A lot has been written recently about Football Hipsters and Hipster Teams. You know, the “cooler-than-thou” football fans who purport to support a foreign side you’ve never heard of (because you’re not cool and hip enough!), and the cool clubs themselves the hipsters follow. Whilst bringing them to the common football fan’s attention no longer makes the teams referred to elitist and exclusive, these hipster writers and bloggers need to maintain their cool quotient by constantly telling people just how cool they are, so they’re in a bind. However, they probably don’t follow that particular teams referred to any more anyway, as it’s “you know, SO last season”, and they’ve moved on to someone far more obscure “that you just wouldn’t have heard of…”.
Venn diagram of hipster team coolness
Anyway, at the risk of simultaneously trying to sound cool and immediately blowing it by telling you about it, here’s my top ten Hipster Teams (in no particular order), plus one that’s “so uncool they’re cool”:
1) Rayo Vallecano
Based in the working class Vallecas neighbourhood of Madrid, they are traditionally a left-wing leaning club with activist fans who love a right good protest. Fans marched through the streets in 2009 in an attempt to get the club’s president to resign, and fans boycotted matches because they didn’t like Rayo playing on a Friday night.
Football shirts are important to Hipsters, albeit they are still shiny and made from horrible man-made fibres that are cooked up in a lab somewhere (I only wear cotton myself and wouldn’t touch a modern, artificial fibre, high performance shirt with yours mate), and Rayo’s traditional home shirt design has a big red sash across it, making their kit just that bit more exotic-looking, thus gaining additional hipster cred points for exotic-but-tasteful-looking kits.
2) Real Oviedo
Nice cagoule on the Gaffer there…
Their kit is nice, being reminiscent of the Azzurri’s, which helps; and Real Oviedo are a caring-sharing kinda club.
Fans got the chance to become shareholders when Oviedo made shares in the club available to buy online. Now you can not only be a hipster supporter but a hipster shareholder too and have your say in how the club is run.
They also have a history of players such as Michu, Juan Mata, Santi Cazorla, Abel Xavier, Robert Prosinecki coming through their ranks, and not forgetting Stan the Man of course.
All-in-all, they make a very attractive prospect to the trend-aware Hipster football fan.
Check out Livorno if you’re a real left-winger (who’s been down south and had peasants in your arms) as their fan’s communist sympathies have often sparked clashes with teams who are euphemistically referred to as being more right-leaning, like Lazio and AS Roma, for example; and Livorno’s football shirts can often be found on the backs of students attending “Young Socialist” meetings at universities across Europe.
4) Athletic Bilbao
La Liga’s Athletic Bilbao, or Los Leones (The Lions), have a strong link with the Basque independence movement, and not being as “mainstream” as Real Madrid or Barca make them a candidate for any hipster looking for an alternative Spanish team.
They have a policy of only signing players from the Basque region, or bringing them up through the ranks.
The club is owned and operated by its members (socios), and Athletic were one of the last major European clubs to not feature a sponsor on their shirts.
In 2004–05’s UEFA cup and the Copa del Rey, Athletic’s shirt featured the word “Euskadi” (Basque) in green after accepting sponsorship from the Basque Government, and their away kit is inspired by the colours of the Basque flag.
5) FC St. Pauli
FC St. Pauli are another liberal, left-wing club, but in Germany this time. They have the largest number of female fans in German football and regularly stage fan-based displays against racism, homophobia and sexism.
The club has an anarcho-punk aesthetic and ethos, with black flags and skulls and crossbones waved on the terraces.
The only problem with FC St. Pauli as far as hipsters are concerned is that they are too well-known, being every old punk and Crustie who’s into football’s first or second team.
See “FC St Pauli – The Pirates of Germany“, by The Oval Log
6) Servette FC
Servette FC is a Swiss football club based in Geneva.
Until its bankruptcy in 2005, Servette was the only Swiss club to have remained in the top league since its creation in 1890. Servette still remains the only club to have never been relegated for sporting reasons, only dropping down into the Swiss third division because of the club dissolving and being reformed (a la Middlesbrough Football and Athletic Club (1986) Ltd).
Servette have a rich history. Founded in 1890, Servette was the leading club in French-speaking Switzerland. They won 17 Swiss league championships and seven Swiss cups, plus the Torneo Internazionale Stampa Sportiva, one of the first organised international football tournaments in the world. In 1930 Servette organised the Coupe des Nations, a fore-runner of the UEFA Champions League.
