Best of the crests, part one
Posted on May 13, 2012 3:16 am
I don’t think I’ll ever get a straight answer on this – but why did the Galaxy play at home on Cinco de Mayo, when Chivas USA were not only in town, but played at the Home Depot Center the night before? Because ESPN demanded the LA-NY matchup? They could have showed that on Friday night, especially seeing as how it was the middle of both the NBA and NHL playoffs and would have gotten hamstrung in the ratings either way.
But still – Chivas USA not playing on Cinco de Mayo is like, I dunno, Sir Alex Ferguson telling Chicharito he can’t represent Mexico in the Olympics for fitness reasons, but can represent Mexico in a bunch of money-grabbing friendlies. (FIFA dates, schmifa dates.)
I suppose it’s no longer timely to point out that if they’re giving out holidays for beating the French in a battle, Germany would have a two-day work week.
I figured out why I was spending so much time trolling logos (see my post before last) – I cannot for the life of me figure out MLS this year. Of course, neither can anyone else. Hands up, every one who thought San Jose would be leading the West at any point this year. Clearly, it was Bobby Convey that was the problem – boy, I’d hate to be the team that got stuck with him. Belated congratulations on Kansas City winning the Championship of April.
Before the season, I couldn’t decide whether Robbie Keane, Edson Buddle, or Danny Koevermans would win the Golden Boot this year. You know what, I still can’t.
And why is it not called the Canway Canadian Championship?
Anyway, because no one asked – my 20 favorite association football logos in the history of the world.
I’m not saying these are the best, because let’s face it, it doesn’t get any more subjective than this topic. These are simply the ones I look at and say, “I really like this.” In that spirit, they are listed in alphabetical order, like a World Cup roster. Oh, sure, some of these logos are Landon Donovan, and some are David Regis. I’m going to infringe the crap out of a bunch of copyrights here, so I’m gonna claim fair use or right of review or jus primae noctis or whatever I can get away with. (Hey, the Herbalife lawyers never called, so I figure I’m invincible.)
Why is this a personal list, rather than me saying “Greatest” or “Most Influential” or any pretense to objectivity? So I’m going through the list of clubs, and I get to Holland and go, “Oh, God, yes, Ajax, talk about a timeless classic.” Then I look up the logo history. Derp. Cruyff never wore this badge, Dan, you dipstick. This design dates from 1990. It’s only now old enough to drink in the United States. This badge came after The Shot Heard Round the World.
Am I the only bonehead here? You all knew this was such a recent design? I thought this one invented and influenced all the abstract logos you see, but nope. And yet…it just feels timeless and perfect.
Which one? Pick one.
Again – I don’t know where my mind goes here, because by God, I love every design this team has ever had. I’m not kidding. And I don’t know why. It’s literally just the Scottish rampant lion, and variations thereof. And unlike Ajax, its updates have been met with serious resistance by Villa’s fans. Maybe it’s the color scheme…except West Ham and Burnley do nothing for me. Maybe it’s the consistent simplicity of the crest…but if so, Charlton Athletic should be here and not Villa. Maybe it’s the dignity and restraint, down to the slogan…but the Glasgow Rangers logo bores me silly. It’s not as if they always dress particularly well, either – check out that link if you don’t believe me, it’s fascinating. But Villa’s logos are always so clean, so dignified, easy on the eyes, never busy.
Maybe all this time I’ve just been a Villa fan and didn’t know it. I might as well embrace it. How are we doing this year, anyone know?
Why, as a matter of fact, I do have a little Captain in me, thanks for asking. Their old logo from the 80′s was apparently the worst garbage in the history of the world, but this one – hello, sailor. You may have noticed the Telstar ball, bane of default logo club designers everywhere. This badge, and a few others, prove that it doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker. (The Telstar shows up in places you wouldn’t expect. Someone should do a list of the oldest clubs who now have the Telstar on the crest. I think Southampton or Kilmarnock are early favorites.)
Okay, I have a weakness for cute animal logos, elephants in particular. (As you will see.) But tell me this isn’t just a flat-out terrific design. Is making the trunk into the “C” perhaps too cute? No, it is not too cute. It is the right amount of cute. National team logos tend to be crowded, crappy, or both – I don’t have to look terribly far to come up with an example – so it’s heartening to see at least one country who can do soccer and national pride without bland pretentiousness.
