Wales’s changing stripes and other short stories

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Where practical, we always prefer when a team dons alternative shorts or socks to solve a colour-clash rather than changing their full kit (obligatory plug for examples of same here).

Therefore, it was good to see Wales wear red shorts against the Republic of Ireland in last Friday’s World Cup qualifier at the Aviva Stadium last Friday. Having been forced to wear their black and grey away kit against England at Euro 2016 as adidas didn’t provide them with change shorts, the Welsh ensured that that was not the case for the qualifiers.

The red shorts were also worn at home to Georgia, but closer inspection does show them to jar slightly with the shirts and socks due to the green waistband and adidas logo. Believe it or not, they are the shorts from the previous kit with the green adidas stripes removed and replaced by white ones.

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If you don’t believe us, then take the word of *the* authority on Wales and (most other) kits, Simon Shakeshaft:

They certainly deserve marks for creativity.

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And now that we’re on the subject of shorts, we’ll impart some more knowledge too, recently picked up in old match programmes, which can often provide real nuggets of information. From the 1985-85 meeting of Manchester City and Manchester United, we seem to find the year in which the Football League prevented sides from taking to the field in the same coloured shorts – however, according to UnitedKits.com, 1975-76 was the first time that United wore black shorts with red shirts.

The writer expresses the hope that United’s poor record at Maine Road when wearing black shorts would continue.

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Unsurprisingly, given how well United deal with such situations, they remembered to bring the black shorts and ended the jinx with a 3-0 win.

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The Football League still has a rule preventing shorts-clashes, as do the two domestic Cups, while UEFA doesn’t allow them either, even though a shorts-and-socks clash was allowed in a European Cup semi-final as recently as 1991.

When the Premier League came into being though, it was decided that opposing teams could have shorts in the same colour, once the clubs’ shirts and/or socks didn’t cause confusion.

A letter published in the Arsenal programme for the Coca-Cola Cup game against Derby County clarified the situation, though the mention that “all teams must wear their first-choice strip whenever there is no colour-clash” is, sadly, quaint.

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Fantasy Kit Friday, 24-3-17 – Liverpool 1989

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Our friend Simon Treanor had an interesting request for Fantasy Kit Friday.

Simon lives in something of an alternate 1989-90 reality – we really do recommend downloading his outstanding Championship Manager 01-02 patch featuring that season – and he suggested a Liverpool away kit along the lines of the club’s sweatshirts and tracksuits, which were in the style of the famous West Germany World Cup-winning strip in 1990.

The only problem was which shorts and socks to use, so we decided that, like all good change kits, the option of interchangeability would exist and we present six different versions. We have taken slight liberties with the stripe layout on the shorts and socks, but in this parallel universe Liverpool would have had a nicer home kit than they actually did.

Midweek Mashup – Manchester City, 1985

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Logically, and as you can see from the previous entries in this series, most instances of teams wearing unusual combinations occur in away games, but this week’s edition is a rare example of a home team being forced into a switch.

As we looked at last month, Tottenham Hotspur introduced an all-white home kit in 1985. With the away kit being all sky-blue, there were no navy shorts available at all, and so where shorts-clashes occurred, they matched the home shirts with the away shorts, like this:

tottenham-hotspur-spurs-hummel-1985-1986-kit-blue-shorts-manchester-city

On August 31 of that season, Spurs travelled to Maine Road to face Manchester City. The hosts had had an all-blue kit until 1985 before reverting back to their traditional look and so Spurs lined out in the opposite. The game began with City in sky-white-sky and Spurs in white-sky-white, but after just a few minutes play was stopped.

Referee George Courtney (I once met him when he was the referee’s assessor at a Cork City-Cwmbran Town European Cup game in 1993, incidentally, but my nine-year-old self wasn’t aware of this and so couldn’t quiz him) felt that, in the sunny conditions, the kits weren’t distinct enoug and asked for a change.

