FC United of Manchester, Newton Heath & Louis Rocca

Having established that my ‘lack of englishness’ concept was heading down a legibility dead end I decided to go back to the world of football and see if there is concept to be found which can actually produce a practical typeface. I chose to look at Manchester United, having already selected the team as inspiration for the foreign player concept I thought I may as well stick with just one team for now.

After some initial investigating from news reports and my own personal knowledge of the club, I developed some possible ideas for me to investigate. The first one came about from archived news stories that went back to the take over of the club by an American family named the Glazers. Many fans objected to the take over and turned their backs on the club resulting in the formation of a new club, FC United of Manchester.

So I probed a bit deeper into this line of enquiry and found out a little bit more about the club and found that despite being a fairly new club and residing in the lower tiers of the English Football League system, the club not only had national support but overseas as well. This seemed like an ideal opportunity for me to develop a conceptual typeface that was practical. My line of thinking was that maybe I could contact the club and work with them to produce a branding brief that would include a bespoke typeface that could work for the club on an international level. My reasoning for this is that much of my research has pointed to the fact that today, conceptual typography is generally used as part of a branding brief (for example, font smith’s champions league typeface).

So I went about contacting the club to see whether I could work with them to create a brief from which I could work from but unfortunately after sending them an email explaining what it was I was trying to do, their response was that they were in fact working with numerous design companies already on a similar brief.

This wouldn’t have been too much of an issue as I could have simply generated the brief myself, but there was plenty of other alternatives I could have looked at so I chose to keep my options open.

Going back to the Glazer take over, there was more news reports to go on, most of which where more recent and involved United fans reverting back to the traditional club colours of yellow and green when the club was still named Newton Heath. I found this aspect of changing name and club colours quite insightful and potential for a new concept so I looked a bit more into the clubs past and found out some information on a man named Louis Rocca.

Louis Rocca was an Italian Immigrant who began working for Newton Heath FC as a tea boy, he worked for the club for almost 50 years covering various roles such as groundsman, kitman, talent scout and general fixer. he was responsible for acquiring the services of Sir Matt Busby as manager who went on to become the clubs most successful manager at the time. Rocca was also responsible for the name change when he first suggested the club should be named Manchester United. In general Rocca was known as bit of a utility man within the club and is regarded as the unsung hero in the clubs success all the way through the 20th century.

The fact that Rocca was an Italian immigrant who came to the UK in the Early 20th century resonates similarities to my own family history as I am a descendent from Angelo Guiseppe Decio, an Italian immigrant who arrived in Portsmouth just before world war 2 broke out.

These 2 aspects have given me a concept which I am now happy about and one that I believe can be both conceptual and legible. I want to take this aspect of 2 nations coming together as many Italians came to England during the early 20th century, this can be represented by combining two typical typographic styles, English and Italian. The concept will be to create a utility font in recognition of Louis Rocca, therefore I want to create two weights which will allow the font to be used as a headline font as well as for body text. This will therefore satisfy my brief criteria of creating a conceptual typeface which maintains practicality and legibility.





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