Football & Northern Soul

Bit of a Zooligan fantasy football shirt this one – blending a love of Northern Soul and football-shirt design.

The history of Northern Soul is intrinsically linked with the beautiful game. The name ‘Northern Soul’ was conceived by David Godin in his ‘Soul City’ record shop in London specifically for Northern football fans on an away-day. In an interview with Mojo magazine Godin explained the link –

“I had started to notice that northern football fans who were in London to follow their team were coming into the store to buy records, but they weren’t interested in the latest developments in the black American chart. I devised the name as a shorthand sales term. It was just to say ‘if you’ve got customers from the north, don’t waste time playing them records currently in the US black chart, just play them what they like – ‘Northern Soul’.”


The Northern football fans of the late-60s, early-70s took the often overlooked up-tempo American soul records back with them, where a new music scene was emerging. In 1973 the two worlds of football and Northern Soul came together in the town of Wigan.


Northern Soul nights started at Wigan Casino, where punters would come to dance all night to the lesser-known soul sounds of Detroit, Chicago, LA and New York. In the FA Trophy non-league Wigan Athletic FC were beating all before them in the FA Trophy and made their way to London, Wembley stadium.


The final against Scarborough turned into a classic. Wigan spent most of the game chasing an equaliser after Scarborough scored an early goal. In the final minute Wigan snatched a goal to take the game into extra time only to concede in the 114th minute, agonisingly close to the final whistle and a replay.

The team didn’t take the trophy home but we can be sure a few soul-classics made their way from Soul City back up to Wigan. Six months after the FA Trophy defeat Wigan Casino hosted its first Northern Soul night. After heartbreaking defeat I can imagine those Wigan Athletic fans dancing to Northern Soul classic ‘That’s When the Tears Start’ by the Blossoms.




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