We always feel that red and black works well as a Blackburn Rovers change colour-scheme – similar to how it’s favoured by Queens Park Rangers, maybe it’s something to do with the opposite-ness to blue and white.
For much of the 1980s and early 1990s, yellow was favoured as the back-up colour but, when Asics joined forces with Rovers in the summer of 1992, they produced this change kit.
(Incidentally, note how, in this Bourne Sports catalogue, the middle stripe is black. We were also expecting a change to a darker shade of blue on the home kit after seeing that picture).
Back in the top flight for the first time since 1965-66, Rovers finished fourth in the first Premier League and followed that up by coming second to Manchester United in 1993-94.
Unusually among kit-manufacturers at the time, Asics hadn’t staggered the release of home and away strips and so a new alternative wouldn’t be seen until the summer of 1994, when a new home was launched. It too was coloured in red and black:
Blackburn went one better in 1994-95 than they had the previous year, winning the Premier League, and in the summer of 1995, the new change kit – with red now given prominence over black – celebrated that fact with a shadow effect featuring the ‘champions’ sleeve patch in magnified format. Either it was a quick turnaround in production, or they had been very confident.
Unfortunately for Rovers, their title defence was tough and they lost their first seven games in the red kit, four in the league – including a 5-0 reversal at Coventry City – once at Leeds United in the Coca-Cola Cup and of course Spartak Moscow in the Champions League, when Graeme Le Saux and David Batty fell out with each other, as well as against Rosenborg.
So it was that, away to Wimbledon the day before Christmas Eve, the previous season’s black shirt was revived, worn with the white home shorts and away red socks.
While the shirts had the champions sleeve patches, they were the same set as the previous year, as evidenced by the older Asics logo – the Japanese firm had added an ‘A’, as seen on the new change kit and updated home strip. However, Graham Fenton’s shirt lost all traces of the Asics marking.
Of course, one would question the logic of changing to black against a team in navy – Blackburn also did it in 1994-95, though Sheffield Wednesday hadn’t been allowed to do so in 1993-94. Common sense would eventually prevail.
The Wimbledon game was drawn 1-1 and on New Year’s Day, when Blackburn went to Elland Road again, the black shirts were again used, this time with the black shorts.
That game was scoreless but the same kit combination earned that elusive away win against QPR on January 13. However, after breaking the jinx, the red shirts were called back into action against Manchester City on March 2.
That was a draw, but the red shirt’s final two games were both 3-2 wins, at Tottenham Hotspur on March 16 and Chelsea on the final day of the season.
It proved to be the last time Asics produced a black and red kit for the club, with yellow and navy chosen for 1996-97 and orange and grey in 1997-98.