Fantasy Kit Friday – Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur, 1980

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Friend of the site Lee Hermitage has in the past been a good source of information and ideas, so when he came with an FKF idea, it was a pleasure to acquiesce.

Lee said:

Arguably the two biggest clubs hit by Admiral’s collapse in 1980 were Manchester United and Tottenham. As we know, United went to adidas while Spurs went to Le Coq, but what if it had been the other way around?

An interesting brief, taking four fairly recognisable kits and mixing up the colourways.

The Manchester United LCS home shirt has echoes of the classic 1950s look:

Manchester-United-Le-Coq-Fantasy-1980-Tottenham-01

Perhaps a case could be made that the shoulder panels of the Spurs away should be black on a United version, but Lee specified red and it helps to tie the whole look together better, in my view.

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We’ve had Tottenham in 80s adidas before, and white and navy look good together in almost all cases.

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The United away when they changed to adidas was unique in that it had the German company’s three stripes up the side of the shirt and down the inside arms. Nobody else had it at the time, as far as we know – there were a couple of examples of it in the 1970s –  and it would be 36 years before adidas resurrected it.

It looks well in Spurs’ traditional yellow and navy change colours.

Tottenham-adidas-Fantasy-1980-away-Manchester-United-01

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Midweek Mashup – Watford, 2017

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Once upon a time, Watford were paragons of mixing and matching, but, in the past few seasons, the club have become a byword for needless changes of kit in the Premier League.

Essentially, the club’s policy is to wear an alternative kit in pretty much every game unless, of course, the opposition’s home kit is the same colour as the Watford away.

The 2017-18 away strip is all-red, though with black and white trim rather than a more pleasing black and yellow, and so obviously couldn’t be worn in the first away game of the campaign, against Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium on August 19.

As well as red and black striped shirts, the home side also have black shorts and socks, the same as Watford’s first-choice. While shorts clashes are allowed in the Premier League, sock-clashes are not – occasionally, there are exceptions – and so Watford had to find an alternative set.

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Interestingly, while the socks chosen were red, they were bespoke pairs with black trim whereas the club’s away set have white trim.

The change suited Watford, as they won 2-0. It’s a look likely to be seen again on the final day of the season at Old Trafford – provided, of course, that Watford are given the right information about Manchester United’s home socks.

 

The history of Romania’s kits from 1984 to 1997

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I’d always been aware of Romania’s somewhat peripatetic relationship with kits when I was growing up, but of course back then it was much harder to research.

In recent years, the sheer inconsistency of the timeline has become more apparent and, thanks to the comprehensive nature of The Rec Sport Soccer Statistics Foundation and the availability of so much footage on YouTube, it has been possible to piece together a history of their kits.

It’s not complete, as some games have been impossible to source (Romania did enjoy playing Israel and Greece a lot, for instance, and most Januarys brought obscure friendlies against Asian opposition), so it could well be the case that there are even more variants than what is compiled here.

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Why start with 1984? Well, going back further would have been even more difficult to research, and Euro 84 was their first appearance in a major finals in 14 years – fittingly, their three games there saw them wear three different kits.

The home was all-yellow, the shirt a classic adidas style, wrapover v-neck with tonal hoops, which would be seen again during the 1980s. It was worn against Spain.

Romania-adidas-1984-Euro-84-home-kit-01

The away kit was red – or, rather, both away kits were red. Against West Germany, Romania wore a white-trimmed version of the home, and again this would be seen again. However, for the final group match against Portugal, a different one-off red kit, with black trim, was worn. Portugal were in a white kit for this game.

In the World Cup qualifiers that autumn, the long-sleeved version of the home – with numbers now absent from the shorts – was used.

Romania-adidas-1984-home-kit-long-sleeves-01

In January of 1985, they renewed acquaintances with Portugal in a friendly in Lisbon, winning 3-2. Portugal were in their more familiar red this time while Romania were in a kit which looked like it belonged in the 1970s, with its inset neck panel.

Romania-adidas-1985-home-kit-Portugal-friendly-01

It wasn’t seen again and neither was the ensemble worn against Turkey in Craiova – red shirts, yellow shorts and blue socks.

Romania-adidas-1985-home-kit-Turkey-01

For much of the rest of the year though – including both games against England and at home to Northern Ireland – the red and white Euro 84 away was used, though with new shorts which featured a subtle shadow stripe.

