Time for football, a pint …and a new watch strap!
With the all English Champions League final coming up on the 29th of May between Manchester City and Chelsea we turn our attention to a matter of colour. We all know how heavily tribal football is and how opposing colours are symbolic of the teams’ identities. As fans we wear our replica shirts, scarves and hats to games and merge our own identity with that of the group, our fans, our team. We essentially become One. We are elated when we win and despondent when we lose. Increasingly fans have turned to the more minute details of identity to show their allegiance in a more subtle and sophisticated way on a day to day basis, such as wearing different watch straps in the colours of their team or even country. Wearing a specific coloured Nato watch strap has become yet another way that the football fan can turn his or her body into something that declares which team they are part of. Now we are not talking about straps that have the team simply written on them. No, there is the club badge on the shirt that does that. Instead what we are looking are designs that pick out key colours of the team - suave and stylish. Subtle and sophisticated. Nato watch straps are also so easy to change - why not have a range of colours and styles in your collection to show support for your local and national teams when they are playing or have a plain Nato strap with a different style buckle for a change too?
Your football team plays in red, white or blue - choose a classy watch strap to go with your team...
The absurdity of tribal identity and football.
Now, of course, some would say that this is absolutely ridiculous. Choosing your watch strap according to your team. How absurd. But this is the thing with us football fans - much of what we do is absurd and irrational. Absurd? Of course it is. So is spending the vast sums getting to the game on Saturday, standing or sitting in the freezing cold, rain and wind watching your team slug it out only to eventually disappoint. So we can agree that the behaviour of us football fans does not stand up to logical scrutiny.
Football and watch obsession
Nick Hornby in “Fever Pitch”, his wonderful book on the football obsessive, brilliantly dissects this very absurdity of the football fan. Hornby, a die hard Arsenal fanatic, writes for all football enthusiasts when he describes the way in which it becomes a deeply held obsession. This is why we watch in appalling weather - often slowly freezing on the terraces to see our team defeated and come back again and again for more of the same. Collecting and wearing watches is similarly obsessive. There is the talk of the “WIS”, or watch idiot savants. A grandiose term for those who obsess about their watches. Well, at luxurywatchstraps.co.uk we hold our hands up and fully confess that we are obsessed with all aspects of high end watches but particularly the way a watch and strap combination comes together to create something truly beautiful. Much in the same way teams combine to create something different, something that is greater than the sum of their individual parts. Hornby’s lead character in “Fever Pitch” eventually ends up in therapy to help him deal with the level of importance he attaches to the beautiful game.
The beautiful game...
Ahh…the beautiful game. And indeed, at its sublime best there is something deeply beautiful about its finer moments. To watch a Messi run, through ball or free kick is to see an elegant master at work. An artist. While you might not see so many of those moments in The National League or your Sunday League kick around there are still enough moments of creativity and skill to stick in the memory. These are the points that will be debated amongst the fans after the game, often in a local ale house, or pub if you like. And, of course, here we get to one of the most important aspects of the game which will bring us nicely back to the choice of watch strap where we started - we don’t just express ourselves through our team’s tribal identity but also feel that we are all experts on the game and our team. As experts we know better than the players, the team manager and especially the referee. This then allows us to debate ad-nauseum the way the our team is set up, the formation, the style of play and, of course, individual moments - an offside here, a free kick there. Anyone familiar with the beautiful game will recognise the fan on the terrace loudly proclaiming the stupidity of the manager or decrying one of his own players. This writer vividly remembers watching a game at The Emirates, seeing a 90 yard inch perfect cross field ball perfectly controlled by Ozil only to hear a Cockney shout “Week in week out. The same rubbish!” We are all experts, we are all part of our tribe and as such we are allowed to criticise when, yet again, logically, we should not.
Why do fans endure the modern game?
Given that so much of what we witness as fans is not beautiful, or memorable or often vaguely interesting, why is that the game holds and keeps our attention? Surely it is to do with match day rituals. Looking forward to the game on Saturday. A 3pm kick off. A pre-match pint at the bar. Occupying your seat. Checking your watch, on coloured tribal watch strap of course, for when kick off is. Checking the team selection. Bemoaning the team selection. Who are the subs? Why is he the sub and not him? Another check of your watch ( and another chance to admire that carefully selected watch strap!) and kick off begins. If you are lucky there will be some fine moments to contemplate post game. More usually, especially, if we are talking lower league level - not so much sublime skill but the odd stand out goal or stalwart performance. No matter, post game in the pub every detail will be analysed before we decide that we could all do a better job than the manager and head home with a feeling of elation, after victory, or the more familiar feeling of deflation, after defeat. Whatever, it is the rituals and the regular timing of these rituals that we love. After a week hard at work, the Saturday football ritual is as much about release from the grind as it is about worshipping the beautiful game. Of, course big money and TV rights have affected the football calendar and timing of games massively.
For the Crystal Palace fan
Big money, big changes in the big game...
