Fashion on the field - whatever next?

George Best's loose shirt was one thing, but Liverpool's Patrik Berger is wearing an Alice band... Julie Welch charts the latest eccentricity on the British pitch

Every decade has its seminal moment of football fashion. The first time George Best wore his shirt outside his shorts, that Nobby Stiles took to the pitch without his teeth in, that Kevin Keegan walked into his barber's and said "I can't do a thing with it - can we try a perm?" Ever since the first Saturday afternoon that Eric Cantona pulled on his jersey in a hurry, Sunday footballers all over the land have been cavorting around with their collars up in homage. But now there is a new contender for the fashion detail that takes football into the new millennium.

Last Sunday afternoon, as Liverpool's new Czech star Patrik Berger scored twice against Leicester, all eyes were on his stunning footwork. But had anyone glanced upwards they would have noticed the little black item with which the Super Czech kept his flowing locks in place. The man whose goals lifted Liverpool to the top of the Premiership was clearly wearing an Alice band.

It is worth noting that Berger started the match on the subs bench, replacing Liverpool's troubled star striker Stan Collymore in the second half with dramatic effect. Now Collymore's regular place alongside Robbie Fowler is in doubt. Liverpool manager Roy Evans may explain away Collymore's eclipse by saying that "he is not as sharp as normal", but come off it. The real reason is there for all to see. Collymore is a tonsorial dinosaur. A footballer with a head shorn like a billiard ball is yesterday's footballer.

This is not the first time players have trotted out in garments more suited to the ground floor at Harrods than the hallowed turf of our footballing citadels. The game might be bathed right now in September sunshine but come January it gets cold out there. Keith Weller, a Leicester hero of yesteryear and clearly a man of some courage, favoured white tights. Foreign imports are often spotted trying to cheat British winters with nancy things like gloves. And Berger has long hair. It must get in the way. Keeping it out of his eyes is only common sense.

Even so there are questions still to be answered, ie how? and why? What possessed an eminently sane-looking footballer to rein in his tresses with an accessory that Princess Diana's friends wear to shop in Sloane Square along with a mulberry handbag and Hermes scarf? Did his agent, the Czech Republic's version of Eric "Monster" Hall, eager for his protege to cut a dash over here, get his Rothmans Football Yearbook mixed up with the Sloane Ranger Handbook?

The Alice band has its uses. With a Laura Ashley ballgown, it affords the wearer an English rose sort of charm. But in footballing terms it has a distinct drawback. It is a fiddly, narrow article. The names of Carlsberg, JVC, Coors, Sharp, all visible from the highest seat in the stands when emblazoned across the manly chests of our lads, need a magnifying glass to be identified on a hair band. Sponsors are not going to like this new fad.

Is Berger mad? Is he brave? Or is he at the cutting edge of soccer style in a sport in which in 10 years' time, Nike twinsets and Diadora pearls will be commonplace? By then, of course, they will have changed the name from Alice band to something more in keeping with the culture that will have so slavishly adopted it. A Gary band, perhaps.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

    £14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

    Ashdown Group: IT Manager - Salesforce / Reports / CRM - North London - NfP

    £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and reputable Not for Profit o...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger & Credit Control Assistant

    £14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Ledger & Credit Control...

    Recruitment Genius: Project Administrator

    £16000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Administrator is requ...

    Day In a Page

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn