Under Armour Spotlight DL Firm Ground SnrC99

It has been quite a while since I got to wear a pair of football boots. So I was on countdown to been able to lace up these and get the ball back at my feet. I am 25 now and hadn't been able to play football or have a kick about since I was 21 which is far too long in my eyes as I had played since I was really young.

I knew I wanted to get back into playing and training so when we moved close to a field with goals I knew I would be paying it a visit. The big question though was what boots I was going to buy. I have always been a Nike player but I have ventured into a few Adidas pairs occasion, one brand I had never tried though was Under Armour. From watching Kelley O'Hara and Rachel Daly play I knew this was a brand I was going to try sooner or later as the colour ways are fantastic in some models and the US ones they did for Kelley were just fantastic. So for my new pair I went for the change and picked some Under Armour boots.

The Model I ended up going for was the Spotlight DL Firm Ground SnrC99 boots and honestly I was pleasantly surprised. They are a synthetic upper but honestly they are a really nice upper and are yet to crease which is something that drives me mad in some boots. The upper is a matte green however in certain lights they do appear to be shiny just what I like. These boots are definitely a take down of a higher end model which unfortunately I couldn't find any info on as they are an old model. These were definitely a clear out model by the time I bought them as they were just so cheap. You can tell though they are a take down as they have the synthetic upper and came at such a low price. I really wish I could work out the release date for these boots as it would be great to see how the price has varied on these over the time they have been out.

I ordered the boots online without seeing them in person so I really wasn't sure what to expect. So when I opened the box I was pleasantly surprised. They are definitely a stand out boot with how vibrant they are but that isn't the biggest thing that surprised me I couldn't believe how light the box was, in fact there were 2 pairs of boots in the box and I thought I had been ripped off. The lighter the boot the better and when I picked them up so cheap I thought they would be more weighted as they are a take down model. Overall I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the box and couldn't wait to get out and kick a ball in them.

One thing I have never liked is plain and boring boots, I want something that stands out on the pitch so the brighter the colour way the better. When looking for a budget pair of boots the only ones coming up were black so I knew it wasn't going to happen, then I came across these and clicked purchase. I hadn't had green boots in a long time and these just jump straight out on you, there is no way you are going unnoticed in these. the colour way is brilliant in my opinion the green and black compliment each over really well and work as a brilliant combination. I love the green laces too as they blend into the upper nicely and I think changing the laces out may end up ruining the look. One thing I noticed is that the heel is actually a bit of a greyish colour instead of  pure black, which fits really well with the rest of the design. The outer has a sort of blurred line effect which actually fades into the heel which works really well. The only issue I  think I am going to have with these is keeping them vibrant, they got really muddy throughout testing and I am just hoping that if I keep on top of cleaning them that they wont stain or ruin easily, fingers crossed but I guess only time will tell.

Over the years I have played on more pitches best suited for firm ground boots, so I opted for this option again as I know overall I am going to be training more as the warmer weather comes around, but I also would love to get into 5 a side if possible so these could double up for both. I found that these studs were a decent length for the natural grass although it was a little muddy, if the ground was a little firmer these would definitely be perfect as they really aren't very long so don't need to dig in too far to get a good grip, this also means they would be perfect for artificial grass as due to the length they don't need to dig down too far and are going to get you a good grip on even the artificial surface. The stud pattern is also quite evenly distributed so you are getting that grip all over instead of it been focused on one area (stud patterns are something I am going to do some research on for a future post so keep an eye out for that as they are something I really want to learn about). I was quite surprised with how sturdy the sole plate actually felt, I honestly thought with them being so cheap they would be made out of a really flimsy plastic however, that wasn't the case as it is actually a tough plastic, I tried to bend these as far as possible and whilst they are super flexible nothing happened to the sole plate and it went back to how it was instantly which is just what you need, you don't want it cracking mid game and coming apart. One thing that always annoyed me whilst growing up was trying to get mud off the sole plate due to all the studs and grooves but luckily with these it is overall a smooth soleplate, with a decent distance between each stud and only the logo and a few ridges on it. This meant just one hit to the goal post when we finished and 90% of the mud came off, I just needed to run a small brush over the rest and it was clean. Which is brilliant because I hate cleaning boots it usually takes far too long.