Romania-adidas-1985-away-kit-England-01

The all-yellow was back for friendlies against Egypt and Iraq in early 1986 as well as the 3-0 loss away to Scotland, while the game at home to the USSR saw the red shorts – not the away set but ones with yellow stripes – used.

Romania-adidas-1986-USSR-red-shorts-01

Against the all-blue of Greece, red socks – again, not the away set – were added to the mix.

Romania-adidas-1986-USSR-red-shorts-red-socks

And, at home to Albania, a totally new kit was seen. The shirt featured narrow red and blue diagonal pinstripes, while the shorts were now blue.

Romania-adidas-1987-Albania-blue-shorts-01-01

Oddly, the same style, in short sleeves but with a red neck and adidas stripes and no crest (foreshadowing later events), had been used by Romania’s U21s two years earlier, against England at Portman Road. In their meeting in Romania, the 70s style inset-neck kit was worn.

Romania-adidas-1985-home-kit-01

Back to 1987 and the senior team, and the wrapover v-neck was back for the return game against Spain, a 3-1 win. Away to Austria though, the diagonal pinstripe shirt was now matched with yellow shorts and socks. A 0-0 draw meant they missed out on qualifying for Euro 88 by a point to Spain.

Romania-adidas-1985-Austria-01

In a 1988 friendly away to a team who had qualified, the Republic of Ireland, Romania made a rare appearance in (crestless) red shirts without red shorts, as a blue set were used.

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In another friendly, away to the Netherlands, who would go on to win the competition, an all-blue kit was used, with the template quite popular around Europe at the time.

Romania-adidas-1988-Netherlands-01

For instance, Bulgaria would be wearing that template when they hosted Romania in October of that year in the first of what would be a successful World Cup qualifying campaign for the visitors.

The Romanians would be in the yellow-blue-red look for the first time, with the shorts now featuring a very fine white pinstripe.

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At home to Greece, the shorts and socks colours were reversed.

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The following year, 1989, began with a 1-0 home friendly win over Italy as the wrapover v-neck shirt came back again, to be joined with the pinstriped shorts and red socks.

Romania-adidas-1989-Italy-01

The diagonals returned away to Poland, while the all-red wrapover v-neck kit had its first outing in four years away to Greece.

World Cup qualification would come down to the final two games, both against Denmark. In October, Romania lost 3-0 in Copenhagen, wearing the diagonal pinstriped shirt, pinstriped shorts and yellow socks, as the red set would have clashed…

Romania-adidas-1989-Denmark-away-01

…then, for the return in Bucharest a month later, a 3-1 win which meant they topped the group, the red socks were back (Denmark wore white socks), but new shirts were worn – the diagonal pinstripes had been deleted, while the adidas logo was lower.

Romania-adidas-1989-Denmark-home-01

World Cup year began with Romania playing two friendlies against high-profile clubs. On January 28, they met Olympique Marseille and the same style shirts as used at home to Denmark now had a sponsor’s logo – Onet, seemingly a French company providing cleaning services to businesses.

On first seeing the grainy footage, I actually thought it was an outsize Opel logo. With the fall of Communism and the ousting of Nicolae Ceaușescu as leader, the previous crest was dispensed with.

Romania-adidas-1990-friendly-Marseille-01

A week later, they were in Germany to take on Bayern Munich – on this occasion, for the only time in the period we are looking at, they donned white, the same style as worn against Holland in ’88.

Romania-adidas-1990-friendly-Bayern-Munchen-01

At the end of February and start of March, they started playing countries again, going up against Egypt and Algeria. There was yet another new kit – similar in style to that used by Hungary, Bulgaria and the Republic of Ireland. The socks now had mismatching black stripes.

Romania-adidas-1990-Egypt-01

As the World Cup neared, the all-new kit which would be worn for that was used twice, not in its ‘proper’ form on either occasion.

Against Egypt, the red shorts from the away kit were with the home shirt and socks:

Romania-adidas-1990-home-World-Cup-red-shorts-01

Then, against Belgium in the final warm-up match, they wore the blue pinstriped shorts and blue socks.

Romania-adidas-1990-home-World-Cup-Belgium-friendly-blue-socks-01

For Romania’s first World Cup game in 20 years, the USSR were the opposition. With the Soviets in white, Romania wore their new red away strip as they won 2-0.

