Friday, March 05, 2010

Photo Essay: Nike Takes du Nord to London England

London, England - Feb 23-27 2010

(Click on all images to enlarge)

1 I went to London England Feb 23-26 at the bequest of Nike Soccer, all expenses paid. Not a bad way to live if you ask me.

2 This is what I looked like on the day of departure before heading to the airport.

3 I arrived early on the morning of Tue Feb 23 and headed straight to the beautiful Cumberland Hotel in the Marble Arch neighborhood. The subway stop (on the very convenient Central Line) is about 400 feet out the door and around the corner from the hotel. Here is a shot of the Cumberland from Google Maps Street View.

4 I moseyed around the city for a while. The amount of new construction in this city is staggering. And many new buildings are beginning to look a lot like Legos.

5 & 6 Next, I met up with my friend in football Christian for lunch at his fave pub - The Northumberland Arms on Tottenham Court Road at Grafton Way. Here he is with his buddy the barkeep Tom.

7 & 8 The next person I got to meet up with was a new friend in football - Chris Nee of Two Footed Tackle. I had sent out some Twitter messages regarding my whereabouts, and the next thing you know Chris is telling me he works just down the road! What a great way to start day 2.

9 Having the first half of the day free, I set about doing something I really love to do - Go record shopping. I was joined on my fine journey by my new pals Chris Toy from Studs Up, and Brooks Peck from Dirty Tackle. I am really glad they were up for it. As we walked up Portobello Road, what did we spot but a genuine Banksy. Nice.

10 The store we hit was Honest Jons in Ladbroke Grove. We had intended to raid Peckings, but the door was locked and the phone number did not work. I hope that is not bad news.

11 Honest Jons is a fantastic place, especially if you dig Jazz, Jamaican, Dance and anything that pushes the boundaries. I stocked up on some gorgeously reissued, and revive Jamaican 45's. I love King Tubby.

12 Finally that afternoon Nike beckoned. We jumped on buses, crossed the Thames, and got dropped off at the legendary, and now abandon and run down, Battersea Power Station.

13 Best known for this shot on the cover of Pink Floyd's album Animals.

14 Everything inside was built just for us, including freshly poured concrete walkways, platforms, staging and seating areas. The grand entrance was literally made of plywood, painted black, then stenciled with Nike sponsored country crests. The whole thing had the real feel of a genuine 80's rave. I don't know if that was what they were going for, but it worked for me.

15 & 16 They showed off some new country inspired casual wear like this USA jacket with a new crest drawn by Mister Cartoon, an LA area tattoo artist. I had noticed the whole low-rider car culture inspired artwork before I knew who created it.

17 After the main entrance, we came into a big open room with the walls covered in national team displays. Including one featuring the man of the hour (as we were to soon find out) Cristiano Ronaldo.

18 I snapped this shot for all the DC United fans who miss the crunching centerback Ryan Nelson of New Zealand.

19 The USA display had a bit of a snarl to it.

20 & 21 Clint looking like Clint, and Gooch looking like ...... I guess a cross between aliens from V, Coneheads & Mars Attacks. At least he's got "The Stare".

22 & 23 Umbro, which is part of Nike, showed off their two England shirts. I wonder which one England will be wearing when they lose to the USA in the first group stage game at the World Cup?!?!

24 A big presentation came next. Look at this image of all the teams around the world wearing Nike. Impressive to say the least.

25, 26 & 27 The man of the night Ronaldo made his appearance and stuck around to answer lots of questions. He was there to show off their new boot Mercurial Vapor SuperFly II. These shoes are insane to look at up close. So much detail. And a newly developed bottom with 2 changeable studs that adjust themselves to different field conditions - hard-soft, wet-dry etc. You get the idea - high tech.

28 We ended that night with my first trip to Nando's, the chicken place that many of the USA players stationed in the UK rave about. It was good sit down fast food. The chicken was done up rotisserie style, which I like quite a bit. Their sauce's are their signature - eh.

29 We got a short tour of Niketown in Oxford Circus to start Thursday.

30 The Nike Bootroom in-house crew showed us how you could stop by the shop and literally design the look of your own soccer shoes. Very cool.

31 & 32 They had foot molds of several star players on display like Fernando Torres & Wayne Rooney among others. The players have a cast made of their foot, and then the boots are personally made. I could get used to that.

33, 34 & 35 Two of my partners in style for the week - Ben Hooper of The Original Winger and Jeff Carvalho of High Snobiety. Jeff and I talked music for a long time. He has great taste. While Ben is just plain cool, and making some of the nicest shirts I have ever seen.

36 We finally got to the big introduction of all the new Nike away shirts that will be sported at the World Cup. I have no idea why they didn't spring the teams main shirts on us. And for the record, I love the USA shirt.

