Surprise Shirts - Shirt of the Week - Club Atletico Ferro Carril Oeste de General Pico 2018/19 GK

It had to be. You knew it was coming. 

Your kit of the week is the epitome of football shirt culture and you’ll have no doubt seen it, or the meme that inspired it, at some point if you’ve ever used social media. 

So join us on a trip to the Argentine third division as we dig deeper into the infamous, Ferro Carril Oeste de General Pico 2018-19 goalkeeper shirt, or to you and I, the Homer Simpson shirt.

The Kit

An iconic moment in meme, football shirt, and popular culture, this kit was an absolute sensation upon its release. 

From fans on social media to Sky Sports News, no seriously, Sky Sports News. Everyone was talking about this shirt and you can see why. Lots of clubs have followed the path of sensationalist designs over recent years; think Loja CD’s infamous shrimp shirt or Cultural Leonesa’s tuxedo-inspired away kit, but none of them did it better than General Pico. 

With a minimalist design that sacrifices sponsors, shading, or patterns in favour of drawing all eyes toward its focal point, it’s easy to see why this shirt has been so popular amongst shirt collectors in recent years.

If you’re not clued up on the Simpsons, or internet culture, the “Homer Simpson backs into a bush” meme comes from a 1994 episode of the classic animation. Often used to represent embarrassment, awkwardness, or just a real willingness to exit a situation quietly and quickly, anyone who has the pleasure of wearing this shirt won’t be doing that, it simply commands attention. We’ll never know whether it was the manufacturer Kalcomax or the club itself that came up with this design, but one thing is for sure, both of them will be remembered for it. 

Ending this section, as always, with the club badge. FCO’s crest is a five-point shield with a green base and white sash running from left to right, with the clubs initials following its path in a bold, red typeface. But let’s be honest, everyone will be too busy locking eyes with Homer Simpson to pay any attention to it. 

The Club

Originally founded by a group of parents from a local school, Club Sportivo Costanero as they were very briefly known merged, after just a month of existence, with Club Talleres to become FCO. The name, Ferro Carril Oeste translates to Western Railway which the club included in their name as an homage to the train that used to pass through the region.

As the second section of their name suggests, General Pico is the city that they call home. A small municipality with a similar population to that of Hereford, but unlike their English counterparts who happen to be surrounded by established and historic clubs, General Pico is the dominant footballing force in the La Pampa region. In fact, they’re the only club from the province to have competed at the top level of Argentine football. 

That highlight for the club, and indeed the region, came during the 1984 National Championship. Having been invited in light of their regional success, FCO were drawn into a group featuring Club Atletico Talleres, Newell’s Old Boys, and either the biggest or second biggest club in Argentina depending on what part of Buenos Aires you’re in, Boca Juniors. 

Despite finishing bottom of their group that campaign is still seen by many as the La Pampa province’s greatest footballing achievement to date. Not least because when welcoming Boca Juniors to The Colossus of the Workshops Stadium, - that’s genuinely the English translation for their stadium, it makes Stamford Bridge and Old Trafford sound a bit dull in comparison - they held firm and walked away with a point apiece in a 0-0 draw. 

It's been a steady decline ever since for Club Ferro, slowly dropping down the divisions in between some brief resurgences. Currently competing in the Torneo Federal A, the third division of Argentine football, they’re still La Pampa’s most prominent club and their storied history is a source of great pride for the city. 

The Season

Interestingly, the man who hit the headlines when the shirt was announced, and the man whose name you’ll most often find on the back of it, Argentine shot-stopper Nicolas Caprio wouldn’t be the one to wear it during the 2018-19 season, it would be his former understudy, Kevin Andre Humeler who had that truly unique honour, debuting the shirt in a 1-1 draw against Sansinena in the first game of the season.

A further six games would come and go before Homer and Humeler could celebrate a clean sheet, as it wasn’t until match week 7 and a 1-0 defeat over Deportivo Roca that they managed to go 90 minutes without conceding. 

But in a sense of cruel irony, the club with the best goalkeeper’s kit in Argentina would be thwarted by their inability to keep from conceding goals. Scoring enough to be in with a shout of advancing to the second phase of the league season, their leaky defence saw them finish 8th in their 9-team group, dropping down into what is essentially a relegation playoff.  

A turnaround in form would be enough for Humeler and his teammates to avoid relegation though. Which is for the best really, can you imagine getting relegated with a meme on your kit? You don’t come back from that. Some inspired defensive performances meant they managed to squeeze out the results they needed to keep them in the division for another season.

So yeah, it might not have been a vintage year for FCO, and picking the ball out of the net in that shirt week after week must’ve got pretty old, pretty quickly for poor Kevin. But enough was done to maintain their place in the third division, and besides when your keeper looks this good, who even cares about results?

Written by @ZacWelshman1

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