Rangers’ patchy form in the 1992-93 Champions League

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Hopefully you’ll forgive the rather inaccurate headline for the want of a pun, given that Rangers came so close to reaching the final in that first season of the newly renamed European Cup.

One notable change that season was that sponsors’ logos were not allowed on shirts – this had always been the case for the final – and Rangers were forced into some DIY work before their opener, at home to Marseille.

A set of shirts sans the McEwan’s Lager wordmark was ordered from adidas, and was provided, but only in short-sleeved format. All fine, except that Rangers’ English duo Trevor Steven and Mark Hateley, and Russian winger Alexei Mikhailichenko, were clearly soft and preferred long sleeves.

As a result, rectangles were cut from short-sleeved shirts and sewn on to existing long-sleeved versions to cover the McEwan’s signage, taking care to match up adidas’s three-stripe fabric.

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I wasn’t aware of this until I read a fascinating piece by Jay Mansfield a fortnight ago, covering the Rangers kit history from 1987-97.

Other nuggets abound, such as using the fabric from the 1994-96 shirt when a special Center Parcs-sponsored edition was needed away to Auxerre in 1996-97 (due to a ban on alcohol advertising in France), but I won’t spoil it for you, as it is a great read.

I was delighted to provide some kit graphics for Jay and the whole thing can be read here, with a new piece, focusing on Rangers’ time with Nike, to follow soon. I certainly can’t wait.

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Fantasy Kit Friday, 15-9-17 – Arsenal in adidas, 1994

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While they were only with adidas for eight years compared to the 20-year tenure Nike had, for kit-nerds of a certain age, Arsenal and the Germany company still belong together. I’m one of those people and so is Kevin Fingleton, who requested today’s offering.

It was in the spring of 1994 that those of us who loved Arsenal and the three stripes (perhaps not in that order) were coming to terms with the news that the club had switched to Nike.

As a fourth-class student in 1994-95, I spent a lot of my time imagining that the Arsenal kit would have looked like if they had stayed with adidas – usually something along the lines of the Rangers kit of that era – but Kevin has opted to merge his two loves by asking for the kits in the style of the Ireland strips worn at the World Cup in the USA.

Obviously, the Ireland home featured large crest elements in a darker green so Kevin suggested tailoring it to Arsenal by including the ‘AFC’ monogram which had appeared on the 1990-92 home neck and a large cannon and crest. What was notable about the Ireland kits was that the three stripes – apart from the fabric shadow – only appeared on the socks.

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The away style is a design which was sadly under-used by adidas, one that previously featured in a Hull City FKF.

Arsenal’s actual away in 1994-95 was navy and teal but presumably that was a Nike initiative as adidas had rigidly stuck to the yellow and navy with red trim format.

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1990-91 – five shirts and eight combinations for Chelsea

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On the face of it, Chelsea’s launching of a white and red away kit in 1990-91 – perhaps best described as diagonal checkers – seemed rather innocuous.

After all, it provided plenty of differentiation from the all-blue home. And yet, it was to cause such consternation that the club wore five distinctly different shirts that season, resurrecting two older change jerseys and commissioning another new one, while eight different combinations were employed.

The Blues began the season in blue on August 25, winning 2-1 at home to Derby in the home kit which had been introduced at the start of the 1989-90 season.

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Back in those days, the second set of fixtures were midweek and, by the time of their next home game, Bobby Campbell’s side hadn’t left London but had worn two different kits, neither of them the new away.

On August 28, they had to make the trip to Selhurst Park to face Crystal Palace, who were in their traditional red and blue stripes. With that look problematic against both Chelsea’s home and away, the visitors wore a plain white shirt with blue neck, as they had in the previous campaign, when their away was red and white hoops.

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Then, on September 1, the game away to Queens Park Rangers was something of a perfect storm. Again, the home and away clashed and now so too did the white third. Presumably, the previous hooped away was also deemed to have clash potential and so instead Chelsea opted to wear the teal shirt which had been their away in 1987-88 and 1988-89. It was used with the home shorts and socks.

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After such upheaval, Chelsea were then back in blue for the next 11 games, opting not to engineer a wearing of the away kit. The shirt and socks finally saw action away to Portsmouth in the Rumbelows Cup third round second leg on November 6, but as Pompey had white shorts, Chelsea had to use the red set from the 89-90 away.

