When it comes to what people wear for 5-a-side, I bet you’ve seen people wearing some interesting things.
Every week I seem to see some dubious sportswear choices, which got me thinking – I need to put together a list of these ‘crimes against 5-a-side fashion’.
It turns out that I’ve witnessed over 30 of these disasters, and you’ll be glad to know I’ve listed them all below for your entertainment! I think you’ll be able to recognise a lot of them.
Just remember as you read them, it’s only a bit of fun. In fact, if you haven’t committed at least one of the crimes on this list, you’ve never lived. The question is, how many are you guilty of?
1. Smelly Kit
There’s no excuse to turn up wearing stinky kit. If your 5-a-side kit hasn’t been introduced to a washing machine since the last time you played, it’s time it got reacquainted.
One thing in particular that seems to go overlooked is washing of the sports bibs. On pitches all over the world there are bibs that are assaulting the nasal passages with a heady smell of rancid sweat. I swear my league organiser washes his bibs only once a generation. The scoundrel.
2. Kit Older than Some of the Players
This guy has played in the same football shirt for the last 22 years, and shows no signs of letting go. Their Manchester United title-winning 1992 replica shirt may be their favorite, but when it’s older than some of the players on the pitch it’s definitely time to consider a wardrobe update. Find out what you should be wearing in this guide to 5-a-side kits.
3. The Vest
The vest is a conundrum in any wardrobe. What is its purpose? Musclebound bodybuilders can get away with wearing them to workout but that doesn’t mean you should slip one over your string-bean physique and prance around in one at 5-a-side. In fact, that sort of thing is frowned on. Quite right, too.
4. The Walking Certificate
So you once played for an impressive team (or their reserve or youth team) before they decided you weren’t good enough (or in your version “before injury took it all from you”). OK, we’re all happy to acknowledge that you were probably a good player back then. But seriously, turning up in your old club kit with your initials printed on it, as if it’s a certificate that you’re the star man on the pitch?! Let your feet do the talking, son.
5. Bare Chested Brothers
Hot weather is always guaranteed to bring out one or two ill-conceived attempts at going bare-chested. This is nearly always an unsavoury experience for everyone else on the pitch, who will no doubt be turning away to avoid permanent mental scarring from the horrors on display.
Occasionally, however, some guys take their shirts off because they have a rather more impressive physique and clearly want us all to know about it. They walk around preening and puffing their chest out, treating us to a flex of their triceps in the hope we’ll all notice. What is wrong with people like this?! We’re here to enjoy a game of football, not indulge you in your homo-erotic fantasy.
6. Ill-Fitting Shirts
It seems that when team shirts are getting handed out, all common-sense goes out of the window and everyone seems to get allocated woefully ill-fitting shirts.
Invariably, the smallest person will get the largest shirt, which hangs off them like a tent, and the largest guy will squeeze himself into the smallest shirt, barely able to breathe. Both will look ridiculous and both will probably stand next to each other without the faintest thought that their problems might be solved by swapping.
If you provided your own kit and it’s still ill-fitting then you have failed. Miserably.
7. Hands in Your Pockets
Firstly, why are you wearing shorts to 5-a-side that have pockets in them?! Those aren’t proper football shorts. Anyway, regardless of where you got them, standing around on a football pitch with your hands in your pockets is not a promising sign of a player who is going to suddenly deliver a match-winning performance. Likely to be treated with suspicion by everyone else on the field.
8. Bib Blunders
Have you ever been there when the bibs are being handed out and thought to yourself “there’s no way he’s going to fit that on”? But it won’t stop this sizeable individual giving it a go. No, presumably trying and failing to wear it is not as bad as the ignominy of admitting instant defeat. So they try it on, only to realise that they can’t get it all the way over their ample girth, leaving them with a hilarious-looking bikini-tank-top-style item instead. Tee hee.
Of course, when there’s nothing wrong with the fit, and it’s just that they can’t manage to get the bib on, that’s also great viewing as well. Also known as ‘doing a Balotelli’.
9. Short Shorts
‘Magic Johnson’. That’s not what they call him, that’s what they call the thing perilously close to poking out of his scandalously short shorts.
Shorts that are too short are a crime on par with shorts that are too tight. However, when a player’s shorts are both too short and too tight, the most unpleasant of sights results. There really isn’t any excuse for this – hotpants look sexy on Kylie Minogue but dreadful on your mate, ‘big Steve’.
