The Winners and Losers in Football’s Fashion Game

by | Feb 4, 2018 | Fashion, Football |

Football and fashion have always gone hand in hand in Manchester. Nostalgia takes a light-hearted look at how trends have changed from Best to Beckham

From fast cars and flares to moustaches and mop-tops – football has seen all kinds of fashions come and go over the years.

Some were more memorable than others. Few will mourn the demise of the mullet!

But from the 1960s onward, it’s undeniable that Manchester football icons like George Best, Rodney Marsh and David Beckham have set the trends.

Best even opened a boutique in the city with his good friend Mike Summerbee – and earned the nickname El Beatle for his chic, playboy lifestyle.

City and United players were often seen with famous faces from TV, film and stage as well as leading pop groups and singers.

Actress Juliet Mills was a visitor to Best’s boutique in March 1969. The daughter of actor John Mills and sister of Hayley, she was in Manchester on promotional work.

Footballer George Best meets Actress Juliet Mills in his boutique in Manchester

Juliet Mills drops into George Best’s Manchester boutique, March 1969.

Mills was well-known for appearing in the TV series The Man from U.N.C.L.E. , Ben Casey and 12 O’Clock High as well as the film The Rare Breed with James Stewart and Maureen O’Hara.

Best’s high profile girlfriend in 1969 was actress Susan George, who’d starred in Dracula on TV and the films Up the Junction and The Strange Affair.

The Manchester United forward was sporting a classic moustache in October 1967 as he posed next to his Jaguar – very much in the style of Jason King, played by Peter Wyngarde, in the popular TV series Department S.

Manchester United footballer George Best beside his car.

A moustached George Best poses with his Jaguar, October 1967.

Best linked up with team mates Bobby Charlton and Denis Law to pose with fashion models at Old Trafford in May 1967.

Clearly coats were the item of the day as the three forwards looked smart but very similar as they lined up for the camera!

Bobby Charlton, George Best and Denis Law

Bobby Charlton, George Best and Denis Law model new coats, May 1967.

The formal photo-call heralded one of United’s best ever seasons. The team won the European Cup 4-1 against Benfica in 1978 and Best was named European Footballer of the Year.

Another footballer keen to get into the fashion scene was England captain Bobby Moore. He invited the Manchester City squad to his suede leather factory in December 1969.

Very smart they looked too in leather coats and jackets with a dapper Moore peeping out from between Colin Bell, Mike Summerbee and a gurning Tony Book!

City were in London to play Moore’s team West Ham in the First Division – and they didn’t do their host any favours! The visitors won 4-0 with goals from Ian Bowyer (2), Mike Doyle and Francis Lee.

Bobby Moore and the Manchester City players at Moore's Suede leather factory

Bobby Moore welcomes the City squad to his suede-leather factory, December 1969

Another City player who always cut a dash was flamboyant forward Rodney Marsh, signed from Queens Park Rangers for £200,000 in March 1972.

Our photo shows him striding out on to the turf at Maine Road with City chairman Eric Alexander after completing his move to Manchester.

England international Marsh is the picture of early 70s fashion with powder blue flares, patterned shirt and a large-collared coat. He played 188 matches for City scoring 36 goals.

Footballer Rodney Marsh walks around Maine Road with City chairman Eric Alexander

Rodney Marsh signs for City for £200,000, March 1972.

Looking sharp in classic 1980s style is United striker Mark Hughes, pictured with his new Porsche at his bachelor flat in Bowden in February 1986.

Welsh international Hughes was sharp on the pitch too, scoring 120 goals for United in his two spells at the club.

He played for United from 1980 to 1986 and again from 1988 to 1995 after two years at Barcelona and a few months on loan at Bayern Munich.

Manchester United footballer Mark Hughes poses with his car

Mark Hughes proudly shows off his new Porsche, February 1986.

Footballers have always put on the style for FA Cup Finals at Wembley. One of the highlights of the day was to see how teams were suited and booted for the traditional pitch inspection prior to the big match.

The 1996 final, when United took on arch rivals Liverpool, was a classic. United opted for a suave, dark three-piece suit while Liverpool plumped for a more showy, cream ensemble.

The contrast can clearly be seen as Ryan Giggs chats to Ian Rush on the big day.

Ryan Giggs and Ian Rush

Ryan Giggs and Ian Rush suited up at the 1996 FA Cup Final at Wembley.

As well as winning in the fashion stakes, United were triumphant on the pitch too with Eric Cantona scoring the only goal of the game in the 85th minute.

Where players lead, fans often follow. Our final photos show how City and United supporters dressed for match days. Flares and big collars were certainly to the fore in 1974!

Female football supporters from Salford attend a match at old Trafford.

City fans in jumpers and check trousers, August 1972

Crowd Scenes outside Old Trafford

United fans in flares and big collars, August 1974.

Many more memorable images of the past can be found in Clive Hardy’s brilliant book Around Manchester in the 1970s.