Premier League kit-tracker – Gameweek 5

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Saturday, September 15

Tottenham Hotspur 1 Liverpool 2

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Liverpool made it five wins from win. Goalkeeper Alisson, having worn yellow in the previous four games, switched to green.

Bournemouth 4 Leicester City 2

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Chelsea 4 Cardiff City 1

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A first outing for Cardiff’s second shirt, which is a very light grey in the Condivo style. The default socks are grey with white tops, but they had to change to the home set.

Huddersfield Town 0 Crystal Palace 1

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With their first two kits unavailable, Palace launched a brand-new third, completing a fine set of kits.

Manchester City 3 Fulham 0

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Four shirts in five games for Fulham, while their red goalkeeper kit got a first airing.

Newcastle United 1 Arsenal 2

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Watford 1 Manchester United 2

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A second game in a row for Manchester United’s pink change kit, this time with off-white change shorts.

Sunday, September 16

Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 Burnley 0

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Everton 1 West Ham United 3

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With a shorts- and socks-clash, West Ham opted to wear alternative blue shorts and the socks from the third kit.

Everton promoted their Kits For Africa initiative, though with the SportPesa logo also included.

Monday, September 17

Southampton 2 Brighton & Hove Albion 2

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Brighton’s green change shirt was used for the first time. The first choice socks for the kit are black, but they had to change here.

 

Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur maintain European kit traditions – for now

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This week sees the return of the Champions League and all that that entails (see David Squires’ cartoon in The Guardian for more).

For us kit aficionados, there is plenty to get our teeth into – Paris St-German’s new Jordan kits for the competition have proven to be worthy of discussion – while new strips for Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur have raised questions as to whether either or both would dispense with their European kit traditions.

Since the 1960s (but excluding the 1991-92 European Cup Winners’ Cup and the 1999-2000 Uefa Cup), Spurs have favoured all-white in Europe – according to Historical Football Kits, more to do with floodlight visibility rather than a Real Madrid tribute.

However, their new home shirt features a white-to-navy gradient, meaning that it looks odd without the default navy shorts.

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They could have changed shorts at to Manchester United or Watford in the Premier League but opted against doing so – they haven’t worn alternative home shorts in the league for quite a few years, though.

However, their opener on Tuesday is away to Inter Milan, who of course have black shorts and Uefa don’t generally allow shorts-clashes. In any case, Spurs have registered white shorts as their first choice and so will look something like this.

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Likewise, Manchester United’s home shirt features a series of black stripes, widening each time, flowing into black shorts, which are the primary set for the first time.

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Unlike Spurs, United do wear change shorts when applicable, but at Watford last Saturday they wore their new pink away shirt with off-white shorts (changed from black) rather than having their home shirt with change shorts.

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That has raised the question as to whether or not they will continue to wear wear white shorts and socks in Europe, as has been the case since the launch of a special Champions League kit in 1997.

Tomorrow night, the Red Devils play their first group game, a trip to Switzerland to face BSC Young Boys, who wear yellow shirts with black shorts, so a change is needed anyway.

We can reveal that, according to Uefa’s official documentation, they will wear this kit:

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However, again according to the documentation, the red/black/red kit is listed as the club’s first choice, so the above may just be a shorts-change for the Young Boys tie.

We will await their first home game, against Valencia on October 2, with interest.

 

Serie A Classics – Hellas Verona, 1984-85

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In the history of Hellas Verona, one season stands above all others.

The 1984-85 Serie A win wasn’t as much of a turnaround as that achieved by Leicester City in 2016, say, given that they had finished fourth and sixth in the two seasons before, having come up from Serie B in 1982. They had also reached the Coppa Italia final in 1983 and 1984, losing to Juventus and Roma respectively.

Nevertheless, to reach the summit in an era when those two teams that beat them in the cup deciders had also reached the European Cup final in the same season – and Juve had won the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1984 – it was no mean feat.

Osvaldo Bagnoli’s side recruited well, adding Danish striker Preben Elkjaer and German defender Hans-Peter Briegel to the ranks which already included the likes of Italian midfielders Pietro Fanna and Arturo di Gennaro.

