Steve Harper and sporting friends launch Oddballs underwear business

Sporting pals Steve Harper, Richard Metcalfe and Paul Varley have launched an oddball business venture


Two North East sport stars have swapped the pitch for pants by launching a venture with the help of a leading businessman.

Former Newcastle United goalkeeper Steve Harper and one-time Newcastle Falcons rugby player Richard Metcalfe have teamed up with Paul Varley, former chief executive officer of Newcastle Falcons Rugby Club, to launch Oddballs, a range of colourful boxer shorts.

The three sporting friends launched the underwear brand after discussing ways to raise money for men’s cancer charities – and the resulting business will donate 10% from the sale of every pair of pants to testicular cancer charities.

The Oddballs boxers are currently only available online, but the trio is in talks with leading high street stores with a view to opening concessions around the UK.

“The three of us got talking over a few beers about initiatives to drive charitable donations for men’s cancer,” said Mr Varley, non-executive director of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership.

“We chatted about what all guys wear, what all men do and came up with a whole host of ideas, but boxer shorts were far and away the best.”

Tiger underwear being sold by Oddballs
Tiger underwear being sold by Oddballs

The shorts are available in a range of sizes and, along with plain colours, shoppers can choose from a variety of designs, including psychedelic patterns and animal motifs.

Pants for men and women are available, as well as hats.

“In the short time we’ve been going, the demand has been phenomenal,” said Mr Metcalfe, managing director at Oddballs Apparel Ltd and founder of North East sportswear company Orion Teamwear.

“We carried out extensive product testing before bringing the shorts to market and everyone says they are the most comfortable boxers they’ve ever worn.”

Left to right, Paul Varley, Steve Harper and Richard Metcalfe
Left to right, Paul Varley, Steve Harper and Richard Metcalfe

The shorts have so far received endorsements from a range of sporting stars including Sir Ian Botham, the Sale Sharks Rugby Union Team and Newcastle United legend Alan Shearer.

The business launch and charity donation pledge come less than a week after Mr Harper’s close friend and fellow NUFC player Jonas Gutierrez revealed he has undergone treatment for testicular cancer.

The former United keeper was one of the first to issue a heartfelt message to Jonas last week, saying : “Buena suerte a mi amigo Jonas with his battle with testicular cancer. Great lad and teammate who always gave 100% for the Toon shirt.”


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer