The worst colour-clashes across football, rugby, Aussie Rules and Gaelic games

It wasn’t a great weekend if you’re the kind of person who likes competing teams to wear distinguishable kits. On Saturday, we had this…

…and then on Sunday, in Gaelic football’s McGrath Cup, the first half between Limerick and Kerry caused such confusion that Kerry changed at half-time.

It got us in mind of some of the worst clashes* we have seen, across various sports. One would think in the modern era, with nearly every top football club having three kits, that clashes would be a thing of the past, but you’d be wrong.

In 2005-06, Blackburn Rovers somehow forgot to bring their away kit with them to White Hart Lane for their Premier League game against Tottenham Hotspur, whose kit had more navy on it than in almost another other season. Spurs had changed at home to Blackburn at the end of the 2002-03 season when showcasing their 2003-04 away, but that didn’t happen here and the game was allowed to proceed with both in home strips.

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Spurs haven’t been blameless when the away team, either – in 2012-13, their home was all-white and away all-navy, with a silver and black halved third outfit a questionable choice. Their trip to face West Bromwich Albion could certainly have been better dealt with, though there have been worse clashes.


West Brom also proved troublesome for Newcastle United on the final day of 2002-03, though of course the blame lies with the Toon for having a cream and navy away when their home is black and white stripes.

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Three years previously, Newcastle had a white away, which obviously couldn’t be worn away to Tranmere in the FA Cup. Switching to white shorts to avoid a shorts clash arguably made the overall look even worse, however.

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While Arsenal generally change when away to teams with white shirts, there are times when teams visiting them will have white. Why Charlton Athletic were allowed to have white jerseys and red shorts at Highbury in 2000 is anybody’s guess.

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Later that same season, Arsenal wore a new navy third shirt at home to Sparta Prague in the Champions League. While the Czech side’s shirt is dark red and a very different colour to the navy up close, from a distance there was what we might term a ‘shade clash’, so much so that Arsenal switched to their yellow away shirts for the second half.


At international level, last spring saw Belgium and Portugal both change for a friendly, with poor results.

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Going further back, at the 1970 World Cup in Mexico, Czechoslovakia opted for white as their first-choice colours, so England had to change when meeting them. Their sky-blue alternative kit was troublesome for viewers on black-and-white televisions though, and so for the game against Germany in the knockout stages, England reverted to red.

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Strictly speaking, the meeting of Scotland and New Zealand in the 2007 Rugby World Cup dealt with a clash as the All Blacks changed to grey jerseys, still with considerable black panelling. Combined with Scotland’s shirt in the newest Canterbury template, featuring a lot of lighter embellishments, it was far from ideal.

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This was the 2011 Australian Rules Football grand final, between Collingwood (black and white stripes) and Geelong (navy and white hoops). In the AFL, the home team wears dark shorts and the away team white shorts and that helped here, as did Collingwood having black backs and Geelong white backs. In a fast-moving game, however, confusion was a strong possibility.

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And finally, Gaelic games. As seen at the very top, clashes remain a constant problem, so here are just a select few examples.

Armagh (orange) v Cork (red), All-Ireland U21 football semi-final, 2007:


Donegal (gold and green) v Kerry (green and gold), National Football League, 2007:


Wexford (purple and gold) v Clare (saffron and blue), National Hurling League, 2006:


Sixmilebridge (gold and blue) v Clonlara (gold and black), Clare Senior Hurling Championship final, 2015:


Kilmoyley (green, gold chevron) v Lixnaw (green, gold hoop), Kerry Senior Hurling Championship, 2002:lixnawkilmoyley

* Of course, we say ‘colour-clash’, but…

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