We caught up with Josh Steeples the “Bootleg King: and founder of A Store Like 94 to talk about his love of Nigel Martyn, vintage Umbro and some sensational Serie A bootleg shirts.
First football shirt?
I always thought my first shirt had been a green 1994 Crystal Palace goalkeeper shirt made by Nutmeg. I will tell you more about this in a second as this has all the memories. But during a house clean up at my parents last year I unearthed my first official shirt bought on holiday in 1990 so this changed everything.
I didn’t mind too much tho as its a beautiful blue and white striped shirt with a dreamy old school felt backed badge from a little team just outside Zaragoza in northern Spain called Cuarte.
But back to the 94 Palace shirt, this is the shirt I have all my childhood memories of. I remember being a huge Nigel Martyn fan and wanting this shirt for months before finally receiving it as a Christmas present.
It still ranks as one of my favourite gifts of all time but sadly this one is nowhere to be found and I haven’t ever seen one for sale online. I do always check when I can remember so who knows, maybe one day.
What is your favourite football shirt?
It’s so hard to name one, this is like asking someone their favourite movie, so I think I will give you three and all my collection. My favourite outfield player shirt, my favourite keeper shirt and one from my newish collection of bootlegs.
So my favourite outfield shirt has to be the Ajax 1989/90 away shirt made by Umbro. Worn in the early days of Dennis Bergkamp and during the season Ajax reclaimed the Dutch title after four successive second place spots. Every time I put this shirt on you just feel great.
The cut is immaculate, the rounded button neck is beautifully designed and the shirt itself is the perfect weight, top that off with the solid TDK sponsor and you have a near perfect shirt. For me Umbro definitely takes the crown for best vintage shirts. I think throughout the 90s and even today in the poorly manufactured modern day shirt world they still are the best of a bad bunch.
Goalkeeper shirts – Again this is a hard one as goalkeeper shirts are some of my favourite designs ever created. I’m a sucker for a geometric pattern and this is the heartland of many of the craziest patterns to ever make it into the footballing world. But one I have a close attachment to is the 97/98 Estonia shirt made by Lotto. I don’t actually own this one but have the next best thing, a template bought for £4 on a luckly Ebay hunt a couple of years ago. Again a brilliantly made shirt by Lotto who make some of the best keeper shirts and perfect for those colder evenings. This one always makes an appearance at festivals with me when the days turn to night.
And last but not least, my favourite bootleg. This is a newish area / collection for me, I have been collecting fake fan shirts for three years now and have accumulated around fifteen of my favourite weirdest 90s mashups.
The dream is to one day put on a small exhibit somewhere with these on display as they are actually rarer and harder to find than some of the retro greats. I have two long sleeve beauties that I can’t really choose between as I am pretty sure there both done by the same mashup designer. One is of the Uruguayan footballer Daniel Fonseca and one is of Gabriel Batigol Batistusta from his Fiorentina days.
What is your favourite football moment? Why?
I am a mad Crystal Palace fan and this is something I share with my dad. I started going to Palace when I was six and am a proud Junior Eagle member haha. I have so many great memories of last minute winners and away days but the pick of the bunch has to be the playoff final in 2013 when Palace beat Watford.
It was a pretty cagey match and won by a late Kevin Philips peno but I just remember my dad completely losing it and grabbing random people and kissing them and I have a lush video of us both singing “Glad all over ” at the top of our voices at the final whistle. This is an image I will have locked in forever and always makes me smile whenever I think about it.
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