One of the biggest factors in any boots is the breaking in period, you don't want to absolutely destroy your feet whilst training and you definitely don't want to be playing in boots that are uncomfortable or that are going to negatively effect your performance. Therefore comfort and the breaking in period are key.  That is why I was really impressed with these, with me never trying Under Armour boots before I really didn't now what to expect, when I put them on and they fit perfectly and didn't actually rub I was quite amazed as my last few Nike's actually took a short breaking in period and they cost a lot more than these. These haven't even rubbed me once, which is amazing to say I have only been wearing a thin pair of Sondico socks whilst wearing these, normally I would have thicker socks on by the likes of Nike. I actually went up half a size in these and they fit perfect so I would definitely recommend looking into different sizes if you were to buy a new pair of boots, I have always noticed that my best fitting ones have always been half a size or a size bigger than normal, this is just down to factoring the width and thicker socks you wear when playing, they are definitely a snug fit but that is how I like them I don't want my feet sliding around in them as that is where injuries come from. The insole in these surprised me too as I thought it would just be cheap but it is actually pretty thick which gives you the perfect cushioning, I don't want boots where I can feel the ground or the studs I want comfort which is exactly what these provide they just feel great when on feet. As I touched on previously I thought these would definitely have been heavier with the low price tag but Under Armour have done brilliantly providing a light weight model on a budget. I did notice that the upper began to crease a bit after some time running and shooting but honestly it is nothing that is going to effect the comfort all this will effect is the overall look but the creases were to be expected with the simple upper. As a striker/ winger I want to get a good connection on the ball every time and sometimes laces can really effect this aspect of the game. However these laces fit perfect into the upper and don't stick out creating and unnecessary texture like in some boots in fact at points you forget they are there. even when fastened I just took the knot and excess lace into the boot and it works as everything is nicely hidden and you don't feel the knot against your foot. The laces are also a decent length so when you do took them in there isn't much on either side of your foot or on the underneath your feet, which is brilliant as you don't have to worry about them rubbing or causing discomfort.  Plus if they do come out you don't have to worry about tripping over them.

These boots have a natural touch on the ball and you can create good control with them you don't have to worry about the ball sliding straight off as the matte effect helps with keeping the ball where it should be even in wet conditions. As for the strike on the ball it actually felt nice and clean even after all the years not playing. You don't want the ball to hurt when you strike it and these provide the ultimate protection against this no matter how hard I hit it, there was no pain at all.

I managed to pick these up for just £18 where the box stated they had originally been £59.99 as I said before I don't know the date these were released however, they were definitely a clear out model as you can no longer find them. I would be surprised if these had started off life at £59.99 as for the quality I experienced I would have thought they were around the £100.00 mark. I definitely got a bargain at £18 but I think I would have picked these up for the £59.99 mark as even though they are a basic quality (lower model) they aren't flimsy at all they are durable and I can see them lasting me a long time. I was definitely very lucky in finding this deal and who knows I may be able to find more deals like this in the future but I don't think I could get lucky like this again.

This is definitely a brand you can expect to see plenty from on the blog in the future as I was so impressed with these boots, I will definitely be trying more over time. If you have any other boots or football related things you would like to see on here just leave a comment or drop me a message on twitter and I will see what I can do.

Liv Cooke W1N Football

Do you have those people on YouTube/Instagram that as soon as you see them post you have to go see what it is. Well that is the case for me as soon as I see Liv Cooke post, her Instagram is full of videos which feature various freestyle routines that are absolutely brilliant. But now the World Champion Football Freestyle & TV presenter has launched her merchandise 'W1N' and the first product released looks absolutely brilliant.

