On-Screen Kit Inaccuracies, Part 3 – A Shot at Glory

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One of the problems in making films about top-level sport is the portrayal of high-quality in-game action.

Understandably, it’s difficult to get actors looking realistic as expert practitioners so the makers of A Shot at Glory decided to go the other way round and try to get a footballer to act. To be fair to Ally McCoist, who plays Jackie McQuillan, he’s far from the worst thing in the film but, unfortunately, it’s a heavily-vied-for title. Ignore the ratings – this is a fucking atrocious film.

Robert Duvall, of all people, plays Gordon McLeod, the manager of Kilnockie. The Scottish second division side have just taken over by a new owner (Michael Keaton) who wants to move the club to Dublin and has just signed McQuillan. His first training session – which apparently takes place at 10am, though the stand lights and floodlights are on – establishes a frostiness with his new boss (the film is set in 2000, despite what the tracksuit top might suggest) and it’s soon revealed that he’s his estranged son-in-law.

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Jackie has come from Arsenal, where he was for two years, having been a Celtic legend before that (McCoist is, of course, a Rangers hero). A montage, presented by Andy Gray, provides snippets of his career, and it really is a case of the good, the bad and the ugly.

There are clips of McCoist in an actual Celtic kit (the same style as Gerard Butler in Playing For Keeps)…

 

…and then real footage of McCoist playing for Rangers is re-coloured to make his shirt solid green…

…and then there’s a very strange insertion. This footage…

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…is followed by this celebration:

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Leaving aside the fact that the shirt and shorts have swapped colour between the long shot and close-up, is this supposed to be from his Arsenal days? We’re highly offended if it is.

Kilnockie have made it the last 16 of the Scottish Cup, where they face Dumbarton (whose Boghead Park ground doubled as Kilnockie’s stadium). Gordon welcomes the ‘visitors’ off the bus and tells his opposite number to “Go shit a brick somewhere”. The Kilnockie kit isn’t much to write home about, Umbro teamwear with jarring black shorts.

Worse is the fact that the goalkeeper shirt clashes. It doesn’t look too bad in the pre-match warm-up (where the keeper doesn’t do his own specialised preparation) but in-game there is a strong similarity. Dumbarton’s kit is accurate for the period.

Jackie scores the winner. He and Katie – Gordon’s daughter, played by Kirsty Mitchell – have decided to make another go of it but he gets waylaid after the game and we are treated to an Ally McCoist sex scene.

They progress to meet Queen of The South. Despite being drawn at home, the money-hungry owner wants to transfer the game to Queens’ Palmerston Park – something seen from time to time when a non-league side might get a Premier League side, but this is seems a bit off and the 8,690-capacity ground shows gaps during the game.

Nockie fall behind but Jackie levels from an Owen Coyle corner (the team is made up real pros, apart from sub goalkeeper Kelsey O’Brien, played by Cole Hauser – any detectives reading might sense that he will feature further) and then completes his hat-trick as they win 3-1. He’s also sent off as he rises to his marker’s bait about Katie.

We’re not sure of the provenance of the Queen of The South shirt featured as it doesn’t appear here or here, while one of the extras posing as a Doonhamers fan is wearing a 1996-98 Leicester City shirt. Plausible, but improbable.

Also in the quarter-finals, Rangers have beaten Celtic, so the way to the final has opened up slightly, with Kilmarnock the next opponents.

After the Queen of The South game, Keaton’s character again mentions Dublin, to which Gordon replies:

I’m sure the Irish have enough troubles without sending this team.

Now, it could just be a throwaway line, but the specific use of the word “troubles” rather than “problems” would indicate that not to be the case. The makers have an out in saying that it’s in keeping with Gordon’s character. While he tolerates Jackie – a Catholic – he doesn’t talk to his daughter Kate for marrying a Catholic. Gordon’s old-school values are evident by the separate beds he and his wife have.

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Gordon does at least have the good grace to acknowledge the existence of his grandson, ‘Wee’ Jackie, who spends much of the film in a 1999-2001 Celtic kit.

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Wee Jackie’s room is also a shrine to The Bhoys and his father, with some McCoist posters used as they appeared along with more doctoring.

(Look closely at the bottom-right pic and you’ll see a number on the back of the other Celtic player, which would make it a friendly or European game.)

Another montage shows Kilnockie going well in the league and promotion to the first division is assured before the cup semi-final against Kilmarnock. You’ll recall in Part 2 that we took issue with Sheffield United playing an FA Cup semi at Bramall Lane in When Saturday Comes and such a problem is kind of avoided here – while the match is filmed at Killie’s Rugby Park, for the purposes of the film it is the fictional neutral venue ‘Premier Park’.