As a diehard racist, I felt a little cautious about picking logos featuring non-Latinate alphabets. For one thing, the best soccer logos add subtext and emotions far beyond the act of hiring men to kick a ball at a net for money, and for another, there is no shortage of political and religious messages on soccer logos anywhere in the world. (The Southern California Seahorses for example, and we’ll see how having Toronto wave a maple leaf and Montreal sporting a fleur-de-lis plays out.) I knew there are a lot of great logos that I’m unable to appreciate simply out of ignorance. (Al-Weehdat of Jordan was a finalist for this list, but while the Dome of the Rock is beautiful, I couldn’t separate the aesthetics of including it in the crest with the politics of it…and I don’t think I was supposed to.)
So Dubai’s Hatta Club is being honored here out of context, and I hope the Arabic text doesn’t say “Hitler had sexy thighs.”
Very short-lived team out of Hermosillo, Sonora. More teams in northern Mexico fail than you would think…or at least than I would think. And there’s the Telstar again, although out of the two countries in the world which should embrace the Telstar and everything it represents, Mexico is the other one. But just look at how badass this crest was. The ball seamlessly flowing into the headdress of the warrior, who himself is probably one of the two hardest looking brawlers ever to appear on a soccer shirt. (BEC Tero Sasana is probably your new champion, now that the Hermosillo Warrior has gone to Boot Hill.)
Except…the fan chant in the place of honor, above the name of the club itself. It’s hard to imagine a better representation of the symbiotic relationship of fan and team. Turns out that mess of a design is a representation of the Shankly Gate – which is a wrought iron overdone mess too, but the crest is faithful to it. And the torches represent the memory of the fans who died at Hillsborough. That’s what the best logos do – they give something more to their fans, something special, that those outside don’t or can’t appreciate. Context turns this badge from a trainwreck into an anthem.
The methodology of this was, I scanned a whole lot of pictures, wrote down the ones which stood out in some way, and then thought about it for a week before deciding that, no, just because Kilmarnock has squirrels does not make it one of the world’s great logos. This nicely asymmetrical, striking but classic design comes from a team in the Portalegre First Division, which is farther down the pyramid than King Tut’s roommate. So why is this here instead of Benfica? Because this logo is better.
Wikipedia – and I’m in no position to contradict them – tells me this is a semi-professional club in Thailand. Which means that you could put together a team made up of BigSoccer posters and beat this team seven times out of eleven, at worst. This is also a logo that uses the Latin alphabet, has eight different colors (including two shades of blue AND two shades of purple, for crying out loud), and the infamous Telstar ball. And good luck figuring out what’s on the banner on the side of the elephant. This is a team that had every disadvantage, did everything wrong, and ended up with (in my opinion) one of the best logos in the world. Think about that the next time Nike or Adidas rolls out some painfully generic tapioca.
In a football world filled with gaudy heraldry, half-assed abstractions and generic tapioca, this logo stands out by its beautiful restraint – even in Spain, where the average logo is usually pretty damn classic. Football is like war in one important sense – armies spend a miniscule amount of time actually fighting, and football clubs spend a proportionally tiny amount of time in actual games. The rest is preparation, logistics, bureaucracy, management, personnel, and drill after drill after drill. And the fan, like the citizen, only sees a tiny part of it. The flag in repose is still the flag. This logo is the soccer equivalent of the frieze of Nike adjusting her sandal. If actual Real fans think I’m so full of BS on this that I squirt when I walk – well, that’s their problem, because I adore this logo.
And on that note, here ends part one. I’ve been at this for DAYS, how pathetic is that? And I’m still nowhere near finished. Nine more to come soon. As you might have guessed, if you have a personal favorite, and your club starts with the letters A-R, you’ll have to find someone else to tell you how good it is.
I can tell you that part two will include The Cutest Logo In the World, The Best Women’s Soccer Logo Ever, and The Smallest Club With The Biggest Attitude. It won’t be worth the wait, I can promise you that!