Camus, Clough & Counter Culture

Camus, Clough & Counter Culture

The independent football fan in the UK first began to have a voice and a community in the mid-eighties with the emergence of club football fanzines, following in the tradition of music DIY fan publications. The fanzine was an outlet of thought for the masses that were then the life blood of clubs, but were rarely heard other than for 90 minutes on the terraces.  Fanzines brought together the solidarity of the cause of following a club (usually through thin and thinner), humour and popular culture.

Some of the previously hidden talent of the football fan often made reading the fanzine as much of a highlight as the match in the nineties. By then there was a national fanzine, When Saturday Comes, which began in 1986 and developed into a professional format, to be sold in newsagents and retailers nationwide and still survives today, both in print and online. In the mid-nineties, adverts for another DIY outfit, Philosophy Football began to appear in When Saturday Comes. Philosophy Football was created by Mark Perryman, a marketing consultant (who often contributes to The Substantive now) and Hugh Tisdale, a typographer who brings the design of the t-shirts they create to life. Soon they were camping out in the loft of a Farringdon office block where When Saturday Comes used to reside, and they were reaching out to the same disenfranchised football fans, looking for a like-minded independent voice that could be worn on their sleeve (or their chest).

Like the fanzine, Philosophy Football has been a representation of counter culture within the people’s game, bringing together football, music, philosophy and politics in the spirit which encourages individual freedom within a strong collective, just like the basis of a good football team.

They began with a goalkeeping jersey with a quote from the writer, philosopher and sometime keeper, Albert Camus:

“All that I know most surely about morality and obligations, I owe to football”.

A long-sleeved lilywhite Danny Blanchflower followed soon after, which celebrated glory and style, and survives, if not in pristine colour, but in material, twenty years on. They have continued to grow with eclectic events, books and over 600 t-shirts; many shirts have been inspired by legends in the game including Clough, Cruyff, Cantona, Greaves and Shankly as well as, amongst other things, The Clash, the resistance of the British Battalion in the Spanish Civil War, Internationalism, Hope not Hate, and the service given by the armed forces who united to defeat fascists around the World, particularly in two World Wars.

To mark their twentieth anniversary they have a free exhibition of a range of their t-shirts, Camus, Clough & Counter Culture  for the rest of October 2014 at the Rich Mix in London (details on the links).


The Substantive is a platform for new, independent writing on popular culture. You can buy the e-book on the subject of Football Glory v Money and/or the Bruce Springsteen inspired t-shirt with original illustration. Details below with links to pictures and reviews.

Glory Nights: From Wankdorf to Wembley

New, independent writing, ‘Glory Nights from Wankdorf to Wembley’ documents the journey that captures the culture of travelling around Europe watching football while examining a sport where money is now valued alongside glory. It is available to preview for free and download in full from Amazon and Smashwords. More details, including photos and links to reviews, here.


The Substantive ‘The Boss’ t-shirt, with an original print by the artist Lilly Allen, is 100% ultracotton and made by an ethical and environmental partner. Pictures, more details and a link to order here.