As a World Cup or Euros rolls in, all eyes become glued to the ensuing chaos that unfolds. The events of a major tournament stick in the memory more than most, and alongside the instances of sporting triumph and agony, the celebrations, gaffs and all round strange moments add a level of colour which
The ‘Weird Euros’ project explores these more niche memories in a wonderfully creative way through the medium of beermats. I caught up with both Amie Cripps, Comms and Partnerships Lead for Goals4Girls and Gordon Reid, founder of the studio Middle Boop, to find out more about the project.
Q: Hey Amie, thanks for chatting with us today! Could you start by introducing yourself, what you do for a living, and what your involvement is with Weird Euros?
Amie: My official title is Head of Comms & Partnership Lead at Goals4Girls, but I find myself doing a fair amount outside of that job description simply because I can't help myself!
Goals4Girls is a football and education programme working with vulnerable young women (11-16) in areas of high deprivation across London. We work with some phenomenal young people on the daily, so I throw myself into anything and everything to make sure they have access to the best opportunities possible. Which brings me to Weird Euros!
The lovely Gordon Reid from the creative agency Middle Boop reached out ahead of the Euros to tell me about this crazy fundraising project. 20 of the best artists, designers and illustrators in the business each designing a weird moment from Euros history...what's not to love! Since then, I've been supporting Gordon with the project. We are trying to get the word out to as many people as possible, as all proceeds from sales go directly to Goals4Girls.
Q: Amazing! Before we talk more about Goals4Girls and Weird Euros, how are you enjoying Euro 2020 so far? What have been some standout moments for you so far this summer?
Amie: I love any form of international tournament because it gives me an excuse to watch football pretty much non-stop. I'm a huge Arsenal fan so to see Little Chilli strutting his stuff on the world stage brings me so much joy. Saka is a special talent, and I can't wait to see him develop as a player on and off the pitch. He was unbelievable against the Czechs recently. More of that please, plus an injection of Jack Grealish wouldn't go amiss.
Seeing Manuel Neuer wear his Rainbow captain's armband will be a personal standout moment of mine for a long time to come. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community those small gestures go a long way. Especially in a UEFA competition. The beautiful game has the power to change people's lives, you never know whose life has been changed by seeing Neuer display such support.
Q: Are there any particular Euros from years past which stick out to you? Any favourite players, teams, moments?
Amie: When Iceland knocked England out of the competition back in 2016. I remember finding it really difficult not to like Iceland and their fans at the time.
As a team they were so organised, and as fans they were so passionate. Their chanting was legendary. There was a lot of talk about how a country with a population the same size as Roy Hodgson's Croydon had ended the England manager's time in charge. Seemed poetic. Spain winning the tournament undefeated in 2008 also sticks out for me. I remember thinking David Villa was unbeatable during that competition.
Q: So Weird Euros, what is the project all about?
Gordon: It's all about celebrating those weird and funny moments that happen at every Euros tournament. We're not doing it to illustrate big goals or iconic moments, just the niche stuff. We felt the perfect way to do this would be to ask a bunch of weird creatives (David Shrigley, Chris (Simpsons Artist) from all over Europe to pick their weirdest moments and we'd 'exhibit' them on beer mats....Because what better medium for there to be for these things than a beer mat?
On top of this, we're selling these beer mats and working with the fantastic adidas Football Collective to raise money and awareness for Goals4Girls!
Q: I love the idea of illustrating the funnier side of the game! Could you tell us how you went about picking the moments that were illustrated on the beer mats?
Gordon: Thanks mate. The funny moments came from all over really, there were moments that I just had ingrained in my head, like Uri Geller nudging the ball with his mind in 96, Gazzas dentist chair and the Balotelli flex, but a lot of them came from the artists who we encouraged to think of some.
We got some corkers from artists like Paul The Octopus and Stuart Pearce getting headbutted in 92. It felt like a really strong collab between us and the artists.
Q: There's a wonderful range of styles across the collection. How did you go about selecting the artists for the project?
Gordon: We were very strict about who we invited as we wanted to make sure we had artists that represented all or most of the key countries from the Euros, had varied styles and all created work with a witty and dry sense of humour.
