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The Last Descender: Samuel Turner-Cox on his Instagram archive of stunning football typography


ptly named “The Last Descender” this Instagram account is playing the field unlike any other. Created by London based designer Samuel Turner-Cox earlier this year, this curated collection of fine football typography is filled with letterforms and memories for the win. Ld_type is an archive of football programmes and fanzines dating back to as early as the late 1960s, a combination of Turner-Cox’s two passions.

“I studied Graphic Design at Central Saint Martins and have always been super passionate about typography and football,” says Turner-Cox of his Instagram archival project. “Type has always been an obsession for me. I first saw the work of Wim Crouwel and Josef Müller-Brockmann at the Stedelijk in Amsterdam on a college trip and was hooked ever since” says the designer who works primarily within branding.

“The archive comes solely from my dad, who was born and raised in London and has been attending matches all over the UK since he was a child. He's always brought home match day programmes and fanzines, so over the years they've really piled up” notes Turner-Cox.

“I’ve been into football from an early age, both playing and spectating. Football was the reason I got into design, and design was the reason I got into football. I'm a very visual person so I was always attracted to the kits, the programmes, the colours and everything in between. It wasn't until recently that I properly went through my dad's collection, that I realised the scale and range of different teams and graphic styles used throughout” adds the designer who continues to merge his two passions. “This isn't the first football-related typography project I've worked on. I worked on a series of type-based posters inspired by 20th-century Russian futurism and constructivism for last years World Cup in Russia” he notes.

Introducing “The Last Descender”, Typeroom interviewed Turner-Cox to learn more of this Instagram account you must follow ASAP.

How long have you been running the Last Descender project?

I launched the account at the start of June but I've been playing with the idea since Christmas last year. I was at my dad's and looking through the collection, which I always loved and knew was vast, but never really realised the scale and diversity of until then. 

Why the name?

It’s a play on words. In football the last defender is a term for the last player before the goalkeeper. I felt the play on that with descender and type terminology was fun and suited the attitude of the project.

What is the core element which drives your passion for TLD?

The graphic layouts of programmes over the 70's and 80s were beautiful but the team names appearing in such expressive and varying letterforms is what really stands out for me and the main reason why I decided to put this archive together.

Do you acknowledge differences in the design approach of the 70s versus that of the 80s?

For sure, a lot of the type used throughout both decades was very trend based at the time. For example, you'll see a lot of the same fonts appearing across different teams throughout the country so I can always put a date on something from which typefaces are being used.

You mention that football is the reason you got into design. In which way?

I was always obsessed with design within football. New kits, sticker books, boot designs, it all had a hold on me from as early as I could remember. 

Was your father involved in graphic design being a type enthusiast himself?

Not at all, which is what I love about it. He’s a bit of a collector as well but for him, it’s all about the memories. Every programme, fanzine or ticket is a memory. My dad has been lucky enough to experience football (and a lot of it) in an age when it was a lot cheaper and way more accessible for the working class so he’s been all over the country and Europe.

“The archive comes solely from my dad who has been lucky enough to experience football in an age when it was a lot cheaper and way more accessible for the working class so he’s been all over the country and Europe” 

If you were a kit which one would you be?

Manchester United away kit circa 1990-1992. Wild graphic print and so nostalgic for me growing up as a Manchester United fan in that era.

“Football was the reason I got into design, and design was the reason I got into football”

Which is your all-time favourite football team name in terms of design?

Milwall. It's just a nice looking word, and one of my favourite teams for graphic experimentation within their programmes during the 70s.

Which club has the most attractive and design overall nowadays?

Paris Saint-Germain. I've bought a few PSG shirts over the years based entirely on the shirt designs. They're just a cool team and are always doing so much away from football in terms of collaborations. 

Paris Saint-Germain X BAPE, a best-selling collaboration of France's football club with the Japanese BAPE (A BATHING APE) brand. Encompassing a variety of BAPE classics, the collection has been fully decked out in PSG’s familiar blue, red and white color scheme.

Any plans for the future?

I’m currently working my way through teams in the English football league but will be venturing into teams throughout the UK and into Europe in the future.

Follow “The Last Descender” on Instagram here and get ready for the win.

Slider captions: These are Samuel Turner-Cox’s favourite LTD posts. Arsenal circa 1980, Crystal Palace circa 1973, Leicester City circa 1980, Liverpool circa 1981, Norwich circa 1979, Orient circa 1978, Peterborough circa 1976, Queens Park Rangers circa 1986, Southampton circa 1981, Wolves circa 1982.