Jackie is suspended for the game but Kilnockie again come from behind to win. Again, an extra is looking incongruous, with a 1996-98 Republic of Ireland shirt featuring this time.

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Near the end, goalkeeper John Martin (like Coyle, one of a number of former Airdrie players to feature for Kilnockie) is injured and Kelsey finally gets his chance. He wears Nike shorts with his Umbro shirt.

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He’s shaky, but the four minutes of injury time – signalled in a prehistoric way – are survived and referee Hugh Dallas blows the whistle to signify that they are in the final.

Rangers, managed by Gordon’s old nemesis Martin Smith, will be the final opponents and, at a special banquet for the team, the owner announces that the club won’t move to Dublin if they win.

Gordon speaks, but look at the picture behind him – it’s hard to make out but there are a maximum of 11 players in it and two of those are goalkeepers. The team then receive their special cup final blazers, presumably modelled on those worn by the South Africa rugby side.

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We’re told that Rangers are attempting to be the first club to win the domestic treble in 30 years – in real-life they won it 1976, ’78, ’93 and ’99, but the film is obviously in a parallel universe so that’s no biggie.

At various stages, the film tries to be an Aesop on sectarianism, such as when Jackie saves a young Rangers fan from being beaten up by Celtic supporters. The night before the final, Katie goes to meet him at the hotel and, for some unknown reason, two Rangers fans start chasing her. Jackie accosts them, telling them that it’s only a game, but his violence sees him end up in prison. Gordon, assuming that it’s drink-related, drops him for the game.

While Kilnockie don’t have a new kit for the final, the shirts do at least have special embroidery, while the Rangers manager’s suit is also realistic-looking.

To be fair to the makers, they use the real Hampden Park (we were sceptical at first but compare with this), the mascots with the opposite teams adds authenticity and we can’t even get worked up about Rangers being in 1-11 as that was the case for the Scottish Cup until 2000-01, despite squad numbers having come in in the league in 1999.

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The Rangers team is also made up of real players. Former Rangers players Ally Maxwell and Derek Ferguson feature, as does Eddie May, once of Hibernian, and future Celtic player Didier Agathe, who was with Raith Rovers at the time.

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Rangers go ahead but at half-time the manager isn’t pleased, as evidenced by the glaring error of attaching the city name to the club name:

A bunch of fucking potato-pickers is holding the mighty Glasgow Rangers to one goal and you’re happy?

Gordon, after a quite unbelievable conversation with Katie in the Hampden boardroom at the interval, brings on Jackie, who improves the attacking threat and inevitably scores a last-minute equaliser. Extra time isn’t shown at all – commentator Andy Gray merely says that it produced nothing – and so it’s on to penalties.

After the first seven are scored, Kilnockie miss and so it’s all down to Kelsey to keep them in it. After recalling some bullshit comparison Gordon made about goalkeeping and fishing, he makes a great save and Jackie can send the shootout to sudden death if he scores.

Earlier, when playing in the garden with Wee Jackie, he had foreshadowed the moment by talking about taking a penalty to win in front of 50,000 at Hampden but, going against the grain of underdog films, his shot is saved by Maxwell and Rangers win. Despite this, the owner decides against Dublin and Gordon patches up his differences with Jackie and Katie, so everyone’s happy.

Were they doing it for Adare?

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Recently, we brought news of how the decision on a new Limerick county GAA jersey had been put in the hands of the public:

The shirt in the bottom-right image of the three above ended up being chosen, and it saw its first game-time at the weekend – but, in what must surely be a first, it wasn’t Limerick who wore it.

It’s the time of year when the winners of the various county championships compete in the four provincial championships as they chase All-Ireland glory early in the new year, and Adare, the Limerick intermediate football winners, made it to the Munster club final against Kerry counterparts Kenmare Shamrocks.

Both Adare and Kenmare play in red and black, so both had to change. While Kenmare had a reversal of their usual jerseys to hand, Adare ended up taking to the field in the green of their native county, showcasing the new shirts (click on image for more):

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Unfortunately for Adare, the green didn’t prove to be a lucky charm as Kenmare won by 12 points.

Away kits at home in the Premier League era

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It should be easy, solving kit-clashes, but as our post on the League of Ireland showed, it isn’t always the case.

In that regard, it’s surely a success of sorts that there have only been four occasions since the Premier League began in 1992 that a home team have been forced to wear a change kit? We say ‘forced’ as the PL rules allow teams, in their final home or away game of a given campaign to wear the following season’s kit. Previously, this was only allowed in the last home game and sometimes they decided to showcase the away strip.

The instances of necessary change have involved a lack of foresight on behalf of the away side and/or the officials, in each case.

