Deckchair Irony

Working and living in Brighton, I have long been mindful of the irony that the quintessential seaside city’s football team look like deck chairs. Ever since 1904 Brighton and Hove Albion have worn (except for a brief post-war spell) blue and white striped shirts. During the 1991/92 season they even wore matching striped shorts. Any players happening to sit on a deckchair on a post-match sojourn to the promenade during this season would have just looked like a head and a pair of legs.

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You may say, “Ok, this is a fairly good irony. Certainly better than any of the examples Alanis Morrisette uses in her song of the same title, but I’ve heard better. My mate wrote ‘your (sic) the best teacher ever’ on a leaving card to Miss Lansdale.” Well I say to you “Mods vs Rockers, Brighton seafront, 1964.”

In 1964 a shed load of mods drove down to Brighton on their vespas wearing Parker jackets and long haircuts hoping to bump into some rockers, as long as there weren’t too many of them.

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It turned out there were rockers and not many of them. Not only that but they were blindsided on the beachfront by the shed load of mods coming from higher ground. It was from this territorial advantage that a quick-smarted photographer snapped what has become an iconic image of the time. Mods were flinging deck chairs from the upper level of the aquarium onto a group of rockers below. The photographer captured perfectly the sense of youthful chaos; the mid-flight deck chair – normally, at most used to the odd ice-cream spillage – turning into a weapon.

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Now here is the double irony. In the year of the iconic deckchair throwing photograph, the team that looked like deck chairs decided upon a shirt that didn’t look like a deck chair at all. Brighton & Hove Albion changed their shirts in 1964 to a shirt with a blue body and white sleeves. And for extra irony (if we can take anymore) the slim-fit cotton shirts with round neck made the players look like they were on their way to a Small Faces gig rather than turning out at the Goldstone Ground to play Barrow.

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1964/65 turned out to be a good year for the Albion. Their mod-esque shirt took them to the Division Four title. The shirt remained until the stripes returned in 1971.

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