Argyle Union: passion and politics from League 2
What do you get when football meets politics? Look no further than a new project making waves in the UK. Combining art, design, politics and football, we spoke to the anonymous founder behind the project Argyle Union to discover their aims and aspirations.
"Argyle Union is a newly launched art and design project built around Plymouth Argyle Football Club. I've always felt that the club and the city as a whole have a fascinating story to tell. The pieces focus on issues surrounding Argyle and football, but also the political culture around the game and beyond."
"I'm a graphic designer who has recently moved back to Plymouth, and I wanted to do a side project based on the city. Plymouth is often mocked and ridiculed, often by the people who live here, so I wanted to create a project that gave the city and Argyle something to shout about – a project that stood for something and made people take notice."
"Plymouth has a lot of potential, and I think Argyle Union could play a small part in the creative transformation of the city. Devon and Cornwall are grossly underfunded in general. Westminster governments are never going to shine a light on the area, so it has to come from within. A creative revolution can spearhead that process and make the city a better place for local people. I thought it would be interesting to use Plymouth Argyle FC as the platform to raise these issues, and to create pieces based on what could be an iconic football club."
"I'm keeping the project anonymous, as I want to boost the project rather than myself. It also gives me more autonomy to create more agitated and perhaps controversial pieces."
What's the meaning behind the Argyle Union brand statement: 'the longest suicide note in history'?
"The longest suicide note in history is an epithet originally used by the recently deceased Labour MP Gerald Kaufman, who used this to describe Michael Foot's 1983 election manifesto. Michael Foot was one of Argyle's most famous fans, but was derided by the mainstream media for his socialist policies. Policies that, in my opinion, would suit Plymouth very well."
"I wanted Argyle Union to intertwine politics with football, so I'm using Michael Foot as a vehicle for that, and turning this epithet – often used as a stick to beat him and socialism with – in a more positive and tongue-in-cheek way."
Tell us what it's like being a PAFC fan
"As with many lower-league clubs, it's often a mixed bag of inconsistency, flashes of hope and bitter disappointment. Argyle screams potential, but often fails to fulfil it. Argyle is the perfect metaphor for the city in general."
What's your favourite design piece you've created so far?
"From a design perspective, I like the piece using a giant 'A' and using the negative space of the counter to represent the club's symbol of the Mayflower."
"I also like how I've started to use Pele in the work. The story about the day Pele and Santos came to town to play Argyle always fascinated me, and I have big plans for this particular aspect of AU's work."
What are your hopes and aspirations for Argyle Union?
"I've got big hopes for AU. Why not aim to make a huge impact? The project has only been going for a couple of months – mainly on our website and instagram account – but I've been encouraged by the feedback so far. I'll soon be taking pieces out on the streets, so people in the city itself can see them and react to them. I want the pieces to be thought-provoking and attention-grabbing, and act as a point of interest to anyone in Plymouth."
"Obviously, some of the more political messages used in AU don't represent everyone's views, and quite often the views of many Argyle fans, but that's ok. I'm not trying to officially represent the club at all. I just want to put the work out there and see the response, whether it's positive or negative. We need more debate in society, so I'm not scared of ruffling feathers – as long as it gets people talking."
What PAFC players should the football world keep an eye on?
"Graham Carey is our best player by far – he definitely has the potential to be playing at a higher level. But for me I really like Jake Jervis. He's the kind of player that excites when he comes onto the ball, with a natural ability to flow through defensive lines. I think he could really go far – hopefully whilst wearing an Argyle shirt."
In recent years, PAFC has been in the media spotlight for financial reasons. But with the club sitting in a promotion position in League 2, is the future looking bright?
"It's always cautious optimism with us. It's looking good for us to go up this season, but most fans wouldn't be surprised if we missed out again. I think Argyle has huge potential, and I hope AU reflects that potential and plays a part in raising the profile of the club and the city. With Plymouth Argyle and Argyle Union, just watch this space..."
- Ryan Mason