Led by Umberto Barberis and Claude “Didi” Andrey, the club won all of the competitions it entered in season 1978-79, apart from the European Cup Winners’ Cup where they were eliminated in the quarter-finals on away goals by Fortuna Düsseldorf, the eventual finalists.
Servette earned promotion to the Swiss Super League in May 2011, and have re-established themselves back amongst the Swiss football elite. The club finished fourth in its first season back in the top flight, making it into qualification for the 2012-13 season’s Europa League.
Servette play at the Stade de Genève, opened in March 2003. With an all-seater capacity of 30,084, the Stade de Genève is the third largest stadium in Switzerland, and hosted three group matches in the 2008 European Football Championship.
7) AS Saint-Étienne
Saint-Étienne have won ten Ligue 1 titles, six Coupe de France titles, a Coupe de la Ligue title and five Trophée des champions. The club has produced several notable players, mostly during its dynastic run in the 1960s and 70s, who have gone on to have coaching careers domestically and internationally, such as Aimé Jacquet, Jacques Santini, Laurent Blanc, and Michel Platini.
Saint-Étienne have had a tough time in recent years, but then being successful isn’t hip. They played three seasons in the second division before returning to the French first division for the 2004–05 season. The club surprised the pundits by finishing in 5th place in the 2007–08 season, which resulted in qualification for the UEFA Cup for the first time since 1982. However, they finished the next two seasons in 17th place, becoming fashionably unsuccessful again.
Saint Etienne qualified for the third preliminary round of the 2013/2014 Europa League campaign by dint of winning the French League Cup in April 2013, their first major domestic trophy for more than thirty years, but didn’t make it into the group stages.
8) Boca Juniors
The Boca Juniors football club is traditionally regarded as the Argentinian people’s club, staunchly working class, in contrast with the supposedly more upper-class fanbase of arch rivals Club Atlético River Plate. Boca Juniors claims to be the club of “half plus one” (la mitad más uno) of Argentina’s population, but a 2006 survey placed its following at 40% – still the largest share.
Boca fans are known as Los Xeneizes (‘the Genoese’) after the Genoese immigrants who founded the team and lived in La Boca in the early 20th century. Many rival fans in Argentina refer to the Boca Juniors’ fans as Los Bosteros (‘the manure handlers’), a disparaging nickname which originates from the horse manure used in the brick factory that originally occupied the ground where La Bombonera stadium now stands. Originally coined as an insult used by rival supporters, Boca fans have appropriated the name for themselves and are now proud of it.
Peñas (fan clubs) exist in a number of Argentine cities and abroad in countries such as Russia, Ukraine, Spain,Israel and Japan, where Boca Juniors are particularly popular because of the club’s success in recent years at the Intercontinental Cup, which held in Japan.
The success of former Boca players who have gone on to play in European football also add to the club’s hipster appeal, such as Hugo Ibarra, Rodolfo Arruabarrena, Diego Cagna, Enzo Ferrero, Roberto Abbondanzieri, Nicolás Burdisso, Fernando Gago, the infamous Diego Maradona, Claudio Caniggia, Gabriel Batistuta, Juan Román Riquelme and Carlos Tévez.
Boca have fans throughout Latin America and also in parts of the United States where there has been Latin immigration. It was reported in 2007 that the club was considering creating a Boca Juniors USA team to compete in the MLS, with New York, Miami, Los Angeles and Arizona mentioned as possible locations for the franchise.
Football supporting musicians in this country have worn Boca shirts on stage, including Paul Heaton of the Housemartins and the Beautiful South, and the shirts bearing the sponsor Cerveza Quilmes are especially prized by hipster fans.
9) New York Cosmos
The ORIGINAL New York Cosmos (simply known as the Cosmos in 1977–1978) were founded in 1970. The team played in the North American Soccer League (NASL) until 1984 and was the strongest franchise in that league, both competitively and financially – based largely around its backing by Warner Communications President Steve Ross. This financial backing enabled the club to attract famous internationals such as Pelé, Chinaglia and Beckenbauer, who were coming to the end of their European careers. The addition of these foreign players to the team’s roster, particularly Pelé, made the Cosmos into what Gavin Newsham called “the most glamorous team in world football”, and contributed to the development of football (soccer) across the United States, where it had previously been largely ignored.
The Cosmos declined following Pelé’s retirement, and so did the NASL in tandem. Attendances fell, the league’s television deal was lost, and the League finally folded in 1985 after playing its last season in 1984. The Cosmos attempted to continue operations in the Major Indoor Soccer League, but attendances were so low that the club withdrew without completing a season.