Romania-adidas-1990-away-World-Cup-USSR-01

Incidentally, the makers of the Orbis World Cup ’90 part-work sticker album – who had originally included Denmark as they expected them to qualify ahead of Romania – expected a blue change kit:

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For the remainder of their games, a 2-1 loss to Cameroon, 0-0 draw with Argentina and the last-16 penalty shootout loss to the Republic of Ireland, the home kit was donned. For some reason, the blue shorts had the players’ numbers on the right leg, while on the away shorts they were on the left.

Romania-adidas-1990-home-World-Cup-Timofte-01

Romania’s first game after the World Cup was a friendly away to the USSR at the end of August. They wore the shirts as had been used against Marseille, but without the Onet, obviously, while the yellow shorts (a more golden shade) and socks had white stripes.

Romania-adidas-1990-USSR-friendly-01.png

The Euro ’92 qualifiers began with a trip to Hampden Park to face Scotland. While the shirts were similar to those used at the start of the year in that they had two arm rings, this was a different design and featured a shadow stripes. It was used by Cameroon at the World Cup and Marseille among others.

Due to Scotland’s red socks, Romania wore blue socks and opted to go with red shorts.

Romania-adidas-1990-red-shorts-Scotland-01

The next two games – Poland in a friendly and Bulgaria in the qualifiers (a 3-0 loss) – were at home, but for both of them Romania wore an all-blue kit, in the same style as the United Arab Emirates had at the World Cup and a design used by France, Poland and Bari. Outside of these two games, it was never worn again.

Romania-adidas-1990-blue-01

Romania rounded off the year with a 6-0 win over San Marino and the same shirts as worn against Scotland returned, with the more usual blue shorts and red socks.

Romania-adidas-1990-qualifiers-San-Marino-01

Away to Switzerland in early 1991, these shirts were worn with yellow shorts and socks…

Romania-adidas-1991-Switzerland-01

…and then away to Spain in a friendly, two different neck styles were seen on the short-sleeved versions.

The 1991-92 season signified the introduction of the adidas Equipment era, with aggressive branding in the form of bold, over-the-shoulder stripes. Romania would have a new kit, but of a different, almost unique, style – a River Plate change shirt is the only other example I can find.

Featuring asymmetric red and blue flashes, it was first used at home to Scotland.

Romania-adidas-1991-home-Scotland

For the game against Switzerland, a long-sleeved set was used – these didn’t have the red and blue markings on the right-hand sleeves.

Romania-adidas-1991-home-Bulgaria-01

A 1-1 draw with Bulgaria meant that Romania missed out on Euro ’92 by a point in what was a very tight group.

The same kit was in use as the World Cup qualifiers began with a 7-0 win over the Faroe Islands and then a 5-1 victory against Wales.

Then, in a friendly away to Mexico, there was another new outfit – this time a recolouring of the Arsenal 1990-92 home template.

Romania-adidas-1992-1993-home-01

This kit was worn for the remainder of the year, including against the soon-to-be-defunct Czechoslovakia – who had what was essentially the Arsenal shirt as their home – and for the first half of 1993.

Arsenal were again the inspiration for the kit worn against the Faroes and Israel that September – this time it was the ‘bruised banana’ away, but with matching shorts.

Romania-adidas-1992-home-Arsenal-brusied-banana-01

In the penultimate qualifier, a 2-1 win at home to Belgium, the blue-sleeved shirts returned, but with the new crest of the Romanian federation now featuring.

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In the final qualifier, away to Wales in Cardiff, Romania wore adidas Equipment shirts for the first time. A 2-1 win put them into a second successive World Cup finals.

Romania-adidas-1993-home-Wales-Bodin-penalty-01

There was little consistency in early 1994, as both the bruised banana and the blue-sleeved shirts were worn in friendlies. Then, in the last few warm-up games before travelling to the USA for the World Cup, Romania wore short-sleeved versions of the shirts used against Wales, this time paired with blue shorts.

Romania-adidas-1994-home-Slovenia-friendly-01

Logic would have you think that the World Cup kit was going to be some approximation of this, but instead it was another all-new outfit, the same template as worn by Liverpool and Cork City in 1993-94, and which would also be seen on Sweden, Bulgaria and Norway in the US.