Obviously, Spurs’ away – if they had brought it – would have clashed with City’s home, so the only option was for Billy McNeill’s team to don their away shirts and shorts, but with the home socks,

Umbro-Manchester-City-1985-1986-away-kit-home-socks-Spurs

The alteration didn’t affect them too badly, as they won 2-1, and the programme for the next home game, against Manchester United on September 14, outlined previous examples of City wearing an away kit at home (though without explaining how it used to be a rule that both teams used to change when a kit-clash occurred in the FA Cup).

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Incidentally, that wasn’t the most recent occasion that City were forced to change at home to Tottenham – but that’s a story for another time.

 

Fantasy Kit Friday, 9-3-17

Hummel’s ‘Danish Dynamite’ shirt remains incredibly popular, being voted number 4 in The Football Attic’s 50 Greatest Football Shirts Ever poll in 2015.

As was often the way back then, the design made it to England a year or two later, being worn by Southampton, Aston Villa and Coventry City. The Sky Blues were only with the German firm from 1987-89 before moving onto Asics and then signing a deal with Ribero for the start of the first Premier League season, 1992-93.

That kit was, shall we say, of its time, so Craig Ackers asked us to do something different for Fantasy Kit Friday, reverting to Hummel, utilising the design Denmark had in winning Euro 92.

Given that Coventry have worn sky blue, white and navy in a lot of different combinations, there were a few options in terms of how to represent it, and we finalised on this. Thoughts?

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Midweek Mashup – Sunderland, 2005

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Obviously, this series is about notable occasions when teams changed shorts and/or socks.

Primarily, the reason for doing so is to avoid a clash with their opponents’ garments – see here for the previous examples – but, counterintuitively, there can be times when switching shorts to the same colour as the opposition can actually help to alleviate the ‘overall clash’. The Republic of Ireland against Mexico in the 1994 World Cup is a prime example, as is today’s feature.

 

To be fair, Sunderland wearing white shorts isn’t a completely unique occurrence. Before the recent craze for teams to change their whole kit whenever an opportunity arises (or even if it doesn’t), the Black Cats would change shorts (and socks, if necessary) at Tottenham Hotspur and in the Tyne-Wear derby away to Newcastle United.

While Sunderland had always, naturally, worn their away kit against Arsenal at Highbury, the 2005-06 season was different. As it was the Gunners’ last season at the stadium before moving, they wore a dark-red commemorative shirt (actually too dark, see The Arsenal Shirt book for more, or ask on Twitter).

Sunderland might well have opted to wear their away shirt had it not been black (annoyingly, with red and silver trim, meaning that they wore shorts and socks which were almost identical to the home sets, another bugbear of ours), as that could have proven troublesome, like Arsenal’s game with Sparta Prague in 2000.

With no third kit, it was decided that the home was the best choice, with the white change shorts and socks.

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The black socks caused a clash with Arsenal’s redcurrant – Arsenal themselves wore a one-off white set at St James’ Park that season – but Sunderland in black shorts and white socks was felt to be troublesome, and it’s easy to understand why.

As a result, Sunderland wore white shorts too, the same as Arsenal, but the overall effect was to make the whole kit look whiter, ‘toning down’ the red stripes. Was it a successful look for Sunderland? God no, Arsenal’s 3-1 win was one of 29 defeats for the Mackems in the league that season and they were relegated with just 15 points, 23 from safety.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All-white on the night for Milan

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It’s fairly well-known that AC Milan prefer to wear their white change kit in Champions League finals.

In both the 2005 and 2007 finals against Liverpool, the Italian club actually won the coin-toss for colours but on each occasion opted to switch, which would make one wonder why there was a need for a toss at all.

Milan have played in eight European Cup or Champions League finals – 1963, 1989, 1990, 1994, 1995, 2003, 2005 and 2007 – wearing all-white, winning six and losing two. In their usual rossoneri, the club have played in three finals (1958, 1969 and 1993, all against teams with large amounts of white), but only the middle one of those games was won.

What may not be as commonly known, though, is that for four of those finals, Milan actually wore specially-made white kits, different to their ‘normal’ away strip in each relevant season.

