- Thanks to Simon ‘Shakey’ Shakeshaft, the John Charles of Wales kit knowledge, for his help
While the four Home Nations were traditionally conservative with regard to kit manufacturers, Wales pushed the boat out in the 1970s, 80s and 90s.
Having been with Bukta, Wales switched to Admiral in 1976, two years after England. However, while England returned to Umbro when Admiral collapsed, the FAW penned deals with adidas and then Hummel, only donning the double-diamond again in 1990. It was a partnership that lasted six years before Wales changed direction again.
Wales began their 1998 World Cup qualification campaign with two games against San Marino. While the 1994 Umbro home was worn in the 5-0 away win in June, come August they would be decked out in an all-new Lotto strip as they won 6-0.
Based on the design used for the 1995-97 AC Milan change kit, it later featured frontal numbers which had to be sited below the crest.
Another set of double-fixtures followed, at home and away to the Netherlands, who were now wearing Nike. After a 3-1 defeat in Cardiff, the game in Eindhoven saw the premiering of the new change strip.
The white shirt had featured on the programme cover for the San Marino game, worn by manager Bobby Gould, and it is often reported that Gould had a part in designing it. Unfortunately, if it is the case, he makes no mention of it in his autobiography.
In its first outing, the shirt was worn with the same green shorts and socks that were used with the new third shirt, and the white-green-green combination is often cited as the default version of the away kit.
It was later worn with both white shorts and red shorts, against Belgium and Jamaica respectively. We would posit that all-white was intended to be the proper format but a shorts-clash with the Netherlands forced the switch and green socks were then chosen for uniformity.
The all-green kit wasn’t used until August 1997, in a bizarre 6-4 loss away to Turkey, whose home strip wasn’t a million miles from the Wales away. However, for two end-of-season games in May 1998, a different green strip, a bland teamwear style effort, was worn against Malta and Tunisia.
That latter kit never retailed and the autumn of 1998 saw the release of three new kits. The home strip first appeared in the opening Euro 2000 qualifier against Italy, played at Anfield as a new national stadium was being built.
Featuring a strange collar design, it had a Welsh dragon in the fabric and, while trim on the shirt ran on to the shorts, it was white on the shirt and white/green on the shorts.
The other kits featured in the launch were of the same design, but Wales’s very next game was away to Denmark and a different style was used. Presumably, the ‘proper’ away strip wasn’t ready and so instead they were decked out in a yellow teamwear outfit.
That kit retired with a 100 percent record a 2-1 triumph in Copenhagen, but two other examples of that design existed. A red version was used by Wales B and U18 teams, with the latter side also wearing it in white in a game against Italy.
When the seniors next needed to change from red, away to Switzerland in the spring of 1999, the ‘proper’ yellow strip made its debut.
Lotto’s four-year stint was to come to an end in 2000, replaced by another Italian firm, Kappa. However, there was still time for one more oddity and in Februrary of 2000 a white kit was worn in a friendly against Qatar. Following the design of the home and away strips, it differed in that the dragon was rendered in green rather than tonally.