Do Looks Count?

Iain Dowie

Do looks count? I guess it all depends what we are talking. Our partner’s looks may have faded years ago but we’ve got used to them and after all, they can make a decent cup of tea and a mean bacon sandwich! But be it a car, a football shirt or an ornament, we all seem to judge things by style over substance.

You don’t believe me? Okay. Take the Apple iPod. It sold millions and millions yet it was never regarded as having the best sound chip out of the MP3 players at the time. While an iPod Classic could cost £300 the MP3 player which was regarded among audiophiles as having the best sound chip (outside of the connoisseur range) was the lowly iRiver range (sub £100) and latterly the Sandisk Sansa Clip+, which cost a lowly £35.

Apple is all about marketing and design. There isn’t anything wrong with that. There are people who want to be seen with the right product and other’s who want to hear great sound. Or to put it in layman’s terms, it’s the difference between being 20 and 45!

All our tastes change as we get older. Our priorities change. As we grow older we might need a little more comfort or prefer quality over quantity. We’re all different.

The current trend of having ‘Beats by Dre’ earphones is another case in point. They get hammered in sound tests every single time but style and marketing have made them the must have ‘cans’ to be seen wearing.

For the record, I use a Fiio X1-II MP3 player hooked up to a Fiio A3 portable amp driving a paid of Sennheiser IE 60 ear buds. It’s a lower end of mid-range setup but the sound is amazing.

But here I am going off on somewhat of a tangent, again!

The original point of this article was to list my top five favourite trophies, ranked by their looks rather than their importance. This is why I waffled on at the beginning of this piece because I wanted to set the scene a little, about how some people choose looks over practicality, importance and so on.

Being a Palace fan, I’d pretty much accept any trophy over no trophy!

Imagine though, just for a mo, football was like a game of Pointless. Every time a team wins something their fans somehow got a small replica of the trophy to keep on the manelpiece*. Maybe we’d have to be in some kind of membership club to qualify but I am talking about the small five inch Subbuteo** style cups.

* For younger readers, a mantelpiece is shelf like ledge that was above a fire place… A fire place was a… Oh, just Google it!

** Subbuteo… A analogue version of FIFA.

Of course, I am only counting the cups/trophies we would be able to compete for.

Best of The Best

In any case, without further tangents, here are the five cups/trophies that I think are the most desirable to win from an aseptically pleasing point of view.

5th Place – The Football League Cup/EFL Cup

The Football League Cup/EFL Cup

Introduced in the 1960-61 season, the cup was competed for over a two legged final, home and away for the first six seasons before becoming a Wembley final from the 1967 final onwards.

As cups or trophies go, this one is very unique in that it has three handles and no lid.

When I were a lad playing Subbuteo, the Football League cup was always the one I wanted to win. Some things you can’t explain. Why you love your partner after all this time, why we fell for the Palace, etc.

These days they call it the ‘X’ factor. The unknown quantity. For me, this cup has that unknown quantity that makes me like the look of it.

4th Place – The Second Division Trophy

The Second Division Trophy

Okay, I admit it! Sentiment got the better of me on this one. As a kid I had posters on my wall of the 1979 championship winning team photo on my wall with Jim Cannon proudly holding this trophy.

It was probably the trophy I saw the most as a kid and was our only ‘major’ honour until we won the Full Members Cup…

Confusingly, if you discount the Full Members Cup then we’ve only ever won one major competition. The confusion comes from winning the Second Division in 1979 and then winning the First Division in 1994 when they were the same competition.

Today it is called the Championship with the First and Second Divisions being even lower down the league. It’s just easier to refer to the divisions as ‘tiers’.

3rd Place – The F.A. Cup

The F.A. Cup

This cup needs no introduction yet I feel compelled to write one anyway. This is the second incarnation of the FA Cup and is arguably the most famous cup competition in the world thus making it the most recognised club cup in the world.

Crystal Palace have come close to winning the cup on two occasions. The first time in 1990 we were just 7 minutes from winning the cup against Manchester United and the second time in 2016 we were just 9 minutes from seeing the Palace players wearing the lid as a hat.

Whenever the exhausted player ascended the stairs at Wembley to lift the cup the lid would always fall off, hitting some poor sod on the head! This is probably why players started wearing the lid as a hat, to cover the cuts sustained by being struck by it!

2nd Place – The First Division Trophy

The First Division Trophy without it’s base

In 1993 the Premier League came into being and with it this beautiful trophy was relegated to being the prize for the second tier of English football.

