One of the all time favourite intellectual pub topics has got to be ‘name your favourite top five football kits of all time…’
As I have found out on numerous occasions, nailing it down to just five is almost impossible. In fact, I have not been in one of these chats yet without someone else mentioning a design I had forgotten about and my top five then begin to crumble, as I quickly want to make a sub and put another shirt in the mix.
One thing that never changes is that my choices nearly all come from the mid 1970s and that to me is hardly a surprise. I would have been around 12/13 then and was absolutely besotted with the game. Playing it well into the dark in my local park and then watching it on telly at every opportunity.
So, after what you have just read, the following designs could change at any time but on this particular day at this particular time (let it be noted that was the 7th of September 2020) they are as follows…
Number 1. The Brazil 1970s World Cup shirt. Golden yellow with mid green trim. For me, probably the perfect football shirt of all time, wrapped around perhaps the greatest team of all time. A lovely colour combination when completed with the blue shorts and white socks. It has simply never lost its appeal. Maravilhosa.
Number 2. Millwall 1970/71. Now, believe me this is done on merit not just because they happen to be my team of choice. Plain white shirt, shorts & socks. There is not a hint of trim to be seen. This is the shirt I remember most vividly when I started going to see the team with my dad regularly around this era. The badge with the two red lions facing each other has never been that popular if truth were told, but it works for me and I have this shirt in a frame in my office. The Real Madrid of SE16. Simplicity.
3. West Bromwich Albion circa 1977/78. The Baggies have to be in there for me with the green and yellow striped away shirt with the green shorts supplied by Umbro. Always rated this kit and actually tried to buy one back then. Mind you, the chances of finding one in Rye Lane, Peckham in 1977 was remote to say the least. Belter.
4. Coventry City, away 1975. I’m staying in the Midlands for the next one too as it happens. The chocolate brown away strip by makers Admiral in 1975. Very fancy for the time, with double white tramlines running down the shirt and matching up on the shorts. A fine choice of colour and one you don’t see a lot of. Bold.
5. Ajax 1973. That team containing Rep, Neeskens and of course Cruyff were a joy to behold and European Cup winners that year. Cruyff was a legend of course and we would all go on and have a go at the Cruyff turn of course. Almost Mondrian in design, this is another one that has stayed in the forefront of my mind. Cubist.
As is the way of these things, as I was contemplating this Blog, as luck would have it, I was sent a book that is in some ways an ideal companion piece to the above. It’s called The A-Z of Weird & Wonderful Football Shirts and is compiled by Richard Johnson.
I found it a fascinating glimpse from a cultural point of view into designs from around the world, stuffed into just over 200 pages.
So, as a counter point to the above I have decided to select my favourite five from inside its pages, giving a brief description for each one.
1. Bedale AFC – Based in Yorkshire, they teamed up with a local sausage company Heck and had a variety of away shirts with a ‘banger’ theme. This one caught my eye, with mash and peas accompanying the sausage, complete with gravy socks. Smashing.
2. Margate FC – Sponsored by The Libertines at the start of the 2018 season, the club released this ‘History Kit’ to commemorate the occasion. Two Bob Not.
3. Pena Deportiva Ibiza – Pena are based on the Island, and this shirt is a nod to the nightclub culture Ibiza is famous for. I quite like the ‘disco Buddha’ and can think of a few mates who would wear this. Vibe.
4. Altrincham – Especially designed for their match versus Bradford Park Ave in the 2018/2019 season. Proceeds from the match were then donated towards a refurbish of Manchester’s LGBT+ centre. Pride.
5. Finally, CD Lugo from Spain certainly took their sponsorship with lager company Estrella to another level with this shirt from 2014 pre season matches. Frothy.
Hats off to the author who has certainly dug deep to provide some great finds in this book and it proved an enjoyable read, especially as we wait to be allowed out to a live football match once again.
The Mumper of SE5
The A-Z of Weird & Wonderful Football Shirts, compiled by Richard Johnson is published by Conker Editions.
Available to order here
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