In his recent articles on change shorts, Jay Mansfield provided no shortage of food for thought and helped us to jog our memories somewhat.
Included among his many mashup examples was Nottingham Forest wearing plain black shorts with their home shirts in 1994-95. For those familiar with Forest donning all-red during the Brian Clough era, it might have seemed jarring, but the foundations for such a change had been laid during 1993-94 – in the process resulting in five different shorts styles being worn with the home shirt which had been released in the summer of 1992.
At the outset, let’s cover the two ‘default’ variants. Like Newcastle United would a year later, Forest operated a dual-sponsorship approach – the local Shipstones brand featured for most home games while higher-profile home matches and away fixtures saw the more widely-known Labatt’s given exposure.
As Jay mentioned in his piece, Forest took part in the pre-season Makita Tournament in the summer of 1992. For their game with VfB Stuttgart, the red change shorts from the previous home kit were worn, creating an odd contrast to the baggier shorts of the new strip.
However, by the time the season started, Forest had a proper alternative set of red shorts.
Sadly, the 1992-93 season was one to forget for Forest, culminating in their relegation. For reasons unknown, for the game at home to Tottenham Hotspur in April, they paired the home shirts with the white 1990-92 shorts.
It may have been some kind of superstition on Brian Clough’s part – whatever the motivation, it proved to be the final win of his managerial career.
Thankfully for Forest, they would bounce straight back under Frank Clark, finishing second in Division 1 in 1993-94. During that campaign, though, the red shorts weren’t used when a clash occurred, with the club instead donning the black shorts from the 1991-93 away kit, which had just been supplanted by a blue and green offering. In pre-season, the outgoing away shirt had been worn with the white home shorts.
It’s a testament to the quality of the design that, more than a quarter-century later, the shirt is still considered a classic despite the relegation, with the 1993-94 season managing to redress the win ratio.
As to whether there are other examples of a shirt being worn with five distinctly different types of shorts, we’re at a loss – if you know of any instances, please get in touch on Twitter @museumofjerseys.