Nothing like an Irish welcome – twice

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  • For more on the kit-happenings of Ireland’s qualifying campaign for the 1994 World Cup, see this fine article

At club level, you’ll occasionally hear of hitches with kits, usually sorted by the away team wearing one of the home side’s alternative strips.

In international football, such a situation would be more difficult to accept and so, twice during the Republic of Ireland’s qualifying campaign for the 1994 World Cup in the USA, countries visiting Dublin had to line out in hastily-produced kits.

Joining Ireland, Denmark, Northern Ireland, Spain and Latvia in the group were two sides with Umbro kits, Albania and Lithuania. However, both wore adidas branded strips at Lansdowne Road.

Ireland’s first match of the campaign was at home to Albania in May 1992 – the failure to qualify for the European Championship allowed them to get underway, with the first games having taken place in the April – but the poor visitors came with just the shirts on their backs, literally – there was no kit available.

In order for the game to go ahead, Three Stripe International – the holder of the adidas franchise in Ireland – had to knock up a set of kit in jig-time.

The front page of The Cork Examiner on the day of the game explained more (note the incorrect spelling of ‘adidas’ all through).

A Cork sportswear firm and The Cork Examiner stepped in yesterday to ensure that this evening’s World Cup qualifying match against Albania was not cancelled at the 11th hour.

The Albanians touched down in Dublin on Sunday night without five key players, an official kit to play in, or footballs and equipment to train with. The Albanians then demanded that unless the FAI came up with $50,000 and an Albanian kit – complete with official crest – they would not play.

The FAI agreed to pay the cash and pick up their accommodation costs after Fifa agreed to share the bill, and Addidas [sic] and The Cork Examiner rowed in with the offer of a full kit.

However few of the 30,000-plus crowd expected at Lansdowne Road (the game is live on Network 2 at 4.55pm) will appreciate the difficulties which had to be overcome to produce the red and white kit.

The first problem was the Albanian crest which was altered 11 days ago by Government decree. The design of the crest was only faxed to Kinsale transfer manufacturer Christ Kay Ltd last night.

Meanwhile, the looms at the Addidas factory in Cork city were in motion producing the kit. The transfer of the crest will not be put on the jersies until this morning. The team kit bag will then be rushed to Dublin by fast car in time for the 5pm kick-off.

It was a mix of new and old adidas, with a new Equipment-style shirt paired with older shorts and socks which carried the trefoil. It meant that the visitors actually had a newer shirt design than their hosts, who were wearing their 1990-92 kits for the last time.

Ireland won that game 2-0 and triumphed by the same scoreline against Lithuania in Dublin 16 months later.

In June 1993, Ireland went to Vilnius and won 1-0 against a Lithuania side wearing an amber version of the Everton 1990-92 away design. However, against Denmark at the end of August, they wore all-green and, seemingly, brought that kit with them to Ireland.

Once more, there was an emergency kit production – though, by now, Emerald Active Wear had replaced Three Stripe International as adidas’s Irish licensee.

A Cork sportswear firm went into overdrive yesterday to help little Lithuania take on Jack’s Army in style at Lansdowne Road.

The crisis arose when Lithuania arrived for yesterday’s crucial World Cup clash with just one set of jerseys, which happened to clash with the Republic’s strip.

Following an official objection from the FAI, desperate attempts were made to secure an alternative strip for the Baltic team with Cork firm, Emerald Active Wear, coming to the rescue.

FAI chief executive Seán Connnolly had asked international sportswear giants Adidas to provide the Lithuanians with a proper away strip and they immediately turned to their Cork franchise holders for help.

The firm, based at Millfield Industrial Estate on the Commons Road, called in their workforce at 5.30am yesterday morning and with barely minutes to spare, were able to provide a full team kit for the Lithuanians.

Adidas last night paid tribute to the Cork firm and their dedicated staff of cutters, machinists, packers, quality control officials and supervisors, for helping the Lithuanians.

A total of 18 jerseys were manufactured by the early shift, with the consignment being personally brought to Dublin by Munster Football Association chairman John O’Sulivan.

Ironically, the crisis comes just over a year after the Albanian national squad arrived in Dublin for a World Cup fixture with no gear.

However, while Ireland now had an adidas Equipment kit, what was provided for the visitors was more 1980s vintage, albeit with the modern longer shorts.

1 comment on “Nothing like an Irish welcome – twice

  1. Tony Wright

    why would the FAI have to stump up cash to the Albanians, i would have told them where to get bent and get FIFA to fine them if they didn’t play

    i mean i wouldn’t mind loaning them a kit or training equipment, but paying them for the privilege of playing them? …..sod that for a game of soldiers

    Reply

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