- Thanks to our new Dutch correspondent Dirk Maas for info – more Netherlands content soon
We can still recall our surprise upon turning on BBC Wales (the closest region to Ireland, so the variation we received, meaning a half-hour longer wait for Fantasy Football League in its pomp) on a Saturday night in October of 1996.
Wales were hosting the Netherlands in a World Cup qualifier. The Dutch would win 3-1 with three late goals after going behind early, but what was surprising was that they had switched to Nike only months after launched a new set of Lotto kits for Euro 96 – and their change shirts were blue.
Featuring orange shorts and blue socks, it was quite an attractive kit – in fact, as pointed out by Jack Henderson, since the Dutch switched to the American firm, blue has been the most common change colour.
However, on February 26, 1997, Guus Hiddink’s side travelled to Paris for a friendly with France. When the countries met in the Uefa Nations League a few days ago, France wore all-navy, but back then the idea of them switching from their usual tricolore wouldn’t have been as likely.
With shorts- and socks-clashes to sort, the easiest thing was for the Netherlands to wear a change kit, but, with blue the second option, a third shirt was needed and white was the logical choice.
In his excellent new book, John Devlin says that the kit had blue shorts but, if that was the case, it was decided to go with the orange away set to avoid an overall-clash issue.
The shirt – featuring a front number with the shorts numberless, which was the Dutch practice at the time – wasn’t seen again and blue would remain as the away choice for the World Cup and the 2000 European Championships, with black becoming the second colour in 2002 and white not returning until Euro 2004.