Surprise Shirts - Shirt of the Week - Portobello FC 2022/23 Third
We’ve been all over the world with Shirt of the Week recently.
But today we’re taking a quick stopover closer to home. Put the kettle on, tear open that packet of digestives, and soak in the murky English weather as we take a look at west London’s very own Portobello FC and their, let's face it, magnificent third shirt.
We said last week that our Simpson’s inspired meme shirt epitomized football shirt culture. And while it certainly ticks a lot of the right boxes, nothing represents football, and football shirts, more than the communities and local cultures that inspire them.
So in that category, this shirt has to take the crown. Portobello FC, sandwiched between London’s mega-clubs & their international followings, are a club whose identity is rooted in the streets that they call home.
Dubbed the most fashionable club in London, Portobello have collaborated with street artist FacesorFaces, and bought their local style to the pitch. The graffiti-clad shirt, with cuffed sleeves and a slight V-neck collar, is the embodiment of west London’s buzzing, bustling, brilliant streets.
Various iterations of Faces signature piece, stacked on top of each other pack the shirt with style and energy. You can’t help but picture yourself on the streets of Notting Hill when you look at it. Because this kit is wide-legged Dickies and backpacks stuffed with spray paint, it’s caged football pitches beneath high-rise flats and it’s the Carnival all in a piece of fabric. It’s London’s underbelly on a football shirt.
And at the heart of it all is the badge. Inspired by American soccer and the Las Vegas Lights, the neon colourway matches the vibrancy of Portobello Road brilliantly. Standing proudly at the front of the crest is the club’s peacock mascot, and with it, a promise to “play the beautiful game the way it's supposed to be played”. If Portobello are anything, they’re #NeverBoring.
Usually, here we discuss past triumphs, heartbreaks, trophies, and disasters. But that’s not so easy to do with Portobello FC.
Because this club doesn’t have that history, they’re still making it. This season, their inaugural competitive season, is the very recent culmination of years of planning and preparing.
Done so by a man who grew up sampling Portobello Road’s selection of trinkets, artisan foods, and vintage clothing almost daily. @CallumOpereHoyal calls Portobello home, so when he began looking to bring a hyper-local football club to life, the name was a no-brainer. A passion project born out of necessity during the pandemic, Callum wanted to celebrate all that makes his home so special and to do so whilst ripping up the footballing rulebook. Bringing some excitement, colour, and creativity to the grassroots game.
And after a good few years of work, this idea became real. It became a tangible, grass-stained, and social media-buzzing football club.
But the work isn’t over, because now that they’re here, it’s time to play.
Portobello FC wants to “become one of the most exciting projects in non-League football by embracing the colourful and creative.” We know they’re made a good start on that promise with their kits, but if they’re to live up to these lofty ambitions, they’ll have to bring that excitement to the pitch.
New squads take time to gel, and that getting to know you phase is going to be even longer for a club still building their squad well into the opening weeks of the season. But as is the nature of grassroots football, this is something that boss @Danielmerrix has had to deal with.
Stepping onto the dusty, sundried pitches of Boston Manor Playing Fields in September for their first competitive game, Portobello and their brand new squad struggled. And although it might be difficult to take many positives from a game in which you concede nine goals, the three that they managed to bag themselves would have kept that new season buzz alive…just.
A successive defeat would dampen the mood further, but if doubts were starting to creep in about the potential of this project, they wouldn’t have lasted too long.
It’s said players should play the game, not the occasion. But some occasions are too good to ignore. Years of blood, sweat, and tears led to this. Portobello playing a home game for the first time ever on a brisk October afternoon. Up against Hillingdon Abbots Reserves, the previous defeats meant nothing, the story of the season would start here, with a 6-1 win and Portobello’s first points on the board. It was time to start looking toward the future.
But we’ve got a long way to go this season and this young, untried club have got more work to do if they’re to begin their ascent up the leagues. So if you’re local, why not head down to the London Marathon Playing Fields on the 5th of November as Portobello begin their maiden cup run? And if you’re not local, you can still follow the most exciting grassroots club in England on Twitter & Instagram and watch the story unfold.
Try your luck with a mystery box and you might end up with a little piece of football history, because who knows where this club could end up?