It was the first time Romania had had numbers on the front of their shirts.

Romania-adidas-1994-home-World-Cup-01

Having topped Group A with wins over Colombia and the hosts (there was also a 4-1 defeat to Switzerland), Romania then beat Argentina 3-2 in the second round to set up a quarter-final tie with Sweden.

Romania were the ‘home’ team but, in the bright weather conditions, there were concerns that Sweden’s white change kit could clash and so both teams wore alternatives.

The Romanian change kit was in the same format as the first-choice but in red, with yellow the secondary colour and blue the third – except for the socks, where they switched positions.

Adding to the confusion, replica versions of the shirt had two blue stripes and one yellow.

Romania-adidas-1994-away-red-World-Cup-Sweden-01

Sweden triumphed on penalties, and when Romania got back in action in the autumn – a 3-0 win over Azerbaijan in their first Euro 96 qualifier – they wore the same kits as before the World Cup, albeit with shirt and shorts numbers now added.

Romania-adidas-1994-home-Azerbaijan-01

New (numberless) yellow shorts, in the same style as the blue, were worn for the rest of the year.

Romania-adidas-1994-home-Wales-England-friendly-Wembley-01 In early 1995, the World Cup kit returned, but now with plain yellow socks.

Romania-adidas-1995-home-01

In September ’95, Romania played Brazil in a friendly. At first glance, it might appear that the shirts were the same as worn against Sweden, but the striping was now the same as on the replicas. In addition, the socks had three blue hoops.

Romania-away-kit-Brazil-friendly-1995-01

The rate of variation had slowed down by now, and the 1996-98 set of kits were as stable as Romania could hope to have, but there was still room for some small inconsistency.

The style was the newest adidas template. They must have produced a lot of it, because Crystal Palace and Stockport County both had change shirts made from that bench, Romanian crest and all in the fabric.

In the Euro ’96 opener against France, as well as a competition patch and Fair Play logo for the first time, the kit had socks with a small Romanian flag on them…

Romania-home-kit-adidas-Euro-96-France-flag-socks-01

…but it was absent for the matches against Spain and Bulgaria.

Romania-home-kit-adidas-Euro-96-Spain-Bulgaria-01

A UEFA ruling? I don’t know, but the flag was back on the socks for the World Cup qualifiers while the shirts were now devoid of the patches and the front numbers.

Romania-home-kit-adidas-1998-World-Cup-qualifiers-01

During this period, the only call for a change kit was away to Lithuania in April 1997. The traditional red kit was in the same design and long sleeves were worn – but because the short-sleeved shirts used what is known as a ‘batwing’ style (body and sleeves are the one piece of cloth), the extra length was literally stitched on, with the fabric pattern running perpendicular to the rest.

Romania-away-kit-adidas-1997-Lithuania-01

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Incidentally, if you’re ever looking to buy a Romanian matchworn thumb from the mid-1990s, a good rule of thumb is to look at the crest for verification – the players’ shirts had the red ‘swoosh’ on top, while replicas had yellow on top.

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Can 49 kit variations (and at least one worn by the U21s and not the seniors) over a period of just more than 13 years be beaten? Please, let us know on Twitter, email or in the comments below.

Fantasy Kit Friday, 9-11-17 – Republic of Ireland, 1994

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Nicky MacCrimmon has been creative with requests for Fantasy Kit Friday.

This was his suggestion back in February…

…and he followed that up in the summer with another one – what if the Republic of Ireland had had a kit similar to Scotland’s 1994-96 outfit?

With the important World Cup qualifier against Denmark this Saturday and Tuesday, it seemed like a perfect time to try it.

For those who can’t recall, that Scotland kit featured a tartan pattern – and there is an official pattern called Ireland’s National (albeit registered by a man in Spring City, Pennsylvania, USA).

Opinions may be mixed on its success, but it was definitely worth trying. The decision to go with a green and white crest was based on the fact that the orange of the real one would have looked out of place.

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  • If you’d prefer to see real Ireland kits, Eddie O’Mahony’s new book, 40 Shades of Green, has sold out its first print but should be in the FAI Shop soon

Midweek Mashup – Birmingham City, 2007

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As sets of kits went, Birmingham City had a good one in 2007-08.

The home was a refreshed version of the classic ‘penguin’ style, with white shorts and blue socks, while the away was the same template with a white shirt, blue shorts and white socks, allowing for a lot of mix-and-match options.