At the beginning of the 1986-87 season, Milan commenced a kit-supply deal with Kappa. Taking over from the company owned by club legend Gianni Rivera, who had provided a change shirt with double pinstripes, they reverted to horizontally-striped trim, similar to that seen earlier in the decade, and that style remained for the 1988-89 season. The only addition was the scudetto to mark the club’s first league title win in nine years.

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In the European Cup, wins over Vitosha, Red Star Belgrade, Werder Bremen and Real Madrid brought Milan to the final, where Romanian side Steaua Bucharest were to provide the opposition.

Steaua wore red shirts with blue trim and for the final it was decreed that both teams would change kit. Steaua had worn all-white in beating Barcelona on penalties to win in 1986 but this time they were in dark blue shirts with sky-blue shorts and socks, while Milan would be in white – but, instead of their away kit, it was a plainer kit, resembling that worn by the victorious 1963 team when they beat Benfica. A 4-0 confirmed the ‘lucky charm’ status.

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The following season, Milan would make it back to the European Cup final, this time against Benfica, and they made it back-to-back titles as they won 1-0 – nobody has won the competition in consecutive years since then. The only difference to the kits for 1989-90 was that the scudetto was replaced by an patch representing the European Cup, while the sleeve trim on the kit in the final was slightly thicker.

For 1990-91, the logo of adidas replaced that of Kappa, but it’s questionable as to how design impact the German giants had as the kits remained practically the same.

The trefoil would appear on the Milan kit for three seasons, with the club reaching the final of the newly rebranded Champions League. The club’s last game in adidas kit – for six years, anyway – and Marco van Basten’s last game ever would see them lose 1-0 to Olympique Marseille (aggressive in their adidas-ness) wearing black change socks.

Lotto took over the equipment contract, and their first away kit saw the red and black stripes lower down the chest, below the wordmark of sponsors Motta, who had replaced Mediolanum in 1992.

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Once more, though, they made it back to the Champions League final, where Barcelona’s ‘Dream Team’ were apparently ready to be coronated. Nobody had told Milan, though, as they won 4-0, with a newly-updated version of the 1963 style.

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Lotto went bolder with the away kit in 1994, with liberal doses of red along the shoulders and upper arms, while Opel were now the sponsors.

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Milan wore that kit in their second-last Champions League group game, a 2-0 ‘home’ defeat to Ajax (the game actually took place in Trieste as crowd trouble in the game at against Casino Salzburg at the San Siro meant they were docked two points and denied home advantage for the remainder of the group stage).

Ultimately, it took a 1-0 away win to Salzburg in the final game, again in the away strip, to advance to the knockout stages. Instead of waiting for the final, this time the plain white kit was called into action for all of the games after Christmas – the quarter-final against Benfica and semi-final against Paris St-Germain.

The final pitted them against Ajax again, with the Dutch side wearing their navy and dark-red change kit. Incidentally, this was the first time that teams had been allowed sponsors’ logos in the final, though size limits meant that the Opel logo wasn’t permitted.

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Ultimately, it was fifth time unlucky for Milan, as a teenage Patrick Kluivert came off the bench to get the winner for Ajax five minutes from the end.

It would be eight years before they reached another final, against Juventus in 2003, and this time the regular adidas away kit was worn in a penalty shootout win. That was also the case against Liverpool in 2005 and 2007, though in each case the strips were devoid of horizontal stripes in the first case.

Recent Milan away kits have had something similar to the 80s and 90s look, but unfortunately they haven’t troubled the latter stages of the Champions League enough for us to discover if they’d have switched to an all-white kit for the final. Maybe in the not too distant future this nice tradition might be revived, but we won’t hold our breath.

 

The great kit-clash poll: the results

First off, apologies – we had intended to publish this far sooner, but circumstances dictated otherwise.

At the end of January, we ran a poll, asking users of the site to give their opinions on various match-ups and whether or not they constituted colour-clashes. Now, we will examine the results, with input from Simon Treanor, whose idea the whole thing was. Also, you should check out Simon’s blog, where he has created a version of Championship Manager 01-02 where you can play with the teams from the 1989-90 season.

So, without any further dallying, here is what the people said:

Claret/maroon v red

No clash – 10pc

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Clash – 90pc

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MOJ says: The most resounding result, and easy to see why. How it was allowed for a brief  spell in the mid-90s is mind-boggling.

