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The Quest

Written By Justin on Thursday, December 25, 2008 | 9:38:00 PM

Every goalkeeper has one: that first glove you fell in love with, usually around the time you realized you were serious about goalkeeping. For me, that glove was the Uhlsport 031, a beautiful black and white model with no wrist strap, but a luxurious, thick palm. A simple design with no lettering, just an enormous white Uhlsport logo on the backhand, it served me well through high school. I wore it in my first college game, a 3-2 win over the University of Richmond, a game in which I saved a last-minute penalty. But I never wore it again; that pair, my last, was rapidly wearing out, and my college team provided me with a newer model. Uhlsport had already stopped production of the 031 the previous year.

Call it misty eyed nostalgia, but I want that glove. I've looked all over the web. Sometimes, old Uhlsport models pop up on the German eBay. I've seen the 023, another early classic that I owned, but not the 031. Latex, unfortunately, does not age well, and we're talking about a glove that dates from 1980.

Which led me to this brilliant plan: why not have a tailor simply make me a replica pair? I could use the palm latex from a modern glove. The problem is the backhand: black grooved latex. I can't find anything like it on another glove, and I'm not likely to. Foiled again! But I'm still looking.

In the meantime, I'm turning my attention to the 025 (below), a similar glove from the same era that, fortunately for my purposes, had a more conventional construction, and will be much easier to replicate. I never owned it myself, but it serves the same nostalgic, slightly delusional purpose: it reminds me of the time when goalkeeping was magical, its possibilities endless, and it stretched ahead of me for a lifetime.


Unknown said...

It is funny how gloves can conjure good memories, even if the gloves themselves were horrible. My favorite uhlsports were the F3 Horizion. Id kill for a pair now, but they would not hold a candle to any glove of reasonable quality now (or then for that matter!)

Justin said...

You said it Greg. I should add that not all my memories with the 031 worked out as well as that game against the University of Richmond, but that's one I choose to remember!

turnbuckle said...

I don't know about my distant past but I am lamenting the recent end of the Reusch Reactor. With a family and nearing 40, I can't justify spending much on gloves, but at $35, the Reactor was by far the best glove I had found. Comfy, durable enough, and with a good palm, it was perfect. So, naturally, it was discontinued. Sad.

I do fondly remember my Uhlsport gear though...

Justin said...

That's a bummer Josh, I know the feeling. These days though, most brands replace a discontinued glove with a similar model, so maybe Reusch will come through for you. Thanks for reading!

DC said...

Oh what a joy to see the 031's again - that was my favourite glove in the early 80's - I wore a pair playing for the school team and they lasted for ages! Brilliant memories! The next gloves I used were similar to the 031's but had a red palm and a wrist closure. The first ever Uhlsport gloves I owned were the 025's but the palms didn't last five minutes! The back hand was made of an usual velvety material! Another old favourite was the Sukan Reusch white glove with pale blue foam and S on the back hand! I used to buy them a size up so they looked really big! Great memories!


Justin said...

DC, that sounds like the 036. Very similar to the 031, but with a red palm and wrist strap. I never had the 025, but the 023 was made of the same velvet material, great stuff!

DC said...

Hi Justin

Are the 023's the black and yellow ones?

Another fave glove of the 80's was the all white Uhlsort glove with green logo and green palm as favored by Peter Shilton!


Joe Pierce said...

My favourite gloves from the late 1980`s are both from Sondico.
The first are the legendary Southall Pro. A grey glove with a white palm and a red wrist strap and metallic red double S logo on the back hand. A fantastic glove.
The second is the Clemence Pro. A white and black backhand with a pale blue palm. Brilliant gloves too. Thinking about it whatever happened to blue latex?- did it just drop out of fashion?

Mark said...

I agree with DC - the Zoff Pro-Safes from the late '80s are my favorites. If I could still find them (and afford them) i'd be in them today. My Select 88s are about as close as I've come to those gloves (but I still miss the green palms - I'm so tired of everything being white!)