In an era when it was still two points for a win, a record of 15 wins, 13 draws and just two losses meant that Verona finished four points ahead of Juventus, who would beat Liverpool in the European Cup final. Most importantly, they looked magnificent in doing so.

We always like a largely blue kit with yellow trim, like Boca Juniors or Sweden’s 1990 change kit, and Verona’s shirt was a beauty, featuring pinstripes, though their inclusion on the shorts was perhaps the only questionable element.

There was a socks variation too, with unusual vertical adidas striping, similar to that which would be a feature of the firm’s 1998 kits.

The change kit, worn in the penultimate game away to Atalanta, when a 1-1 draw secured the title, was a straight reversal, albeit without the pinstripes on the shorts.

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Goalkeepers Claudio Garella and Sergio Spuri were seen in a rare design, similar to that used by Brazil at the 1984 Olympics, but without the lower narrow stripes.

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Unfortunately for Verona, the kits wouldn’t really reach a wider European audience as, having beaten PAOK in the first round of the European Cup, they drew Juventus and lost 2-0 on aggregate.

They would finish that season in tenth place, 17 points off champions Juve, and while they would bounce back in 1986-87 to come fourth, placings of tenth and 11th preceded 16th and relegation in 1989-90.

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A strange kit situation four Fulham

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While Fulham’s record of wearing four kits in the one Premier League season is not a record, we doubt anyone can match the feat of wearing those four strips in the space of five games.

There was no sign of anything being out of the ordinary on the opening day, a 2-0 home defeat to Crystal Palace, when the new adidas home shirt was worn.

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However, a week later, the trip across London to face Tottenham Hotspur meant a change. Fulham had launched a new navy kit in the summer, but that wasn’t worn – the assumption was that that hadn’t been allowed against the Spurs shirt, which has extra navy this season.

Instead, the Cottagers took to the field for their 3-1 defeat in a previous red away shirt – but one which was by now two seasons old, having been used in 2016-17.

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For the third set of fixtures, they were back in the home kit as they got their first win, 4-2 at home to Burnley, but the trip to face Brighton & Hove Albion before the international break provided another deviation from the norm.

Perhaps there was a fear that navy would clash with a large amount of royal blue and white, but, if so, it was an unfounded one.

In any case, if you were trying to avoid something clashing with navy, switching to black, as Fulham did, is hardly the biggest jump. The 2017-18 away shirt was matched with the current home shorts and socks – was it just the case that adidas hadn’t delivered the navy kit?

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If that was the reason, then it was sorted before Saturday’s 3-0 loss away to Manchester City. However, as the champions have navy socks, Fulham had to change and the home set were used again – while the shirts have differed, those socks have been used in four of the five games.

Fulham-2018-2019-adidas-away-white-socks-01As we said above, four kits in the one Premier League season isn’t as rare as you might think, even removing the instances where the fourth kit worn is at the end of the season, previewing the following campaign’s outfit.

In 1993-94, Sheffield Wednesday wore four kits and you can read about that here, while in 1996-97 Manchester United replaced one blue and white third kit with another in the middle of the season.

Bolton Wanderers had three normal kits in 2002-03 and wore a commemorative shirt to mark their 125th anniversary, just as Tottenham did in 2007-08. In that same season, Manchester United used special shirts for the 50th anniversary of the Munich air disaster.

Looking at Fulham’s options, it’s unikely to see a fifth shirt being needed, but on the off-chance they manage that it would be a Premier League record – but not a top-flight record.

Ascertaining exactly who has worn the most in a single season may prove impossible, given the transient nature of change kits in the pre-commercial days, but we can say that, in the past 30 years, Chelsea’s five shirts of 1990-91 is the current title-holder.

PSG and Jordan take a jump in a new direction

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New things which challenge the accept conventions are always treated with a level of suspicion, fear or outright indignation.

The reception of Paris St-Germain’s link-up with Nike sub-brand Jordan for Champions League kits and associated leisurewear hasn’t all been negative – the reported sales figures are speaking louder than any outcry, anyway. However, some of the reaction we have seen has certainly quibbled with what people see is an erosion of the Proper Way To Do Things.

We’ve always considered ourselves traditionalists in terms of kits – and squad numbers – but we can see why this new development has taken place. We’re not the target market and it’s certainly not going to bring about the beginning of an implosion of the sky.

