I didn’t realise I had a problem until I was confronted with it. The problem was storage. I had run out of room for my football socks. Come on admit it, we all have a few pairs don’t we? Some people collect shirts, others collect programmes (I have a few of those myself) whereas some individuals I wont mention (Dagenham + Dan is a clue) have to keep their match tickets in pristine condition. Those things do nothing for me. To me, I express my love of the game with football socks.
CMF says this is a “Syndrome”. It is obsessive compulsive. Just because I like socks and never throw a pair away does not make me a bad person. I never complain about her collection of Marc Dorcel DVD’s so why should she make me feel bad about my collection? After all I get enjoyment from wearing my socks (and yes I also don’t mind sharing her “hobby” as well”). Sometimes we even swap items in our collections, but that is another story completely.
It all started out of necessity. I went to a Wasps rugby game, that is how long ago it was – they didn’t have the London bit in their name, despite the fact they played in London, as opposed to now where they are called London Wasps despite playing in Buckinghamshire. It was raining, my shoes had a hole in and my feet got very wet. I needed to get some new socks and so I went and bought a pair of rugby socks from the club shop.
That was back in 1998 and I still have that pair of black and gold socks today. After that I was hooked. It was the comfort, the almost rebellious sign against the system. I wore purple Fiorentina socks on business meetings. When people said things like “nice socks” I would launch into the tale of who they belonged to and where I got them. I wore a pair of olive and chocolate Kappa Werder Bremen socks to a relative’s wedding, going to great lengths to find a new pair of brown shoes that matched the socks.
My collection has now reached an impressive 61 pairs from 52 different sides. I have four times as many football socks as I do proper work ones. They aren’t any old pairs either. One rule has to be observed. You can only buy a pair from the ground or town/city of the club. So no cheating and buying socks online, or from a discount sports shop. That would be cheating, and we all hate cheats in football. Never does a trip go by these days without being on the look our for a sports shop, or a visit to the ground to see if I can get a pair in. And who wouldn’t. Some people may try and find a magic door to get into the ground and dare I say it, onto the pitch. For me it will be a trip to the official kit section of the club shop and a purchase of a pair of 42 Euro size socks.
No two pairs are the same in design. There are subtle differences in them all. Take the offerings from Rapid Vienna and FC Köln for instance. Both made by Adidas but one with green/white stripes whilst the other is plain white. But both have a lovely little tag sewn into the roll down bits with the club badge on. Or the clubs that have their badge on the shin part of the sock. For these it is a crime not to wear them pulled up to the knee. Then you can give people a quick flash of the badge by rolling up your trouser leg. A subtle twist on this is the offering from Denmark and Paris Saint Germain where the badge/flag is actually on the calf side.
What about the subtleties? What about a little L or R on the toes so you know on which foot each should go on? Or how about the Hanover 96 approach of having one sock with a vertical line on, and the other with a horizontal one. If that was designed by Hockney or Emin it would be deemed a masterpiece and find a home in the Tate.
The collection is almost a European Nations in its own right. There are pairs from 18 different European countries. None yet, alas from further abroad but we are working on that. European Champions, European Championship winners, World Cup winners, Europa League winners and various domestic league winners are all included….and West Ham.
Deep down I am still mad with Danny for buying the last pair of Royal Antwerp socks when we visited them back in March. He knew I bloody loved them and now he taunts me whenever he wears them. But I will have the last (no pun intended) laugh one day Danny Boy!
My favourite pair? Well thank you for asking. It is a pair of Shrewsbury Town socks made by Prostar. They are blue with yellow and white vertical bars on, with elasticated sections on the foot for support and a big STFC on the shin. Or my FC Kaiserslautern pair? Kappa, light blue with claret writing. Classy yet understated.
My newest pair? A nice turquoise pair of FC Nordsjælland complete with the manufacturer (H2O) and a club badge on the front that I picked up in March.
Most garish pair? Has to be the luminous orange FC Barcelona pair. I haven’t found any item of clothing that looks good with those.
Most sought after pair? Accrington Stanley, circa 2008 where they had the word Stanley running down the back of the sock. I would change my name by deed poll for a pair of those.
One day I am going to open the first ever football sock museum. Each pair will be immortalised in a glass case, with a little label (in multiple languages of course) explaining the significance of each pair. People will come from lands far and away to donate pairs to the exhibition (new ones, still in the bag please). Who knows, one day the Guinness Book of World Records may even visit and then I will know my journey to greatness has been complete. But for now I am happy in my knowledge that I am not alone. That there are other football sock lovers out there too. I can’t be alone. Tell me please I am not alone and that these are the actions of a normal, sane person. Please?
Socks, a set on Flickr.