Thursday, 28 February 2013


For most of my life, Middlesbrough had been famous as the home town of Roy ‘Chubby’ Brown, Brian Clough, Paul Daniels and Juninho ‘Boroense’. Not any more. Not for me, anyway. Recently, I’ve discovered that it’s home – well, home-ish – to my two favourite football illustrators (they both support the Boro). I’ve already written a short profile of Steve Welsh and his brilliant, graphic design-based conceptual stuff. Now it’s the turn of Graeme Bandeira, in-house illustrator at The Yorkshire Post, a couple of whose images had flickered on my radar as Twitter avatars but only became seared there last summer when I perused his whole catalogue and had a bit of a headscratcher as to which of the many to buy. I took two, then six for Christmas. And I had to exercise a lot of restraint, bearing in mind I’m only a couple of loaves above the breadline.

Middlesbrough. I would say “it must be something they put in the water up there,” but that would be the point that any aspiring writer would have to give up the game (unless they were describing an outbreak of dysentery, perhaps). Whatever the reason, if there is any, both have a strong, distinctive and, to these eyes, appealing style. Striking on a bog wall, I've found. Renaissance thug Joey Barton rates them as “evocative of Kandinsky, that cunt Capello's favourite”.

Presumably, Graeme is of Portuguese or Brazilian heritage (or Timorese, Angolan, Cape Verdean, etc) as his surname means ‘flag’ in that language. Graeme Flag. Not quite as exotic a ring to it. Anyway, unlike Monsieur Barton, I’m no art critic, but his ink-speckled caricatures – or are they portraits? cartoons? – have a dash of Ralph Steadman about them and, with their hand-drawn, imprecise borders, also evoke a Panini sticker album.

It has to be said that Bandy is a bit of an elitist in his choice of subjects. Most of the current and modern greats are in the portfolio – the ones who aren’t tend either to play unglamorous positions or for drab nations: Beckenbauer, Moore, Charlton... – and there’s clearly some major lovin’ for the tiki-takistas of Camp Nou. Still, I’d love to see Michael Laudrup, Hristo Stoitchkov and Ronaldo (Fenômeno) of that club’s old stars join the gallery; perhaps Savicevic, van Basten and Baresi from the great Meeelan; and from the current crop, maybe the lugubrious Berbatov, pantomime villain Luis Suarez, and perhaps hair-trap expert Marouane Fellaini. (As you can see below, he’s good at barnets, is Senhor Flag.)

Anyway, have a look and, you know, hit him up for one. Footballistically, it’ll be the best £10 £12.50 £15, or two for £25 you ever spend.


Browse and buy Bandy’s wonderful stuff, the ideal gift for a football-loving friend.


  1. Wow! Impressive pictures! Thank you for sharing

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