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

  • 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.


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.

hungary netherlands 1986 2

The resolution

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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