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Eleven days later, it was finally seen in its intended form away to Wimbledon, and again away to Oxford in the next round of the Rumbelows Cup at the end of the month, with the navy sleeves and shorts on the U’s kit the reason for Chelsea’s change.

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And still that wasn’t it. Having made it to the semi-finals of the Rumbelows Cup, Chelsea faced a two-legged tie with Division 2 side Sheffield Wednesday. The red and white shirt and white shirt were not suitable and presumably the jade wasn’t either, as Chelsea took to the field in basic red shirts, looking not unlike Nottingham Forest with the shorts from the white kit and plain red socks.

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That kit was worn again away to Coventry on April 1 but there was still time for two more colour combinations before the end of the season.

Away to Everton, the away wasn’t used for some reason and the home shorts were used with the white third shirt and socks.

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And then, on the final day of the season, Chelsea travelled to play Aston Villa. As mentioned in a previous Midweek Mashup, in 89-90 Villa’s darker claret was considered more of a clash with blue than red that season and so Chelsea had worn red and white there that season.

One might therefore have expected the away or the plain white, but instead Chelsea wore the home shirt and shorts but white socks so as not to clash with Villa’s light blue. It was Chelsea’s classic 1970s look and, from the start of the 1992-93 season, it was to become quite common again.

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Midweek Mashup – England, 1982

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I actually don’t have that much of a problem with the Nike Vapor template.

This year’s Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham kits are quite nice, for instance, My problem was that, in 2016, the company decided to dick around with teams’ traditional looks, altering shorts and socks and socks colours – a recent Midweek Mashup featured Internazionale in what should have been their actual kit.

England suffered in this regard too, with their current kit having white shorts and red socks. The PR blurb on the launch mentioned honouring John Barnes’ excellent goal against Brazil in 1984 but those colours were obviously only worn because of a clash with the hosts, and the team didn’t have sky-blue sleeves then either.

The fact that two kit elements were changed from the classic look was what offended the sensibilities of traditionalists. If it had been just red socks added to a white shirt and blue shorts, it wouldn’t have been so drastic – perhaps then we should be sorry that England didn’t beat West Germany at Wembley in 1982, with somebody scoring a wondergoal, as then that look could have been the basis for the 2016 kit.

The countries had met in the ’82 World Cup in Spain, with England changing (into two different styles of red shirts), but for this friendly in October, the Germans had a brand-new green pinstriped away shirt, similar to the kit France had at the time.

Given that pretty much every country with white home shirts also has white home socks though, were the Germans engaging in a bit of trolling with their socks?

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It meant that England had to wear their away socks – incidentally, they reverted back to the style they had had before the World Cup, when the ubiquity of the Admiral logos on the turnover meant they weren’t allowed.

It made for a far more cohesive look than the current home outfit.

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Fantasy Kit Friday – Arsenal, 1970

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Recently, I wrote a piece for Classic Football ShirtsClassic Football Shirts which focused on Arsenal third kits.

While the third shirt is an 80s/90s concept, that’s not to say that teams were forced to come up with emergency alternatives before then, as Arsenal experienced at Blackpool twice in 1970.

As they had a red and white home kit and yellow away, Blackpool’s tangerine had the potential to clash with both. When Arsenal had to go to Bloomfield Road in the 1970 FA Cup, they wore plain white shirt (possibly the early 60s away) with the away blue shorts and red socks.

Then, with Blackpool having been promoted to Division 1 for the 1970-71 season, for the league game at Bloomfield Road in November, Arsenal resurrected the navy away kit which had been worn for two seasons until 1968.

Navy kits had actually been banned because of their similarity to referees’ outfits, and Arsenal had to get special permission to wear that strip. Should they have developed something new?

A trope I like is when the away and third shirts are reversals of each other, and doing this would have worked well for Arsenal, I feel.

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Fantasy Kit Friday, 1-9-17 – Wales, 1991

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Matthew Lysaght has struck again. This is not a drill.

The man who brought you AC Milan in Pony and Bayern Munich in Ribero is back, this time looking to mesh two British countries.

It’s a bit of a cheat, because Wales had white trim on their real 1991 shirts, but if you’re going to go with something a bit different, it makes sense to reference the Admiral ‘tramlines’ from the 1970s.

 

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Good? Shit? Let us know on Twitter and, as always, requests for future FKFs are welcome.

