Oi Polloi

Nigel's Musings: The adidas Handball Top

Published: Thu Oct 26 2017

Seeing as the brand with the three stripes have brought back the ultra-rare Handball Top, we asked Nigel to bring his old ones in for a bit of a history lesson...

The adidas Handball Top comes from the Handball family, and were called the Handball Top because they were the best ones, which is quite good for Manchester as that’s always been a word that’s been used round here.  

There are other Handballs with different names, based on this one, and then there are ones based on the Handball Special. And then there’s the Handball WM, which has got five plugs in the back.

The one with the five plugs was seen by collectors at the time to be untrue, because we thought, “No way did adidas do a shoe with five plugs.” As kids we all had L.A. or Grand Slam, which had three plugs in — and that’s all we’d ever seen in England.

The only shoe of this type we’d see was the Indoor Super, which was almost a dress down look compared to the Grand Slam or the Forrest Hills. The ‘indoor shoe’ was always seen as a rarity, and they’d be worn with flared cords, crew neck jumpers, tweed jackets and deerstalker hats. It was a very distinct look that people had around 1982 or 1983.

But these ones came out later, around 1987, so they were like the acid house version of that classic Manchester look, which was extremely rare at the time.

Most people were wearing Converse then, so the people wearing this shoe must have been getting them from Germany ‘on work’. People talk about some trainers being an important shoe or whatever, but these were so rare there literally would have only been about four or five guys at the Hacienda wearing anything like this.

Even when I got mine in maybe 2004, they were a very hard shoe to find.

It’s such a sharp, sleek shape, but it’s got that raised heel with the gum sole. From one side it looks like a Handball Special, but then on the other side, it’s like a badminton shoe with that cutaway sole. They’re very loud and distinct.

The adidas Handball Top is available at 00:01 on Friday the 27th of October.