Putting the cheapest and most expensive football boots to the test in Sunday league action.
How much can a pair of football boots really affect a player’s performance on the pitch? I played a game wearing a pair of Mizuno Morelia Neo FG boots, retailing at a toe-curling £284.99, and a pair of Sondico’s low-budget Strike Boots costing a mere £16.99.
To the untrained eye the pairs of boots look pretty similar, except there is no such things as an untrained eye in a Sunday league changing room. If you’ve got a cheap pair of boots all the lads know it. And they’re quick to let you know it. “Those boots are sh*t”, were the first words heard as I take them out my boot bag.
In a straight-out-of-the-box comparison, the Sondico boots are notably heavier and the faux leather is a lot harder than that of the hand-crafted premier leathered Mizunos – which also have the smell of genuine leather. Unlike the Strike Boots which smell of, well, nothing.
The pitch we’re playing on is typical of Sunday league – muddy, wet and on a slope. I start the match with the cheap boots, hoping that the top-dollar pair will somehow mask my poor fitness level in the second half and boost my performance.
First impressions of the budget boots are that they’re uncomfortable and even heavier than they look. During the warm up, mud is already sticking to the bottom of the boots making sprinting up and down the boggy wing a problem even before kick off.
Despite the boots feeling uncomfortable I settle into them as the game goes on. For the price, they felt better than expected. Although, knowing I’d only spent roughly the same price as a Nando’s on them had made my expectations pretty low. Although as the match continues the boots begin to soften.
When the first half whistle blows I’m relieved more with the fact that I could change my boots and my footwear would no longer be the brunt of the lads’ banter.
While lacing up the new elite Mizuno boots, I couldn’t help but think about the hole they’ve burned in my wallet and how they had better make me play like Messi or Ronaldo or I’ll be asking for refund.
Jogging back on the pitch for the second half does feel a lot better in the hand-made boots. There’s no doubt the soft protected leather hugs my feet better than the low-cost pair.
Mentally, wearing a top quality pair of boots had a positive impact too. In my mind, I was sure my performance was going to get better. And I was confident my power and accuracy of passing would improve as well (it couldn’t really get much worse).
It didn’t. By now the sodden pitch looks more like a festival field and my top shelf Mizuno boots carry just as much mud as the Sondico’s in the first half. Any hopes of improved mobility are quickly dashed.
A feeble attempt a David Beckham-style cross confirmed that no power or accuracy had been added with my near-£300 purchase. At least now I was only getting laughed at if I messed up a cross, not because I was wearing rubbish boots.
My side finished a two-nil victory and I could now reflect on my performances with both boots. The Mizuno Morelia Neo FG Boots Japan, which they say are made for ‘professional athletes’, added very little to my game and didn’t make me play any better than I had in the first half. Granted, they were a more comfortable fit than the cheap boots but when you’re paying as much as you would for a return short-haul flight, that’s to be expected.
The £16.99 Sondico boots on the other hand, were surprisingly good value for money. Considering they cost nearly 18-times less than the Mizuno’s, they didn’t feel that much worse. In truth neither pair made much difference to how I’d have played had I been wearing a middle-of-the-road pair costing £60-£80.
Although, the Sondico Strike Boots probably wouldn’t last a season before falling apart, but if that is the case you know you can just go out and buy another pair. The Mizuno’s are more likely to make you feel like a better player but, realistically, they won’t improve you’re game that much.
Spending £284.99, to play Sunday league football, is pretty much a waste of time, but at least you won’t have your team-mates laughing at you before you’re even on the pitch.
THE SHOOTOUT TEST
After 90 minutes I took a total of 100 spot kicks with the boots.
TOTAL – Sondico Strike Boots
SCORED – 26
SAVED – 21
OFF TARGET – 3
TOTAL – Mizuno’s Morelia Neo FG Boots Japan
SCORED – 26
SAVED – 17
OFF TARGET – 7
Goalkeeper Lee Fletcher said, “I don’t see the point in paying over one hundred quid for a pair of boots. They’re all pretty much the same anyway if you get a pair that costs around £80-£100. I definitely wouldn’t wear those cheap ones though.”