Football League Classics – Liverpool, 1989-91

We had hoped to do a full review of the 1989-90 Division 1 campaign, but time is proving an ever more finite resource and so the focus is on the team to win the league that season, Liverpool.

Having joined forces with adidas in 1985, the Reds mixed things up in the summer of 1989. While the new home shirt was of the same construction as its predecessor, the notable change came from addition of a white flecked pattern throughout the fabric.


In the modern era, there would be a lot of virtual column inches devoted to such a kit change, but things were different three decades ago.

Obviously, there was still a cloud over football and Liverpool in the wake of Hillsborough, but kits didn’t receive as much analysis – this advert in Shoot! merely described the strip as ‘exciting’, while the small image meant the flecks were hard to see, with the main image from the FA Cup final featuring the old kit.

Pool adidas

White panels on the shorts and contrast stocking tops also helped to differentiate the new kit from the one that it succeeded, while the change kit underwent a similar change, with the previous colour-scheme retained. This time, a diamond pattern was used.


In 1988-89, Liverpool used a specially-made white third shirt for their trip to Aston Villa, who had had claret and blue halved home shirts which may have clashed with the grey change kit.

While Villa were back in their familiar contrast-sleeve style, Liverpool again wore white at Villa Park in August 1989. The new home shorts and socks were used, while the shirt differed from the 1988-89 version in that the gaps between the red adidas stripes were white rather than grey.

However, Villa themselves often wore claret away to teams in red during 1989-90, and Chelsea wore a red change kit away to Villa, so Liverpool were possibly giving themselves extra work.


The new goalkeeper shirt was interesting in that it followed the pattern on the home shirt, a precursor to the more exuberant designs that would materialise at the following year’s World Cup.


That competition would of course be worn by West Germany, wearing an iconic shirt. However, that shirt had first been seen at Euro 88 and for 1989-90 adidas appropriated it for the leisurewear of Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United.

White was used as the base colour for the tracksuit and sweater in each case, with Liverpool’s ‘ribbon’ rendered in red and grey. It’s indicative of the simpler times that the logo of sponsors Candy didn’t feature at all on these items.

Adidas were certainly becoming more aware of the need for brand promotion though and two years later the next new set of Liverpool kits would be something much different.

3 comments on “Football League Classics – Liverpool, 1989-91

  1. Graham

    I loved reading this article, fantastic kit for that season and you are quite right, the commercial success of replica kits had been realised fully up until this point. I think this is the best kit Liverpool produced, I also think two toned kits are more interesting

  2. Tony Wright

    Hey their Denis, great article, it’s a pity you couldn’t do the whole league though I would have found that interesting, as it was probably my favourite year in English kits in my humble opinion (thanks to my find memories of Colecting that seasons pro set cards)

    Oh I…while I’m here …I know this is a bit off topic but I have an EFL question that you might know the answer to

    Does the EFL have rules about squad number legibility?

    I ask because HFK seems to have a habit of moaning that Brentford always has plain backs, and I always thought this was a rule issue not their choice

    But my club (Wednesday) threw the proverbial spanner in that by having gold fonts that are practically illegible this season



  3. Jordi

    Brilliant shirts this season for Liverpool. I think the 80’s were the best years when it comes to their shirts in the 90 i remember some rebook not interesting at all


Leave a Reply