Of course, the high levels of white on the home shirt meant that the Blues often had to change against teams with white kits, and so a red third kit was also available.

That was what they had intended to wear for the trip to face Bolton Wanderers at the Reebok Stadium on December 22, 2007, but while the red shorts and socks were packed, the shirts were absent.

What apparently happened was that replica home shirts were bought from a sports shop – would Birmingham jerseys have been readily available in Bolton? – and had the patches and names applied with Bolton’s equipment. Presumably referee Chris Foy was happy that the shorts and socks helped to provide enough distinction, while the fact that the backs of the home shirt were blue also helped.

Birmingham-City-Umbro-2007-2008-home-shirt-red-shorts-socks-Bolton-01

The strange look didn’t help Birmingham though as they fell to a 3-0 defeat.

A day in the life of Mick Ring, Cork City’s kitman

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It’s just after 12.30pm in the day when Garda Mick Ring takes your humble correspondent into his custody for 12 hours.

Don’t worry, there was nothing sinister going on – when Anglesea St-based Ring isn’t keeping the traffic flowing freely and safely, he’s the Cork City kitman and our mission was to shadow him for a trip to Tallaght Stadium and back as City took on Shamrock Rovers.

Kitman is to do the role a disservice really, if we were going all business-speak we’d call him logistics manager.

You’ve probably seen him pre-match at Turner’s Cross, out on the pitch pre-match with all of his duties done. Considering it’s a position so intrinsic to the running of things though, it’s one very much apart from everything else.

A lot of Ring’s work is carried out in solitude. The night before the trip to Dublin, he packed all of the relevant gear into two skips and assorted bags. For the longer away journeys, John Caulfield’s side will travel up the night before and stay in a hotel en route, but anything in the greater Dublin area is easy to negotiate.

Ring, in his Fiat Talento, supplied by Finbarr Galvin Ltd, travels a few hours before the team bus, with a quick stop for coffee at the McDonald’s in Cashel keeping him fuelled. We’d like to say that deep confidences were revealed and that next season’s adidas kit designs were revealed to us on the M8, but Ring’s levels of discretion are what you’d expect from a garda (or John Caulfield’s inner circle).

With traffic moving freely, we are at the Maldron Hotel in Newlands Cross (formerly Bewley’s) in next to no time. It’s where City have their pre-match meal before games in and around Dublin, but for Ring it’s just a quick stop to throw back some chicken and curry – physio James Peckitt is there before us, but everybody else is still travelling.

At some grounds, the away dressing room is rather tight and so the team will put on most of their gear at the hotel.

“When they finish their meal we’ll go into a meeting room and I’ll lay out the warm-up gear and shorts and socks there,” he says.

“I’ll bring the shirts with me then. We do it going to Drogheda, Bohs, Dundalk and Finn Harps, where the dressing rooms are tight.”

Tallaght Stadium is easily accessible from the Maldron. As the newest stadium in the League of Ireland, it should be up to the highest standards in terms of logistics, but driving to the entrance in the Fiat is prevented by the presence of bollards. Not an insurmountable problem but awkward, given the amount of cargo. With everything packed in an orderly fashion, unloading is relatively easy once everything is in the dressing room.

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City kitman Mick Ring in the process of unloading the various items from his van

“I definitely like to be in the stadium an hour and a half before the team get here, to have everything done right,” he says.

“Ideally, I’ll have things arranged before I leave home, I’ll have the kit arranged numerically so it’s just a case of banging them up. All the jumpers are folded and ready to go, so it’s all pretty okay.

“Jerry Harris gave me the checklist he used to use.

“After a few weeks, I had it all in my head, you go into autopilot, you know what you’re doing and you go about your business.”

City are wearing their red third kit for this game, as both the green home and white away kits would clash with Rovers’ famous hoops. That’s a fairly straightforward one to sort, but if there are any doubts in the lead-up to a game, Ring will contact his equivalent at the opposition club to sort things. Goalkeeper colours have to be taken into consideration too – home goalkeeper is after away outfield in the priority order, with away goalkeeper next and the poor officials last – while the bibs worn by the subs warm-up must also be distinctive.