Early in the 1993-94 season, Newcastle United met Sheffield Wednesday at St James’ Park and the Owls made a mind-boggling decision. Having joined forces with Puma that summer, their home obviously clashed while the largely black away would also have caused problems. So somebody thought that a white shirt with black pinstripes would be suitable. Referee Roger Dilkes did not, and so Newcastle had to wear their blue kit. It didn’t affect them as they won 4-2.

The white shirt would be worn by Wednesday away to Wimbledon in the league on January 15, 1994. Four days before that though, they were away to the Dons in the Coca-Cola Cup, and because the officials still wore black in the domestic cups, teams weren’t allowed to clash with them. As a result, Wimbledon wore white and Wednesday had to wear a yellow fourth kit.

In the 2000 FA Cup, Newcastle were drawn away to Tranmere Rovers, whose home kit was very similar to that Wednesday third shirt, and only had to change their shorts.

Later in 93-94, Blackburn Rovers had to switch when hosting Manchester City (cheers to Michael Dilworth and Ian Herbert for bringing this to our attention):

The previous season, City had worn their purple away kit kit with yellow socks (perhaps the inspiration for the current monstrosity?), but it was far from an acceptable solution:

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City did have a third kit for 1993-94, but it was white, and so this perfect storm caused Blackburn to accommodate them in December ’93.

In 2003, Newcastle were again involved in an instance of a home team changing but this time the Toon were the offenders when they travelled to play Fulham. While they had a perfectly good black away shirt, they decided to travel with their third, which was an inverse of that, black with grey. Referee Barry Knight wasn’t happy with the contrast between that and Fulham’s white, however, so the hosts had to dig out their away as they went 2-0 up only to lose 3-2.

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Aston Villa unwittingly gifted their claret and blue colours to West Ham United, so there was a certain irony to the 2008-09 episode that saw the Villans have to deviate from their home strip when the London side visited them.

West Ham had an all-sky blue away strip that season and brought that with them, having been given the go-ahead by the league. Officials tend not to like sleeve-clashes, however, and referee Rob Styles wasn’t pleased with the set-up. The solution was for Villa to wear their 2007-08 white away shirts, with a blank set numbered by merchandising manager John Greenfield and his staff at a half-hour’s notice. Emile Heskey put Villa ahead in this shirt…

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…but while the first half was ongoing another set was being prepared, with the logo of club partners Acorns being affixed.

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West Ham equalised in the second half and the game finished 1-1. Villa manager Martin O’Neill was unhappy with the result and the sartorial shenanigans, something he expanded on in his notes in the programme for Villa’s next home game, against Hull City:

You will be pleased to know we will be playing in our traditional claret and blue shirts tonight.

I’m sure you were surprised to see our players coming out in an all-white kit for our last home match against West Ham a couple of weeks ago, so perhaps I should explain why it happened.

Essentially, the referee was unhappy because the sleeves of West Ham’s all-blue away kit clashed with the sleeves of our shirts, and I had some sympathy with him in that respect. But the Hammers didn’t seem to have any other kit with them – and the ref was adamant the game wouldn’t go ahead unless the clash was resolved.

Reluctantly, we agreed to change, which meant we had to get our third choice white shirts from the Villa Store warehouse. The ironic thing is that the Barclays Premier League had approved West Ham’s change kit but the referee was unhappy on the day. Quite simply, something had to give, or there would have been no game.

For the sake of all the people who were at Villa Park eagerly looking forward to the action, we decided to change, even though the onus is on the away team to provide alternative colours. I have to say, though, that it was an incredible situation, and one I had never previously experienced, either as a player or a manager. It’s certainly something which should have been sorted out days in advance.

Should such a situation ever transpire again, we’d like to see sanctions in the form of the guilty team having to change the next time the two teams meet. This happened in American football in 2003 after an episode involving the San Diego Chargers and Denver Broncos.

NFL rules allow the home side to choose whether they wear their dark or light uniforms, with the opposition going for the opposite. With a few exceptions, most clubs are dark at home but teams in warmer climes do often plump for white in early-season games to counteract the heat.

That’s what the Chargers decided to do for the game at home to the Broncos but the visitors only showed up with their white uniforms and pleaded ignorance or forgetfulness. The league weren’t buying that though and fined them $25,000 as well as giving the Chargers the choice of what to wear for their trip to Colorado later in the season. They availed of the option to wear their usual blue.

On-Screen Kit Inaccuracies, Part 2 – When Saturday Comes

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In case you haven’t read Part 1, focusing on Playing For Keeps, it can be accessed here. 

