YOU can go your own way | 1874 Northwich F.C.

YOU can go your own way

‘YOU can go your own way’, reads a famous lyric.

It is, of course, how 1874 Northwich came into being – their founder members deciding to do exactly that little more than six years ago.
If the club was to write down its philosophy, describing what it stands for, no doubt those words would feature.
Those same supporters, most of them co-owners too, insisted last year they should practice what they preach when it came to choosing an alternative away kit for their favourites to wear.
In football, a shirt is part of a team’s identity; its colours combinations, logo and even sponsors contribute to it.
And not just the players get to put one on.
Indeed, 1874 followers wore theirs during a visit to the National Football Museum in Manchester on a freezing November night.
A replica hung in front of them, next to others from Huddersfield Town, Jamaica, Hull City and France, as part of a display in a new exhibition there that opened the following morning.
It’s rare those teams will be listed together in a sentence.
“A successful design can attract worldwide attention and raise the profile of a team, exposing them to an audience that would never have encountered them otherwise,” explains a card mounted nearby.
I don’t know if any of the others hired an artist to design their top.
Even if they did, none of them nailed it like Phil Galloway has.
The digital creative, who lives in Northwich and worked during his spare time on a commission from 1874, was among those invited to a preview of ‘STRIP! How Football Got Shirty’.
He had on a vintage shirt donned in the past by Italian giants Fiorentina, for those wondering.
The museum’s latest exhibition studies a global fascination with football shirts and how they have influenced culture, design, fashion and technology.
A brief film recorded during 1874’s home date with Skelmersdale United at Townfield earlier this season, when the visitors kindly agreed to change kits so their hosts could wear their new one, is part of it.
It is perhaps surreal a semi-professional club that plays in the North West Counties League has space dedicated to it in a museum showcase that includes more than 200 exhibits.
But it’s not undeserved either.
“Football shirt culture has become a huge phenomenon and has devotees across the world,” said Jon Sutton, lead curator for STRIP!
“While fans still buy a shirt to show support for their own team, there is a huge interest in international sides, special editions and nostalgia for classic designs from the past.”
1874 have probably sold more units of their latest away shirt than all of the others they’ve had combined.
Not only that, interest – and orders too – from all parts of the planet are proof of that global acclaim.
“Nothing tells a story better than the shirts themselves,” is another titbit from the exhibition.
In Northwich’s case, it’s more accurate to say the top is giving them a platform on which to share theirs.
It’s something Ash Dobell acknowledged when I asked him.
“People are asking who we are and what we’re doing,” he said.
“The shirt, and the interest it has stoked, has directly contributed to that happening.”
If you do go your own way, and have a compelling reason why, then it gets noticed.
1874 have discovered that, and then some.
But, in contrast to the song, theirs is far from a lonely place.

STRIP! How Football Got Shirty is on display in the Score Gallery at the National Football Museum until June

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