Claret/maroon v blue

Clash v navy but not royal – 24pc

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Clash v navy and royal – 13pc

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No clash – 63pc

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MOJ says: A bit surprising that this was so lopsided – we certainly wouldn’t be keen on claret v navy, as evidenced by the Arsenal-Sparta Prague game in 2000. What perhaps skews this question is the fact that the most notable wearers of claret in England tend to have sky-blue sleeves, raising the question of sleeve-clashes against blue teams.

ST says: Interesting that red is considered a clash but blue isn’t, against a colour that could be considered a combination of the two. It suggests that we tend to think of dark-coloured teams in terms of red and blue, which is borne out by the result below.

Gold/orange v red

No clash – 45pc

gold-red-no

Clash – 55pc

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MOJ says: Delightfully inconclusive, which is why – commercial considerations aside – we see such inconsistency. Just this season, Manchester United wore white at Hull City in the EFL Cup semi-final, but the sides’ three other meetings saw home kits worn.

Sky blue v darker blue

Never a clash – 24pc

sky-blue-no

Always a clash – 21pc

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Clash against royal and not navy – 18pc

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No clash if shorts/socks different – 37pc

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MOJ says: Sky v royal always seemed to be considered a clash in the past, but the last decade or so has seen it allowed. Given that practically everyone has three kits nowadays, we’d avoid it for optimal ease of use.

ST says: Surprised by this outcome, as I find Man City’s use of their home kit against Chelsea/Everton intensely irritating, although this is partly because they’ll change at Watford the following week. Instinctively, it just feels like two shades of the same colour should chas, but it seems like modern orthodoxy considers shade more important. Howver, the result below contradicts that…

Sky blue v white

No clash – 82pc

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Clash – 18pc

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MOJ says: This is one where the weather conditions can play a part, in our view – the glare caused by sunnier weather would make it difficult. Obviously, there are different shades of sky blue too.

Blue v green

No clash – 89pc

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Clash – 11pc

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MOJ says: Occasionally, the hues or shades might cause trouble, but once there’s no shorts-clash it should be fine.

Red v green

Always allow – 33pc

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Never allow – 20pc

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Allow with different shorts – 47pc

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MOJ says: This can be troublesome for those who are colour-blind, generally one in 12 men and one in 200 women. Clear distinction of the teams’ shorts the minimum measure.

ST says: One I hadn’t considered, but it’s perhaps the most important of all. It seems like the shorts change is a good compromise.

Reversed shirts/shorts

No clash – 69pc

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Clash, one team changes kit – 10pc

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Clash, one or both changes shorts/socks – 21pc

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MOJ says: The ‘overall clash’ gives a bit of an internal conflict to deal with – we like when away kits are reversals of the home, but such a match-up can prove slightly confusing. Not the worst kind of clash, though.

ST says of the three above: These clashes have been considered the most controversial in recent years, and I’m pleased to see that most people are opposed, even at the risk dismissing modern kit-clash science out of hand, like the luddites that we are.

Stripes matching one solid colour

No clash – 18pc

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Clash, one team changes kit – 42pc

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Clash, change shorts/socks to aid differentiation – 40pc

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ST says: These clashes are the main reason third kits exist, so it’s striking that a (small) majority of people think they’re not needed. We wouldn’t want to lose third kits though, would we?

Stripes v stripes, one common colour

No clash – 15pc

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Clash, one team changes kit – 21pc

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Avoidance of shorts/socks clash sufficient – 44pc

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Clash, except for local derbies – 19pc

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MOJ says: A boring answer, but this is one to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Generally, different shorts/socks should be enough.

ST says: This is one where tradition has to outweigh some of the usual considerations – the second option, which won, is perhaps the way to do so. It does look odd seeing Newcastle in white shorts at Sunderland though.

Stripes v solid colour which is a blend of two stripe colours

No clash – 18pc

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Clash, change full kit – 40pc

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Okay once shorts/socks not worsening clash – 43pc

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MOJ says: Worse for spectators and TV viewers than the previous example, this should be avoided and most teams have enough kits to do so.