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Mick Ring hangs the City kit alongside the Shamrock Rovers strip in the referee’s room, to ensure there are no potential causes for confusion

Each player has two shirts – most opt for two short-sleeve but a few, like Alan Bennett and John Dunleavy – prefer to have one long and one short. Additionally, some players opt to wear socks with the feet cut off as they have their own compression socks.

Warm-up balls and cones are unloaded too, as well as a brand-new clock Ring has purchased in Argos as the previous one has been broken. Water, energy drinks, Jaffa Cakes and Haribo Tangfastics are there for sustenance – though some of the latter are, shall we say, unaccounted for by the time the team will have arrived. Oh, and the tactics board.

In every League of Ireland away dressing room City have played in since John Caulfield’s arrival, there is a masonry nail, ready to have the tactics board hung on it. One of the backroom staff – who shall remain nameless, in case the league sanction him for vandalism – literally brought a hammer with him to every away game.

The music Ring plays is more than acceptable to this writer’s ears, but he has been sacked as the DJ when the team are present, with Karl Sheppard’s Spotify preferred instead. They won’t lack for room, anyway.

“This is great, it’s probably the best away dressing room,” Ring says.

“The away one in Turner’s Cross is small, but I remember a few years ago West Brom were over and I was apologising to their kitman, he said, ‘It’s fine, it’s better than the one in St James’ Park!’.

“This is ideal, you’ve a separate shower area, a separate physio area, most places don’t have the two. Sligo have a bigger one, but this is just better.”

With everything pretty much done, there is time to flick through the programme – Rovers give a generous allocation, it must be said – while Ring waits for the text from assistant manager John Cotter listing the starting line-up, which he will then fill out on the official teamsheet.

“This is the calm before the storm,” he says, “this is the neatest the dressing room is going to look for the rest of the night.”

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The Cork City kit laid out, waiting for the team’s arrival

He’ll stay around the dressing room before kick-off, just in case there are any needs to be attended to, but generally things run smoothly. Afterwards, it’s just a case of leaving the skips out for the players to throw their stuff into – ideally turned right-way round. At one game this season that he couldn’t attend, he had the van parked outside Turner’s Cross and called for the skips at 10pm during a break in work.

With the skips back in the van, it’s straight for home, calling to Bishopstown to put the gear into the wash. He’s back in Inniscarra at 1.30am, a long day and just one of many in a season.

It’s the kind of organisation which comes second nature to a man who has played a key role in helping Cork City to become champions of Ireland.

The future

Mick Ring’s father Denis was a founder member of Cork City, he himself has been chairman of Foras and sister Eileen has played for the club’s women’s side.

It’s a family steeped in the club but, with a wife and two young sons at home, it’s natural to ask him if he ever gets sick of his voluntary role.

“There are times when it is, like any job,” he says.

“There’s the odd day where you’re not too keen but once I hit the road for an away match, I’m grand.

“I’m thinking about the match and setting up, and the thing is that I’d be going to all of these matches anyway.

“This morning, I was playing cars with the small fella and wishing I didn’t have to leave but that’s the nature of it.”

So is there a long-term plan, a timescale on how long he intends to it?

“It’s hard to know,” he says.

“It’s definitely getting harder, having two kits. It was okay with just the first fella, Cillian, but it’s not fair to Sarah now.

“I remember going to Europe when Darragh was just two weeks old and I said, ‘I won’t go to Estonia if you don’t want me to’, but she said it was fine. Maybe she was glad to be rid of me!

 “I classify this as a hobby, really. That being said, when every season ends, I’m glad of the break.

“Even that, at that stage I’ve the training gear ordered for the following year, it comes in before Christmas and there’s a good few days in sorting that out.”

Of course, if he had given up at the end of last season, say, he’d have missed the experience of being involved in a league-winning season.

“That’s the thing about it, you’d be kicking yourself,” he says.

“The day when we won the FAI Cup in the Aviva was brilliant and to be out on the pitch made it extra-special.

“If I was watching it on TV or up in the stands, I’d have been thinking that I should be out there. It was fantastic.

“I’ll give it another while, unless it gets to the stage where it becomes too much, but I don’t think I’d every walk away fully. If I had to step back, I’d still try to stay involved some way.”

Combinations and communications

Mick Ring has so many Cork City shirts that he has a website where they can all be viewed.