To be fair to When Saturday Comes, it may be a fucking turkey of a film (unlike the magazine of the same name, which is brilliant, but then we’re biased) but there are no jarring kit anachronisms like the Gerard Butler vehicle covered previously. There are, however, more than a few niggly football-related errors (more than a few which would come under the remit of our other blog).

Here, Jimmy Muir (Sean Bean) is a park footballer who works in a Sheffield brewery and at the weekend he helps to ensure that its products are consumed. His younger brother Russell worships him and has a massive programme collection, though their father is a right layabout, squandering what little money he has in the bookies.

Jimmy’s unnamed Sunday League team play in a yellow and black Mizuno template, and the two opponents we are shown have the same, in red and white and blue and white. Forgive the image quality, but in the top picture below you’ll see that the red and white team have their back four numbered acceptably, 2-4-5-3. Despite being a striker, Jimmy is like Gary Lineker in that he never wears 9.

He has 10 here, marked by 5, but his own team’s 9 appears to be playing right-back. That is entirely possible, we’ll accept. You’ll also notice that the goalkeeper, in purple, is wearing Umbro’s 1991-92 template (his lack of attention is about to lead to a soft concession).

Just as Jimmy begins to take notice of the new accountant at work, Annie (an Irish immigrant played by Emily Lloyd with a questionable accent – the decision to make her Irish was because he north-of-England accent was worse), he is noticed by Ken Jackson (Pete Postlethwaite), the manager of the real Sheffield non-league club Hallam FC. Handily, he is also Annie’s uncle.

Jimmy is signed up on a £12-a-week part-time contract and continues his goalscoring ways. Presumably, the team are in what was the real Hallam kit of the time, so the sideline gear is authentic too. There’s another purple Umbro goalkeeper shirt, worn by Hallam’s opponents, but this time it’s the 1992-93 vintage with pink pinstripes and a turquoise neck.

Ken is rather fond of his managerial gear, though – he wears it to Bramall Lane when he manages to get Jimmy a trial with Sheffield United, with real Blades legend Tony Currie running the rule over him for fictional manager George McCabe.

Then, Jimmy fucks things up by going to a friend’s birthday party the night before his final trial and gets drunk with minimal persuasion and sleeps with a stripper. Annie is pregnant by this stage and dumps him, a fight at work leads to his dismissal and Russell dies in a workplace accident – thankfully unaware that his father had sold his most valuable programme, of a 1904 Sheffield United game.

Jimmy resolves to improve and calls to Ken’s house, where he has at least jettisoned the jacket but still has his other gear on. In a sub-Rocky training montage, is back in full manager’s gear as he drives alongside the running Jimmy.

There is just under a half-hour of the film left when Jimmy is signed by Sheffield United and, seemingly, there is an injury crisis as he goes straight into the matchday squad for an FA Cup quarter-final tie at home to Arsenal.

The only recognisable name, apart from Jimmy’s, is that of former Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds United defender Mel Sterland, who plays himself – the rest are all shouts out to people working for Sheffield United at the time.

We’re not shown much of the game – Jimmy doesn’t get on – and the Arsenal kit is the correct away kit for 1994-95. Is it picky that we take issue with the number font and the fact that they’re wearing 1-11 rather than squad numbers? Yes. Do we care? No.

However, as our friend Jay from DesignFootball pointed out, the referees in domestic cup competitions still wore black kits at this time, so Arsenal should actually be in the third kit they wore at Anfield in the 94-95 Coca Cola Cup. It’s such a situation which led to Manchester United wearing their third at Wimbledon in 1994, the Dons forced to switch from navy to red.

Sheffield United win that but then lost the next game at home to Leeds, which means it’s a league tie, which means it’s a universe different to the one where the Blades were relegated in 1993-94. Leeds too suffer from the wrong numbering and perhaps should be in their away kit but there was a lot of red in the 94-95 Sheffield United kit, as well as black shorts and socks.

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When the goal above is scored, the stadium announcer is Martin Tyler. When Jimmy listens to the radio before the next game, the reporter is Martin Tyler. When a match is televised, the commentator is Martin Tyler.

Jimmy has managed to get Annie back and his father has apologised and replaced the sold programme, but he is feeling a bit disillusioned by the fact that he’s not starting for a professional side after just a handful of games. His chance is coming, though, in the FA Cup tie with Manchester United.

The FA Cup semi-final.

At Bramall fucking Lane.

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We know that film producers are often limited by circumstance, but still. Here, they were able to piggy-back on the fact that Sheffield United met Manchester United in the 1995 third round (the third year in a row the clubs met in the competition) and action shots are from the real game. The giveaway is the fact that Man U’s numbers on the third kit which was very new at the time, changed from the correct yellow to black in the close-ups.

The metaphysical chicanery is even used for the goal to put the visitors 2-0 ahead, with the shot of the ball going into the net taken from Eric Cantona’s goal below, even though the penalty area is rather sparsely populated for a free kick, which it was supposed to be in the film.

By now, Jimmy has been given his chance, wearing number 16 despite the fact that only three subs were permitted in the competition.

He gets a goal to make it 1-2, and then they equalise. Sterland, who had needlessly told Jimmy minutes beforehand that he had no business on the field, lumps a ball forward from defence towards the penalty area:

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Jimmy flicks it on:

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And then, having broken a land-speed record, Sterland is there to turn the ball home:

Inevitably, Jimmy wins a last-minute penalty and scores it, and the film ends. We’re not told how they did in the cup final or if it took place at Wembley or Bramall Lane.

Munster sock it to the Maori All Blacks

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On Friday night, Munster played the Maori All Blacks in a rugby game at Thomond Park in Limerick, Ireland.

It was a memorable night as the Irish province won 27-14 against the touring side, albeit the magnitude of the victory wasn’t of the same scale as when Munster beat the ‘real’ All Blacks in 1978.

Prior to the game, the visiting team’s traditional Haka wardance was preceded by a gesture of respect towards Anthony Foley, the Munster head coach who tragically died in October, with Maori All Blacks captain Ash Dixon laying down a jersey with Foley’s initials on the back and then presenting it to his sons, Tony and Dan.

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The game was also noteworthy from a style point of view as the Munster players wore a selection of different sock styles. This was after a competition had been run with partners Lifestyle Sports, with the schools and clubs in Munster given the chance to enter and 23 winners chosen.

The mixed-socks looks is something which has generally been the preserve of the Barbarians, but historically, Munster, the three other Irish provinces – Connacht, Leinster and Ulster – and the national team all followed this tradition, as players were seen to be representing their clubs.

The match programme resembled a racecard as the players’ respective socks were listed. The winners were randomly drawn but, where possible, the socks were matched up with a suitable player – for example, Darren Sweetnam and Ronan O’Mahony wore the colours of their almae matres.

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Incidentally, from a branding point of view, we couldn’t discern any makers’ logos on anybody’s socks, either Munster’s supplier adidas or the individual clubs’ manufacturers.

However, to take an example, the socks of John Madigan representing Richmond, seen on the left here, had three adidas-esque stripes whereas the actual Richmond socks don’t.

Incidentally, we don’t know when Ireland ceased the practice of players wearing club socks. We do know that they were the last of the competing countries in the International Championship to do so and can pin the switch down to some time in the mid-1950s.

This Irish Independent column of February 4, 1953, entitled ‘Sporting Roundabout’ and bylined ‘MVC’ (journalists tended not to go by their own names in those days), mentions a corrspondent who sought uniformity but the writer disagreed with the notion.

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In the same paper more than five years later, December 19, 1958, the ‘All In The Week’s Sport’ column – bylined ‘Selector’, this time, but perhaps the same person as ‘MVC’, given the sentiment – it is noted that change had taken place but that it was not to the taste of old-timers.

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The evolution of adidas goalkeeper shirt designs – Part 4

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Refresher course – Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

It has been so long since we visited this series that this update will encompass three different styles used in the late 80s. After this, we will look at Italia 90 and that was something of a mother lode for GK shirts, so it’ll be split into two.

The diagonal design which Part 3 focused on had its high point at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, but even then it was being superseded. While the cut and the collar stayed the same, the fabric pattern was altered, with the uniform stripes replaced by an irregular miscelleny of shapes. What was also different was that the tonality was darker, whereas the diagonals were lighter than the body and sleeves.

For shorthand, we’ll call it the geometric pattern and it’s one we’d most associate with Soviet Union goalkeeper Rinat Dasayev, who always had the look of a conscientious journalist wrestling with his conscience as to whether he should break a story which might bring down a government.

He was one of those to premiere the new look in 1986 and still had it two years later, captaining the USSR to the Euro 88 final. Generally, he favoured yellow but often wore it in blue too.

Harald Schumacher, and later Bodo Illgner, used those two colours as well but, as with the previous style, West Germany lived up to the organisational stereotype and had a red version ready for use if needed. Grey was favoured by Hans van Breukelen, who was between the sticks as the Netherlands won the European Championship.

Also in yellow and blue on occasion was Belgium’s Michel Preud’homme but, pleasingly, the adidas stripes on his shirt were the same as on the country’s white away kit, featuring the colours of the national flag.

