Season in Kits – Crystal Palace, 1996-97

Recently, we looked at Stockport’s 1996-97 third shirt, which was actually a rebadged Romania jersey.

In that article, we noted that Crystal Palace had the same style for their third kit that season, but we hadn’t ascertained whether or not they too were made from the same fabric as the Romania strips.

Well, thanks to Palace kit expert Rick Bates, we can confirm that, like Stockport, they were and it’s enough an excuse to look at the whole season from an Eagles point of view.

The summer of 1996 saw the club rejoin forces with adidas after a 12-year gap. The home shirt was a direct facsimile of that used by Bayern Munich the previous season, albeit with a different fabric pattern – though that style of striping was used as far back as 1993 by Cork City and Rangers.

However, of more note was that, for the first time since red and blue stripes were used for the home kit, the shorts and socks were white.

That combination threw up a few clashes though, and there were a number of games – including the play-off final win over Sheffield United – where Palace wore the blue shorts and socks from the change kit with the home shirt.

One of the games were that combination was used was away to the blue and white hoops, white shorts and white socks of Reading, but in February, against Queens Park Rangers – clad in a nearly-identical kit to the Royals – the red shorts and socks from the third kit were worn, the only time that Palace appeared in what had been their traditional colourway of the previous decade.

The away kit was white, similar to the France change strip launched for Euro 96 but with three blue stripes trimmed in red rather than two blue and one red.

Blue shorts and socks were the default setting but, away to teams in blue shirts, Palace opted for the red short and socks.

The game away to Oldham Athletic on March 23 was the only match that season where Palace played in socks that weren’t the same colour as their shorts.

Unusually, the Latics had blue and red hooped shirts in 1996-97, with white shirts and blue and red socks. While Palace could have worn their third shirts, instead they opted for the away shirt and shorts with the white home socks.

It meant that, on each element of the kit, adidas’s striping appeared differently on a white base – three blue on the shirt, blue-red-blue on the shorts and three red on the socks.

The red shorts and socks were generally seen with the yellow ‘Romania’ third shirt, but against Stoke it was paired with the blue sets.

And not forgetting the goalkeeper kits – like Rangers, Palace had a white top with blue and red trim while there was also a green jersey.

As mentioned above, Palace beat Sheffield United at Wembley in the play-off final to earn a place in the Premier League.

The home shirt was largely unchanged for 1997-98 but the striping on the collar was altered, while a new yellow change shirt was launched. It will be the focus of a future article.

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