Category Archives: Flags, Symbols, and Crests

NGS Kilts – Order Form, Pricing, What Changed, and What’s Going On

tl;dr:

Prices for kilts made more accurate; 25% deposit now, rest later; prices will fluctuate so nothing is final; up the fucking city; you have until 31st August; order sheets.

January 2017 update: There will likely be a second round of orders. Please do not send anything to the address given on the order sheets in this post as I no longer live there. Keep watching this site/my twitter for updates and thank you for your continued interest in NGS kilts.


Hey guys! The Detroit City season is underway and we’ve already packed Keyworth up to the brim with 7,410 supports, fans, and bewildered Hamtramck locals! We’ve crushed the Bucks, carried Louisville in PKs and have shown that we’ve weathered the off season, rumors, and came out stronger than ever before!

During the off season I began work on designing, registering, and producing an NGS/DCFC tartan that we can turn into kilts and other fun items for our burgeoning army of rapid supporters.

So where are we on all that?

The Design

Final - NGS Tartan

This was the final design that I came up with and got approved by Sarge and Ken. Anyone familiar with the NGS will recognize the colors motif pretty quick. We’re rouge and gold on a background of black and white, with a grey little train-track running through the middle as an homage to our new home in Keyworth.

There isn’t much “deep” history here. Not like every thread count means something. No long stories to tell. It is a tartan. It is ours.

Registered

After designing I got it registered with the Scottish Government. It is ours and always will be ours. They would not add the restriction that people from Ohio couldn’t wear it without coming to a game and shaking Sarge’s hand but I wasn’t going to press the issue with a bewildered and honestly rather tired Scottish bureaucrat.

Making it Real

This is where things get… complicated.

You’ve likely seen that I’ve posted links to order sheets before, tried to get people to send them in, pushed back dates, and eventually fell silent.

There’s a reason for that.

I found a supplier more than happy to make our dreams come true at an extremely reasonable price: SportKilt. I decided to do a test run with my personal tartan, going through all the steps and eventually including checking CAD and thread selections. I placed my order and was surprised at the protectionist taxes we levy on imported wool.

So I had to rethink how we were going to do this.

Here is the updated order sheet.

I had to bump all the prices in order to reflect the 25% tax on imported wool. It sucks. It hurt. But these prices are still significantly better than I expected when I first started this whole thing. Prices range from $245 for the smallest base kilt to $433 for the largest fancy kilt (excluding options). This is an increase from $210 and $380 respectively.

Sashes and capes are no longer priced for labor-only. They now include a yard of material at $45.

Children’s kilts were also increased, now ranging from $74 to $128 from the original $60 to $110.

Women’s skirts reflect the same price increases as the men’s kilts.

I’ve also extended the time-line to the last day of August. You have until the 31st of August to get me your order forms and your money.

Which brings me to the ordering part – When you give me your order sheet (in person or by mail) you MUST include a 25% deposit (rounded to the nearest dollar). Since we’re talking international importing/exporting prices fluctuate and so do conversion rates. The number of orders changes the price of fabric as well. Right now we’re assuming we get enough to get the best price, but too few orders will increase the price from $45/yard to $62/yard.

When I get a final price from the supplier/SportKilt I will update you and have you write a check for the remainder of the balance.

 

Faust

Faust: Who holds the devil, let him hold him well, He hardly will be caught a second time.

During the first DCFC season, my friend Zak and I had fashioned some cheap and easy flags. For mine he spray painted a quick trio of fleurs de lys on it in no more than two minutes and called it a day. Meanwhile he found a rouge-colored fabric with golden fleurs de lys sewn into it.

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The next year I decided to get a bit more advanced. Zak had dropped out, so I was on my own. I bought a blank white flag, marked it off, and covered it in rouge, gold, and white checkers. It was janky, the colors looked like shit, and the lines between them were blurred and runny.

Over-all it blew. But it made it to quite a few matches. And as I told one supporter who called it shit but was empty handed, “It’s better than yours.”