Any item of clothing that presents a very real prospect that fellow players are going to be faced with a view of your genitals (veiled or roaming free – it doesn’t matter) at some point in the match must surely be one of the most despicable crimes around.
10. Hawaiian Shorts
There’s nothing that says “I couldn’t find my football shorts” quite like turning up in something resembling the above. This person knows what they’re doing is deeply, deeply wrong. Whilst they should be commended for turning up at all in this state, instead of crying-off and pretending they’ve come down with the plague or some other made-up excuse, the shame they’ve brought on each and every individual standing on the same pitch as them cannot easily be forgiven.
11. 3/4 Length Shorts
Those strange 3/4 length shorts. Where do people get them? Every time I see them I end up musing over whether they are trousers or whether they are in fact shorts – it’s one of the great philosophical questions. And each time I end up reaching the same conclusion: who cares, they just look daft.
12. Trackie Trousers
There’s always that one player who never wears shorts. People speculate over why this might be – “is there something wrong with their legs?”, “maybe they’re hiding a tattoo of Jimmy Saville they had done before we all found out he was a wrong’un…”. Whatever the reason, they turn up each week in tracksuit trousers (or the delightfully named ‘sweatpants’ if you’re from the US). This is guaranteed to either make them look like MC Hammer, a builder, or an entertaining mix of both.
13. No Socks
The continental European gentlemen may swan around the rivieras of sunny locations wearing smart leather loafers and no socks whilst pulling off a sophisticated look. Anyone who turns up at 5-a-side wearing no socks is, on the other hand, a disgrace.
I blame Thierry Henry for this one. As far as I can recall, he started off this business of pulling his socks up over his knees. Thierry may have all but retired, but sadly his legacy lives on through a few foolish individuals who persist in pulling their socks up as high up as humanly possible. It’s almost as if they want them to feel like a pair of sexy stockings (cue chance to use sexy stocking image above).
15. Cheap Socks
In my experience cheap sports socks are good for a couple of wears only, before the elastic goes and you can start to see through the sub-standard material. Invest in a proper pair of football socks and never look back. A good pair doesn’t cost much at all – a small price to avoid looking like a hobo.
16. The Overly Flamboyant Dresser
I think we all know somebody who has gone out of their way to be extra-flamboyant in their choice of kit. There’s no holding them back, even if you asked them to wear the plainest, whitest shirt they’d very quickly find a way to ‘accessorize it’.
17. Rugby Kit
A quick check around before the game starts. What’s this? A person who has come along wearing rugby boots or a rugged rugby shirt. It’s a dead giveaway that they’re probably going to have no skill, completely wipe you out with a ‘robust’ tackle in the first few minutes, and persistently infringe any over-head-height rule you might be playing to. Oh, and those studs aren’t designed for use on most football astroturf surfaces.
Not so much a fashion crime, but a totally unnecessary feature. Have you ever been stepped on by somebody who is wearing blades? It bloody hurts. There’s simply no need to be wearing blades to 5-a-side. Get a pair of AstroTurf shoes like everyone else.
19. Going Smart-Casual
There’s always that person who thinks they don’t need a proper pair of football shoes to play. This delusional individual will wing-it wearing a pair of fashion trainers (or ‘sneakers’) usually manifesting themselves as some sort of trendy plimsoll. It seems that they had misread the invite to play football for one to audition as the 6th member of One Direction. Likely also to pair this with shorts and a shirt which would be more suitable for a summer picnic, rather than a game of football.
Often in the same category as the person who went ‘smart-casual’, this guy simply has no grip on his shoes. The merest drop if moisture on the pitch will result in them flailing around like some sort of girraffe-on-ice and constantly bemoaning their lack of grip as if they should be given extra-special award for their failure to turn up in appropriate footwear. The sad part is that this person is likely to go on like this for weeks, constantly reminding us they’ve got no grip before it dawns on them that the solution is to buy new shoes.
21. Wearing The Same Shoes Forever
We can all appreciate that people like to get value for money. However, when this involves wearing a pair of shoes way beyond the end of their useful life, this is a more disturbing situation. There’s nothing admirable about seeing your toe poke out the front of your shoe, having worn the sole down to its last millimetre. True followers of the endless-life shoe philosophy have even been known to resort to glueing and taping their shoes to squeeze every last drop of life out of them – there’s an unpleasant shame that goes unnoticed by them as they gleefully boast “I’ve had these shoes forever”.
