As a self-confessed football hipster this has been a very melancholic week. In the positives was the absolute delight in seeing German football so severely and completely dominating their more glamorous Iberian opponents. It validated the endorsements of hipsters that the machinery of German football is not only geared against ‘big business’ football but can actually defeat it. Conversely there was sadness in particular at the Dortmund result. The hipster’s poster boys have been rumbled.
The death of a particular counter-cultural movement is said to occur when it ceases to exist on the fringes and becomes ‘mainstream’ – think when Noel Gallagher visited Downing Street for example. That happened Wednesday night when the grey, vacuous entities that inhabit ITV Sport’s studio waxed lyrical over Dortmund’s performance. The jig was up. But did punks stop being punks just because Mr Rotten is promoting butter? Of course not, they move on.
And with that in mind I have compiled a list of five teams for fellow football hipsters alike to latch onto in these dark times. They may not represent the ultimate in hipsterdom; those special teams exist at the ends of dodgy streams from South America or the Far East. But they do hold at least 70% of the qualities that make them worthy of a football hipster’s affections.
Oh, and if any of you poor souls are still unsure of what football hipsterdom is I’ve already described the rise of the scene for you to read… go ahead… I’ll wait. All done? Great, we can begin!
Yeah, yeah, yeah – I know what you’re thinking, how can a team possibly be hipster whilst existing in the Premier League? And normally I’d agree with you but just look at what’s on offer to hipsters. Play attractive football? Check. A cool, suave young manager? Check. A team built from a mix of youth and small spending? Check. Cool kit? Cool Stadium? Excellent fans? Michu? Check. If you can look past the obvious hurdle that in all likelihood most of your friends will remember that you didn’t support them before they were heard of then Clwb Pêl-droed Dinas Abertawe maybe be hipster club for you.
Again a club one may think a true football hipster would baulk at supporting. Yet when you think about it they have everything going for them. Heritage and a history of great teams graced by such hipster idols as Michel Platini, Liam Brady and Fabio Cannavaro. They have, currently at least, a divinely elegant kit which would compliment skinny jeans perfectly. Their two aces come in the form of the midfield duo of Andrea Pirlo and Paul Pogba, the former being the bearded king of the hipsters whilst the latter has subverted the norm by leaving Manchester United in favour of Turin. Plus he’s French.
A hipster club in the true sense of the word – Eastern European with a fantastic and rich history. Its youth system (FK Teleoptik) is second only to Ajax Amsterdam in terms of prestige for producing talent versed in the philosophy of playing attractive football. A direct result of this can be seen in the current playing squad which contains a core of youth school graduates along with a smattering of Eastern Europeans and a token Brazilian. If Argentina’s ‘Super-Classico’ represents football hipster’s pinnacle fixture then Partizan supplies it’s fiery eastern European equivalent ‘The Eternal Derby’ versus Red Star Belgrade; an antidote to the gentrified politeness that hipsters avoid.
In terms of picking a hipster football team close to home Spain’s La Liga offers rich pickings. Such is the dominance of the ‘big two’ that any of the 18 other clubs provide a legitimate alternative to the mainstream. Valencia for all the Kily González inspired success in the late 90s, Espanyol and Atletico Madrid for surviving in the shadows of their neighbours or Villarreal for Juan Riquelme. In fact, Real Betis would have been the obvious nomination had they not gone and ruined it for themselves by being successful in Europe last season.
Rayo get the nomination through a number of factors which hipsters will appreciate – they are on the rise having only re-joined the top flight in the last two years, their fans have not only strong left-leaning views but are also not afraid to display them – even their own players got involved in March 2012 marches. The club captain Piti worked his way up from Spain’s amateur leagues and, most importantly of all, their home kit has a red sash on it – nothing looks better with skinny jeans than a shirt with a sash on it.
Portugal is like Spain’s cooler cousin. It’s Pitchfork compared to Spain’s Q Magazine. Like an underground scene that we’re all vaguely aware of yet no one have fully bothered to investigate. The mainstream is aware of some facets of Portuguese football by association – F.C Porto because of Mourinho and AVB, Sporting Lisbon due to Cristiano Ronaldo (coincidently the footballing antithesis of football hipsterdom). What Benfica have going for them is that they have no current big name star or manager, save perhaps for hipster favourite Pablo Aimar. A squad based around youthful South American attacking flair playing attractive football with just the right amount of potential for success also make the Águias an attractive prospect for those looking to wax lyrical in the face of those whom worship Match of the Day. The fact that they played host to such forgotten legends as Eusébio, Michel Preud’homme and Rui Costa only strengthens their case.
So there we have it, five teams all of whom will be a perfect fit for those whom enjoy nothing more than reading Jonathon Wilson, discussing false-nines and trawling eBay for obscure 1990’s third kits. Choose wisely my monocled friends.