Let’s deal with a few of the criticisms.

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It’s just about the money

Of course it is and it always has been. As our friend Simon Shakeshaft put it,

Barcelona had a dedicated European kit as far back as 1994, so it’s not a new phenomenon.

The colours aren’t traditional

If we were in charge, teams’ Champions League kits would be in the same colours as their home strip, like that Barcelona kit above or Manchester United’s 1997-99 outfit in which they won the competition.

Olympique de Marseille have gone away from tradition with their Champions League kits in the past, while Bayern Munich haven’t been averse from it either, albeit generally only in the group stages.

The PSG kit would be nice in navy, red and white, but black isn’t a huge leap from navy and the vertical stripe, made up of a lot of circles, is identifiable with the club.

Pleasingly, the change kit is a reversal of the home, which is always nice, while the red goalkeeper strip follows that design, too.

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The colours of the crest have been changed to match the non-traditional kit

Arsenal in the 1969 league cup final, their first season with a yellow and blue change kit.

What’s Michael Jordan’s link with football?

Michael Jordan is of course a former basketball (and baseball) player, but he is also a businessman. It is his brand rather than the man himself which has the link.

René Lacoste was a tennis player, but that hasn’t stopped golfers from wearing polo shirts with his famous crocodile brand on them.

Speaking of golfers, Arnold Palmer was a pioneer in terms of maximising his brand, beyond golf too. He gave his name to a new drink which combined lemonade and iced tea and, in Japan, Arnie Arnold Palmer has become a must-have clothing marque among young women.

As recounted in Ian O’Connor’s book Arnie and Jack, when Palmer heard about he was big in Japan, he suggested to his advisors that he make a visit there but they firmly rebuffed that, fearful of the negative impact it might have if the target market realised that the name behind the brand was a man getting on in years.

Paris-St-Germain-2018-2019-Jordan-Champions-League-goalkeeper-Buffon-01Why is there a basketball player on a football kit?

It’s unsurprising that Jordan would use the so-called ‘jumpman’ as its logo.

The reason BMW has a roundel with blue and white quadrants as its logo is because the company orginally made aeroplanes and that was a simplification of the view of a pilot as the propellers turned against a blue sky – the colours doubled up nicely as those of Bavaria.

Likewise, while some people may actually read Playboy for the articles, nobody does so for the rabbits.

How can PSG have Nike-branded kits domestically and Jordan-branded kits in Europe?

Technically speaking, Uefa’s competitions exist in a vacuum, which is why we sometimes see players having to switch numbers for Europe.

The logo is essentially advertising space – they’re not bothered by what PSG have normally, once it complies with their regulations.

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Why is there a basketball players on a modified PSG crest on some of the new off-field gear?

Well, we know why – the resemblance to the stylised Eiffel Tower also a factor – but justifying it is another matter.

It’s the one aspect of the situation with which we’d take issue, but this is the nature of the beast.

 

Catching up on the Premier League kit-tracker

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Gameweek 3, August 25-27

Saturday

Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 Manchester City 1

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Seemingly, Manchester City don’t plan on wearing sky-blue away from home if they can avoid it. It was a surprise to many that they didn’t change socks here, especially as the navy home set would have worked fine with the pinstriped shirt.

Arsenal 3 West Ham United 1

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A third outfield kit and third goalkeeper kit for West Ham, with the bluey-green change kit reminiscent of a 2016 Nike vapour outfit with the mismatching socks.

Bournemouth 2 Everton 2

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Everton’s third shirt features an abstract pattern which takes its cues from Rupert’s Tower. Unusual, but not displeasing to the eye. It would be difficult to imagine that the purple goalkeeper kit will be worn with either of their other strips.

Huddersfield Town 0 Cardiff City 0

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Cardiff have retained last season’s away shirt as a third option, though the navy shorts and socks suit it better than the white sets which were default in 2017-18.

Southampton 1 Leicester City 2

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Liverpool 1 Brighton & Hove Albion 0

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Sunday

Watford 2 Crystal Palace 1

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Palace didn’t really need to wear their sashed white away kit, but it’s always a popular design.

Fulham 4 Burnley 2

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A socks-clash forced Burnley to switch to blue and they opted to change to blue shorts too.