Midweek Mashup – Middlesbrough, 1981

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On January 17, 1981, Granada Television had planned to show extended highlights of the Division 2 game between Bolton Wanderers and Derby County.

A waterlogged pitch at Burnden Park meant a late switch was required, and so the Division 1 meeting of Manchester City and Middlesbrough at Maine Road was the logical choice. There was a problem, though.

At the time, strict advertising rules meant that sponsors’ logos were not allowed on shirts for games shown on TV – see here for how Coventry City had to deal with this problem on their heavily-branded ‘Talbot’ shirts.

As the home team, City had a set of blank shirts readily to hand but Middlesbrough had travelled with just their normal adidas kit, bearing the mark of Datsun Cleveland. And then somebody had a brainwave – there was another team close by who played in red adidas shirts.

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Unsponsored Manchester United shirts were picked up from Old Trafford and that’s what Middlesbrough wore with their usual shorts and socks – presumably the most recent instance of the United shirt being part of an all-red ensemble.

The change didn’t do Boro much good, though, as City – perhaps inspired by the crest facing them – won 3-2.

Fantasy Kit Friday, 25-8-17 – Hull City in Umbro in the 80s

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Last year, Les Motherby of Hull City Kits made a request for Fantasy Kit Friday, looking to see his club in adidas mid-90s styles.

Now, having curated a wonderful exhibition of City kits as part of the Hull 2017 UK City of Culture celebrations, he is back with another suggestion, one that is a new departure for FKF – kits over a timeline of six years.

He has already posted the outline of the request on his site, and we produce the bulk of that here with the kits inserted. For each home kit, the black shorts are the primary with the amber short the alternative option. Over to you, Les.

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The starting points for our brief were thus:

1) We’re an established Umbro club nowadays, but missed out on one of their finest epochs. So what if City didn’t go with Admiral in 1982, instead going with the double diamond?

2) What if red hadn’t been introduced as a trim colour by flamboyant chairman Don Robinson?

3) Although we’re omitting red, we shall retain the sans-stripes ethos of the time (even though we love and favour stripes), and when considering Umbro templates of the 1980s we’ll stay clear of Watford designs, as there’s little fun in merely switching yellow to amber.

1982-84 home

Nothing typifies the early 80s more than pinstripes, indeed City went with that shirt style in 1982, with red pinstripes breaking up an otherwise plain amber shirt. So if we’re re-imagining, there needs to be a bit of a twist on the prevailing style of the era, and that twist will be tighter pinstripes.

Stoke City used a shirt design between 1983-85 that used pinstripes that way on a thick V necked shirt with solid colour sleeves. The home shirts Umbro made for City in 2015-16 had a faint whiff of this design (though that one had a wrapover V neck and the pinstripes are farther apart).

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1984-86 home

City of course retained red pinstripes when the kit was refreshed in 1984, changing material to a silkier, shinier polyester, and throwing another 1980s kit design staple into the mix, tonal shadow stripes. The effect was have alternating amber tones, matte and shiny, split by the red stripes.

Merely tweaking the design we’ve chosen for 1982-84 would be boooooring, so instead we’ve gone with what seems like a natural progression, turning pinstripes 45 degrees. Umbro pulled off this trick with a Sheffield Wednesday away shirt used between 1986-88.

Sure, we’re assuming a shirt used from 1986 was on an Umbro drawing board two years prior, but this is Fantasy Kit Friday, so your nit-picking claims of anachronism be damned!

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1986-88 home

Watford fans wondering what their home shirt could have looked like had the Hornets done  a deal with Admiral need only look at Hull City’s 1986-88 home. Though it was a great design, the colour is all wrong for the Tigers, it’s clearly more yellow than amber. Let’s right the wrong of the past with an Umbro kit…

Having gone from vertical pinstripes to diagonal, the next logical progression seems to be crossed pinstripes. Handily, Umbro made the same deduction, supplying supplying Chelsea and Manchester City with home shirts featuring that pattern.

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1982-88 away

Though there were two versions, the Tigers essentially kept the same away kit throughout the Admiral era: White with black pinstripes.  That’s six seasons with one change style, a period in which we wore three distinct home shirts and had four different brands advertised on them. We shall then, use only one Umbro design to cover the whole period, keeping it to traditional all white with amber and black trim, no red in sight. Sheffield United used an interesting template for an away kit used between 1986-89, rendered in electric custard yellow with red and white panels.