One of the biggest debates in the game is not so much your choice of watch strap but the role of money and, in particular, big money in the the beautiful game. The game might well be beautiful but the financing of it is anything but. Spreadsheets, football agents and accountants are part of the dark underbelly whereby big money has encroached and, some would say, even taken over the game. This year’s Champion’s League final could well be held up as an example of big money running or even ruining the game. Would Manchester City be where they are as Premiership winners and Champion’s League finalists without the massive investment in its squad bought by a Middle Eastern investment group? It has to be said that this is very unlikely. There is absolutely no doubt that Pep Guardiola’s fiercely intelligent management of this squad has been instrumental in their success but it would still be unlikely that success could be secured without the huge sums of capital sunk into the purchase of players and then paying their wages. Chelsea, similarly have historically been the club that has been attacked for bandying money around like no man’s business. A strange expression, as it is big business indeed. The apocryphal story being that Roman Abromovich was flying over London looking to invest in Tottenham Hotspur but saw a ground beneath his plane and enquired which club it belonged to. He was over Stamford Bridge and he decided to purchase Chelsea instead. His financial investment immediately changed Chelsea and changed the Premiership dramatically. FairPlay rules about the amount of money invested never really seem to bite where you want them and can clubs that do not have access to vast financial resources ever really challenge and compete with those that do?
Guardiola's watch collection...
Interestingly Pep himself has a notable and, unsurprisingly, fantastic watch collection. The models he wears including a Rolex Sea Dweller, IWC Big Pilot and Chopard Mille Miglia GT XL chrono speed black. Sir Alex Ferguson never boasted such an exquisite collection but he had something far more valuable, the ability to warp time itself by pointing to his watch and squeezing valuable minutes and seconds out of games where needed.
Pep with the IWC Big Pilot.
What a season / year it has been!
This season in the Premiership has been a strange affair to say the least. Liverpool struggling, relatively, after being imperious last season. City largely rampant followed by a Man United team whose fans are bemused as to why they are where they are in the table. “Why are we so high up when we have played so badly?” they say. West Ham have hit a rich vein of form while Spurs languish and miss trophies, surely leading to the departure this Summer of their talisman Harry Kane. A player who will look to clubs that can bring him silverware which has eluded him so far. Arsenal fans look ruefully back to how they treated Arsene Wenger and continue to treat Mikel Arteta in the same way. All of this capped with the anti-climactic crowning of Man City as Premiership winners amidst the shocking debacle of the European Super League. Proof, as if we needed it, that the Premiership’s monied interest have little to no regard for the fans. Thankfully, the chorus of disapproval was heard wide and far and the whole idea was unceremoniously binned. The gulf between billionaire owners and working class fans had never been wider, with power very momentarily siding, for once, with the humble fan.
Time for the Champions League final.
Looking ahead to the Champions League final ensure you are sitting down at the right time, have your trusted timepiece on your wrist (you might need to check there is no Fergie time) and something nice poured in a glass. What kind of a game can we expect? FA Cup Finals have a habit of being cagey affairs and often have been incredibly dull. Champions League finals tend to have been a different affair, more exciting and open. City are clearly the bookies’ favourite but the wonderful thing about Cup competitions and football generally is that on the day itself the result can literally go anyway. For City we will be looking for De Brunye to control and light up the game, a player a let of by Chelsea some years ago! Mahrez will be one to watch and the young but hugely talented Phil Folden. For Chelsea we look at Timo Werner for a strong performance. Giroud is a big game player though and often brings a surprising dimension to their game, the sort of player to hold the ball up and score a late winner perhaps. Tammy Abraham is also capable of surprises and flashes of quality even if he lacks consistency. Will be a great game, a Classic? I think not but it will be the crowning of another football season and as such is a momentous occasion.
Football games without fans.
This season has, of course, been massively affected by the global pandemic with all of us forced into being armchair fans, whether we like it or not. We have all missed watching live games terribly and watching empty stadiums on TV has not even been the same without the roar of the crowd and that special atmosphere that you only get with thousands of people gathered together. A slight bonus has been listening to managers shouting instructions, Arteta’s multilingual capability being impressive even if his results have not. Last season’s FA Cup Final had Ian Wright barking instructions to the Arsenal team from the commentary box and, hilariously, they could hear him! Another aspect to hearing everything in the stadium is the pleasure of hearing a well struck ball smash against an upright or cross bar. This, though, simply does not replace the rich atmosphere of fans whether they be celebrating a goal, baying for justice or collectively shouting “man-on” as one. We all very much hope now that efforts to control coronavirus mean that sporting events, especially our beautiful game, become open next season with safety being paramount.
You inherited your team, you can choose your watch and watch strap...
Whatever team you support, at whatever level - we at luxurywatchstraps.co.uk hope that you enjoy the Final and that next season brings you excitement, success with safety. Browse our site to find the perfect watch strap to wear your watch to the game with. Whether that is a coloured NATO or a brushed steel bracelet. Perhaps enjoy changing the strap according to team - National League? Premiership? Nation? We have a huge array of watch straps and if you cannot find what you are looking for simply drop us an email.
We can help with your watch strap but we cannot provide Fergie time, that is a quality that only the great man himself could bestow.