Checker

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The next two seasons I was flagless. Generally it was pretty liberating, not having to worry about where the flag was, keeping track of it, or worrying about someone running off with it (like anyone would steal that piece of shit). But I missed having one. For some reason I had it in my head that I needed a flag.

This season all that changes.

I’m back in the business of making a flag. This post is/was not written after the fact. I am saving it as a draft and publishing it upon the completion of the flag, which I have dubbed “Faust”. As I work I will add more to the post so you’ll get a stream of thought. Generally I’ll break writing periods with quotes from or about Faust.

Faust, for the uninformed was a German folklore character who sold his soul to the devil for all sorts of powers.

I am part of that power which eternally wills evil and eternally works good.

Unlike previous flags, no small deal of work went into designing Faust. The basis was the flag of the Kingdom of Württemberg. The banner at the bottom reads Furchtlos und Trew [sic]. I would keep that and fix it to the correct Furchtlos und Treu meaning “Fearless and True/Loyal”, a great line for any hardcore supporter.

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I wanted a way to mesh this flag with the flag of Detroit.

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My thought was to work on the crest in the middle. Instead of Württemberg and Swabia, my thought would be to create a simplified version of the above: a field of stars, a gold lion on red, fleurs de lys on white, and alternating red and white stripes.

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I worked on simplifying the Detroit flag. I removed the needless crest. Replaced the fleurs with something a bit more complicated, then replaced that with something less complicated but still more traditional than the ones on the Detroit flag.

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Concerning the lions of England, I knew at first I’d rather a single, better detailed lion than three smaller ones. Plus I wanted it in a more active pose.

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So I looked at some more complicated, active lions. And I mean, really, that one has a sword! So the sword won.

The blue field of stars should’ve been simple. The Detroit flag has 13 for 13 states, but their pattern is kind of lame. I chose to replace them with something based off the flag of the United States when Michigan was added to the Union.

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Lastly I flipped red to the top so the red banner would be on the black half of the flag. So here is the first main version of the Faust:

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Some other changes would be needed. Originally I liked the black lion and the gold stag – it made a good reference to Michigan, but it was a bit complicated and the black wouldn’t show up well on the black and red banner.

First I considered a skeletal crow and a a skeleton as supporters.

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But with zero artistic ability I switched to the Tudor dragon which is rouge and gold paired with a golden lion.

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The dragon, however, is a really cool image. So the decision was made to double down on the dragons.

I worked on simplifying the golden shield around the crest, knowing that if time and paint permitted I could always add the the leaves and texture back in. Another minor detail I wanted to fix was the super tall helmet on top made especially tall with an extra fleur de lys on top.

The idea came to combine the fleur with the crown and find a simpler helmet to go on top.

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So the crown of France will have to do.

The final design for Faust:

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(Dragons further flattened for painting)

God help us — for art is long, and life so short.

Eventually I had to get working. It wasn’t long before the itch got the best of me and Brigid and I ran out to two Jo Ann Fabrics to get enough polycotton and gold trim to put this together. Brigid came for the Japanese food.

I divided the build into four phases:

Phase 1 – Combining the halves

Phase 2 – Painting

Phase 3 – Trimming

Phase 4 – Basing

Phase 2 is far and away the longest, or at least most tedious step, itself having a main coloring phase and a second detailing phase. So here we go. First I sealed off a spare bedroom in our house and put down a thick painter’s canvas. Next I laid out the red half, then marked an inch deep onto it to overlap the black half. The I laid out the black half and pinned them at the end.

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Over two days I glued the two halves together.

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It wasn’t perfect but I managed to not completely cock it up.  After gluing I wanted to stitch it just to be careful that there wouldn’t be a completely failure if it got caught in the rain.

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It wasn’t a terribly good stitching job, and it caused quite a bit of bleeding from the fact that I didn’t do a terribly good stitching job. Otherwise it was a a basic backstitch job.

