adidas Predators seemed exotic—should get over themselves and embrace the silly designs that have now come to dominate the boot scene.

Given all the tremendously technical finishes and acrobatic smashes into the back of the net, helped on by the advances in boot technology and engineering, maybe its time to make peace with the bizarro world of the football and the football boot.

What retina-burningly offensive sights should we expect to see on the turf and feet of the pitch and players in 2014-15?

“B” players worth remembering…

David Beckham

Dennis Bergkamp

Offside is the UK’s leading independent sports photography agency, home to an extensive collection of classic First Division and Premier League pictures as well as other images from across the world of sport. Explore Offside’s unique library at www.welloffside.com.

Follow Offside on Twitter at @welloffside.

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Author: gregianjohnson

Football writer for The Blizzard, FourFourTwo, The Mirror, Squawka and VICE amongst others. Follow me on Twitter at @gregianjohnson.

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