Shorts

Never a clash – 49pc

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Clash if same colour – 36pc

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Clash if similar colour – 15pc

 

MOJ says: Not a problem for us or referees – rare that that part of the body has to be differentiated. Some competitions mandate the solving of shorts-clashes and that’s fine – it’s nice to see teams change shorts as opposed to full kits.

Sleeves

No clash – 74pc

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Clash if same as opposition sleeves – 13pc

sleeves-clash-change

Clash if same as opposition body – 13pc

MOJ says: Fairly resounding, but this is another which some authorities seek to avoid, to help referees in dealing with handballs. En route to winning the FA Cup in 1993, Arsenal wore away kits at Leeds and Ipswich, but were allowed to wear their home against both in the Premier League.

Midweek Mashup – Shamrock Rovers, 1995

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The new League of Ireland season started last weekend, and as yet, we’re unaware of any kitastrophes, but they’re never too far away. It’s far from a new phenomenon, though, as you will see with the latest edition in the Midweek Mashup series.

As we related in a recent article, Cork City caused some consternation to league officials in 1993-94, when they premiered a new black away kit. The first outing for that kit was a home game against title rivals Shamrock Rovers, who played in their purple away kit when theoretically they could have worn their usual green and white hoops.

The following season, though, Rovers turned up at City’s Bishopstown ground on March 24 with just their home kit – we’ll put it down to absent-mindedness rather than an assumption that City had permanently changed to black, given that they had played in the interim.

Generally in such cases back then, the visiting team would wear a change strip belonging to the home side – Cork City lent kits to opponents in 1990 (Dundalk), 1998 (Derry City), 1999 (Galway United) and 2007 (Bray Wanderers), Derry themselves had to come to Shelbourne’s rescue in 2001, while St Patrick’s Athletic helped out Sligo Rovers in 2008.

City could of course have worn the black kit as another option – perhaps it wasn’t to hand – but instead referee Tommy Traynor decided to allow a compromise – both teams could wear their home shirts (City in green, white and red stripes, Rovers in green hoops) once the visitors wore alternative shorts.

Despite City having worn both navy and red shorts with their kit that season, neither set was available and so kick-off was delayed for 15 minutes as a trip was made so that shorts could be borrowed from local junior club Glasheen. It certainly made for an unusual look for Rovers:

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Incidentally, at the time we thought that the diagonal line breaking the hoops was guerrilla marketing for sponsors Whirlpool, but their ‘loop’ goes the other way.

Unfortunately, we have no colour picture of how the two shirts with large elements of green and white looked together, but the game proceeded without any further trouble.

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Rovers won 1-0, Eoin Mullen’s goal putting them joint-top of the table with Derry City, but all of the chasing pack had games in hand and so by season’s end the Hoops were in sixth, one place ahead of City, whose bright beginning and middle to the season was undone by an awful end.

Midweek Mashup – Leeds United, 2017

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A bang-up-to-date example in the latest addition to this series, the rest of which you can peruse here.

At the beginning of this season, Leeds United launched a lovely blue away kit with yellow trim, with the yellow 2015-16 kit being demoted to third choice – essentially, their selections mirror those of the 1992-93 season, excellently outlined here.

It just so happened that the fixture-list came up with Queens Park Rangers away as Leeds’ first opponents, however, and so the yellow was worn in a 3-0 loss. The next outing for the third kit came in December – Sheffield Wednesday’s all-blue kit meant Leeds could wear white at Hillsborough in August – and again it was in a losing cause, 2-0 at Brighton & Hove Albion.

Now, despite the fact that Leeds had lost six other games between the QPR and Brighton games, it appears that manager Garry Monk (or perhaps owner Massimo Cellino, but purple seems to be his fear) decided that the all-yellow look had Jonah-like qualities. Last week, we mentioned Bayern Munich’s ‘Brazil’ kit from 1983 and how its sky-blue shorts were occasionally worn as a lucky charm after that, and similarly Leeds have zoned in on the yellow shorts as being shamanistic.