Stitching took three nights (doing a little bit at a time so not to completely start to loathe the project), after which I let it sit for a few nights until I had time to get paints.

After I did get paints I got back to work pretty quick:

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Surprisingly, all of this happened without a major fuck-up, which is some sort of record for me. Hence I wasn’t surprised when:

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A gentle reminder to would-be painters, all yellow paint is neon green until proven otherwise. Luckily I was able to soak most of it up with a paper towel and then paint directly over it with zero wait. Not sure how the back looks as of writing but the back is the least of my worries.

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I lost a shade of gold, but in the end… I lost the need to constantly swap colors, so I’ll call it a win.

Just take a look at our patrons, and you’ll know
Some don’t appreciate us, others never will.

The next big step was getting some chalk and chalking out the helm, the ribbon, and eventually the dragons. I initially wanted to save the details for later, but I broke down in time and just started scatterbraining across the 8×8 canvas.

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Eventually some equipment would need to be replaced. Brushes break, cups dirty, but my poor old printer was just getting too old. Plus it was like $50 for new ink cartridges so for $100 on Amazon Prime I got a new ink with a free printer thrown in. Oldest joke in the book, but work with me here.

This one has wifi. No more wife emailing print-outs to me.

Usually one paints a tifo by first projecting the image onto a wall, hanging the fabric, tracing the image, and then painting it on. Colors are limited and even the small details are huge. Here, no luck. Projectors are expensive and the small details require getting up close and personal, often free-handing the actual lines. For the most part I use tracing, which in turn means lots of printing, cutting, and taping.

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Then once the stencil is made, it is traced out. One of the reasons I made everything as symmetrical is that I can use the stencils “twice” – once on each side.

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Plain, white blackboard chalk is surprisingly hard to find. I’ve checked at multiple places multiple times over the year and have never actually found white chalk, always just an empty hook next to the colored blackboard chalk no one wants because it stains everything.

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First coat of the red banner, right before getting scatterbrained.

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Second coat of gold on the ring, first on the helmet. Genius Kendall. Also, by this point the brush death toll started. A 1″ brush Brigid grabbed so I wouldn’t have to dedicate a single night to a single color died about halfway ’round the ring.

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So while the gold dried I decided to work on small details instead of cleaning my remaining 1″ brush twice.

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At this point I also realized that my old printer had slightly enlarged certain print outs. So my fleurs de lys were too big to fit two abreast.

So they got staggered in a weird pattern. Had I know earlier I would have aligned two to the right and one center and to the left. But fuck it. Perfection was never the goal. So I finished the third fleur and then went to wash my brushes…. and promptly killed my good 1″ brush by rinsing it under too-hot water, causing all the bristles to loosen and fall out.

For fuck’s sake, Kendall.

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All theory is gray, my friend. But forever green is the tree of life.

Bought new brushes today. Grabbed two and didn’t grab cheapos. The first order of business was going to be the crest I was hoping to finish it first so I wouldn’t be sitting on the supporters to get at it later. This would include the helmet too and then eventually the motto. The first day back to work was a red day.

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Traced out the lines.

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Looks good.

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And promptly went about adding a second coat to the banner.

With the red done, it was time to move onto the first of the arty parts of the project – the Lion in the red field. The Detroit flag uses a stylized version of the English coat of arms – three Lions. I wanted to simplify this, but also add a Detroit flair. The choice of a Lion holding a sword was a simple one.

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Worked upstairs on this one.

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Freeeeeee!

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It fits! Mostly because I specifically shrank it.

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A quick trace later.

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And the gold paint added.

And before anyone asks what’s happening to all the brush cleaner, don’t worry, I’m no litterbug.

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That’s right. Kitty litter. It’ll go into the trash, not the best but beats down the drain because I’d never do that…. ever… really.

I waited to finish the Lion’s sword, teeth, and claws until I was getting the white paint out, basically when I did the stars.

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Going with an inverse stencil to keep the spacing.