 The first product to be released is the W1N signature official match ball standard football which is accompanied by a replica version. The match ball will cost you £49.99 where as the replica version is just £19.99. One good thing with this ball is you know you will be getting a good product here as the 4 x world record holder knows her stuff when it comes to equipment and quality. Liv recently said "Everybody knows I'm super fussy when it comes to the football equipment I use, so I knew when I set out to make my own football it had to be absolutely perfect. I wanted to make a top-quality football that world class freestylers would opt to use as professional footballers but at an affordable price for the public."

I know that we will definitely be ordering at least one of these balls and putting it through its paces before giving you a review on it whilst comparing it to any other balls we have mentioned on here. But the question is which would you like to see us try, the match ball or the replica?

You can order your ball from the website www.w1n-merch.com

The Making Of A Football Strategy Game : Colin Webster

Seven years ago, I wondered why there weren’t any serious football strategy board games. I’m a big fan of football management computer games and strategy board games, and I know I’m not alone in that, so I found it curious that no-one had combined the two beyond a simple ‘roll-and-move’ game mechanism. So, I did what one does in those situations and decided to make one myself.

I quickly realized why it hadn’t been done: football (or any team sport, really) is a complex, dynamic sport with multiple simultaneous moving parts, a bunch of actions that can be carried out, and a fan base that would leap on a lack of authenticity. My first attempt at designing the game ended in failure, and I was so disheartened that I more or less ditched the idea for five years. But something never stopped chipping away at the back of my consciousness. When watching a football game my mind would often conjure up how scenarios unfolding on the screen could be replicated on a board. These thoughts grew to a cacophony and, triggered by a workmate, I returned to designing the game with a renewed sense of enthusiasm.

I realised that the first design suffered from a lack of playtesting, so I persuaded some friends to test the embryonic game out with me, and made endless iterations to the rules as we played. I had an uncanny knack of losing most of those games, too…

There were some criteria I wanted the game to meet from the outset: firstly, I wanted every player in the game to have a unique set of abilities, just like in real life. Managers would have to work out how to best utilise the players at their disposal. Secondly, I wanted the pitch to be large enough to allow managers to execute recognisable tactical strategies, and I had a particular desire to see managers use and exploit space on the pitch. Thirdly, I wanted the game to feel like football. I didn’t want gimmicks like ‘turn this card over and someone is sent off’, or ‘you must shoot from this sweet-spot’. There are already football board games that have these features, and they didn’t appeal to me; they are more chance-based than strategy-based, and that would take something away from the experience I wanted to create. Finally, I wanted the game to be fun! I wanted people to want to play again and again, so I whittled out some elements of realism, like misplaced passes and shots. This helped speed the game up and create more exciting moments than were present in the original prototype.

So, with those elements in mind, and with lots of playtesting tweaking the rules, the game that was to become Counter Attack began to take shape. Eventually I started up some social media accounts and began to slowly grow an audience. Followers started to ask when they could get a copy, so I began preparations for a Kickstarter campaign. Supported by my girlfriend Rachel, we launched the crowdfunding campaign with some trepidation in April 2019. We aimed to raise £7,000 - the minimum required to actually make the game - but we were thrilled to smash that in only ten days! We eventually raised £15,000 and the campaign was a terrific thrill from start to finish. The encouragement we received from backers was a truly wonderful thing.

Since then we’ve been working on the admin side of things and played the waiting game as the manufacturer set to work. We ploughed all of the Kickstarter money into the project and into building the eCommerce website. The very exciting news as I write this is that the games have finally arrived in the UK and will be with me in just three days. As soon as we have them we’ll spend a few days packaging them up and posting them out to our customers around the world. And they really are everywhere! Argentina, Thailand, Australian, South Africa, Ukraine, Iceland…Counter Attack is starting its life in all corners of the globe. The excellent Counter Attack community has even translated the rule book into Spanish and Italian, and several other languages are set to follow.