The REFORMED Cosmos starting competing again in 2010.
This from Talking Baws, “10 Teams Spoiled By Annoying Football Hipsters”
“The hipster always needs to be at the centre of cool, so a football club based in such a throbbing metropolis as New York is an ideal fit.
Throw in the fact that Ralph Lauren himself designed their kits in the 1970s, and they also managed to persuade Pele and Franz Beckenbauer to come and play for them, and the hipster has some serious kudos when talking “soccer” in the bars of NYC.
Eric Cantona has been appointed Director of football and they have some smart new Umbro clothing for the hipster to drool over !”
10) Molde FK
Ole Gunnar Solskjær, being led out onto the pitch by his Mum
Molde Fotballklubb are from Molde, in Norway.
In the 1990s and early 2000s, Molde were the second best team in Norway, after 13-times in a row champions Rosenborg., with league silver medals in 1995, 1998, 1999 and 2002 and cup championship in 1994 and 2005, and participation in the Champions League in the 1999–2000 season, when Real Madrid, Porto and Olympiacos visited Molde.
Molde were former Manchester United player Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s first professional team, and he returned to manage them in January 2011. In his first season there as manager, the club’s centenary season, Molde won the league championship for the first time and retained it the next season.
The connection with The Baby-faced Assassin and Man U makes Molde hip, plus the Norwegian football leagues are obscure enough for the Hipster but within air travel reach to be able to go and actually see a game. Failing that, you can always pay a fortune and subscribe to a Norwegian football satellite channel!
Bradford (Park Avenue)
For a start, they have parentheses in their team name!
The club has always been referred to as ‘Avenue’ or ‘The Avenue’, as in “Up the Avenue!”.
They introduced their own cartoon mascot in 1966 in response to Bradford City’s City Gent. Avenue ‘Arry’ was a cartoon of an Avenue supporter wearing a hat and scarf and waving a rattle, and is still sometimes seen today.
In the late 1980s, the Bradford City fanzine Bernard of the Bantams introduced their own cartoon figure lampooning an old Avenue supporter suffering a mid-life crisis exacerbated by the non-existence of his favourite club – ‘Boring Stan the Avenue Fan’. City supporters contemptuously refer to Avenue fans as ‘Stans’ but Avenue and the fans themselves haven’t adopted it.
As a neutral, there’s a lot to recommend the so-called second team in Bradford. I’ve been to watch the Avenue several times, it being a 15-minute walk away from my house with the wind behind me, and they have a tidy little ground – The Horsfall Stadium – with lots of history and character. The seats in the main stand came from Lord’s cricket ground after new one’s were installed at the hallowed home of Cricket. The club shop is excellent and well-worth a browse around the old programmes, enamel badges and club shirts; and the Social Club serves food and decent beer (there was a mini beer festival on last time I went). There is also an interesting display of great players who were at the club inside, including Len Shackleton, framed signed shirts along the wall, and a scale model of the original stadium at Horton Park Avenue in Bradford (designed by Archibald Leitch).
The fanbase is predominantly middle-aged and older, but younger folk do attend and the future of the club looks reasonably healthy, although the attendance was in the low hundreds for the visit of Gloucester City that was my last game there.
A sign I photographed on my first visit there gave this blog it’s name, and I’ve found a lot of inspiration for shots at Avenue matches.
Avenue may not be hip, but I think they’re cool. That might change though, if I find out that you like them!
- 10 signs you’re a football hipster (talksport.com)
- Rayo Vallecano 2-3 Real Madrid | La Liga match report (theguardian.com)
- Milestone in a Club’s History – FC Basel (satinrowzblog.wordpress.com)
- Are you a football hipster? The Guardian lets you know. (prosoccertalk.nbcsports.com)
- Barcelona v Real Madrid: 10 signs you’re an El Clasico bore (metro.co.uk)
- Such Hipsters! Borussia Dortmund recycle old Mario Götze shirts, overlay Mkhitaryan’s name & charge €29 (101greatgoals.com)
- Hipster Heartache (caltyler.wordpress.com)
- Beers, Buns and Belgium (samparker2508.wordpress.com)
- Matchday 12: FC Sankt Pauli -SV Sandhausen 0-0 (fcspsouthendscum.wordpress.com)
- Matchday 13: FC Kaiserslautern – FC Sankt Pauli 4-1 (fcspsouthendscum.wordpress.com)