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FUCK.

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Squished that second star in. Still. Fuck. Anyway, shitty picture – but that is the nearly finished crest. Just needed some black outlining and that needed a a bit of bravery because we were getting into freehand territory.

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Practiced outlining with the dark red for the banner. It doesn’t look good up close but fuck it. Paint was not sticking well.

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This bit I could free hand, or use basic existing stencils like a ruler or a spool. However eventually I’d have to at least trace the main guidelines.

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So I cut apart the existing stencil.

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Boom! Looks good considering I’m shit at art.

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More free handing. Super, super proud of the calligraphy I was able to do. Probably wouldn’t be able to do it again. But I got it when it counted.

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The traced crest and the motto. Furchtlos und Treu for sure. But with that there were two things to go… two things I had been postponing – the highly intricate crown… and the two massive dragons.

That which issues from the heart alone,
Will bend the hearts of others to your own.

So, that crown… kinda royalist… don’t you think? Maybe you don’t. Maybe you don’t care about things like that. But I do. It was grating on me for a while. Not only was it intricate and hard to paint, but it also symbolized something I don’t support – monarchism. If only there was some sort of hat that represented freedom and democracy… Wait! There is!

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It’s called a Phrygian cap and is a symbol of revolution. It appears in a lot of French Revolutionary scenes as well as the coat of arms of Argentina.  It’s also on the seal of the US Senate.

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That was easy. 😉

Now those fucking dragons.

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It’s pretty big.

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Finished. It was something like 13 or 14 sheets of paper all told. I don’t have the final count any more. It was a lot though, but it is for a good cause.

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Positioning. Ignore the missing phrygian cap.

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Traced.

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White details.

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Gold details.

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Starting the red.

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More red.

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Added black details and more red. Still a lot to go… plus… another fucking dragon? Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit.

Whatever is the lot of humankind
I want to taste within my deepest self.

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Working down in the basement was hell on my fingers, decided the best thing to do was get a space heater and let that baby wash over me. I also started bringing down a tablet to listen to podcasts and things to keep my brain occupied. After this I noticed shifts went from an hour or two to six hours pretty quick.

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An nearly complete dragon.

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One down, one to go.

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Got the sleeve glued, but not stitched. In this time frame I was thinking about the colors of the dragons. I was thinking that a lot of the flag was very samey looking. After talking to Brigid, I decided to switch the second dragon up. White -> Gold, Gold -> Red, Red-> White.

This would give me some more variety and could also reflect the Polish roots of Hamtramck and have the dragons wearing the traditional kit colors of DCFC – Rouge (home) and White (away).

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I got the sleeve and a massive chunk of the white dragon (everything seen above) done in a single shift. I also named the dragons – Danny on the left, Dave on the right.

I am not omniscient, but I know a lot.

I’m headed into the final stretch at this point. Finish the white dragon and then getting trim and re-enforcement on before the 16th of April was the goal. I put zero work in over the week, but was dedicated on getting it finished on the weekend.

On Saturday we did our normal routine of Bob Evans followed by grocery shopping. Then. Work.

It had to be done in time.

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In case anyone (no one) was wondering, I used the tape roll to keep my paint cup from getting knocked over. Saved me quite a few times.

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Painting complete.

Now I had to move onto the trimming and the re-enforcements.

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It’ll never look this good again.

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Around this time I was horrified to discover that the sleeve around the pole had two pinch points and thus it was impossible to remove the pole from the sleeve. Which means I needed to cut it out.

Luckily I had some fabric lying around from uni when we tried to make bags for cornhole. I was planning on using this for the grommets, but I had plenty so it would also be used to expand the sleeve.

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First pinch at the bottom.

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Second pinch about a quarter the way up.

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Little extra room.

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I laid out patches for the grommets. This would add a few extra layers of canvas so they wouldn’t pull out easily. The plan was that the grommets would be used as a secondary re-enforcement to the sleeve on particularly windy days.