In England, goalkeeper shirts – for so long rigidly regulated – were slowly becoming more adventurous and so the two-tone green nature of this was almost imperceptible compared with others. Liverpool, Manchester United and Queens Park Rangers were among those to wear it along with Arsenal. Oddly, John Lukic used it in Arsenal’s first two seasons after switching to adidas, but then, having graduated to the newer style below, had reverted back by the end of 1988-89:

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Another variation was seen on Norberto Scoponi of Argentinean side Newell’s Old Boys. As well as the (wider) white collar and sleeve stripes (three individual stripes, as opposed to the five-stripe strip used in Europe), this also featured the pattern on the sleeves.

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As mentioned in Part 3, France’s Joel Bats retained the horizontal pinstripes for Euro 84 rather than wearing the diagonal stripes, and he was late to this part too. While he would wear it for some Euro 88 qualifiers, in Mexico he had a unique design which we can’t find evidence of anyone else wearing.

While it did have a tonal pattern, it featured rectangles and there were also black strips where the body met the sleeves, almost giving the effect of wearing a sleeveless windcheater.

As mentioned above, adidas’s English clubs got a new look for 1987-88, but while it did feature on outfield shirts of teams like Bayern Munich, Bulgaria, East Germany and Sweden, as far as we can make out it wasn’t used by goalkeepers anywhere else. While on first glance it looked like the older diagonal stripes, this actually featured parallelograms arranged to look like stripes.

Having had a plain yellow GK shirt with a red collar initially after signing with adidas – yellow goalkeeper shirts hadn’t been allowed in England in the past, apart from the national side – Liverpool’s Bruce Grobbelaar was back in the more traditional green.adidas-Liverpool-goalkeeper-shirt-jersey-1987-1988-Bruce-Grobbelaar.png

A change was required for two games against Celtic in April 1989, matches played for very different reasons, and the Zimbabwe international had two similar, but different, shirts. The first game was the grandly titled Dubai Champions Cup on Tuesday, April 4 – little more than a knees-up, incredible to think that such an exhibition was allowed in the run-in to the domestic season. Here, Grobbelaar wore a yellow shirt with black stripes but the collar and cuffs were a jarring white, as was the Candy logo with adidas and the club crest in red.

Eleven days after that game was the Hillsborough tragedy, and at the end of April, Celtic generously arranged a match to benefit those affected. This time, the collar and cuffs were black, with Candy in red.

In the summer of 1989, the new Liverpool kit featured a white ‘speckled’ effect and this was replicated on the goalkeeper shirt, which was something of a new departure (more anon). Arsenal and Manchester United kept the diagonal boxes but this time with raglan sleeves and white piping.

Both had light-blue back-up versions but, given how few teams in England wear green, they weren’t needed that often. However, while United had a brand-new green and black goalkeeper design in 1990-91 (again taking cues from the new outfield shirt), there was no alternative colour and so, for the European Cup Winners’ Cup semi-final against Legia Warsaw, Les Sealey had to go with the previous look.

 

Southport to be forced to use a third kit?

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By now, you’ll probably have heard of the problems caused by the lack of differentiation provided by the Southport away kit. According to the Football Conference website, the away is green, but it’s really not.

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(It’s hard to make out there by the way, but the home kit is made by Joma and the away by Nike.)

On Saturday, they travelled to face another side who wear yellow, Torquay United, but both kits clashed with the Gulls, who were forced to play in their change kit.

The worst thing is that Southport had the yellow/yellow thing last season too, and so Torquay had to switch to white when they hosted them. Earlier in the season, Southport were forced to wear Solihull Moors’ away kit in a televised game.

Actually, no, the worst thing is that, during the summer, Southport had a pink and black pre-season kit:

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Southport must still travel to Maidstone United and Sutton United, who wear varying shades of yellow/gold. It’s not Woodward and Bernstein, but we decided to contact the National League to see if Southport would be forced to come up with another colour.

We received a very prompt reply from Colin Peake, the media and partnership support director, who said:

The matter is under due review.

So there you have it.

Update: We have since been blocked by the official Twitter account of the National League, after a friend, Chris Coleman – who has also fallen foul of Mr Peake – raised the issue.

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Arsenal kind of break with tradition

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Those familiar with the history of Arsenal kits will about the ‘sleeves tradition’, whereby outfield players all either wear short- or long-sleeved shirts, with no mixing.

Anyone who doesn’t, and would like to learn, should buy a copy of The Arsenal Shirt immediately, as it gives a full account of how it came into being. Without wishing to spoil the work of authors James Elkin and Simon Shakeshaft, basically the custom was instigated by then-manager Bertie Mee from the 1966-67 season onwards, with kit manager Tony Donnelly making the call.

