- We’re indebted to Chris Guy, who runs the Retro QPR Twitter account, for his help, while this blog was of great assistance for research. Also, as so often, Simon ‘Shakey’ Shakeshaft provided invaluable information
Few people know that adidas’s first appearance in English football was in 1974-75 with the Newport County kits. It was to be two more years before a first-division club wore the three stripes, with Queens Park Rangers leading the charge.
It was the beginning of a relationship that was to last 13 years, though a year before the Hoops appeared in an adidas kit on the field, one was worn in the 1975-76 team picture.
While it had the German firm’s trefoil logo, it was in fact produced by Umbro, with whom adidas had an alliance at the time. By the time the season started, the previous Umbro kit was restored and it was worn as the club finished second in Division 1.
The change was officially made in the summer of 1976 though. For the first two games of that season, at home to Everton and away to West Ham United, shirts with narrow hoops were worn.
The third game was away to Ipswich Town, meaning a change – but, as adidas had yet to provide one, the previous Feyenoord-style Umbro shirts were used with black adidas shorts and socks. It was to be the only crested shirt worn by the Rs that season.
Back at home for the clash with West Bromwich Albion, QPR were clad in more familiar looking thicker hoops and a blue neck. It too was short-lived though and a third variation, with an extra-large trefoil, appeared at Anfield in November.
The latter style was used with white shorts and blue socks against Newcastle United (we think), blue shorts and socks against Köln in the Uefa Cup and, strangely, the away shorts and socks at Stoke City in March 1977.
However, that wasn’t the extent of the kit oddities in 1976-77. A fourth home variation, featuring a two-colour neck design, appeared in December while adidas eventually came up with their take on the change kit and a white Umbro shirt was worn at West Ham in the league cup.
QPR couldn’t repeat the 1975-76 heroics, finishing 14th, and 1977-78 would be even tougher as they wound up 19th. They began that season with the two-colour neck, which appeared with blue shorts and socks at West Ham.
In October 1977 a new style appeared, similar to the 1975-76 team picture shirt in that the adidas stripes travelled all the way to the neck. This was the first Rangers shirt to be sold as a replica and for the game at Arsenal, blue shorts and white socks were used.
While black socks with three adidas stripes were used with the change kit in 1976-77, a new Manchester United-like set were worn this time. Away to Chelsea, the home shorts replaced the black.
While the historical FA Cup rule which mandated both teams to change when a clash arose had nearly been phased out, QPR wore the white Umbro shirt with home shorts and socks in the third round when they entertained Wealdstone, who wore yellow. After a 4-0 win against the non-league side, QPR were drawn away to West Ham and wore white again, this time with blue shorts and socks.
A fifth-round replay loss to Nottingham Forest ended any hopes of success and the 1978-79 season would be a trying campaign, too.
There was some solace in the fact that adidas gave the club crested home shirts for the first time. Against Southampton, plain blue change socks were used while there were a few instances of alternative shorts being called into action as well.
Adidas also mixed things up with the change kit, which was now all-red.
Unfortunately for Rangers, it would be associated with relegation to Division 2 for the first time since 1972-73. They would remain in the second tier for a few years but that period would encompass an FA Cup final appearance – we will look at that in Part 2.