Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The plimsoles,runners,trainers & football boots of our childhood

I originally posted this on a streetwear forum on 20th November

This is primarily intended for the older British boys amongst us, who were schoolboys in the 60s and 70s. Just a bit of fun, hope some of you can get a nostalgic smile or heart twinge out of long forgotten days and long forgotten footwear.

Remembering school plimsoles with the instep elastic rather than laces, usually in black or navy. Made of canvas, rubber soled. Completely flat, no heel,no support. And having to do cross country runs in them....could you imagine what the authorities would do if a school did that nowadays, permitted kids to run cross country in totally unsuitable footwear?

Then later, moving on to lace-up plimsoles. And those of us who did military service back in the 70s and early 80s will remember the agony those things caused. Well, that was the bad stuff, now for some good stuff

Then at school, football and rugby boots were always considered as either weapons or a necessary evil. I remember having inherited a pair of really old (roughly 1940s or 50s), heavy, proper boot-height football boots, way up over the ankle bone, with aluminium studs. So no one came near me on the field when I played football or rugby in those things, they were weapons. Totally different to the lightweight football shoes of today with plastic studs.

The brands we had in football boots in the 70s were Mitre, Diadora, Lotto, Umbro, Gola, and Bata. I don't remember ever seeing anyone playing foortball or rugby in Adidas or Puma back then, but maybe there were. I just don't remember them. I remember having Lotto and Bata boots (Bata Made in England - orignally a Czechoslovakian company. Lotto like Diadora originally Italian).


Now a few weeks ago I got chatting to a couple of mates, all 3 of us between 45 and 55, and so we started verbally listing the makes of trainers we had on the street and when out running, back in the 60s and 70s. As well as what we were wearing on the pitch. Apart from the aforementioned football/rugby boot brands, the first classic we all remembered of course was the Dunlop Green Flash - which in all honesty was basically a canvas lace-up plimsole with a slightly better sole and some support. http://www.rubbersole.co.uk/dunlop_lace_green.aspx

Then the next classic was the black adidias running shoe with white stripes. When I was a kid Adidas came in a whole range of colours from black to white (with nothing inbetween - shades of Henry Ford) And of course the all white Stan Smiths. And the green soled Adidas white tennis shoes with the green heel top. Surprisingly though, the whites with black stripes is not something I remember from back then, again just my memory perhaps.
And of course cricket boots and tennis shoes from Slazenger.


Now whose heart here still skips a nostlagic beat when he sees a pair of classic sleek black Pumas. Or a pair of Gola Harriers? I know mine does.I recently bought a pair of those classic black Pumas with black suede toe and heel and white Puma track on the side. My next purchase will be a pair of the reissued classic Gola Harriers. http://www.golaclassics.com/ProductList.asp?CategoryID=6 Click on any shoe for a whole range of colour combinations in that style.

Of course this would be the Harrier for me: http://www.golaclassics.com/ProductD...rID=2200&Set=1

And how 70s retro is this for example: http://www.golaclassics.com/ProductD...rID=2411&Set=0

So this is it as I remember it when I was a schoolboy mid 60s to 1978.

Trainers/runners (on the street, in the park, at home but never permitted with school uniform during school hours or en route to and from school. And woe betide the schoolboy who was caught anywhere between his house door and the classroom wearing trainers):
Adidas
Dunlop
Gola
Puma

Football and rugby boots:
Bata
Lotto
Mitre
Umbro

Cricket boots and tennis shoes:
Adidas
Dunlop
Slazenger

So back then, in London, we had:
no Nike, no Reebok, no Bagheera, no Brooks, no Asics, no New Balance, no Fila, no Converse, no Fred Perry, no Lacoste, no Le Coq Sportif.


My holy trinity:
1.Puma
2.Adidas
3.Gola

Trivia fact: Rudolph "Rudi" Dassler the founder of Puma, had previously set up Adidas the world's first athletic shoe maker with his brother Adolph "Adi" Dassler in 1924. Have a look at that name again Adi Dassler.They had a falling out in the 40s and so Rudi set up his own company, Puma.

And for the real trainer freaks amongst us, Puma in a kind of a "Toyota-making-Lexus-as-an-exclusive-model" way, now has a Rudolf D Schuhfabrik range - Rudidas as I like to jokingly call it.
For example, these beauties. http://www.yoox.com/item.asp?cod10=44119764&TP=5990
The "Rudidas" don't have the Puma track but a Puma itself and a Rudolph D emblem.

Keep running!