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Cold War Classic no. 1 – Hungary v Netherlands, 1986

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  • A while back, we came into contact with Joey Smith, who revealed himself to have a similar level of interest in kit minutiae. When he suggested a series based on kit oddities and mishaps during the 1980s in continental Europe, it was a no-brainer. Take it away, Joey:

The background

The Netherlands would begin their journey to European glory in 1988 with a trip to a rather sombre Nepstadion, Budapest on October 15, 1986.

To avoid a clash of orange with the red of the hosts, the Dutch would wear a classic white/orange/white away strip, the same as they had worn the last time the two sides had met here in May 1985. On that occasion, Hungary had worn their traditional home kit of red shirts, white shorts and green socks and one would assume the same would be applied here:

The issue

When the two teams came out however, both in absolutely spiffing Adidas tracksuit tops, it was immediately alarming that this time the Hungarians were in white socks, as of course were the Dutch.

Once the anthems were done and the tracksuit tops came off, it was revealed that, bizarrely, and beautifully, the Hungarians were also wearing white shirts, although this was not immediately apparent to the heroically moustachioed Swiss referee Bruno Galler.

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While 18 men in white warmed up behind him, Galler greeted captains Imre Garaba and Ruud Gullit surrounded by press and Gullit’s tracksuit top continued to prevent the clash from being noticed.

Hungary Netherlands 1986

Mid-coin toss, it seems Gullit alerts the situation to Galler, whose realisation and hand-on-hips walkaway/head-shaking response can only be described as despair.

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After a minute or so of confusion, eventually the Hungarian team jogged off the field to get changed as the Dutch continued to warm up. The crowd seemed to remain nonchalant throughout, accepting that a simple mix-up had occurred and that all would be made right in due course.

Galler and his officials stood waiting sternly and just over a minute later, pretty quick to be fair, Hungary reappeared wearing the red home version of the shirt they had just been wearing, another amazingly classic shirt.

While the continued sock clash will have undoubtedly raised eyebrows in some quarters, the coin toss and the game were finally allowed to go ahead and the relieved smile on the face of Galler was a heart-warming sight.

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Midweek Mashup – Leeds United, 1993

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Earlier this year, we looked at an odd Leeds United mashup, centred around how the club had ditched yellow shorts, leading to an odd mix of their third shirt with home shorts.

When I was growing up, Leeds’ away was pretty much always yellow with some bit of blue and this was of course the case as the club won the last ‘old’ Division 1 title in 1991-92.

That summer brought a lot of change on the kit front, though. The club’s deal with Umbro ended, as did the short-term sponsorship arrangement with the Yorkshire Evening Post.

On both fronts, Admiral were the replacements as they sought to re-assert themselves in the kit game, with a five-year contract agreed, as outlined in the excellent book Do You Want To Win? by Daniel Chapman, which covers the club’s development during the period from 1988-92.

Sartorially, Admiral’s most noticeable change was the designation of blue as the away colour, with yellow demoted to third choice. Daniel goes into detail on blue Leeds change strips here, and it is a deviation mentioned in that piece that we will look at.

With nobody wearing white shirts and yellow shorts, there was never a need to switch from all-yellow, but the trip to White Hart Lane to face Tottenham Hotspur in February 1993 saw the team emerge in something resembling the change kit worn in the late 1960s.

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Tottenham had navy shorts and socks, but Leeds only changed shorts, despite the Premier League having decreed that shorts-clashes between teams didn’t have to be solved, in contrast to the Football League’s rule.

While Leeds had beaten Spurs 5-0 at Elland Road in the new Premier League in August (with Eric Cantona scoring a hat-trick), their form had dipped since then and their defence of the title was characterised by a failure to win an away game – this was a 4-0 loss.

The league outings, coupled with the 3-0 Champions League defeat to VfB Stuttgart, meant the blue shirt was also winless and it wasn’t seen after this game, with the yellow preferred when a change was required.

Despite the five-year deal, Leeds and Admiral’s link-up ended in the summer of 1993, with Asics taking over. In 1993-94, Leeds would pair their home shorts with their yellow and blue striped away shirt at White Hart Lane, but subsequent seasons saw blue away shorts worn there with no problems.