Okay, so, the career paths of Juan Agudelo and Danny Califf have merged. Let's see what happens in the Estupiclasico on Saturday. Conventional wisdom has the blue team on the decline and the red team on a slow, slow rise. I think conventional wisdom is wrong, but from a national team perspective the Agudelo trade is fascinating. And frightening. And lots of things. However, I promised a silly logo post, and I shall deliver. First, I wanted to link to this NSFW hilarious Cracked cartoon about logo design from a year ago. I've held it close to my heart since I first read it, and I post it as a warning to future Atlanta MLS fans.
I am dimly aware there was a game today of some mild interest. Here's a topic to consider - why am I so much more invested in the Estupiclasico than the Champions League final? Amerisnobbery? The elbow is nearer than the shin?
The other topic I'd muse about - does this upstage Manchester City's Premier League title? Or does it bookend it nicely? Two clubs after long stretches of failure brought to glory by proving the great football truism - hard work is no match for hard work plus money.
If Chelsea must be the Greatest Club of All Time (had Barcelona won the title, some would have made that claim for them, therefore, the club that beat them should be given the same consideration, q.e.d.), then I'm glad they did it with John Terry in disgrace and Ken Bates far in the rear-view mirror. If those two could now catch and die of Herod's evil, or if someone would say that Di Matteo simply built upon the groundwork laid by Ruud Gullit, then I'd be almost as delighted for Chelsea as Suggs or Damon Albarn.
Oh, well. Here are some pictures.
SAN MARINO CALCIO This is the most delightfully self-aggrandizing nonsense I have ever seen. Like AS Monaco, this is a team that plays in a different, much larger nation. If San Marino Calcio ever made it to Serie A, it would make the Swansea miracle pale in comparison. Wearing a badge this boastful anywhere in public, let alone on Italian soccer fields, is hilarious enough already. But the gap between promise and delivery is so gloriously vast, the only possible competition it might have in the Italian league is if a fellow microstate fielded Vatican City FC, with a badge that read "Infallible."
SAYAMA RATTLES FC If I said to you, "I found the cutest soccer logo in the world," you'd probably say "Which Japanese team was it?" Meet the Sayama Rattles - and yes, that's a Japanese GeoCities page. And yes, they've apparently been at it since 1968 - although the Telstar ball suggests that logo perfection did not spring into being overnight. There are probably a whole slew of fantastic reasons why the snake is wearing a beret and smoking a pipe.
SEVILLA FC I loved their old logo, which I once referred to as "Saint Ferdinand, Saint Isidore and Saint Leander ...transformed into two sinister bunny rabbits presiding over the guillotining of Carmen Miranda." The update turned a hilarious cartoon into a legitimate heraldic masterpiece. I have no clue how they manage to get that detail onto a shirt, but I love them for trying. The complete opposite of Ajax simplifying their crest for the sake of simplicity and marketing.
SAINT LOUIS ATHLETICA The newly unveiled St. Louis Athletica logo resembles a medieval coat of arms and was inspired by that of St. Joan of Arc, featuring the silhouette of a woman atop her horse, proudly hoisting an "STL" flag overhead. The banner is flanked by two fleurs-de-lis - a nod to St. Louis as an 18th Century French settlement. The word "Athletica" is derived from the adjective "athletic," with the "a" denoting the newly-created noun as feminine, a common practice in many foreign languages.
Behold how utterly full of crap you can be - and Jeff Cooper turned out to be very full indeed - and still plotz your way into a good logo. A great twist on the statue of St. Louis is Crusader, and only now does it occur to me why the team didn't actually name the team after Joan of Arc. It would have been too appropriate. Joan was martyred, after all. Shame that male heroes get teams named after them all the time, while the only team named after a woman I can recall is Atalanta. (Chelsea FC was not, it turns out, named after Bill and Hillary's daughter. Who knew?)
TAMPA BAY ROWDIES Kenn interviewed the artist of this logo - one of the very very few in history which feature the artist's signature, by the way. If you are put off by the worrisome perspective of Ralph's legs, or the positioning of his right arm, or the noticeable if not excessive bulge in his shorts - well, we'll just have to agree to disagree, because that picture encapsulates the NASL. I wonder what a similar caricature of the typical MLS player would look like.
The jauntiest of the logos of the old Soviet Union. For as many teams that began as workman's clubs, comparatively few reflect their origins with such pride. Dynamo Kyiv's iconic design is simply a script "D", for example, and does not show a commissar slamming a dissident's hand in a desk drawer. Although this is a modern update, it's fairly true to the historic logo, which is pretty striking for the days long before anyone thought of selling shirts, caps and iPhone covers with the team logo. If everything about the USSR showed similar creativity, the Cold War would have ended very differently.
VERY last minute entry - thanks, Tortola! This was going to be Vasco da Gama's spot, by virtue of being one of the only remotely interesting badges in South America - but once this one was brought to my attention, I couldn't deny its place. This is the only logo on the list with a sponsor mentioned - Wikipedia informs me that's what "Englebert" is doing up on top there - but it doesn't wreck the badge's harmony. Besides, "Englebert" is a funny word, in French or English. This is also one of the few badges whose club would make a list of greatest club names - a list that would have many, many South American clubs on it. Tout Puissant is absolutely in a class with "The Strongest," "Destroyer's" and "Newell's Old Boys."
VALENCIA Another logo about which I have waxed rhapsodic in the past. Looking at it again, I'd like to see a little more detail on the actual bat. A face, maybe. Or feet. But I love this one because the local heraldic symbol works in so seamlessly, without overwhelming a crest that is clearly meant to be on the dull side. Amazing that a bat, of all creatures, can turn staid into elegant. Bruce Wayne was right all along.
England used to have THE soccer logo. No words were necessary. No pitiful little star over the logo. You either knew what those three lions meant, or you were about to learn. So why isn't the classic England logo here? Because I like this one better. The two shades of green attempting to provide a bevel - literally the only flaw. That dragon is simply beautiful. Wales started with a pretty heavy metal flag to begin with, but taking out the black lines in this update makes it transcendent. The slogan on the bottom means "The best play is team play," although if I had been consulted I would have chosen "Let your rage on history's page in Saxon blood be written."
ZAMALEK You've read about Al-Ahly, the club that has been on the forefront of the Egyptian revolution? Who have inspired the soccer world, from Bob Bradley on down? These are their arch-rivals. Awkward! The Arabic script works in the logo's favor - if what I assume is "Zamalek" were squeezed into a triangle like that in Latin letters, it would look stupid. In Arabic, it looks just fine. The classic Egyptian archer hopefully has not been co-opted into a symbol of authoritarian repression, because that can be hard to bounce back from. Ask the swastika.
I suppose you're wondering whether I'm going to inflict, in my opinion, the world's worst logos upon you. The answer should be depressingly obvious.