Newcastle United 1 Chelsea 2

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Monday

Manchester United 0 Tottenham Hotspur 3

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Gameweek 4, September 1-2

Saturday

Leicester City 1 Liverpool 2

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Brighton & Hove Albion 2 Fulham 2

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A third different Fulham shirt, even though they have yet to wear their designated navy away kit. Having used their red 2016-17 kit against Tottenham, here they donned the black tops from 2017-18.

Chelsea 2 Bournemouth 0

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Crystal Palace 1 Southampton 2

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This was one we had been curious about, given that Southampton have a red third kit.

Instead of yellow alternative shorts though, it was the home set, with plain black socks the same as those used by Alex McCarthy.

Everton 1 Huddersfield Town 1

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Huddersfield have a Bournemouth-esque change kit, but while both clubs have Umbro, the design differs.

West Ham United 0 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1

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Manchester City 2 Newcastle United 1

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Sunday

Cardiff City 2 Arsenal 3

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Burnley 0 Manchester United 2

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A first outing for  the pink Manchester United away kit. Pink socks are default, but here a black set were used, with stripes in such a light shade of pink that they almost looked white.

Watford 2 Tottenham Hotspur 1

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Fantasy Kit Friday – Meyba Liverpool would have looked good like this?

Meyba’s Barcelona kits – examined by us here – were a monument to durability, so much so that when a kit aficionado hears the name of the Spanish kit-maker, it’s impossible not to think of the Catalan club.

Their reach wasn’t huge and they obviously never made it as far as producing strips for an English team, but Dave James raised the question:

With the suggestion of three change kits, we decided to mirror Liverpool’s 1985 and 1987 sets, as well as adding home shirts – changes to crest and sponsor aid differentiation, while we brought forward Meyba’s fabric developments by a couple of years too.

When Liverpool partnered with adidas in 1985, three kits were available to buy, with white and yellow change options, so we’ve Meyba-fied that set (you may have to swipe, depending on your device):

Then, in 1987, the Liverbird had a shield added around it, while a year later, Candy would replace Crown Paints.

In addition, grey replaced yellow as a trim and change kit colour.

Good kit, bad results – Heart of Midlothian’s double dreams are dashed, 1986

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The early 1980s were revolutionary in Scottish football.

From 1965-66 to 1978-79, the league title remained in Glasgow, Celtic winning 11 times to Rangers’ three, but Alex Ferguson guided Aberdeen to glory in 1980, signalling a change to the status quo.

The Dons would add more titles in 1984 and 1985, with Dundee United emerging to win in 1983. Celtic’s wins of 1981 and 1982 were the only two for the Old Firm in that six-year period – something which had never happened before.

In 1986, Celtic did reclaim top spot and, since then, either they or Rangers have been champions. However, that 1985-86 season is the one that got away for Heart of Midlothian.

Alex McDonald’s side lost five of their first eight games, but between October 5, 1986 and April 26, 1986, they played 27 games, winning 19 and drawing eight (two points for a win), to leave themselves two ahead of Celtic going into the final day. A first title in 26 years loomed, while they also had the Scottish Cup final to look forward to against Aberdeen the following week.

In their final league game, the Jam Tarts faced a trip to Dens Park on May 3 to face Dundee, who were in sixth but were looking to secure European football by finishing in fifth.

Due to the dark tones of both sides’ home kits, Hearts were in their continental-looking away strip of silver shirts, maroon shorts and white socks. Mita Copiers had replaced Renault as sponsors the previous summer, though the ‘Copiers’  wouldn’t be seen on a football shirt they sponsored until they partnered with Aston Villa a few years later.

 

A draw would have been enough for Hearts – a loss might even have been sufficient if Celtic failed to beat St Mirren by a large margin as Hearts had a goal difference of 28 to the Bhoys’ 23.

At half-time, it was scoreless, though Celtic were 4-0 up. As the second half wore on, Dundee manager Archie Knox brought on Albert Kidd, a striker who hadn’t scored all season, but in the 83rd minute he found the net. Hearts were reeling and they were firmly floored when Kidd scored again on 89.

Celtic won 5-0 to take the title on goal-difference. There was something of an added insult for Hearts – in 1965, they had lost the title to Kilmarnock on goal average when they would have won on goal difference and they pushed for the change in 1971; this time, goal average would have won it for them.

