"As for Maidenhead, the conga (which was amusing) aside, quite a strange bunch really – some the oddest chants I've ever heard at a football match" ~ localboy86, Amber Planet forum, 26th April 2015

Thursday 5 March 2020

Countdown to FDXX

Ranking my costumes (so far)

Saturday 18th April 2020 at Chorley will be the twentieth instalment of Fancy Dresslemania [UPDATE: Saturday 18th April 2020 at Chorley *should have been* the twentieth instalment of Fancy Dresslemania.] Those who have taken part in all of them so far - namely me, Macleod (C), Macleod (M) and Willie T - refer to ourselves, rather smugly, as 'the Fab Four'. Macleod (C) and I - the two who will often spend months, sometimes years, planning costumes in advance - have taken the music analogy still further by comparing our 'Fancy Dresslemania journey' to that of a superstar rock group: our early efforts were formative but not the best, then we found our feet as 'the movement' took off, now we have nothing left to prove and so can veer between feelings of apathy ("release any old shite - the fans will lap it up regardless") and inspiration (more indulgent, less commercial, critically-acclaimed stuff).

With the 20th anniversary fast approaching, and having read a 2013 article recently shared on social media listing '30 excellent songs with (mostly unnecessary) parentheses in their titles' (stretching the music analogy to breaking point now!), I thought I'd take the time to rank my best Fancy Dresslemania costumes. (Perhaps a series, with subsequent entries from the Macleods and even Willie? That'd be good, but I'd advise against the collective holding of breath!) I've tried to separate the costume from the day, but that's not always easy. Anyway, in reverse order, here goes:

#19 - FDI, Sutton, 2001 - Mr Blobby

^^^ Continuing with the music analogy - last one, I promise! - this was our 'David Bowie'. In our defence - as previously mentioned on the blog - 'We used a hire shop in Langley in those days. Fancy dress and internet shopping were nowhere near as commonplace as now'.

#18 - FDII, Grays, 2002 - Big Ears

^^^ I'm fond of this costume - Fancy Dresslemania came alive at Grays; it's still the only occasion that my wife has taken part - but face covering, which we had yet to figure out, is a no-no.

#17 - FDIII, Stortford, 2003 - Dennis the Menace

^^^ Another covering of the face, although a decent character and costume.

#16 - FDVII, Banbury, 2007 - Fred Flintstone

^^^ An off-the-peg costume of poor quality; the plastic club was a decent accessory, though, and at least Fred had Barney Rubble for company.

#15 - FDXV, Newport, 2005 - Scooby-Doo

^^^ I now view these all-in-ones as a bit of a cheat.

#14 - FDVIII, Basingstoke, 2008 - Sylvester the Cat

^^^ As above, although cats > dogs.

#13 - FDVI, Histon, 2006 - Superman

^^^ Too commonplace nowadays (it wasn't then). Popular in the Smoke, though, with both males (or one, in particular!) and females.

#12 - FDXI, Binfield, 2011 - Milky Bar Kid

^^^ Better than I remembered, looking back at Scouse Mick's photos on Facebook, but (1.) probably not a character that I'd choose again, with the benefit of hindsight, and (2.) the costume was not as polished as it could've been.

#11 - FDX, Dorchester, 2010 - Timmy Mallett

^^^ I still occasionally don these swimming shorts on holiday (much to my wife's dismay). And Pinky Punky was a superb accessory (I love the post-match photo of Jack Bradshaw holding it aloft, while the game of Mallett's Mallet, with two police at Reading station, is one of my favourite Dresslemania anecdotes). But not a costume that I'd wear again. FUN FACT: the real-life Timmy Mallett actually posted a snide comment on here back in 2013 after a perceived slight of his beloved Oxford United! :-P

#10 - FDXIV, Stortford (II), 2014 - Keith Lemon

^^^ Some nice details (e.g. the bandaged hand, laminated Celebrity Juice question cards, ginger moustache, tooth necklace). And I liked the white jacket. But the first time that I'd been 'doubled' (there'd been two Bananamans at FDVIII; two Ali Gs at FDIX; two Noddy Holders at FDXIII), and I think that LCG Dave's 'Keith' was arguably better than mine. FUN FACT: both of us had unknowingly bought the same Primark t-shirt, which - again, much to my wife's dismay - I have subsequently worn on holiday!

