Suits have been worn by footballers and managers throughout the history of the game, but in more recent times, they have acquired a sinister significance as harbingers of FA Cup misfortune.
Managers In Suits
Although suits are manifestly inappropriate attire for a football match and nobody else in the stadium would dream of wearing one to the game, some managers insist on doing so, resisting the lure of official club jackets or those funny outfits with their initials on.
Serial trophy-hoarder, dictator and whiner Sir Alex Ferguson has won a horde of honours while wearing suits in the past few years. Before him, they were often associated with hapless coaches like David Pleat, who memorably performed one of football’s silliest ever bits of running across Manchester City’s Maine Road pitch, in an ill-fitting beige suit, after a sensational escape from relegation in 1983.
During this period, a difficult time for global fashion in general, tracksuits held sway on the touchline. Most coaches would only don a suit if leading their team out in the FA Cup Final, and some not even then: genius and psycho Brian Clough famously showed up to his only FA Cup Final wearing the skanky green jumper he wore every other day of his life.
In 1988, victorious Wimbledon manager Bobby Gould sat completely naked in the dugout after his Crazy Gang stole his clothes during the pre-match team-talk and got a geezer to sell them out of a cart on Wembley Way.
Players In Suits
Players, however, have had a more complex relationship with suits; at least two FA Cup Finals in the nineties were blighted by the ‘Curse of the Suit’.
In 1991, after firing Spurs to semi-final victory in a match noted for the first-ever using by not using incident, a psyched-up Paul Gascoigne, screaming his way through the post-match interview like the fruitcake he was, announced in a barely decipherable Geordie yell that he would ‘get me suit measured’ for the trip to the Twin Towers.
When the big day arrived, Gascoigne took leave of his senses and committed a horror tackle which tore his cruciate ligaments and, arguably, heralded the beginning of the end of his brief peak.
This might have been dismissed as bad luck, but only five years later, Liverpool – before a keenly-awaited showdown with rivals Manchester United – appeared on the Wembley turf before kick-off sporting white Armani suits. It was widely condemned as a distasteful show of preening from England’s once proudest club, and even restrained BBC commentator Barry Davies was moved to remark that Roy Evans’ side ‘look like a bunch of twats’.
This sad spectacle was a far cry from the imposing figure cut by previous Liverpool sides; as recently as 1989 Bruce Grobbelaar had appeared for the pre-match parade in full body armour and wielding a Machete. Haunted by their showy outfits, Liverpool produced a dire display in a game decided by a goal from talented weirdo Eric Cantona, who celebrated by setting up an easel by the corner flag and painting a watercolour entitled My Success.
It was now clear that suits had a mysterious influence upon Cup Final sides, and the following year, finalists Chelsea and Middlesbrough both controversially wore skirts in an attempt to defeat the hoodoo.
Players In Suits In Their Spare Time
These days, all Premier League players have a wardrobe full of suits, because they earn millions of pounds every day. They also have many cars and homes.