The First Division trophy was competed for by teams for over one hundred years but over night all that history was immediately devalued.

Liverpool were the kings of the 1980s First Division scene and at the time of writing have won it more times than any other team.

Liverpool won the title a total of 18 times, second to them are Arsenal with 10 titles. Manchester United only have 7 titles.

In 1992 a new trophy was commissioned, an identical replica of the original but with a different engraving on the trophy to symbolise it’s new standing in the football order.

1st Place – The Uefa Cup/Europa League Trophy

The Uefa Cup/Europa League Trophy

I’ve never hankered after a European trophy. Being a Palace fan as a kid, the only way I’d ever hope to see our players in Europe would have been if there was a war.

However, the European Cup never held any fascination for me, it always seemed to be the Uefa cup that was more interesting and a major part of that might have been the trophy.

Like the Football League Cup, the Uefa Cup is unusual in that it doesn’t have a lid but it also doesn’t have any handles!

The cup also looks like the perfect vessel to fill with beer and drink out of, unlike the FA Cup which just looked clumsy!

For me, this cup has it all. Detail, design, shape and flags around the base.

This is my perfect cup!

A point of information. You might be wondering why I wrote Uefa like I did?

I know Uefa is an acronym of ‘Union of European Football Associations’ and would normally be written as UEFA. However, if an acronym is said as a word, such as Fifa, it should be written as a name. A capital letter followed by small letters. If an acronym is said as it’s letters, such as BBC, it should be written all in capital letters.

Best Of The Worst

It’s only right that if I have a ying I should have a yang. So here are my top three trophies in order of how unimaginative and horrible they are.

3rd Place – The European Cup Winners Cup

The European Cup Winners Cup

This cup is no longer competed for though maybe it will be in the future?

The European Cup Winners Cup was a competition that was competed for by, can you guess? The domestic cup winners in each country. Only the main cup of each country counted.

As the FA Cup has been in existence since the 1880s and the League Cup since 1960 the FA Cup is considered to be our domestic cup. In fact I don’t think many other leagues have two main cup competitions so the argument that the League Cup winner should now compete in Europe is a sensible one.

The cup itself is a rather pathetic attempt at silverware. Be honest, if you were awarded this cup for winning an egg and spoon race you’d be disappointed!

2nd Place – The European Cup/Champions League Trophy

The European Cup/Champions League Trophy

If you look up the word ‘bland’ in the dictionary you’ll see this trophy as an example!

This is supposed to be the most prestigious trophy in European football but it seems to me that they had a lack of ideas when it came to designing it.

It kind of reminds me of someone who wants to buy their partner a Valentines Day card but doesn’t know what is suitable so decides to get the biggest one they can find instead!

Big doesn’t mean beautiful and that can be seen in the Jules Rimet Trophy as an example.

Why do people think bigger is more impressive? No, I am not using a euphemism, people seem to think a bigger card means more love, a bigger cup means more importance.

This certainly proves that isn’t true!

1st Place – The Premier League Trophy

The Premier League Trophy

I think you knew this was the ultimate conclusion to this list, didn’t you?

If the European Cup was bland and unimaginative then I am at a loss of words for how to describe this lump of metal.

That is how I genuinely feel about this trophy, it is just a lump of metal with handles.

They tipped it off with a gold crown so players can wear it as a crown but the size of the thing and that it lacks any beauty can’t have escaped anyone else?

True, I do associate this with Manchester United’s dominance of the nineties and naughties but also with it killing football as a working man’s game. An affordable past time for the masses.

The Premier League means all seater stadia, even though it isn’t responsible, it is guilty by association!

I’m just being honest, this trophy came along when, by coincidence, life became bland but that doesn’t detract from the fact it is a lump of metal with handles!

Where is the intricate detail that are there in my top five? Something fit for the pinnacle of English football?

We’ve got computers today, just hit ‘randomise’ in a design program and I’m sure it’d do a better job.


It goes without saying I’d happily accept Palace winning any of these trophies… With the exception of the Second Division trophy, we don’t wan’t to be down there again!

It does seem to me that the more important the competition the more bland and plain the cup is. The Uefa cup is, arguably, the second most important trophy competed for in Europe so this is the exception to the rule.

However, while I’d happily accept Palace winning the Premier League, if I had to have a miniature sitting on my shelf, I know which one I’d rather have, and we’ve already won it!




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