#9 - FDIV, Hornchurch, 2004 - Father Christmas

^^^ A decent, comfortable, DIY job; I particularly liked the hat and still wear the black gloves on early morning runs.

#7 - FDXII, Dover, 2012 - John McEnroe

^^^ This was another decent, comfortable, DIY job. I particularly liked the wig. And the accessory - a tennis racket that my mother-in-law had played with as a youngster - had the Smokey's bouncers in absolute hysterics when they compelled me to hand it in upon entry to the club ("Look after that, it's the one I used to win Wimbledon in '81"). Points were removed, however, for the perceived similarity to the 118 118 men.

#6 - FDIX, Basingstoke (II), 2009 - Diego Maradona

^^^ My first DIY attempt was my best costume up to this point. FUN FACT: I was once offered a princely sum, by an antique shop owner, for the retro Argentina shirt - which, since purchase, has been a constant staple in my everyday wardrobe (I'm rueful that my youngest, pulling at it, has recently ruined the elasticity of the collar) - whilst buying an accessory for FDXVII …

#5 - FDXVI, Weston-Super-Mare, 2016 - Alan from 'The Hangover'

^^^ An off-the-peg costume, admittedly, but having an actual human (my firstborn) as an accessory - at least for some of the pre-travel photos - more than made up for that! Those who 'got it' were impressed, and I was pleasantly surprised that 'fake Baby Carlos' was still in my possession come the morning after, as he/ it received plenty of motherly attention during our night out on the (Weston) tiles.

#4 - FDXIX, Salford, 2019 - Duggee

^^^ I'm a big fan of Hey Duggee on CBeebies (not unlike the Chinese) and a big fan of this costume: relatively original, comfortable, featuring a reusable item (my wife now wears the mustard-coloured jumper), some 'arts & crafts' and good attention to detail (e.g. the badges). Not everybody knew who it was, but those who did - i.e. those with kids of their own/ nieces/ nephews - loved it. It's pity that I didn't hold off for a year, though, as my youngest is now even more of a Hey Duggee fan than his older brother was; I might even have to dig out the component parts from the loft - yes, I do have a fancy dress box up there! - for his birthday party this summer.

^^^ This costume went down an absolute treat; little wonder that it subsequently featured in the national press! One big Fancy Dresslemania regret is that I didn't get a photo with the man himself. Dev suggested one at half-time - or so I've been told - but I was too busy drinking in the bar! I thought we'd get one after the game, but the team coach left almost immediately after the final whistle. What a wally! (Me, not Dev!) FUN FACT: This costume was a last-minute change of heart; I had previously planned to go as an entirely different character in a costume that will probably never see the light of day …

#2 - FDXVII, Margate, 2017 - Del Boy

^^^  I'm a big fan of both Maidenhead United and Only Fools & Horses. As such, the Magpies winning the Conference South title at Margate - famous for the Jolly Boys' Outing - whilst I lead a conga around the ground dressed as Del Boy is a moment unlikely to be bettered. The above photo of the Trotters standing in front of an Only Fools & Horses mural close to Margate station found its way onto a popular Away Days page on Facebook and received hundreds of Likes and Comments. Literally. The one (slightly) negative remark? "Del Boy isn't fat enough". I'll take that! It was disappointing that 'my Only Fools & Horses 'In Your Pocket' voice box - which had been delighting me and unsuspecting members of the public (if not my travelling companions) - ran out of juice. Rodney mentioned that a Fancy Dresser of my experience should've had a miniature screwdriver and spare battery to hand. He had a point'. All told, though, this costume - complete with a host of decent accessories, not least the suitcase (referenced further up this post [#6] and used on the day to carry the flags) - was undoubtedly lovely jubbly.

#1 - FDXIII, Billericay, 2013 - Borat

^^^ This ticked all of the boxes: an accurate, relatively original, DIY homage to a recognisable and popular character; comfortable to wear, easily put together, with accessories (USA flag), 'arts & crafts' (cardboard sign) and good attention to detail (Kazakhstan flag pin badge). 'King in the castle,' as the man himself would say. So it might well make a re-appearance for the 25th-anniversary celebrations. Yep! You've got at least another five years of these fancy dress-related posts!

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