The European football championships are upon us once more. Football is all well and good but after the horrors of the terrible season just past, the nation needs something to give it hope. The Blue Meanies from Manchester are greedily gobbling up the national game as the rest of us struggle and slumber in forlorn desperation. Those of us with red blood and aesthetic hearts can barely look at a spherical object, let alone one being kicked around on grass. The game is now to be dominated by vampires from the East with diamonds for eyes and oil for blood. Football is dead. Far better then, to settle this current European competition with a contest to see which of the competing countries produces the best shoes. Just think of the benefits.
Using the nations from the upcoming football fiesta, I carried out a comprehensive, scientific analysis of how a shoe-based UEFA ‘Euro 2012’ would pan-out. It was not a wholly un-biased analysis as, much as I expect Spain to emerge as winners in the football, I was even clearer on my favourite to take the shoe title. Most of the contenders were chosen from a selection of shoes available from www.oipolloi.com who, with their customary generosity, have promised everyone at Pazport! a pair of free shoes from the winning nation. Great shop, great guys. The wise amongst you would do well to take heed of the result as shoe-based predictions could be this year’s Paul the octopus.
Extensive and exhaustive research suggests that the group stages of the tournament would see Russia, Poland, Ireland, Greece, Ukraine, Sweden, Croatia and the Czech Republic eliminated due to a complete lack of evidence of any nice shoes made in their countries. I spent a good 20 minutes on Google and found nothing beyond Russia’s Ralf Ringer (That’s Ralf Ringer) brand and a message on the Greek ‘governments’ website reading ‘Fuck off and leave us alone’.
This leaves a quarter-final line-up featuring many of the traditional heavyweights represented by England (Clarks), France (Mephisto), Denmark (Jacoform), Germany (Finn Comfort), Portugal (Weaver), Spain (Vera), Italy (Casbia) and Holland (Cruijff).
Making the swiftest exit would be the Dutch, represented as they are by the risible Cruijff imprint. Despite sharing the name of the coolest European footballer ever, they produce unapologetic tat of the worst kind. Once a maker of fine football boots Cruijff have since turned their ‘minds’ to Prada-esque abominations whose recent adoption by the scally hordes of Salford and beyond has done nothing to embellish their image. Comprehensively defeated, and featuring a couple of own goals, the Dutch are gonners.
Also crashing-out at this stage would be the Italians. A search of the merch from @oipolloi (size 10) only threw-up the admittedly attractive Casbia, a shoe with enough Italian class to carry them this far but containing too many flaws for when the competition gets tight. Hubris, as ever, is the Italians downfall. Poor colour choice, weak sole and a leather finish more scouse WAG than Dolce Vita would see them on the plane home.
The least surprising quarter final departure would see Denmark bow-out, although the loser’s line-up would contain a shock in the form of perennial favourites Germany. Some, particularly and peculiarly, Northern men have a fondness for the orthopaedic offerings from the Danes and Germans in the form of Jacoform and Finn Comfort respectively.
Traditional favourites amongst the acid-rambling community both have heritage, functionality and comfort but would fail to get past the Quarter-finals due to sheer unforgiving, brutal ugliness.
All that action would leave a formidable looking semi-final line-up of England, Spain, Portugal and France. Although a US brand, Mephisto are designed and made in France. They might only be made in France to be honest. To be honester they might only be ‘finished’ in France but they’re French. Definitely. Another favourite of the hikerdelic community, Mephisto are, like their counterparts in the football team, a mixed bag of talents. Unlike the football team Mephisto can still call on some true stars to shine like their formidable Rainbow shoe made from only the finest materials. As Dillinger once sang ‘soft leather, latex, rubber and cork, that’s the way you spell New York’. However, a few stars in a large squad is not enough for this Competition, leaving the French heading for the airport and the flight back to De Gaulle.
Football favourites Spain are the surprise semi-final loser with young outfit Vera shoes finding that technique, understanding and detail is not always enough at the highest level. Vera are actually made by a Welsh fella but they’re made in Spain and look Spanish (even if the name sounds more Manchester than Madrid). Undoubtedly a star performer in the summer months Vera produce attractive collections featuring lace up espadrilles, mesh slip-ons, perforated suede – the sort of shoes that make you believe Spain knows best. A move into winter footwear was both bold and inspired and holds great promise for the future. Unfortunately for Spain however, success has come very quickly and things may have moved at too quick a pace over recent seasons leaving Vera’s small squad exposed in the final stages. A brave performance but ultimately too soon to meet the challenge of the real heavyweights, would see Spain knocked-out but satisfied with their performance.
For this pundit the only conceivable final would see Portugal face England and the only outcome of that final would be a comprehensive victory for England. The Portuguese, much like their national team, would rely on one world-class performer, the Weaver Moccasin. It has to be admitted that by being Japanese, Weaver Moccasins are not strictly Portuguese, but they’re ‘hand-finished’ in Portugal (rumour has it that Christiano’s mum works on them) and literally reek of the Iberian peninsula. Basically an homage to Clarks, Weaver took the English model and developed it, much like the world did with football, only unlike in the football, they haven’t become better than the masters.
Weavers overall strength in this showdown would also be their major weakness in the final against their English opponents and this is their almost total reliance on ripping-off Clarks with every shoe that walks out of the design house. You look at a pair of Weavers and think Clarks. That’s not necessarily a bad thing on the street but it’s fatal for Portugal in the field of International shoe competition and they would have to settle for the runners-up spot.
Timeless, classic, stylish, heritage, vintage and iconic. All righteous superlatives for the winner of the tournament, England and Clarks. Their Wallabees, Desert boots, Desert Trek, Desert Rain, Ashcott, Desert Trek and of course the original Weaver (Cheeky Portuguese/Japanese twats) are all styles that trip off the tongue like Charlton, Moore, Hurst, Stiles, Banks and Ball. I’m assuming that everybody reading this has owned or owns at least one pair of those mentioned above, if not all of them.
None of the other competing nations can boast a line-up containing as many star performers, delivering such consistent quality and maintaining such high standards. After years in the tournament wilderness, Clark’s technique and tradition would undoubtedly lead England to glory in Poland and The Ukraine.
So there you have it. England to win Euro 2012 by being timeless, classic, stylish, vintage and iconic. It may seem unlikely, it may even seem ridiculous but as pop princess Shakira almost sang ‘The shoes don’t lie’. Get your savings on Roy’s brave lions and tell Fred Done that Pazport! sent you.
(This article originally appeared in Pazport! The Rig Out & Mother London’s guide to Euro 2012).