While the common perception is that the captain of the day is responsible for the decision, he will be consulted by the kit manager (a role currently held by Vic Akers). Frank McLintock is quoted in the book as saying:

As the captain I never, ever made the decision on what sleeve length we would wear. It was discussed between the players in the dressing room and there were plenty of rows about it, but it was never just down to me.

Tony Adams did take a more hands-on role, which often amounted to taking a vote among the players. There have been exceptions, such as when the team changed from long to short at half-time in the 2003 FA Cup game at Old Trafford but the subs didn’t, so Thierry Henry looked out of place after he came on.

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By and large, though, there was uniformity, such as away to Newcastle in in December 2004. The team began the game wearing long sleeves and many players liked to change into a new shirt at half-time, but a theft from the dressing room meant that there wasn’t a full second set, so the call was made that all of the players would switch.

With such a kit style as Arsenal have, it’s easy to understand why the system is in place, as the red/white proportions do change noticeably. That’s why, in the autumn of 2013, the decision of Mathieu Flamini to take a scissors to his long-sleeved shirts drew such attention, especially as he hadn’t undertaken such impromptu tailoring in his first spell with the club.

Flamini was spoken to and fell into line, rolling up his sleeves as Brian Talbot and Lee Dixon before him. Our friend Jay from Design Football blogged about the Flamini issue and felt that the tradition was outdated. He argued that, instead of long sleeves, players should have the option of short sleeves with baselayers underneath. Until now, the baselayers had only been allowed under long sleeves, but there appears to have been a change, as evidenced by recent games.

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Technically, the tradition of players wearing the same sleeve-length remains, but, obviously, the visual is affected, defeating the original purpose. One Arsenal fan, John O’Connell, was unhappy with this and wrote to the club, with the Camden New Journal reporting that he received a personal reply from chief executive Ivan Gazidis. It would appear that the marginal gains Jay wrote about have been deemed the priority, according to Gazidis’s letter:

In the Ludogorets game, the captain chose short sleeves and all the players wore short sleeves, including Bellerin, Ozil and Sanchez. Those players did wear, however, white undergarments which might have given the impression that they were wearing long sleeves.

The tradition is maintained with regard to the shirt with a slightly modern twist with the introduction to the game of performance-enhancing undergarments that players feel can enhance their performance levels.

That didn’t satisfy Mr O’Connell, though:

It has upset me big time. I hope I have touched a nerve, not only with Ivan Gazidis but the club in general. Neville Chamberlain waved a sheet of paper. Ivan Gazidis waves his performance-enhancing undergarments.

It is just not Arsenal and the modern twist is merely caving in to players who neither know or care about Arsenal and will play for someone else at the drop of a hat/wallet.

On-Screen Kit Inaccuracies, Part 1 – Playing For Keeps

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Never let it be said that we don’t give the people what they want:

We accept that film-makers have more pressing issues than getting kit details right, but at the same time it’s not hard to research what was worn at what time, especially given the easy access to information nowadays.

It’s important, to our minds, to chart the examples where laziness has crept in. If it saves only one reader who might otherwise have been traumatised having picked a film out on Netflix some night, all the better.

First up in 2012 film Playing for Keeps, starring Gerard Butler as a washed-up former pro who seems to be in some kind of a love quadrilateral as well as getting caught up in shady dealings with Dennis Quaid’s character (we didn’t have to watch it all, thankfully, as most of the kit issues are at the start).

As cold opens go, ‘footage’ from the career of Butler’s character George Dryer isn’t a bad idea. The beginning of this featurette is the first scene:

Ignoring the ‘flipped’ screen, you have to give marks for effort here. The makers, we are reliably informed, bought a Celtic 1989-91 shirt from Classic Football Shirts, and it would be churlish to point out that the caption in the opening screen says, ‘George Dryer 1993’ and that his shorts are devoid of the large numbers Celtic had at the time, eschewing shirt-back numbers until 1994. The logo on the replica is also slightly smaller than on the actual player-worn shirts of the time.

All those things are moot, however, as the cross from which Dryer scores what we are informed is his third goal (“The 83rd minute here at Celtic Park, the phenom George Dryer looking for his second hat-trick of the tournament.”) comes from six years into the future via Colin Healy in the 1999-2000 NTL-sponsored kit:

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Celtic surely scored one goal in the early 90s that they could have used?

The next clip of George transposes him into this Robbie Fowler goal for Liverpool against Everton from 1995-96.

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We’re being fair, so we’ll give marks for the right shirt – only worn by the Reds for one season – the correct adidas numbering and the mud on him, given the conditions in the real game. We shall be returning to this, though.

Fast-forward to 2005 and George is now playing in the MLS, for DC United.

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Well-digitised once more, but it appears that the kit is wrong. Again, no biggie as we had to look that up to verify so the casual observer wouldn’t mind.

