It’s been over seven years since Rick Banks brought us Football Type, an award-winning book that explores the history of typography on football kits. Now, the founder of design studio Face37 has released its long-awaited sequel, celebrating the type behind the beautiful game once more.
Although the original book was a comprehensive study of football type history, a bible for anyone passionate about design and sport, Rick felt there was a need to revisit, as so much has changed since 2013. As its description explains: “From a patchy beginning as strictly identificatory aids, shirt numbers have grown in significance, with players gaining such attachment to the digits on their backs that they become part of their individual brands. The business of designing fonts reflects that and Football Type 2 is a celebration of that creativity as well as the historic stories behind the numbers.”
This second edition features interesting stories about players’ squad numbers – for instance, did you know that Scotland had names on their shirts as far back as 1979? Or that Argentinian goalkeeper Carlos Roa wore №13 for Real Mallorca to honour his religious beliefs? You might also be happy to hear how VfL Wolfsburg breached advertising rules with its kit in the 2015 German Cup final. And which Premier League player has dots under some of the letters in his name.
It also looks at how type has evolved in football over the last 100 years, starting with shirt numbers seen only as a practical way to identify players back in the 1920s moving on to the 1970s when clubs started to think more about their brands, adding flair and personality to their kits. Of course, Rick and the book’s writer Denis Hurley also share case studies of pivotal moments in football’s design history, such as the launch of the Premier League’s new typeface in 2007.
“As a typographer, football and shirt lettering are without doubt my two biggest passions,” says Rick, who earlier this year designed a bespoke typeface for Major League Soccer. “I remember trying to copy the lettering from football shirts in the back of my school books, fueling my passion to progress a career in design from an early age. So the launch of the Football Type series of books sits particularly close to my heart.”
Football Type 2 is edited by Rick Banks, designed by Face37 and written by Denis Hurley. You can purchase a copy via the Manchester studio’s online shop. Both standard and limited-edition versions are available, the latter comes with a numbered dust jacket with lettering found within the book.