WE CAUGHT UP WITH JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR OF FOOTBALL MANAGER STOLE MY LIFE, IAIN MACINTOSH TO TALK CLASSIC LIVERPOOL KITS, SOUTHEND “SPLAT” SHIRTS AND BEING CANTONA.
What was your first ever football shirt?
Weirdly, I’m told that my first shirt was a West Ham top bought for me by my uncle, but I have absolutely no memory of it. Apparently, he was trying to lure me to the dark side while I was too young to protest, but thankfully he failed. Like most young boys in the home counties during the 1980s, I was a Liverpool fan because they were always on the telly, but the first shirt I remember owning was an Ipswich top.
I bought it from a jumble sale (kids, think eBay, but live and with loads of old ladies) for 20p. It was royal blue with white pin-stripes and had ‘Pioneer’ written over the front. Every time it went through the wash, a little bit more of the sponsor fell off, as if the washing machine was making its own small protest against the commercialisation of football.
What was your favourite ever football shirt?
I had an old Brechin City shirt for some reason in the mid-90s and that was superb. The badge looked like it was a competition entry from a primary school and the material felt like a hot water bottle cover. I think I must have been one of only about 200 people to have that shirt. Including the Brechin City players. That *just* beats my Southend ‘splat’ shirt of 1997, a horrific blue shirt with an explosion of yellow across the centre. It looked like a canary had flown into your torso at Mach Two.
Southend United Football Club, 1997 #splat
What is your favourite ever goal?
Eric Cantona’s famous goal for Manchester United against Sunderland. The ball took about ten minutes to go from his boot to the back of the net and he was never in any doubt about it at all. He just stood there, looking over his Kingdom, taking it all in.
I was trying to articulate my feelings about Cantona on Twitter the other day and it ended up getting completely misconstrued with loads of people frantically telling me that Henry scored more goals, or that Messi is much better, or that he didn’t win a European trophy. They all missed the point of Cantona completely. He wasn’t a footballer. I’m not entirely convinced that he was a human. He was just…Cantona. He existed on a higher plane, he transcended actual achievements just by being…Cantona. And that goal just encapsulated his career in England.