The next stage is one of great excitement – hearing what people think of the game. We’ve been fortunate to have had the game reviewed several times already, and the feedback has been incredible. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but we are confident that the game fulfills the criteria I set for it seven years ago. If you want to get a copy to find out what it’s all about, head for counterattackgame.com and place an order! You can also follow Counter Attack on Twitter by clicking here.

STRIP! How Football Got Shirty

We were lucky enough to get invited to the National Football Museums recent launch event for their new Strip, How football got shirty exhibition. This exhibition is all about the story of football shirts and is told by the over 200 shirts all in one place. The event couldn't have been any better especially for someone who loves football shirts, seeing the different styles and how they have progressed over the years. With a variety of teams from numerous leagues & countries they have something for everyone. 

There are plenty of shirts around this exhibition with something for everyone. It really does go through the history of the shirts as well as showing off the fashion side of them, something which has always intrigued me how different aspects of the game have changed shirts over the years such as the introduction of sponsors.

Dotted around the exhibition you will see STRIP! Myths, these are bits of information about different teams and how they kit became the colours they did etc. You can actually learn quite a bit from them, I know I did, like why certain teams wear certain colours.

As I said there are plenty of shirts meaning there is something for everyone. So obviously I was thrilled to see the Bradford City 93/94 shirt hung up and another picture of a City shirt printed on the wall. The City shirt hung up is one of my favourites with the print on the sleeves, the collar (I think all my favourite shirts have collars) and the Admiral print which is all over the shirt but not too in your face.

There are some absolute stand out shirts dotted all around the exhibition which will definitely draw your attention, like that Nigeria shirt that when released basically sold out and was super hard to find. This shirt is one I definitely wanted to add to the collection and loved seeing the players in during the World Cup for both the men & women. That is something else that is great about the exhibition, it isn't just all men's shirts there are women ones thrown in too, so even if you are a fan of the women's game there is something for you.

One of my favourite sections definitely had to be the fashion section which showed how clubs have worked with those big brands in the fashion world to create some brilliant pieces. It was fantastic to see the latest Juventus x Palace shirts hung up too, when they were released just a few month ago I was honestly considering buying one and now actually seeing them hung behind that glass I really wish I had done.

Not only do they have the fashion section, they also have the new Adidas shirts such as the Scotland one which is starting to grow on me, it is simple but doesn't really jump out at me. They also have the new Adidas Japan shirt which in the flesh looks even better than on the images, I would love to add this to my shirt collection but do I really need a Japan shirt? That print says yes I do.

If you want a break from wandering around the shirts you can also stop and watch what the museum are calling the STRIP! Show. Which is a quick show (around 20 mins) where a panel are talking about kits from every angle, covering a lot of the basis surrounding kits along with their personal experiences with kits. I stopped to watch a bit of this as it features hullcitykits.co.uk along with John Devlin from True Colours.

This exhibition is on until June 2020 so if you live in Manchester or can get to the museum before it ends I would definitely recommend going and checking it out yourself, especially if you are a shirt geek like me. I know I will be heading back at some point to have a look around the whole museum once again. You can check out the museums website for directions (it is right next to Victoria station) & all opening times, especially over the festive period.

Mitre EFL Delta Replica Football

I am a huge Bradford City fan, as I am sure most of you will be aware by now. Which why when I was looking for a football a while back a certain one jumped out at me.... the Mitre EFL Delta replica football. 
When you see a specific ball week in, week out you really start to notice the design etc. This is why I opted to buy this one (well Liam treated me to it) and at the bargain price of £12 I can't fault it.

Growing up I always tended to opt for a Nike ball or a cheap Sondico alternative, but after watching more and more EFL matches and seeing the design on this ball I had to give Mitre a try. I love the white, blue and red design as its not just plain and simple, it stands out, which is perfect when you are like me and always end up losing footballs. It is easy to see in the bushes when you accidently hit it too hard or too far. I opted for the size 5 variant of this ball (it comes in sizes 3,4 & 5) which I always go for as it is the size I would use in any games or any training sessions. 