There are some real beauties and rarities which nobody else owns, so being kitman is pretty much the perfect role for him. In the 2017 season, he was able to kit out the team in nine different strip combinations – has he a favourite look?

“It’s not as exciting as you’d think!” he laughs.

“Some of the lads would be asking some days alright and I’d say, ‘Because I’m telling you to wear it!’.

“Sometimes it’s nice to see what certain combinations look like. I like the away kit, the white shirts, green shorts and white socks, it’s nice with the green socks too.

“When we had red away kits, we couldn’t really mix and match, so it is kind of handy. Even if your white shorts weren’t ready, for whatever reason, you can throw in the green and it wouldn’t make that much of a difference.”

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The nine different kit combinations worn by Cork City in 2017

Perhaps surprisingly, there are no real bizarre kit superstitions within the dressing room.

“Some guys change shirts at half-time, but that’s more of a comfort thing than anything else,” he says.

“A few fellas wear baselayers, some fellas cut socks, but again that’s more for comfort. If any fellas have superstitions, they’ve kept them quiet. I haven’t got the blame for anything going wrong, not yet anyway!”

Like goalkeepers, there is an unofficial kitmen’s union, with nuggets traded on a WhatsApp group.

“A few of us will bang information back and forth, even contacts for different places,” he says.

“A club you mightn’t have been to in a while, say – like Drogheda this year, we hadn’t played them in a few years and I didn’t know who the kitman was.

““McGinn Park [Derry City’s temporary home in Buncrana] this year, I hadn’t been there before so I was asking a few of the other lads how they had gotten on.

“A couple of them told me it was tiny, so that was another place we togged off in the hotel.

“Gavin, the Derry kitman is a fireman, and Colin, who’s with Bohs, is in the Army, so we’d always be hopping off each other. I’d text Gavin and say, ‘Sorry for waking you up if you’re at work!’.”

Fantasy Kit Friday, 3-11-17 – Leeds United adidas, 1984

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Leeds United content is always popular here, though today’s request comes from an Arsenal fan, David Morrissey.

He’s also from Tipperary though, so perhaps that’s has something to do with it (David is also behind the Cúl Stars range, if you’re looking for a Christmas present for the GAA fan in your life).

His FKF request was for Manchester United’s 1984-86 design to be mixed with Leeds’ colours, and the results are reminiscent of Leeds’ 86-88 Umbro offerings – there is certainly a case to be made that Burton is a better sponsor than WGK.

The home:

Leeds-adidas-Fantasy-1984-01

And the away:

Leeds-adidas-Fantasy-1984-away-01

Midweek Mashup – West Ham United, 1980

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Growing up in Ireland, where Gaelic games are so popular, it doesn’t seem strange to have two teams changing when colours clash (of course, sometimes neither changes).

On the rare occasions that it happens now in football, there is a general outcry, while the same sentiments are often expressed when looking at pictures from the past – perhaps with a lack of knowledge that, at one stage, that was the rule for FA Cup games.

By the late 1970s, that regulation still existed but was enforced less, with the 1971 FA Cup final the first notable example of this. Arsenal lost the toss on that occasion and, while they wore their home kit in losing to Leeds United the following year, their yellow and blue change kit would be used in three deciders in a row from 1978-80 inclusive – but only in the middle one, against Manchester United in 1979, was it fully necessary.

As related in the excellent book The Arsenal Shirt, Arsenal changed against Ipswich Town in 1978 rather than donning red alternative shorts, and it was a similar story two years later, when West Ham United provided the opposition.

Both semi-finals went to replays, and were indicative of the inconsistent approach to clashing – West Ham wore all-white against the all-blue of Everton in both of their games, while Arsenal and Liverpool’s four-game series saw them alternating home and away kits.

West Ham were the ‘home’ team for the final, but they opted to stay in white – perhaps a mix of superstition after the semi and the heat. The default setting of the away strip was white shirts with blue shorts and socks, but the home shorts and socks were used here, with the mash-up nature evident by the difference in Admiral trim and logos.

West-Ham-United-1980-Admiral-white-FA-Cup-final-Arsenal-01.png

With West Ham in white, Arsenal could have worn their home shirts with red shorts, but again decided to go with yellow and blue. West Ham’s white worked its charm though, with Trevor Brooking’s header giving them victory.

It would transpire to be their final game in Admiral as they joined forces with adidas for the 1980-81 season – their next game, the Charity Shield against Wembley, would see all-white worn again, with the shirts and shorts again have different striping.

Ireland’s quick kit change before playing Italy at USA 94

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Eddie O’Mahony has the one of the most comprehensive collections of Republic of Ireland shirts – check his site for proof.

You can now pre-order 40 Shades of Green, the excellent book Eddie has put together charting his collection and a publication to which I am proud to have contributed. To mark this auspicious occasion, here is an excerpt from Andy’s Game, a diary of the USA 1994 World Cup by Ireland captain Andy Townsend.

In that World Cup, Ireland ended up wearing their white adidas away kit in three of their four games, but they were ready to wear it before the other one too, their opener against Italy:

Republic-of-Ireland-1994-adidas-away-kit-shirt-01

15.45: ‘Fifteen minutes to kick-off,’ reminds the talking clock. It’s time for the final act and I remove the t-shirt I’ve worn to stretch and warm up. Boots polished, socks and shorts and shin-guards in place, I slip my jersey over my shoulders and Mick hands me the arm band. An official pops his head around the door: ‘Okay gentlemen, we’re ready.’ And with this a huge roar goes up, ‘Come onnn,’ as we circle the dressing-room, slapping each other down the shoulder, wishing each other the best and shaking hands. I make for the door at the head of the string. Jack, who hasn’t really said that much, is waiting with a final word.

‘Good luck, Andy, Good luck, son. All the best.’

‘Cheers, Jack.’

We’re ready now. I turn with a final chant, ‘Let’s go for it lads,’ and step out. A FIFA official, waiting outside in the corridor, approaches to guide us towards the tunnel, but as soon as he sees our strip, a look of horror comes over his face. ‘You can’t walk out there dressed in white [socks], green [shorts] and white [shirts] – Italy have just gone out wearing white, blue and white. You’ll have to change.’

At first I think he’s joking. ‘Can we not just change the shirts,’ I ask, ‘and wear white [socks]-green-green?’

‘No, the socks…everything must be changed.’

It would be another ten years – the 2004 game away to France – before Ireland would actually wear the combination Townsend suggested, green shirts and shorts with white socks, a green version of Chelsea.

16.00: Pandemonium in the dressing-room. After one and a half hours of twiddling our thumbs, we’ve got one and a half minutes to strip and change our kit. Charlie, our kit man, literally dives into the skip, emptying it furiously – shirts, shorts and socks flying around the room.

‘Twenty-one? Who’s twenty-one?’

‘Yeah, over here.’

‘Thirteen?’

‘Who’s got my shorts, anyone seen an eight?’

‘Mine’s a seven, Charlie.’

The scene of manic chaos is just too much for Jack. Turning his rage on Charlie, he completely blows a fuse: ‘What the fucking hell is going on? What are we doing in the wrong kit?’ Not that it’s poor Charlie’s fault (I fear he might suffer a heart attack) – he never gets his kit wrong.”

94 home-01.png

Ray Houghton’s early goal gave Ireland their first win in a World Cup game and, with white shirts used against Mexico, Norway and the Netherlands, this would prove to be the final outing for the short-lived shirt, as Umbro took over the Ireland contract that autumn.

They would remain until this year, when New Balance became the new suppliers:

 

Fantasy Kit Friday, 27-10-17 – Roma in Kappa in 1992

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I’ve had a soft spot for Roma with a long time, and I still occasionally wear my 2000-01 Kappa home shirt.

That kit was their first after joining forces with Kappa following a spell with Diadora, and last year I wrote a piece on how well the various elements interchanged.

All told, Roma and Kappa have had three different spells together – 1983-86, 2000-03 and 2007-13 (incidentally, they’ve been with both adidas and Diadora twice).

Ed Moynihan, who runs the excellent Forza 27, is also someone with a deep affection for the giallorossim, and when I offered him the chance to come up with a Fantasy Kit Friday suggestion, he proposed an alternate history where Roma had Kappa in the early 1990s.

Barcelona were Kappa’s big contract at the time so it makes sense to utilise their templates. The home is two-tone dark red:

Roma Fantasy Home-01

The away is a simple transposition of Barca’s aqua away:

Roma Fantasy Away-01

And the third also borrows from the home style but with halves rather than stripes, referencing Roma’s 2001-02 European kit.

Roma Fantasy Third-01