BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

24 September 2014

BBC Homepage
»BBC Local
Things to do
People & Places
Religion & Ethics
Arts and Culture
BBC Introducing
TV & Radio

Sites near Liverpool

North East Wales

Related BBC Sites


Contact Us

Latest Features

Adidas Samba
Did you have a pair of Adidas Samba?

Where d'ya get yer trainees from?

Liverpool author Dave Hewitson believes that Liverpool supporters in the early 80’s were responsible for kick-starting a multi-billion pound men’s clothing industry. We spoke to him about his book The Liverpool Boys are back in Town.

Samba, Forest Hills, Trimm Trab, Gazelle. Lads in Liverpool in the early 80's knew these names only too well. An important period in the development of fashion, particularly for training shoes or 'trainees', Liverpool author Dave Hewitson has documented the period, revealing previously undocumented information about the sub-culture of demand for the coveted footwear among Liverpool FC fans.

Tell us the brief outline of the book and why you wanted to do it?

Well it was something that happened that had a major influence on the high street. At the time of writing I was doing a lot of running. As I was running, I would think about a lot of things such as the early 80’s, leaving school, and the trainers that everyone was wearing. It was a brilliant time clothes-wise.

audio "The impact...on the high street was amazing" >
Audio and Video links on this page require Realplayer

It’s a real document this, isn’t it?

That’s it. The period needed to be documented properly. If you look on the internet, you’re not going to find a lot about the clothes and what people were wearing in 1978 or 1980. The period I cover in the book all started in Liverpool and being there and living through it, I thought someone needed to put it down before we all get too old.

It’s begging for an exhibition isn’t it?

Liverpool fans imported their trainees.

Well I’ve been talking to the museums because when you talk about Liverpool as Capital of Culture, this is a major part of it.

It was a major part of growing up for me. You had to have the right trainees didn’t you or you just weren’t taken seriously.

You could lose friends!

We say that joking but it was true wasn’t it?

Yes, it was part of the culture, as was going to the match.

The fashion and the football were linked weren’t they?

Dave Hewitson
Author Dave Hewitson: lost in fashion.

Yes, but it wasn’t linked to music. You had mods and teddy boys and skinheads who all had their types of music that they looked to.

Looking through the book, Adidas seem to be the big one.

They were massive in Liverpool. Certain periods, such as between ’79 and ’81, there was an Adidas cagoule, blue with white stripes, red on the inside - they sold 20,000 of them in 2 years. In 1981, they sold 7,000 pairs of Palermo and Corsica trainers. Often the UK wasn’t supplied because the trainers were too expensive. Two million unemployed in 1980. Who is going to pay £30 or £40 for a pair of trainers?

So, lads would come back from European games with trainers that weren’t available in Liverpool?

There were pre-season friendlies in Switzerland and Germany and Holland and lads would come back with training shoes and everyone would be like: 'where d’ya get yer trainees from?'

There were only certain places where you could get these types of training shoes. They had amazing names like Samba and Gazelle. Do you collect them?

"Lads would come back with training shoes and everyone would be like, 'where d’ya get yer trainees from?'"
Dave Hewitson

No, I don’t. I have a mate who collects them. He’s got all the old ones and most of them are in good nick. If we had an exhibition, he has all the gear. It would be great for people to come along and have a look. That’s another reason I did the book, to bring back the memories for people our age. It takes you back. You can get these Mersey Memories books with pictures of Liverpool in the 1920’s and 30’s. I don’t know about you, but people our age are more interested in what was happening when we were kids.

Well, it’s a history thing. It’s a quarter of a Century now and it’s another generation isn't it? To be able to see a pair of trainees - it was part of our lives. It was part of fashion, part of growing up. I’m sure it was the same for previous generations who went to see the Beatles at the Cavern – you had to have the right gear.

Bet you looked cool in these!

Yeah. Liverpool had about 3 sports shops. The culture had a big influence on them. Trainees became leisure wear. Trainers before ‘77/’78 used to be for playing sport in! If you played tennis, you bought tennis shoes. No-one walked the streets in training shoes in the late ‘70’s. As soon as Wade Smith brought in the shoes, they sold about 120,000 pairs and were expecting to sell 20,000.

I remember going to Germany and getting a pair of Adidas Comfort. The straps on mine were thicker than the ones from the UK. When I came home with these, I was a God!

We went down to Switzerland and walked over the border to Germany just to buy a pair of Grand Slam with the pegs in!

Is it a similar thing with kids now?

Adidas Stan Smith
Adidas Stan Smith: not just for tennis.

My son’s walking around in a tracksuit with his hands down the front of his keks. The kids on the streets all wear tracksuits and training shoes. Why did it start and how did it start? There’s a book now that covers it. That’s all I wanted to do.

It’s a pleasure to talk to you. Hopefully we’ll do the exhibition here at BBC Radio Merseyside in our performance space.

The impact the whole thing had on the high street was amazing and to think that it started in Liverpool. You could only wear them for a few weeks before it moved on to something else. Lois jeans, Jesus jeans, Ritzy jeans had a little red stitch on.

Lost in fashion mate. You are lost in fashion. Dave, a pleasure to talk to you.

For information on obtaining the book The Liverpool Boys are in Town 1978/82: where d'ya get yer trainees from?, you can contact Dave Hewitson at:  

last updated: 23/11/06
Have Your Say
Did you walk the earth in search of cool trainees? What are your memories of classic footwear from the early 80's?
Your name: 
Your comment: 
The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.


stu stalker
puma joppa were last though, always falling to bits.

i remember those days well. adidas space, king cross cords, planet of the apes t-shirt under a fishermans jumper under either a Bryan Ferry leather Jacket or leather "wolf" jacket. i also owned a Jockey jacket - anyone remember them - just like a jockey used to wear - big stripe around the middle. Gans Gear anyone? Lois, Inega bleachies, Rizzy and second image jeans were great - i had them all as wellas Kios Rider Boots and original Kickers - good memories indeed - Hewitsin wasnt a bad player either.

