Featured in the Sporting Blog

Sports nostalgia has always had an immense appeal, but it has now become the heart of current sport affairs.

As we go month after month without normality in lockdown, sports are the reminder of how things used to be. As Arrigo Sacchi once said, “football is the most important of the unimportant things in life”.

That certainly seems like the case now; sports are the perfect distraction away from the most trying aspects of this year. We look at photographer Liam Bailey’s latest endeavour.

England football on black background print

Photographer Liam Bailey has been intrigued by sports nostalgia for 20 years.

During lockdown, he has been looking back over his photo albums, like many of us at home, and has ventured into the creation of a new sports-centred shop, Balls To All That.

The site features a variety of old sports ball imagery, including beaten up footballs, rugby balls, cricket balls, golf balls and many others.

Liam is fascinated by these play-worn sports balls. So much so, that he has photographed them in a professional studio, as he would for his high-end editorial portraits. He explores the interesting juxtaposition between the perfected photo and the roughness of the deteriorated ball, and manages to encapsulate the emotion of nostalgia into a single photograph.Nostalgia, by definition, is the sentimentality of the past, which can be argued is at the core of every sports fan.

There is a deep connection between sport and the fan and the connection is fuelled by nostalgia.

Blue sports hall with colourful lines print


They know every iconic moment and can recite it in vivid detail. They own the vintage football shirt from their favourite match. They know where they were when that famous goal was scored.

With major sporting events such as the Premier League, Six Nations, and Wimbledon being postponed, sports fans have had to turn to watching old match re-runs to get their sports fix. Broadcasters are eager to fill the void of new sport by replaying classic matches and discussing iconic sporting moments from yesteryear.

This has taken social media by storm, with fans live tweeting the classic matches, as if they were happening in real-time. It’s also led to some homemade attempts at iconic moments, with a boy’s recreation of Paul Gascoigne’s 1991 FA Cup semi-final free kick for Arsenal against Tottenham going viral.

On Liam’s site, you can find photos that take you back to the old football you used to kick around for hours or the sports hall lines you’d see every week at school. They represent a comforting sense of childhood; a safety blanket in this trying time.

Read the article on The Sporting Blog