These paintings combine two passions, football and Pop Art. Both British innovations that have crossed the whole world. I’ve always been attracted to the repeated image, the work of Andy Warhol the obvious example. But other Pop Artists including Richard Hamilton, Peter Blake and of course Roy Lichtenstein have also influenced me. Pop Art celebrated, criticised and parodied popular culture so, it seems strange that football, the world’s most popular game, has never been the main subject of any major work.
“Picking Sides” is a series of paintings that puts our national game centre stage and acknowledges some of the teams, players and managers who’ve left their mark on the history of the English game. All done in a style that owes more to “Roy of the Rovers” than Roy Lichtenstein.
Most paintings contain twelve faces because, since many people say football is the new religion, twelve was the number of Christ’s “top team”. Before football was played on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and now Thursday, like most fans I could name my club’s first eleven, the team that, barring injury, would kick off at 3pm on Saturday afternoon week in, week out. Likewise there was only one manager.
With one or two notable exceptions, I have primarily dealt with players post Second World War. I’ve featured players and managers who we can all still have a tangible connection to. Be they alive or dead we all will know some football fan who can tell us a story about them from viewing them in their pomp.
I have tried to be true to the spirit of the starting eleven in every picture. I am certain that people will disagree with some of my choices – but I have tried to be impartial. Though there is an emphasis on players in the higher echelons of the game, I also genuinely hope that through these paintings some of the English Leagues’ lesser known heroes will finally be given the recognition they truly deserve.
These days team selection can be a manager’s nightmare but every player and manager picked to be in these paintings has earned his name on the team sheet.