22. The Shoe Collector – The Imelda Marcos of 5-a-side
For those of you who don’t know, Imelda Marcos is the wife of a former Philippine Prime Minister, but is almost equally as famous for having more than a thousand pairs of shoes (wiki link). Sadly, there are players who behave like this too. Dozens of football shoes are in their collection already, yet they continue to buy the latest pair each time they come out. When this individual starts picking different football shoes to match their outfit, it’s time for them to seek professional help.
Goalkeepers can often need a bit more kit than everyone else, and that’s understandable. So you need a pair of knee-guards to cushion your repeated contact with the floor? Go for it.
However, as always, a few people take it to extremes, wearing so much padding they end up looking like a 5-a-side Robocop.
24. Base Layer Bandits
Base layers might be one of the most useful inventions over the last decade. Lightweight, comfortable and warm, there are a lot of benefits for athletes. You have to question, however, whether the manufacturers had in mind that grossly-overweight men were going to be squeezing themselves into these garments in the same way that a butcher stuffs meat into his sausages. Some guys, I suspect are even using these as corsets, to tuck in their bulging tummies. Wrong.
The last man to successfully pull off the headband look on a football field was the late, great Socrates. Captain of arguably the greatest side never to win a world cup, Brazil in 1982. He looked awesome. In fact, so awesome did he look that, to this day, the look has still not been pulled off successfully in comparison and all attempts thus-far have resulted in derision.
26. Alice bands
Let’s make one thing clear, there is no possible scenario where a man should be brushing his long hair back and keeping it in place with an Alice band.
27. Too much jewelry
As far as I’m aware, Mr T never played a single game of 5-a-side football, and for good reason too. The sheer quantity of jewellerey would not only have made him far too slow, but it would’ve made him a prime target for locker room theft as well. Seriously though kids, there’s no reason to wear jewellery to 5-a-side and rings can actually leave you with very, very nasty injuries in rare cases (if you really must know how bad, click here).
28. The Hat
Are you even allowed to wear a hat to play football? It’s something we looked at here (can I wear a hat to play football?) and argued that wearing a wooly hat probably is allowed within the laws of the game. I’m partial to wearing one myself when the cold winter winds start to bite. However, I know from experience that the notion of a man wanting to keep his ears warm on a chilly evening is totally opposed by a number of people who would consider this to be the very antithesis of manliness, which apparently is what 5-a-side is about.
29. Brothers in the Snood
A cross between a scarf and a hood, famously worn by Carlos Tevez. Clarified by the English FA that this is no longer an acceptable item to wear to football. The official reason for banning it is that it is a danger to the player and others, but we all know the real reason was because it looks ridiculous.
30. Knee Supports
There is always that person who wears a knee support, just for show. You know no physio has told them they need it, they just want to say “look at me, can you believe I’m playing in this state?!”
31. Smelly Goalie Gloves
Nothing on the face of this earth smells quite as bad as a sweaty pair of goalie gloves. The aroma is almost indescribable – almost like somebody has been wearing them to work in a particularly smelly cheese factory for the longest shift you could possibly imagine. On a warm summer night after a few people have had a go with them, they’re almost radioactive. You know that when you put them on, the smell won’t come off your hands for hours, no matter how many times you wash them.
32. Full-Casual Cover Players
Why would anyone turn up in jeans if they’re expecting to play 5-a-side?! The answer is, of course, they wouldn’t! This look is the specialty of the cover player – the one who just thought they’d watch, but ended up having to play due to a player shortage. They always get nominated as goalkeeper and then go home having conceded at least 10 goals.
Wearing gloves when it’s near freezing and you’re playing outside is one thing. Cracking out a pair of these in balmy Autumn temperatures, or if you’re playing indoors, is quite another!
34. Flip Flops
What’s with people turning up to 5-a-side wearing flip flops (or worse, flip flops and socks) and carrying their football boots in their hands? It’s almost as if they consider their 5-a-side shoes are too special to walk in. And as for walking around in flip-flops during winter… behave.
If you liked that
Then you just might like some of the other stuff that we’ve got here on 5-a-side.com:
- How to choose your perfect kit – get cheap 5-a-side kit that makes you look the business!
- The greatest team names ever – pun-tastic team names bound to make you laugh. Many in actual 5-a-side usage.
- 5-a-side tactics and also 6-a-side tactics
Credit Marcus Brown for suggestions 32-34. Top man!