Oi Polloi

Nigel’s Musings: The adidas Samba

Published: Tue Nov 01 2016

adidas have brought back the Samba. They go on sale fairly soon, but until then, here’s Nigel waxing lyrical about his original pair…

The Samba is an important trainer for adidas, as it’s the one they’ve been making the longest. The first ones came out in the early 50s. It’s a football boot, without the screw-in stud. Football was adidas’s biggest market — the football boot was the first sports shoe that everyone recognized, because football was the most popular sport in Britain.

The Samba was the first football ‘trainer’. You could wear it on cinder, astroturf and concrete. That’s why people had them at school... or the baby of the Samba, the Kick. I remember on my first ever day of school, everybody had adidas Kick on. Samba was the expensive one, you had to be serious about football to have these.

This one has got a trefoil on it, so it must be from 72 onwards. I think it was the 23rd of October, 1972 that all the trademark laws came into being. If that’s the wrong date, it’s not far off — it says it on the old Lacoste labels. Every brand at that time had to trademark their logos to stop them from getting copied. Before that, adidas had no trademark and no trefoil; they just had the word adidas.

I’ve only had these for seven or eight months. They’re deadstock ones, in the box, and I got them under the radar on eBay. The white stripe was the most popular, I never saw these ones with the yellow stripes as a kid. There’s an orange stripe one too.

They always say these bright colours were for shock in battle, like when the guys who used to design military kit in the 1840s or whenever used to use red. I think with football, a lot of the colours are there to dazzle people’s eyes. Nowadays everyone’s got bright yellow and orange football boots.

One of the guys who used to work here, his dad, Mark Prestage, used to wear Samba in 72. He wore them with Fred Perry polo shirts and Wrangler jeans. I said, “Did you buy them for football?” And he said, “No, they were just for marching around Manchester in.” That’s quite an early flavour. He was top boy I suppose, but that term didn’t come until much later.

He said he got them at Hurley’s. Not Hurley’s on Piccadilly Approach, but Hurley’s in Piccadilly Gardens, underneath where Burger King is now. I don’t remember that shop at all. At that time, wearing these really expensive football trainers was showing off to the nth degree.

The adidas Samba SPZL and the Bulhill SPZL go on sale at 00:01 on Thursday the 3rd of November.