Kits change, managers change, players are sold, shadowy billionaire owners come in, stadiums close, communities are destroyed… Shops that have relied on fan footfall close overnight as football (soccer) clubs vacate spots they’ve occupied for over a century. But this is the sport we chose, the sport we love. And a calf tattoo of a Chelsea bulldog in a Lampard shirt? Well, that lasts forever.
“I had a problem with authority as a teenager […] I wanted a tattoo because it was an act of defiance. I wanted a tattoo for me.”
— Owen Blackhurst, a Liverpool fan in his late-30s who has a Native American tattoo inspired by Eric Cantona.
“EVERYONE SAY ‘HAMMERS!”
On your head? With cockerels either side? OK, mate. It’s your life.
“I had a dream […] I got this tattoo. I had this image of Arsene Wenger circa 1998, the Double-winning success, wearing a blue shirt, red tie and glasses. And he was riding on my golden retriever.”
— Arun, a 26-year-old Arsenal fan and a 15-year season ticket holder.
“There were core values that I felt were being eroded as football became more and more commercialized. I guess it also has a significant meaning that I should lighten the fuck up a bit.”
— James, a 31-year-old Queens Park Rangers fan from South London.
“I want it to say ‘Rangers Till I Die,’ but put the QPR badge as well so nobody thinks I mean, Rangers F.C., park rangers, or Walker, Texas Ranger with Chuck Norris.”
“My best mate did it for me with a sewing needle and writing ink that we bought from an art supply shop […]. And then we got some sushi and bleached my hair. It was bad life decisions all around that night.”
— Megan Munro, a Arsenal fan who has “AFC” inscribed on her arm.
“Dad, you said we were going to the park.” “I said Selhurst Park. Now, move your head, I’m getting my tattoo out again.”