As the film gets going properly, we realise that things haven’t gone all that well for George since his retirement and, with his landlord demanding rent payment, he visits a sports memorabilia shop, hoping to offload some mementoes.

First up is what he describes as the shirt when he “played against Porto in the UEFA Cup final”:

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Now, first of all, Celtic didn’t actually wear their 1991-93 away kit when playing Porto in the UEFA Cup final in Seville in 2003 (they wore a very rare variation, but that’s beside the point). This piece of information also raises questions as to the timeline of George’s career, as we saw that he was with Liverpool in 1996 – did he do a Frank McAvennie on it and have two spells with two clubs?

There’s an out for the makers in that he didn’t specify a year, so maybe in this alternate universe Celtic played Porto in around 1992. The next item he’s trying to sell is clearly stated to be from “Liverpool-AC Milan, 2005” (he must have joined DC United straight after that).

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Yes, that’s right, it’s the same Liverpool 1995-96 shirt. Again, if we’re looking for ways to absolve the makers, it might be that George is a bit of a wideboy and isn’t selling his best stuff but trying to pull the wool over the would-be buyer’s eyes. Four medals and “the boots I wore when I scored against England when I played with Scotland” are also part of his proposal, though. One wonders why he didn’t go to an auction house or even eBay (or sold to them all back to Classic Football Shirts), however, as he’s offered $300 for the whole lot.

Clearly trying to give the American audience a reference-point, we then have the store owner asking, “Is that you and Beckham?”

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It is, and it can be dated to the 2000-01 season, providing further uncertainty regarding the dates of his transfers. The picture is quite well done, but George replies that it is him and Beckham, from “the quarter-final of the Champions League. That was a great game.”

As it happens, 00-01 was actually the last year before Liverpool would return to the European Cup/Champions League for the first time since the Heysel ban. They have yet to play Manchester United in it, though, and last spring in the Europa League was the clubs’ first meeting in a continental competition.

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Our final example is just mean, but we’re on a roll now.

George’s son – who wears a modern DC United shirt at various times in the film – drew this. We’ll leave it others to properly critique children’s drawings but just look at George in his Celtic kit – stripes (we’ll assume that it’s not a retro shirt), green shorts and the number on the front. Come on son, Mommy and Daddy aren’t going to get back together if you’re always that lazy.

Spain opt not to go back into the blue

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You might have seen recently that Spain defender Gerard Piqué has announced that he will retire from international football after the 2018 World Cup.

The Barcelona defender will only be 31 by that stage but the reason given is that the abuse given to him after the recent World Cup qualifier against Albania was too much to take. Basically, Spain have changed their away shirts and the new version has red and yellow striping at the bottom of the short-sleeved version – just striping, not the national flag, as has been reported elsewhere – but because Piqué took a scissors to his long-sleeved shirt, it looked like he was renouncing Spain.

Our friend Jay from DesignFootball.com has blogged about the sleeves issue in his usual excellent, witty way so, rather than stepping on his toes, we’ll focus on what we feel is a missed opportunity.

In a piece prior to Euro 2016 evaluating the best and worst kits for The Irish Examiner, we said the following about Spain’s home and away:

‘Stunning’ is a word one could apply to both of the holders’ kits, though using two very different meanings of the word. The home is a classic, with blue shorts and black socks used for the first time in more than 20 years – squint your eyes and you can almost see Emilio Butragueño and Michel.

Adidas have moved their three stripes on the kits of their top-level countries, as the rules on sleeve patches demand that a blank space be left and this was curtailing the famous trademark. The yellow stripes link the red shirt and blue shorts well.

The away is eye-catching and calls to mind the kits worn by the USSR and Czechoslovakia at the 1990 World Cup, when geometric patterns were all the rage. The whole look may not appeal to the purists, but it’s a Marmite kit but we fall down on the ‘love’ side.

Sadly for Spain, the away proved to be quite the unlucky charm, as they lost to both Croatia and Italy at the European Championship while wearing it. While it has been reported that the change to the new, plainer, change shirt is down to FIFA, it’s hardly likely to cause any clashing issues and it could just be that they think it’s cursed.

The new offering is fine, but feels quite dull. It’s the same cut as the home but without the triangular fabric pattern. While the obvious absence of the red and yellow from the torso differentiates it from its short-lived predecessor, it still shares the same red adidas stripes and the shorts and socks.

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If it were up to us, we’d have gone back in time. Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, Spain would have white ‘tournament aways’, i.e. where countries were required to have one dark kit and one light one, but then would opt for blue alternatives in ‘ordinary’ time.

Here’s how such an approach would look with the new design. We’d love to have seen it become reality.

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