Left to Right: Robert Koren of Slovenia; Vince Grella of Australia; Clint Dempsey of USA; Nani of Portugal of Jermaine Jenas of England; Alexandre Pato of Brazil; Edson Braafheid of Netherlands; Chung-yong Lee of Korea; Ryan Nelsen of New Zealand; Nenad Milijas of Serbia. [CORRECTED]

37 & 38 These new shirts are amazingly made from 8 recycled plastic bottles! How cool is that? I had to crack mine open to touch the fabric. Nice. I think Nike should sell the shirts in these bottles. They just look so sharp packaged like this. (first photo taken by Ben Hooper of The Original Winger)

39 Then I got my big moment, to have a few words with our own Deuce - Clint Dempsey. A very good guy. And he perked up immediately when he heard my American voice. A couple hours later I lost my voice completely. Did Deuce steal it?

40 & 41 On the final night we were treated to a first class meal on the rooftop at the Shoreditch House in the East End. We were under a canvas cover, surrounded by heaters. Fantastic ending to the main portion of the trip.

42 Later that night as jet lag continued to horse-collar me, I awoke to the TV still on, and this frightening man talking football. The only place a dude that weird looking could get on TV in America is cable access. What is the deal buddy? He made me feel uncomfortable.

43 Friday I took a stroll through central London, and stumbled upon this fine establishment. Beard Papa's! Being a guy with a giant beard myself, I felt at one with the world. I only found out after I got home that this is a large and growing chain not only in Europe but in the USA too. Oh well. Still funny.

44 Hmmmm. Being a Midwesterner I know all about Cow Tipping. But Fly Tipping? Aren't they a little small to knock over. And what if I like "to be watched"?

45 & 46 Now here is the real reason I took this trip to England - to see my main men, the Church brothers - Ben & Henry. Rock on boys!

47 On Saturday it was off to the south coast for a little 3rd tier football - Southampton hosting Walsall in League One. The home team trailed 0-1, but went soaring to a 5-1 victory. It was not pretty football, but I sure saw some goals.

48 S.A.I.N.T.S. Come On You Reds! (Pregame)

49 A good crowd was on hand.

50 The singing was intermittent, but this slow building version of When The Saints Go Marching In was most excellent.

51 And I made friends with the stadium crew enough to get this one taken after the match.

52 How about these parking lot railings with Southampton Football Club initials built in.

53 And the team had their own cruiser around town. It was a Citroen Nemo.

54 Then I began the long flight home, which entailed a stop over in Munich. I returned in one big piece. Mostly. This is what I looked like when I arrived back in Minneapolis.

- - - - - - - -

Some of the other excellent people I met on this trip were:

55 Bradley from Complex.

56 Brooks from Dirty Tackle.

57 Chris from Studs Up.

58 Stefano & Luca from La Gazzetta in Italy. The pink sports daily.

59 The guys from Fox Soccer Channel, with whom I had a heated but friendly verbal sparring match on the bus ride back to the hotel after dinner - Nick and Paulo.

60 And of course the fine folks at Nike who made it all possible: Tim, Jacie, Demetria, Shelley and Derek.


Anonymous Jay said...

Looks like a great trip. It's fun to see a Premiership match but lower league football gives a uniquely English experience.

And, to tie your trip to the upcoming World Cup, I'll note that Nando's was started in South Africa by a Portuguese man.

1:10 PM  
Anonymous sasha said...

wow, totally awesome trip

just a minor edit to photo 36, you have Robert Koren and Nenad Milijas mixed up, they are on opposite sides

1:11 PM  
Blogger Matt Olson said...

total awesomeness! i'm going to post this next week!

1:22 PM  
Blogger saintpatrick77 said...

really really enjoyed the recount of your trip , B. You are living right , indeed. good things happen to good people :)

1:32 PM  
Blogger Teenbeat said...

You are living the life, Bruce!

1:40 PM  
Anonymous Clive Longbottom-Fellow, Esq. said...

Jay -- True. And might I add Nando's IMO is delicious. Mmmm, peri-peri.

Bruce -- Thanks for taking us along with you. You saved a lot of words with those pics.

1:44 PM  
Blogger jim c said...

we took charlies family out to nando's when we took that trip to liverpool. i asked for the hot sauce on my chicken, and all his scouser family looked at me like i was nuts. it wasnt anywhere near hot, and the waitstaff were super annoyed when i asked for the hottest sauce.

but the chicken was delicious. and donovan stayed awake for the entire thing.

1:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The scary tv bloke is Gerry Francis. Ex-England international and manager of Spurs & QPR. He's had the exact same haircut since 1973.

Glad you enjoyed the Saints game.

I would just add that to get 20,000 people attending a 3rd tier game, does show the depth of passion for football in England that is unmatched anywhere in the world.

2:17 PM  
Anonymous Daniel Seco said...


I truly enjoyed the photos from your trip to England. The building in which Nike launched the new kits looked incredible. My question is, did it really cost 25 pounds to go to that soccer match? Sounds expensive!

Keep up the great work.



2:35 PM  
Blogger brucio said...

hey dan - yes, 25 pounds for league one - oof

a one way subway ride in london is currently costing $6!

2:41 PM  
Anonymous Doug said...

Great stuff Brucio. Glad you had a fun trip and got home safe and sound.

8:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No need to go to the UK for Nando's. There are franchises in the U.S. now ... at least in DC! Great chicken.

2:32 PM  
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