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Pretty in pink.

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If my aim was off it was because getting over the sleeve was a pain in the ass.

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I have to admit cleaning the grommet pliers was pretty awesome.

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All nice and set.

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At this point I undid the ties holding the fringe together and wasn’t happy with the corners. (Un)Luckily I had mismeasured along the top and had to run to JoAnns for more fringe, so I had a foot to play with. I cut some tiny sections out and glued them diagonally across the corners. This really filled it out well.

The last steps were cleaning. I had to get all the chalk off and all the gold lint from the fringe as well, also cat hair, human hair, and just general junk.

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And so ends my project!

Brigid suggested we give Faust some air upstairs in our great room.

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Faust stands proud.

Thanks to everyone who helped me along the way when I had questions or just needed a little encouragement. This project had a lot of twists and turns and a few complications, but in the end everything for my club.

Up The Fucking City!

 

Draft to Reality:

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Only took two months.

Because it seemed like the thing to do

I just posted about symbols and fake hurling clubs in case you missed it. As a sort of joke I threw a half-assed crest and kit set that I had made for “Pheasants Hurling Club” a semi-serious discussion between Aaron Mink and I about starting a GAA Hurling club here in Detroit.

While I doubt that anyone in great Detroit even owns a piece of ash besides me, it was a fun thought.

The Name

I called the club Pheasants Hurling Club as a shout out to Troity the Drug-Addicted House Pheasant of DCFC fame. One can’t take themselves so seriously these days.

The Colors

Troity

I chose “wine” and “sky blue” because they looked clownish without looking bad. One shouldn’t take themselves too seriously.

The Crest

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It’s a pheasant in our colors. Because we’re Pheasants HC, remember? This isn’t hard. It’s a circle because it’s easy to make in photoshop and would look good on a button. You should never think you’re too serious for buttons.

The Kits

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Hurling kits are interesting in one way – from what I can tell there’s only two kits. The keeper wears the one that the team is not. So if the team’s wearing the home kits, the keeper wears the away kit.

I think I meant the blacks as the original home and the hoops as the away, but now it would be the opposite. But like always, the designs are a reflection of what I’ve just decided is the team’s motto – Don’t take yourself seriously, no one else does.

The Obsession of Symbols

I have a very fond obsession with symbols. All kinds of symbols, maybe things you don’t think of as symbols per se. To me a symbol is anything we use to define ourselves whether through common understanding or inside understanding.

We cover ourselves in symbols. Colors. Kits. Flags. Even phrases. We use them as a shorthand of who we are, what we stand for, or who we stand with.

If I were to write:

AEIOU

Most of you would probably think “Very nice, Nick. Those are in fact the vowels in alphabetical order.”

How many of you would instantly think “Alles Erdreich Ist Österreich Untertan” (All the world is subject to Austria) or “Austriae Est Imperare Orbi Universo” (It is Austria’s destiny to rule the world)?

That’s what I see.

AEIOU was a symbolic device of the Habsburgs of Austria. It represented their belief that they were the one true masters of Europe and thus the world, and who could argue? The Habsburgs ruled two of the largest empires for centuries with night falling on their reign only after the end of World War One.

What about what we wear?

The discussion about hats came up on twitter recently. “No one I know wears a [flatcap],” said one indignant (and rather uneducated) user. “Well half of the Northern Guard does,” said Killted Ken.

Flatcaps are a symbol. They can represent Irish influences. Working class influences. They were popular in England for centuries as a cheap hat, their significance as a poorman’s hat brought about by short-lived law requiring men over eight to wear a hat.

What about soccer kits? What do soccer kits tell us about people? Their colors, their designs. Hoops. Stripes. Sashes. There’s lingo and basic elements. A lot of it is based off what you like. I’m not sure that the colors or anything meant anything. I’m probably wrong. Those colors, back in the 1870s meant everything. There’s a lot of combinations of claret and blue in England.

Maybe they’re all copying.