Dave C
Pod boots, Kios shoes, Kickers and all the adidas shoes were the best. King cross cords, Ritzy, Razzy,Lois and Second Image were my jeans of choice. Loved Adidas Comfort with the straps - were they kangeroo skin? My overall favourite were Nike Yankee and Adidas Boston. Those were the days.

Michael Texas USA
Seems to me that the Adidas Rom-White with classic blue stripes were popular as early as 1970..

I remember that glass cabinet in wades on slater st , full of expensive goodies. lyle and scott (ronnie corbett)jumpers £40!! from gansgear or was it goldrush?? nights in the harrington bar or the pen&wig,crap music so we all got into floyd and early genesis (not phil collins)

real scouser
Most of us were on the dole (or yts) , and as for mtv? only the rich had that, we only had 3 channels till ch4 started with countdown! and remember all the lads went the rd end (white seats )in the mid 80s.

i very much doubt that it all started in liverpool..liverpool isnt the only football team in the world so surely other club supporters must have ventured to away games

Jon - Liverpool
I remember coveting a pair of Adidas TRX-10 in the window of Barney Shieldhouse by Goodison for 12 months before I could save up my pocket money for them. My mum used to buy me Hi-Tec Runaway and Atlanta. Then there was my Puma Cabana (indestructable they were, lasted me 18 months). The boom in Walker & Rossini tracksuits was funny in the mid eighties as well

tony moore

Will the book include the reason behind keeping your trainees so white? We used to go out and scuff our new shoes so we didn't look so silly - any explanations?

Andy J
A pair of lois jeans and me new balance from germany and me nike cagool thought i was the best dressed in liverpool. But who remembers Foothold in lord street?

Evertonians wore what their mum bought them from Clarks as they did not know were Europe was.

Just read some of the above quotes and EFC were educated by LFC cause EFC werent in europe.Anyway Adidas Zelda from Switzerland THE best end of.

Jon from Liverpool
Not wanting to burst the bubble of many a 'fashionable' kopite but did the author bother to factor in the impact of MTV and the 80's music scene upon trainees / street fashion? As for people spending their giro on trainees, thanks for re-enforcing the stereotype.

Park End veteran!
Everton fans always had the best - zx500 outstanding! palermo shoes for school with farrah kecks, scal cut jeans or cords, sherman shirt from allmankind in skem, either austrailian or addidas colarado tracky top - leavethe bottoms! & patrick cagool! never needed to go to europe to look cool! - got them at gansgear or original wades top of bold st, LFC had to rob theirs!

liam (L22)
ive still got a pair of samba had them for about 4 years now dont wear them just buzz off them befor i got me stan smith i had a pair of inter capital then me mam won on the bingo and got me the real ones no more jarg for me

I was still at school in the eighties with a strict uniform policy so trainers were out of the question. That is until Adidas brought out those glorious brown golfing shoes with the gold leaf on the side! Not good for footie in the playground,though. (uniform-black farah keks and pringle v neck)

Stew Cox
I remember Nike Walley Waffles - now selling on the web for tripple the price!

Andy Moss
Remember the first shop WS had in Liverpool totally dedicated to trainers and the shop was kitted out in Addidas wallpaper. I just loved the Gazelle they were never off my feet and any spare cash would be spent on Kicker's and Pod and if flushed a pair of Inega jeans. Times gone by.

Sam Barton
I can often be found in the Kop trying to keep my Stan Smith's trainees clean. Bring back Dunlop flash!

Bring back Puma Kenny Dalglish

iain m
going the see liverpool play in my brand new adidas trimm trab, wearing my tacchini dallas top and semi flared cords, (all my giro gone so had to go to the kop not the rd end but still feeling a million dollars)then walking home my bubble burst not because we lost the game, no me trainers wrecked trampled and urine covered after 2hrs in the kop!!!

I remember dragging my mum all over town looking for my next pair of trainers!

Ernie Eggs
SO the only people with fashion trends in Liverpool were supporters of Liverpool football club? Those of us who supported Everton were stuck with borstal boppers were we?? Don't think so! Kickers etc from 1976 onwards. Did the author happen to mention that those LFC fans did a fair share of 'robbing' in Europe and therefore branded the scouse empire as petty thieves???

I remember having second image jeans and a pair of adidas LA with mixed pegs. A white Ferd perry t shirt,how smart was that.

imported?well thats one way of putting it.

Paul Ford
I dont know were you get the idea of liverpool FC fans from,my guess is that the author has got to be a Kopite. What about the blue half of the city ? I suppose they wore jesus sandles or flip-flops then !!!

jim smith
Addidas Los Angeles from the sports shop in school lane, now gone

I remember buying a pair of New Balance from Wade Smith in about '85 think the shop was actually on Seal Street. I got a free Head bag with them, I think the shop then moved to where Burger King is now on Lord Street, and then the rest we know is history.

yeh i remember it just off bold street and getting a discount off your next pair on the receipt. My favourite had to be the adidas slip on shoes i had for school so comfy and they lasted well. I cant remember the name of them the lace ups were called Tenerife i think ?

Gerard Darby
I had a pair of Samba, they were great. Few of mates wore Gazelle. Don't think I ever imported any or travelled for them though - those guys must have been fanatics! :) Those were the days.

I rember the halewood chains coming back from europe with a haul of trainers on a spree

I remember going to a litttle shop on Bold Street called Wade Smith.

Go to the top of the page

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy