Seven seasons where Arsenal’s goalkeepers wore four different coloured shirts


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I like goalkeepers.

In my ‘real’ job as a sports journalist (incredibly, I have to earn money elsewhere as nobody wants to pay me to draw kits), I often find them to provide the most interesting interviews, regardless of which code they may be playing.

In a team sport, they are the individuals. The mistakes are more magnified than anyone else on the pitch (apart from the referee, of course, who is never right, it seems). There is a pressure attached which is more akin to that experienced by an individual sportsman or woman, like a golfer or tennis player.

An attacker can miss 12 chances in a game but if he gets the 13th and it happens to be the matchwinner, he is golden. Unfortunately, an error by a netminder will almost always lead to a concession and, no matter how many saves he makes before or after, it can’t be undone.

Unsurprisingly, goalkeeper kits are also a big interest, as evidenced by the series on adidas strips. While templates are often unfairly given a bad name, I do like seeing how a kit can look in different colours and a club’s goalkeeper shirts usually follow the same pattern.

Perhaps counter-intuitively though, we do feel that there are too many goalkeeper shirts about nowadays.

Around the millennium, someone in power somewhere decided that the two goalkeepers in a game should wear different colours. It seems like overkill here – to the best of my knowledge, there are exactly zero instances of anybody confusing a keeper up for a later corner with his opposite number.

The main upshot of this is that most top-level teams now have three options – see the 2017-18 Premier League handbook for the goalkeeper kits this season. It means that the thrill of seeing a goalkeeper in an alternative shirt to his usual one, caused by a clash with the opposition, is largely gone.

In the current landscape, there is still the capacity to surprise though, if a team use four different colours for GK shirts in the one season. Arsenal have ticked that box on seven occasions (to the best of our knowledge), but it might surprise you to learn that it’s a phenomenon which is 35 years old.


1982-83: Bob Wilson did occasionally wear blue – most notably in the 1969 League Cup final defeat to Swindon Town – but, by and large, green was the only colour used by Arsenal and most of the other clubs in the Football League.

The launch of a green and navy away kit in 1982 provided the need for alternatives for George Wood and Pat Jennings when red wasn’t worn. Blue was the most common option, but Wood wore red away to Leeds and Ipswich – not the first time it was used by an Arsenal keeper, as George Swindin wore it in the 1950 FA Cup final. Away to Middlesbrough in the cup, Jennings wore white with red trim.


1992-93: Arsenal returned to yellow away kits in 1983 and so only rare games against teams in green saw a deviation by goalkeepers, with blue favoured.

In 1992, the new Premier League decreed that referees would wear green instead of their usual black, forcing goalkeepers around the country to change (more overkill, in my view, as again the potential for confusion was minimal).

Arsenal opted for blue as the first-choice for goalkeepers and though green was marketed as the ‘away’, it was only really used in the cups, where officials still wore black.

As a result, grey became the de facto second choice, but both that and the blue were deemed to clash at Blackburn Rovers, meaning David Seaman wore red as Arsenal played in their ‘bruised banana’ away kit.

Arsenal played Sheffield Wednesday in both domestic cup finals, and Seaman wore green in both, with special embroidery for each game while he had also taken to removing the collars from the shirts.


1998-99: As someone with an interest in Gaelic games, it’s hardly a surprise to learn that there is a liking here for goalkeeper shirts which feature the same palette as the corresponding outfield kit.

Arsenal did that in 1998-99, with the club’s official merchandise catalogue indicating that the red home socks would be worn by Seaman and Alex Manninger. As far as I know, that never happened and instead the away socks, a darker navy than the shirt and shorts and with yellow trim, were used.

As in the previous two seasons, when the main goalkeeper shirt was yellow, orange was the back-up colour, but Arsenal’s first foray into the Champions League meant that two other shirts were seen, each only once.

The yellow was used in the first group game, away to RC Lens. The French side wore their navy change kit and UEFA must have decided that the orange was too close to the red and white Arsenal kit.

Then, in the return against Lens at Wembley, Arsenal wore a one-off navy third kit as their home and away both clashed with Lens’ red and yellow stripes, meaning Seaman wore green. This shirt differed from the other three in that it didn’t have the ‘braces’ style.


2002-03: In their first few years with Nike, Arsenal had bespoke outfield and goalkeeper designs, but by the early 2000s they were being given template styles.

This design was seen at the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan and, as far as I can recall, the grey and yellow was the first-choice and the only one retailed.

Oddly, the black was sometimes worn with the navy away kit while Seaman wore the yellow when he made his wonder-save against Sheffield United in the FA Cup semi-final while his team-mates were in gold.

The orange was worn by him as he captained Arsenal to victory over Southampton in the cup final, his last game for the club.


2004-05: Grey was the main shirt worn – annoyingly, the darker grey shorts matched nothing else, and Manuel Almunia would take to wearing that shirt with the black shorts later in the season.

Like two seasons previous, the choices were sometimes strange as the two-tone blue was worn with the royal blue away kit, most notably when Arsenal lost 2-0 to Manchester United at Old Trafford, ending their 49-game unbeaten run.

Not a horrific clash, but surely avoidable – referee Mike Riley wore green and United keeper Roy Carroll was in grey – so perhaps the yellow and black options weren’t available at the time.

This theory is given credence by the fact that Almunia wore yellow when United went back to Old Trafford in the league cup in December.

Note also how Lehmann cut much of the neck off his shirts. The difference can clearly be seen in this picture from the 2006 Champions League final, as Almunia prepares to replace Robert Pires after Lehmann has been sent off.


2010-11: Again, grey was described as the first choice, but it received far less game-time than the aqua shirt.

Again, not all choices were logical – Lukasz Fabianski wore the pink as Arsenal played in red at Wolves.

The black shirt, as worn by the emerging Wojciech Szczesny when Arsenal beat Barcelona in the Champions League, had the same sleeves as the grey shirt rather than having the design contrast.

Jens Lehmann re-signed as short-term cover when Fabianski and Szczesny were injured and was named as substitute to Almunia for the away game with Blackpool. When Almunia became injured in the warm-up, Lehmann played one last game in the aqua kit, at 41 becoming Arsenal’s oldest Premier League player – Arsenal’s outfielders wore the yellow away rather than the blue 2009-10 away which had seemingly been retained as a third shirt.


2013-14: The most recent instance. Black was the nominal first choice – Szczesny, by now the main goalkeeper, preferred to wear short sleeves with a baselayer underneath. The luminous yellow Nike logo would have matched with the panel at the base of the long sleeves on the black kit.

When Arsenal launched a new yellow away kit in the summer of 2013, they gave it a unique font for cup competitions, different to the cup font on the home kit. As a result, the goalkeeper kit would match up, as when Fabianski wore purple as Arsenal played in yellow when they went to West Brom in the league cup.

The grey kit was only worn against Bayern Munich in the Champions League, a game where Szczesny was sent off. Fabianski’s last game was in the green against Hull City in the FA Cup final.

Currently on eBay is this yellow Arsenal goalkeeper shirt in the same style. Whether it was a rejected sample or an actual option available in the kit-room, we’ll never know. If the latter was the case, it represents a missed opportunity for five different coloured goalkeeper shirts.

The man who knows most about Arsenal kits, Simon Shakeshaft, co-author of The Arsenal Shirt, says that there were four available to Arsenal from about 2010-14 but some remained unused.

For the 2017-18 campaign, the shirt described as first choice is dark green, as worn when Arsenal beat Chelsea to win the Community Shield. Interestingly, while only the green shirt is available in adult sizes, that and the pink option are offered in junior sizes.

The pink has yet to see game-time, with Petr Cech wearing orange in Arsenal’s first two league games.

Do you know of other clubs who have had four – or maybe more – goalkeeper colours in a season? Get in touch on Twitter if you do.

Fantasy Kit Friday, 18-8-17 – Republic of Ireland Nike 2002

I’m a bad person. Back in February, Mikey Traynor floated the notion of a Republic of Ireland kit in the Nike 2002 stylings.

The intention was to do that on St Patrick’s Day, doubling up with these:

Instead, time ran out and the Nike kits weren’t able to be done. It was welcome therefore, that a gentle reminder from Mikey recently:

In reality, Ireland’s Umbro kit at the 2002 World Cup featured navy as the third colour but only very sparingly – to translate that to this style would have made the shirt look too Northern Ireland-y.

Instead, the decision was taken to go with the more traditional orange, using the template worn by Brazil (there were a few options as Nike altered elements for different countries):


And then reverse the green and white for the change kit:

Incidentally, for those interested in real Ireland kits, Eddie O’Mahony is soon launching a book on the history of the shirts, using examples from his considerable matchworn collection. He has asked Museum of Jerseys to provide artwork and it is a pleasure to be able to accede to that request, so keep an eye out in the autumn.

Midweek Mashup – Watford, 1987



We have already seen on a few occasions how Watford’s 1980s home kit of yellow shirts and red shorts and socks proved troublesome at times.

Liverpool were forced into a very unusual look, Nottingham Forest took to wearing all-white at Vicarage Road after a mix-up saw them wearing Watford’s change socks, and even the Football League handbook contributed to the confusion, as when the Hornets went to Old Trafford in 1984.

Three years later, Watford’s trip to face Nottingham Forest on Wednesday, August 19, 1987 would be notable.

First of all, Watford were in their away shirts, rather than just changing the clashing red socks, as they would do at Highbury or Anfield – presumably the referee on the evening wasn’t happy with Watford’s red shorts against Forest’s shirts, but one would have thought that yellow shirts and black shorts and socks, as worn away to Liverpool, would have sufficed.

In any event, it was the usual away white shirts and black shorts which were worn, but the mashup element comes from the plain white socks.


The change didn’t have a talismanic effect, as Forest won 1-0, but an explanation came in the programme for Watford’s next home game, at home to Tottenham on August 29 (thanks as always to Lee Hermitage for digging out this info):

Why white socks?

Watford wore white socks in their recent match at Nottingham Forest, as the photograph on page 7 of this programme reveals. Why? Manager Dave Bassett explains:

“We had to change kit to play Forest, and the present away kit has socks that are mostly black. That’s okay during daytime, but I feel that white socks give that extra bit of visibility at nighttime. It doesn’t mean we are changing our away kit, but you can expect to see us play in brighter coloured socks in our home evening games as well.”

The ‘new’ socks are purely for team use, and do not form part of the official club kit, so they are not available through the Hornet Shop.

It’s a fairly sound theory, and white socks under lights was always something Sir Alex Ferguson preferred in this time at Manchester United.

As far as we can see, the Watford home kit remained unchanged during that season, even for evening games – perhaps you might know of examples where white, or perhaps yellow, socks were worn? Get in touch if so.

Fantasy Kit Friday, 11-8-17



Today’s Fantasy Kit Friday features mid-80s Hereford United wearing Le Coq Sportif, requested by Simon Shakeshaft.

If that sounds familiar to you, it’s because, at the end of last year, we executed a similar request but with adidas kits. If you think it’s overkill, we’ll have to ask you to step outside – Shakey co-wrote one of our favourite books and is an absolute wealth of kit knowledge, so he can request Hereford in every maker from Admiral to Xara and we’ll do it.

The home is based on the Tottenham Hotspur kit but with navy replacing black and red trim added.


The away is based on the change kits donned by Aston Villa and Chelsea when they had LCS.


Requests are open to all, so if there’s one you’d like to see, get in touch on Twitter.

Two 1993-94 Shoot! magazine kit-designs competitions


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We were delighted recently when Rob Stokes got in touch with some excellent finds from early-90s editions of Shoot! magazine. We won’t gorge on them all at once, but for starters we’ll show you two kit-design competitions.

The first of these was in the autumn of 1993, when they teamed up with adidas for Steve Nicol’s testimonial, which saw Liverpool take on a Great Britain XI.


The winning design was in the same template as that season’s Arsenal away, designed by Rufel Ali:


The second competition, which we’re fairly sure is from the spring of 1994, is a bit odder. Readers were asked to design a new England kit, but not one to be worn by the team. Instead, it seems to effectively be advertising for Spall, who would provide the shirt and shorts as designed by the winner (plain white socks were already ‘adopted’).

We’ve no recollection of seeing the winning design – maybe you can help us to jog our memory?

spall england


Midweek Mashup – Internazionale, 2016



At first glance, you might be confused as to why this is even clashed as a mashup.

Cast your minds back just over a year though, to the launch of the Nike Vapor template. As well as most teams having sleeves in a darker colour to their torso, mismatching socks were something else Nike had sought to imposeBarcelona, Brazil and Poland being notable exceptions.

For Internazionale, yellow socks were to be their lot – however, as luck would have it, their first Serie A game of 2016-17 was away to Chievo Verona. As a result, they looked quite normal:


Inter are back in black socks for the coming season, but let’s be honest – the stripes look shit, don’t they?

Ireland rugby jersey history, 1987-2017


New Ireland rugby shirts have become an annual event, with the kit for the coming season launched on Friday.

Go to the IRFU website for the marketing spiel, or go to for a piece we wrote earlier this year on how things have changed in terms of commercialism.

Or just stay here to look at how the jersey has evolved over three decades since the original intrusion of manufacturers’ markings (click on any kit to enlarge it).

Three stripes and you’re out!


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  • This article first appeared in the Evening Echo on August 2, 2017

Nowadays, the Cork GAA kit, like so many others, features three stripes down the sleeves and on the shorts.

From time to time, one sees the question raised on social media as to why playing strips manufactured by Dublin firm O’Neills feature the trademark which one would normally associated with adidas.

Basically, they earned the right to do this after adidas took them to court in 1980 but it was held that O’Neills had used the motif first in Ireland and therefore could continue to do so. The stripes weren’t overly common on kits in the 1990s, but since the mid-2000s O’Neills have made them pretty much ubiquitous. This summer marks the 40th anniversary of their first appearance in the wider Irish sporting consciousness.


The stripes’ first appearance on a GAA jersey was in 1976 as Cork donned an adidas set for the Munster final replay against Kerry. It was a move made without sanctioning from the board and adidas’s large trefoil logo had to be covered up.


In his autobiography, Rebel, Rebel, legendary former Cork player and manager Billy Morgan mentioned how there was an investigation into the incident by the board but no punishment other than an instruction not to let things happen again.

However, the following summer, 40 years ago, the team again found themselves at odds with the board over gear, with the episode dubbed ‘the three-stripe affair’.

Michael O’Connell, the managing director of Three Stripe International, adidas’s Irish licensees, and his employee Pat Moore made an approach to Dinny Allen early in 1977, and Morgan went to meet them on behalf of the team.

Adidas were offering jerseys, shorts, boots and tracksuits, only asking for a photograph of the team wearing the clothing for promotional purposes. While Morgan said that the jerseys were a non-runner, he had no problem with the rest and he asked the team’s selectors to seek permission from the board.

The GAA rules, then and now, stipulated that on-field clothing had to be of Irish manufacture. Three-Stripe International ticked this box as they made their clothing in Cork, but any form of branding was prohibited and there was a general air of suspicion regarding anything new.

With no word from the board, the team decided to wear the shorts, featuring the three stripes and adidas’s marque, in a tournament game against Mayo in London. Morgan relates how selector Paddy O’Driscoll tried to prevent him giving out the shorts to his team-mates but coach Donie O’Donovan over-ruled him.

Cork’s championship opener saw them play Clare, and the team had agreed to come on to the pitch wearing the adidas tracksuit tops and then pose for a team photograph. The Banner were easily seen off to set up a final meeting with Kerry but, before that, at a training session Morgan was summoned to a meeting of the board executive.

With advice from Dr Con Murphy to keep his head, Morgan kept cool as a board member went on to the attack. “Ye footballers are always the same, always causing trouble, always looking for something,” he was told.

Morgan made the point that most other counties got gear and the meeting ended with Frank Murphy expressing the hope that things could be sorted amicably. There was no further communication, so Morgan and the team assumed all was fine, but on the Wednesday before the Munster final, chairman Donal O’Sullivan informed them that a letter was on the way threatening suspension if the adidas gear was worn.

The team had a kickabout on the Saturday and afterwards, Donie O’Donovan said to go along with the board and wear plain white shorts. “We’ll beat Kerry and then on Tuesday night I’ll lead ye into the board and we’ll give them what’s what. I’ll leave it up to ye but I’ll back ye 100 percent.”

Team captain Jimmy Barry-Murphy backed up that view and so did Morgan but other players felt differently. The debate went back and forth, and it looked as if O’Donovan’s idea would be followed.

As Morgan put it, “Then, lo and behold, who should open up only a selector. ‘As far as I can see, ye are only creeping’ and crawlin’ trying to get free gear.’” That was the trigger for JBM to stand up and say that the three stripes would be worn.

On the train to Killarney, board officials tried to get him to change his mind and when the team reached the hotel they were implored to wear the plain shorts, but they held firm and took to the field in the adidas ones.


While Cork led by six points early on, Kerry rallied and in the end were convincing winners on a scoreline of 3-15 to 0-9. In the week after the game came the decision that the team were to be suspended en masse by the board. Crucially though, they were only suspended from playing football for Cork, meaning Barry-Murphy and Brian Murphy were part of the Cork hurling side which won the All-Ireland. The players weren’t prevented from playing with their clubs either, so the ban was of little material effect.

There were meetings, but no resolution to the impasse. Eventually, the players relented just before the start of the national league in October, signing a letter stating that the adidas gear would be worn.

“We felt we couldn’t win, and we backed down,” Morgan wrote.

I suppose it was in the back of our minds that we had relatively short playing careers. If we had a Dónal Óg Cusack, we might have kept it going. Maybe if we kept at that battle back in 1977, the troubles of the last few years would have been avoided.

We weren’t cut out for GAA politics and probably lacked the confidence of the players of today. There was no union to support us and the players weren’t yet properly organised at a national level.

And, anyway, we just wanted to play football.

Midweek Mashup – Aston Villa, 1989



For Aston Villa, sky-blue shorts are a regular go-to alternative when required.

A while back, we looked at how they were one of the options in 2011-12 season – and last season they also had mix-and-match options. In fact, in 2000-01, the home shorts were sky-blue.

Even if the away kit doesn’t complement the home colours, they’ve generally had change blue shorts, but for some reason, the start to the 1989-90 season – when Villa would go on to finish second – was an exception.

Why this should be the case was something of a surprise – they were still with Hummel and their previous sets, in the style of the 1986 Denmark kits, allowed for a lot of combinations.

The new away shirt was white with black sleeves and purple trim, but one would have thought that the previous claret shorts could have been used when required.

With the claret of the new home shirt slightly darker, it meant that Villa opted to wear it away to teams in red, with the away usually seen against sides in blue (due to referees seeking sleeve differentiation).

As the fixture-list would have it, Villa’s first league game of the season was away to Nottingham Forest. The home shirts were deemed okay, but the shorts had to be changed and so the away set were called into action:


Certainly unusual, but it didn’t seem to affect Villa as they drew 1-1. They would actually draw their first three games by that score before losing 2-1 at Southampton, but they bounced back thereafter and ended up finishing second to Liverpool.

By the end of the season though, Hummel had finally come up with blue shorts.

Nottingham Forest 1986-88 – not far off a grand slam of combinations



In 1986, Nottingham Forest returned to wearing Umbro kits after nine years with adidas and playing in U-Win (seemingly an Umbro sub-brand) in 1976-77.

While Umbro had pushed the boat out in terms of geometric shapes in the early-to-mid-80s, they were restraining themselves again, with fabric patterns and collar- and cuff-trim the only real concessions to design on the Forest kits.

The shirts followed the same design with the colours reversed, though while the home had a checkered effect, the away had a herringbone pattern like that of the Tottenham Hummel kit of the time. For some reason, the Umbro diamonds were in different places on the socks too.


Home Ales were not in place at the beginning of the season and so unsponsored shirts were worn in early-season games. Also, the original plan was for the away to have red shorts, but according to David Brown, Forest manager Brian Clough preferred the black shorts. The club’s next two away kits would be white-black-white.

The kits would stay the same for 1987-88 but instead of Home Ales, another Nottingham brewer was the sponsor, as the Shipstones name graced the front of the shirt.




With red shorts available too, Forest could could conceivably had 12 different kit combinations with these kits (leaving aside sponsor changes). Taking into account the fact that the black shorts were never likely to feature with the home shirt, the number is reduced to ten. Impressively, they wore eight of them across the two seasons.

The original white-red-white home kit would bring the number to nine, but it seems it was only worn by the youth team.

Obviously, the default configurations above had the most outings. Of the four possible red and white combinations, three were worn. We’ve mentioned Forest wearing red shorts at Tottenham before and that look was seen at clubs with white shorts, like Everton, too.


Red shorts and the away socks were worn at Portsmouth and, perhaps oddly, given that they had blue socks, Brighton in 1986-87.


Logically, one would have thought that red shirts, white shorts and white socks would have been worn at Watford.

In one game at Vicarage Road in the early 80s, they forgot about the socks clash and so ended up wearing Watford’s black set. While their away kit with adidas was yellow and so couldn’t be worn, after switching back to Umbro they preferred to go with all-white.


Even in 1988-89, with Watford in black shorts, they wore the away shirt above (it was retained for a third season, with updated Shipstones logo) and the new home shorts.

At Southampton, the black shorts and white socks both clashed and so the home sets were used.


An interesting variation was away to Aston Villa in 1986-87. Villa had white shorts and socks that season and so Forest only need to change socks but they also opted to wear the red shorts.


We don’t know if that was also used at West Ham that season, but in at Upton Park 87-88 the normal away shorts were paired with the home socks.