Recently, in my boredom and partially out of a desire to procrastinate, I created twenty hurling kit sets (home/away+socks) for the “premier” hurling (called Caman in my books) league using the Azzurri GAA kit builder. Part of it was an exercise in thinking about the different cities I had created for my story. What did these cities do? What sort of people lived there? What did they do and how would that affect their favorite teams?

What did different designs and colors mean? Some patterns and themes emerged as I worked on them. I also tried to think about our own trends in sports, drawing differences between EPL and MLS. Here are a handful, hope you enjoy.

Union Macenburgh

Union Macenburgh

Union Macenburgh (and the next entry) feature in their old incarnations in the sequel to Sun-King. They are based very much on my beloved Detroit City FC (as is obviously apparent in the colors) but also in the fans. The “Union” in the name is used by teams to reflect that they were originally founded by working-class people, this is backed up by the hoops (which I took from Celtic). The fans are rowdy, dedicated, ready for a scrap, and pile into the bars before and after every match. Macenburgh itself is very much based on Detroit (including it’s southern suburb Southfields). Rozenn is a huge fan of Union, dragging Einar to a game in book 2 where she of course starts and ends a fight with the supporters from across the river.

First Blackwater

First Blackwater

When I first named “Blackwater” I wasn’t actually thinking about PMCs or anything. It was originally named after Dublin (Dubh Linn – Blackpool). As I was writing Blackwater and Macenburgh traded places as the working class and upper class sides of a single massive metropolis. Blackwater sounded more exclusive so it took over. Blackwater’s fans are mostly wealthy or conservative in general. The two teams and their rivalry draw from the Old Firm derby (Celtic v Rangers) hence the blue details for Blackwater.

ACC Aurora

ACC Aurora

Whereas the Macenburgh and Blackwater teams are ancient fixtures in their cities, ACC Aurora represents that new breed of sports team, eager to stand out and eager to build an ancient identity in a few short years. In the books it’ll be hundreds of years before they are even founded. They represent a disneyfied team – bright colors and weird patterns based on the local  scene. In this case the auroras above the city of Aurora, far north of the “arctic” circle of this world. They aren’t the worst team, they certainly aren’t the best. They are young and thus their owners make silly mistakes or are in general less interested in keeping with traditions or words of wisdom. Hence purple kits.

Dockyard Union CC

Dockyard Union CC

This team quickly became one of my favorites, those kits on the right are a good reason. Like Union Macenburgh, Dockyard is a Union club. In my world they are a very St. Pauli-esque club. Punk, anarchic, supporter-run, vulgar, and ready to shout-down fascists at the drop of a hat. While they hold Macenburgh in high esteem, they reject the idea of capos in the crowd, opting instead for spontaneous chants and lots and lots of pyro – mostly stolen from the docks.

First Valkburgh NCC

First Valkburgh NCC

I nearly wasn’t going to include this one. This is the team from Einar’s hometown and that he (secretly) roots for despite Rozenn’s passion for Macenburgh dominating their sporting relationship. Nicknamed “Rangers” that is more an homage to Sun-King and the “Nyrnish Rangers” who are head quartered in Valkburgh. Before any real-life Rangers fans jump on board, the Nyrnish Rangers were an elite scout force turned traitorous IRA-esque militia. Their colors green and brown harken back to these military roots. I also wanted a team that had unusual colors without going into the realm of the disneyfied teams.  Brown was an interesting choice, again inspired by St. Pauli.

 

Some other teams of note:

Union Waldenhof – Essentially the Newcastle United of this world.

Kairnburgh ACC – Based off Liverpool, good but never quite good enough.

Waldenhof City – The rich team that almost always buys their way to the top.

Southfields CC – The team in the burbs who wonder why no one takes them seriously.

NCC Fovel Town – That team you’ve never heard of and then are surprised to find out are significantly older than your side.

Launburgh ACC – That club out in the middle of nowhere with a tiny stadium.