The best thing about this ball is that it is perfectly weighted, it doesn't fly away when hit like some low quality footballs and it isn't too heavy which helps create the perfect shot or pass, there is no worry about it going too far or not far enough, well that is unless you totally miss kick it. In the past some footballs I have used have had a shiny surface, meaning the ball (especially when wet) will just slide off the foot making specific contact a lot more difficult. If the ball is too slippy it will fly across surfaces, and that isn't just the floor it is the surface of your boots too meaning you could end up making more mistakes and control would be poor. However, this ball  has a foam backed lining which helps with improving control making it smoother and it definitely does do this. If a long ball is played in you can take it down easy it doesn't run away from you and I genuinely believe this is due to the foam backed providing a more cushioned effect. It is also great for practising your shooting too as you can easily feel the type of connection you are making with the ball, which in my opinion really benefits your training and performance as you know what improvements you need to make to have a cleaner shot next time. 

The best thing about this ball is what it can withstand, not only have I been using it on grass but it has also been kicked around a lot of the time by the side of the house which is basically just stones and gravel. It also ends up rubbing against the pebble dashed house and step and guess what? It isn't falling apart like most would and in fact it is hard to identify any scratches on the ball which really surprises me. I have had footballs before that have fallen apart from been kicked along the pavement and become punctured but this one is going strong 12 month on. It hasn't even needed pumping up that often which makes a lovely change, sometimes when I have had a ball and left it outside (in a cupboard) the ball has basically gone flat but this one has had no issues with it at all. I can see it being around for a very long time if it carries on the way it is.

If you are looking for a reasonably priced ball to train with I would definitely say to try out this one, it can be found at www.mitre.com where they have an even more extensive range of footballs, equipment, kits and other sporting accessories available. 

Which football should I test out next? 

Bradford City Women vs Liverpool Feds

Bradford City faced Liverpool Feds in Bradford's official Rainbow Lace fixture at the weekend and it was also new manager Chris Hames first game in the dugout. This is a game I was really looking forward to as it really gave us the first sense of what Chris would be capable of with this team, could he be the one to make the difference that was needed to turn results around and get City back to winning ways?  

It made a nice change too as for the previous few games we have been left soaked from the rain and had games cancelled due to waterlogged pitches however, this weekend from the stands you couldn't see due to the sun, so a nice change there. 

With Liverpool Fed's being 5th in the table before kick off and City propping up the bottom of the table in 12th place it was always going to be and interesting game, with plenty of goals scored against City would Chris have had enough time to work on defence? It looks like he definitely did have time to work with the team as it was looking like a whole new side. 

Aimee once again pulled off a lot of brilliant saves once again to keep the score line down and again some of those saves even the likes of Richard O'Donnell would be proud of. The only goal of the game came just before half time with a bit of a mix up in defending proving Liverpool with a goal to give them a 1-0 lead. 

Other than a few wayward touches and a few hit & hopes from City they looked like a much improved side. City had more chances than I have seen in recent games with Sumaili getting into some great positions and having a few shots which were unfortunately saved. It was nice to see City challenging in that final 3rd and actually taking some chances for a change, maybe next game we can get a goal.

Even though both sides had plenty of chances (Liverpool still looked a bit more threatening on the attack than City)  through the game the game ended 1-0 which I think just shows how City are already starting to improve under Chris. It was definitely not the one sided game I have been used to seeing. The team just seemed to gel better with some great link up plays all over the field as well as a lot more communication on the pitch. 

Another area they seemed to have improved on is closing down and winning the ball back there were plenty of times during the game where Liverpool could have made progression up the pitch but City chased down and put them under pressure it lead to either throw-in's or just simply getting possession back. Even when they lost the ball players seemed to be tracking back a lot better and putting the pressure on the opposition. The City team have definitely improved and look a lot more threatening let's just hope they can keep this up and really build on the positives from yesterday. They may have been defeated but with it finishing 1-0 to a 5th place side and the positives shown in the game it didn't feel as bad as previous defeats.

I really think Hames' appointment could be beneficial for this team.