- Thanks to Jonny Thompson for providing information here
It was the best of kits, it was the worst of times.
In the summer of 1997, Manchester City were ready to make a push to reclaim their place in the Premier League. Having been relegated at the end of 1995-96, there was no immediate return as they finished 14th in Division 1 in 1996-97 but hopes were high that they could exit the second tier. They did so, but not in the way intended.
Emblematic of the fresh start being envisaged was seen as City became the first English club to partner with Kappa, who shook things up designing a home kit in ‘laser blue’, noticeably darker than the usual sky shade.
The Kappa sleeve and shorts trim was rendered in a pleasing navy, white and maroon combination and those colours combined on the unusual but not-unattractive away kit.
The shirts featured the club’s new crest, which was rendered on the shorts without the eagle or the three stars (which were just for decoration rather than representing any major victories).
With the same trim on the away shorts and socks, there was plenty of scope for swapping elements. We’d have liked to have seen white shorts used with the away shirt at some stage, but no opportunity arose.
The navy shorts and socks were worn in the final game of the season, a 5-2 away win at Stoke City which unfortunately was no use to City as results elsewhere meant they were relegated (and so were the hosts).
Of course, no mention of that season or kit is complete without footage of Jamie Pollock’s wonderful own goal against QPR in the penultimate game of the season.
In addition, City also had a smart yellow and black third kit. Lacking the repeating Kappa logos on the sleeves, it also had asymmetrical striping – not unique to City, with Georgi Kinkladze also wearing it at international level (thanks to Dave Mayor Jnr for making us aware).
That the 1997-98 third is largely forgotten is perhaps because of the more prominent role in the collective memory played by their yellow change kit from the following campaign, as they ensured they would only stay in Division 2 for a year.
Kappa’s tenure only lasted two years, with Le Coq Sportif becoming City’s supplier in 1999. They’ve travelled quite a bit since, but their current kits aren’t necessarily better than they were back then.