Personal Best: Trevor Johnson
The Beautiful Game – Ultimately endorsed by Pele, this graphic was created because England failed to qualify for the World Cup.
“I have always been a football fan and a regular at Old Trafford since 1968, but never really one for ‘souvenirs’ as they were at the time. During the Italia ‘90 World Cup I recall seeing some appealing football-related Italy t-shirts in a fashion shop for the first time. After Manchester United’s magnificent European Cup Winners Cup success in ’91 I was looking for a wearable t-shirt for myself and couldn’t find anything.
“I realised that football merchandise in this country still only catered for one type of supporter, and that attitudes in football, and merchandising, needed to change to move with the times. England had a dismal Euro ‘92 in Sweden, losing to the host nation. With this experience in mind, as well as my work with band merchandise at the time, I decided to develop some football graphics ideas for t-shirts, working towards the World Cup in the USA in 1994 as a trial exercise.
“True to form, Graham Taylor’s England team failed to qualify for the tournament, which left me with the dilemma of whether to continue or change tactics. I discussed the idea with some associates and thought maybe a generic graphic could be created, which could have a broader appeal. So we took the Pele phrase ‘The Beautiful Game’ and created a design that was based on the retro principle of the Mexico ‘70 poster, which could be interpreted in a variety of different nationalities’ colours.
“In the absence of a domestic presence in the finals, ‘The Beautiful Game’ became the unofficial UK t-shirt to wear for this World Cup, appearing in magazines such as the Face and Loaded, on the terraces in the USA and on TV worn by fans, players and pop stars alike. It also turned out to be the type of design women bought as gifts, happy for their boyfriends or husbands to be seen in, as well as for themselves.
“Following on from the success of ‘The Beautiful Game’ a process was started to produce and market our own brand of football-related designs. Commissions also began to come in, and we were appointed as official designers for Euro ‘96 merchandising and created the identity for the Manchester Soccercity ‘96 campaign as the host nation.
“We went on to do collaborations with 90 Minutes magazine, Umbro, branding Ryan Giggs apparel for Reebok and I was appointed consultant to MUFC Merchandising. So I will never know what would have happened with the original idea had we qualified for USA, but at least some good came out of the Graham Taylor regime!”
Info: Trevor Johnson is an appointed a member of the City of Manchester’s Creative Panel and Creative Director of Manchester Design company Creative Lynx.
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