I Belong To Jesus
From “Why Always Me?” to “God is Great”, there have been some memorable moments followed by footballers lifting their shirts to reveal a message in celebration. In 2014 Fifa banned celebrating by lifting up the shirt, all but bringing an end to the classic celebration shared so dearly with fans. Rick Banks (of Face37) and Craig Oldham (of The Office of Craig Oldham) have come together to combine their expertise and immortalise the under shirt celebration.
In a beautiful and compact package, the pocket size book comes with a compressed t-shirt neatly attached with a captains armband. All 3 are set in a bespoke typeface designed by Banks & Oldham for the book called Kaká, in a direct tribute to the books title celebration by the Brazilian in the 2007 CL final. The book is open thread bound with the spine at the top of the book, opening up as if lifting a shirt.
It takes you through all the classics with sections on politics, religion, folklore and personal reasons.
We spoke to Craig to get some inside info on the making of IBTJ;
When did you and Rick originally conceive the idea?
Rick and I originally came up with the idea a few years ago. We were talking about football (essentially prospecting the chance of Barnsley [me] playing Bolton [Rick] the following season) and I mentioned I’d read a new FIFA ruling, banning all messages of any kind, even good natured ones, had come into full force and to expect a massive decline. That really set us off about documenting these creative acts before they left us all together.
What made you come up with the idea and get the ball rolling?
As I mentioned, it was just a discussion really. After we’d had that initial giddy chat of “we could do this…” and “what about that…” we just started looking into it; searching for the ones we remembered from our experiences, as well as ones further afield in world football, women’s football, youth and non-league. Then it was a case of curating a selection and researching.
What was the best and worst bits about making the book?
The worst, well that was the curating. There were so many that we wanted to include, but couldn’t for various reasons. Some we remembered, but couldn’t find images of anywhere. There were others where we had imagery, but absolutely nothing anywhere existed on the context. (There’s a particularly gutting story about one from Chilean legend Ivan Zamorano, whom Rick and I both loved and wanted in the book, which we couldn’t find anything online or offline, first-, second-, or third-hand about it.) And so they had to go, great as they were. The best, for me personally, was finding out the wider context of these seemingly fleeting, isolated acts. Their life was over in a matter of minutes, but their legacy in many cases lives on wider than football. Finding out what some stories meant was absolutely fascinating. It was a real thrill when you remembered a celebration, and thought it was obviously about one thing, and after looking into it, turned out to be something completely different. That interpretative nature of these messages is one of their most appealing and enduring qualities for me. Definitely what I loved about making the book.
It’s a beautifully crafted book, can you tell me a bit more about the thoughts and process behind the form?
We wanted every element of the book’s design and production to lend visual and physical support to the idea of the book. It’s bound on the top, shortest edge to evoke the physical sense of revealing, page after page, like the shirts themselves. We left the binding exposed to play with the threading and fabric, again trying to evoke some-sort of material reference. As for the design of the book, we wanted to try and be led by the content. The shirts are the reason for this book, so we wanted them to really come to the fore through a simple, structured design that could frame them. And then we peppered the more graphic ones throughout to help with the pace of the book. Each section too used the Kaka font to help distinctly group the themes and ideas, as did the case studies from each section. So in essence, we were led by the shirts, for the the shirts.
Do you have a standout or favourite celebration that’s featured?
Jeez, I have a few to be honest. I would say Billy Sharps’ “That’s For You Son”; Sebastián Abreu’s highly-personal, tapestried undershirt that bears the crests of all the clubs he’s played for, and is a frankenstein creation (it’s half his father’s playing shirt and half his strip from his first cap for Uruguay); and I also like the way Carlos Tevez turned it into a theme of marking the poorest places in his home city to raise awareness of conditions in Argentina. But there are some hilarious ones in there I love too; Luca Toni’s “Thunder and Lightning”; Paul Tait’s “Shit on the Villa”; and Akinfenwa’s “Too big to play football” are but a few.
If you were to score a worldy in a cup final for Barnsley, what would you have written under your shirt?
Fucking hell, ha. Erm… It’d have to be something relevant to the club, but whilst I probably couldn’t (and shouldn’t) rely on my usual self-depricatng “have a go at Barnsley” tact, maybe “I like ginger hair too!” for Barnsley legend Bobby Hassell (and Rick, Ha!). Or if I was going to be a bit off kilter (just like Tevez who wrote his daughter’s nickname on his shin-pad and removed it in celebration often, and which is also in the book) maybe wear a plant pot on my head in honour of this from our loss at Rochdale last season: www.youtube.com/watch?v=IetC71bPHHE .
Though the sensible thing would probably be to put “www.ibelongtojesus.co.uk buy the book!”
Huge thanks to Craig for chatting to us. The book (£25) and typeface (£10) are available to purchase on www.ibelongtojesus.co.uk