All together now: Pascal Claude compiles a visual history of the beloved footie records
The Zurich-based curator behind Football Disco talks to us about transforming his 1,000-strong collection of football-related 7-inch records into a book celebrating the wins and own goals of design.
- Laura Snoad
- 11 December 2019
- Reading Time
- 3 minute read
From the opening stabs of Three Lions to the rapping prowess of John “England Man” Barnes on New Order’s World In Motion, football songs have the ability to stir a form of emotive, glory-focused hope that has absolutely zero groundings in reality. For Pascal Claude, the Zurich-based curator behind online football archive 45football.com and the author of Football Disco, collecting musical odes to the beautiful game has become an obsession. Over the past 25 years, he has amassed more than 1,000 7-inch records about football, and since 2012 he has been posting them online, in waves of colour coordination that give us visually minded folk the warm fuzzies.
It would be a crime to keep this spectacular collection private, so often Pascal DJs the records out at clubs and events, telling stories and anecdotes about their creation. During one such occasion, at the museum of football club Eintracht Frankfurt, designers Christian Hahn and Harald Prigdar were in the audience. Struck by football fever, the trio hatched a plan to put all the sleeves into a book, and Football Disco, published by Walther König, was born.
The intention behind the book was to include as many of the covers as possible, to make the most of Pascal’s expansive collection. “The only ones I left out were a couple of dozen really unattractive, boring ‘Olé Olé’ songs about football in general, not even bad enough to be funny,” Pascal tells It’s Nice That. The first step was to categorise his huge collection, no mean feat given he didn’t want to rely on a chronological, geographic or alphabetical system. Instead, Pascal let the sleeves set the direction. “I started to classify: covers with balls, with grounds, with players, with teams, with cups and so on,” says Pascal. “Some categories are large, with more than 100 sleeves; others – like teams in front of a tramway – only occur twice.”
As you can imagine with such a vast collection, Pascal has a broad overview of football’s visual history, from the shift away from brown leather balls to the TV-ready black-and-white ball to 1978’s typography-led Adidas Tango. Even the way footballers style themselves has changed over the years. While many footballers chose to present themselves in their kit, others – like Zico, Enzo Scifo, Kevin Keegan and Franz Beckenbauer – instead fancied themselves as pop stars, clad in height-of-fashion togs and very big hair. “There are at least as many records where the design and type are more influenced by pop than by football,” says Pascal. “Back in the 1960s and 1970s, pop was already incredibly big while football was still… football. There was hardly any branding or merchandising in the game back then, so when you wanted to sell a football product in a non-football market you had to make it look pop.” Hoddle and Waddle even did a Madonna, going without their famous surnames in favour of just “Glenn & Chris”.
Pascal’s favourite records are the ones with traces of previous owners, such as dedications, names, addresses and drawings – personal mementos of just how important these tracks are to people. “These are all stories within the story, it makes a record much more valuable for me,” says Pascal. “And then of course I love the really nice Italian graphic design from the 1960s and 1970s, simple, just working with very few elements and the club’s colours. I don’t even care if the song is poor when a sleeve looks like this.”