They had to try to pick themselves up for the cup final at Hampden on May 10. With Aberdeen winning the toss for first-choice colours, Hearts were again in their change kit, though the Mita logo was smaller due to TV rules, while the shorts had a single rather than double stripe and the socks were devoid of the Umbro diamonds.

Both they and Aberdeen had special cup final inscriptions below their crests – the Dons retained the ‘Premier League Champions, 1985’ writing which had been there all season as well.

 

In an early example of his famous mind-games, Ferguson told his players to commiserate heartily (pun intended) with their opponents before the game, just to reinforce the disappointment.

It probably wasn’t needed as Aberdeen began like a storm and were ahead through John Hewitt in the fifth minute while he netted again early in the second half and Billy Stark added a third. Ferguson told the Hearts players in their dressing room that the season was theirs but they were left empty-handed.

Meanwhile, Albert Kidd was voted player of the season by a Hibernian supporters’ club in Sydney while to this day he is still invited to events run by Celtic and Hibs fans. In a similar vein, Jay from Design Football believes that the kit worn by Hibs goalkeeper Alan Rough against Rangers on the opening day of 1986-87 was intended to poke fun at Hearts.

Silver or grey shirts might have been considered too traumatic to revisit for Hearts, but their 2003-04 change top had grey as secondary to white and it’s a colour-scheme which is used in the current 2018-19 campaign, too.

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Midweek Mashup – Everton, 1969-70

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Opener for ten – what kit-distinction does Everton’s 1970 title win hold?

If you don’t want the know the answer, look away now:

It was of course the last season that the English champions didn’t have a crest on their shirts, with the Toffees’ tops not receiving the ‘EFC’ monogram until 1972, Rupert’s Tower first appearing six years after that.

The away was the classic amber tone that the club don’t tend to use that much anymore, while a notable element to the home jersey was that the cuffs and the neck were mismatching.

That same 1969-70 season was the first one in which the Football League mandated that competing sides had to wear different-coloured socks to each other. However, rather than recalling recalling the white-topped blue set which had been supplanted by white in 1967, they used the away socks when required away to the likes of Leeds United, Tottenham Hotspur and Stoke City.

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We’d love to say that it was a tribute to the Chile flag of 1812-14 but we’d imagine that practicality was the main reason for this look.

For 1971-72, Everton wore an amber and green away kit before blue was restored as the secondary colour shades of yellow/gold were used up until 1982.

Nowadays, they seem to have settled into a pattern of having one white/grey change kit each season and one dark, with the 2016-17 third the only yellow shirt seen over the past four years.

Great one-offs – Netherlands, 1997

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  • Thanks to our new Dutch correspondent Dirk Maas for info – more Netherlands content soon

We can still recall our surprise upon turning on BBC Wales (the closest region to Ireland, so the variation we received, meaning a half-hour longer wait for Fantasy Football League in its pomp) on a Saturday night in October of 1996.

Wales were hosting the Netherlands in a World Cup qualifier. The Dutch would win 3-1 with three late goals after going behind early, but what was surprising was that they had switched to Nike only months after launched a new set of Lotto kits for Euro 96 – and their change shirts were blue.

Featuring orange shorts and blue socks, it was quite an attractive kit – in fact, as pointed out by Jack Henderson, since the Dutch switched to the American firm, blue has been the most common change colour.

However, on February 26, 1997, Guus Hiddink’s side travelled to Paris for a friendly with France. When the countries met in the Uefa Nations League a few days ago, France wore all-navy, but back then the idea of them switching from their usual tricolore wouldn’t have been as likely.

With shorts- and socks-clashes to sort, the easiest thing was for the Netherlands to wear a change kit, but, with blue the second option, a third shirt was needed and white was the logical choice.

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In his excellent new book, John Devlin says that the kit had blue shorts but, if that was the case, it was decided to go with the orange away set to avoid an overall-clash issue.

The shirt – featuring a front number with the shorts numberless, which was the Dutch practice at the time – wasn’t seen again and blue would remain as the away choice for the World Cup and the 2000 European Championships, with black becoming the second colour in 2002 and white not returning until Euro 2004.