When a team has just two main colours on its home kit, changing shorts is easy – for instance, Everton’s all-blue alternative kit is quite familiar.
Some teams have more noticeable third and fourth colours though, and if they generally prefer not to change shorts, a new look can appear very unusual.
Rangers fit into both categories. Their blue shirts and white shorts are most often paired with black and red socks, and change shorts are a real rarity – it never happens in the Old Firm derby, for instance.
The summer of 1996 saw Rangers launched what would be their last set of adidas kits, featuring a white and red away and a white goalkeeper shirt, while the home shirt was practically identical to that worn by France at Euro 96.
Neither the home or the away was deemed suitable for the first Champions League outing, away to Grasshopper Zurich, and so a one-off red shirt was worn (as an aside, pretty much the same thing would happen against IFK Gothenburg in 1997).
Oddly, Rangers goalkeeper Andy Goram was allowed to wear his white shirt against the Swiss side’s blue and white halves, but for their first home game, against Auxerre, he wore black
(unfortunately, that’s the best picture so we can’t make out exactly what shirt it was). Nicky McCrimmon found a picture:
If you click on that link above, you’ll see that both sides were wearing white shorts, which is what makes Rangers’ game away to Ajax on October 16 so unusual. First of all, with the white GK shirt unusable, Goram’s back-up Theo ‘Tom Cruise’ Snelders wore an unbadged yellow shirt with McEwan’s Lager on the front.
The best reason we can think of that the black shirt from the Auxerre game wasn’t worn is that it might have had number 1 on the back and Snelders was 13. Closer inspection of the patch on the neck and the sleeve padding on the yellow top reveal it to be an Umbro shirt – a permanent loan from Ajax, perhaps?
The other ten players looked different too, though. Whether under orders or taking initiative, Rangers wore blue shorts – but, perhaps wary of the black socks looking strange, they had blue socks too (the socks would be seen away to Dunfermline Athletic later that season, too).
Rangers lost 4-1 to Ajax, with Paul Gascoigne sent off in the first half. Whether or not the blue shorts were blamed for that, we don’t know, but they weren’t seen again.
When Ajax came to Glasgow a fortnight later, both sides had white shorts while Snelders wore a 1995-96 goalkeeper shirt.
The home game with Grasshopper was free of any kit snags, and in the final game, away to Auxerre, the shorts clash wasn’t deemed to be an issue either. Goram wore the same type of shirt as was used in Amsterdam – however, because France prohibits alcohol advertising, it appears that the McEwan’s logo had to be manually removed.
The rest of the team promoted Center Parcs holiday villages, which were owned by Scottish & Newcastle Breweries at the time.
Incidentally, in 1997-98, Center Parcs was on the new Nike kit against Strasbourg in the UEFA Cup and this time the blue shorts were worn with black socks.