At the beginning of February, consecutive away games at Blackburn Rovers and Huddersfield Town saw Leeds pair the yellow shirts and socks with the blue shorts. It’s a great look and it harked back to some nice outfits from the past.

The mixing and matching is also something of a Leeds tradition. While it might have created oddish looks in the 1970s, Leeds’ 1993-95 kits were brilliantly cohesive, allowing for plenty of pleasing combinations – six of a possible eight were worn.

Which brings us to last Saturday, and Leeds’ visit to Portman Road to take on Ipswich Town. The Tractor Boys have white sleeves and the Football League (don’t make us call it the EFL) don’t tend to allow sleeve-clashes, so the home shirt couldn’t be used.

The blue away was obviously out and, in normal circumstances, all-yellow would have been ideal. The yellow shirts/blue shorts look would have sufficed in other years, but Ipswich have blue shorts this year and so that too was removed as an option, as shorts-clashes are not permitted. And so, the decision was taken to wear the home shorts and socks. To be fair, it does almost tie up, but the shorts trim is gold rather than yellow.

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We haven’t been able to check fully, but we presume it’s the first time that they have appeared in such an arrangement – after all, any previous similar mix-and-match efforts would have been due to an opponent wearing white shirts and yellow shorts, and few teams do that.

Edit: Prior to switching to all-white, Leeds’ home colours were various combinations of blue and yellow and there were occasions when yellow shirts and white shorts were used. Thanks to Sean McAuley for pointing this out.

The reaction on Saturday wasn’t the most positive:

Leeds did at least avoid the defeat that the yellow shorts would surely have brought, with the game finishing 1-1. Looking at their remaining fixtures, the trips to Reading in April and Wigan Athletic in May could lead to further outings for this unconventional look, especially as Wigan have white socks. We shall be following with interest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Midweek Mashup – Swindon Town, 1993

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Two Swindon Town fans were discussing the club’s sole season in the Premier League (or FA Carling Premiership, as it had just been rebranded), 1993-94.

The Robins finished bottom of the table, ten points behind 21st-placed Oldham Athletic and 13 off safety, conceding 100 goals in their 42 games. There wasn’t too much that was memorable, save perhaps for a 2-2 draw with Manchester United, which saw Eric Cantona receive the first of two red cards in four days for attempting to pierce John Moncur’s chest.

When Supporter A [names are changed to protect identities] mentioned that he had been at the 0-0 draw with West Ham United at Upton Park on September 11, 1993, Supporter B sensed bullshit, but he had the perfect question for his colleague, who is something of a kit-nerd:

What did we wear?

The answer from Supporter A was that he couldn’t remember, thus giving himself away.

In gaining promotion from Division 1 via the play-offs in 1992-93, Swindon had worn a green geometric-patterned away shirt with navy shorts (that site is a great resource, by the way) but that was replaced with a Brazil-esque strip – yellow and green shirt, light blue shorts and white socks.

The manufacturer was Loki, who had previously produced kits for the club under the ‘Diamond Leisure’ brand, and were also responsible for Tranmere Rovers’ ‘Rover Sport’ offerings (compare the Birkenhead club’s shirt to Swindon’s goalkeeper top). There is a company called Loki selling exercise equipment, but we’re not sure if it’s the same one

It was the white socks which proved troublesome in the very first game of the season, a 3-1 loss at Sheffield United, who wore white shorts and socks. With no alternative sets, Swindon ended up wearing the Blades’ navy away socks, though the jade tops almost matched the Robins’ shorts.

With West Ham also in white shorts and socks, something would have to be done, and Swindon came up with a make-do-and-mend solution.
swindon-town-1993-1994-loki-away-kit-shirt-west-ham-red-shorts-socks

The red home socks were chosen, but, clearly feeling that yellow-sky blue-red would look bad, they decided to switch shorts too, looking slightly like Watford from a distance.

While a 0-0 draw gave them their second point of the season, they didn’t put that down to the combo being lucky and returned to looking – if not playing – like Brazil on their travels. Eventually, a blue set of socks were sourced and worn at Aston Villa and Arsenal.