We also set out to convince two benchmark artists to work with us as we are selling two packs of ten. The story about how we got David Shrigley was a good one. Years ago I was watching a particularly bleak Celtic game at Celtic Park against Partick Thistle with my mate Stuart who mentioned David Shrigley (who'd just done the Partick Thistle kit and mascot) was a fan of his band Mogwai and they'd been for a few pints in the past. I phoned Stuart and asked if he was ok with asking David if he'd be up for it, within two hours David had replied and was well up for it.
We also made sure to set aside a number of slots for emerging talent as we both felt it was important to help the next round of talent if we could. And of course we made it imperative that we had an even balance between male and female artists.
Q: Do you have a personal favourite from all the mats?
Amie: Wow. Just one? David Oku's mat is so colourful. It's got serious Rio carnival vibes about it. Oku depicts the weird story of Portugal keeper Ricardo's gloveless penalty save against England during the 2004 quarters. Ricardo then scored the winning penalty. So weird.
Gordon: I mean I really do love them all. But if I was really pushed I'd say Stuart Pearce by Shrigley as it was a total surprise when he popped up with that illustration and it's amazing. Isreal Kujores Ballotelli flex is a brilliant execution and David Okus take on Ricardo taking his gloves off is brilliant.
Q: Could we see the art available in other formats later down the line?
Amie: You're not the first person to ask that, which makes us think there's a market for it. The designs are gorgeous, who wouldn't want them on their walls? Especially when you've got the likes of Chris Simpson and David Shrigley contributing to the project. Absolute bargains! I also love the fact that lesser known, but exceptionally talented, artists and designers are a part of the project. Raj Dhunna's Cristiano Ronaldo illustration is stunning. Full of life and texture, I'd love a print version of it.
Gordon: Quite possibly, there's talk of all sorts of directions we can go from this. I'm pretty excited about the future!
If you'd like to buy a tonne of mats, we are offering wholesale prices too! DM Goals4Girls or WeirdEuros on IG for more info. Let's get these mats out to as many people as possible!
Q: Let's talk about the charity aspect of the project. Amie, how has your work with Goals4Girls overlapped with Weird Euros?
Amie: Gordon's aim with Weird Euros has always been to shine a light on the amazing work of charities working within the footballing space. We were incredibly fortunate that he chose to work with Goals4Girls!
Previously Middle Boop have created some gorgeous illustrations for adidas, and so it seemed like a natural fit, considering that Goals4Girls are also members of the adidas Football Collective. It's been great to have someone so invested in what we are trying to achieve at the organisation. Levelling the playing field on and off the pitch for girls and young women isn't easy, how can it be when The FA banned women's football for 70 years? So, when individuals like Gordon see value in our work, and 'get' what we're trying to do, that type of support means we can reach more young people. And that's the ultimate aim!
Q: What is the adidas Football Collective? How does that relate to what you do with Goals4Girls?
Amie: The adidas FC is a group of changemakers from across the globe working hard to tear down barriers, create opportunities and enable anyone to experience the beautiful game.
Goals4Girls epitomises that. Our work is designed by the girls, for the girls. Our young women are always at the heart of our work, that way we can ensure their needs are being met and barriers specific to them can be overcome. Football and the world of possibilities that come with it, shouldn't be closed off to people because of their gender. The beautiful game brings friends, families and communities across the world together. Don't exclude 50% of the population from being a part of that because they identify as women.
Q: Finally before we let you go, do you have a favourite football shirt? Are there any recent releases you're hoping to pick up?
Amie: I'm someone who thinks every Germany shirt ever made, since the dawn of time, are class. I don't know what it is! The colourways with German shirts are always strong. I am a big fan of their current home shirt. Thank you Kai Havertz for opening the world's eyes to the beauty of long-sleeved shirts by the way.
I really loved France's home shirt designed specifically for the Women's World Cup a couple of years ago. So simple, but so stylish. Classic French behaviour! If we are talking cult classics: Bruised Banana, all day every day. Uncle Wright in his heyday! If we are talking nostalgia: Arsenal's 2003/2004 away shirt. Bright yellow, blue collar with blue trim around the sleeves. I can see Henry now, running away from goal having scored, his shirt billowing in the wind. Those shirts were massive weren't they! Just added to their brilliance.
Huge thanks to Amie and Gordon for taking the time to chat with us.
Browse some of the shirts that featured in these weird and wonderful beer mats in our collection of vintage football shirts. See the whole collection here.