- By David Reynolds
Like most clubs these days, Hibernian have been issued with three kits for the 2019-20 season by their suppliers Macron – a very conservative green home, a loud purple and green away and a completely superfluous grey and lime green third choice.
Unusually, Macron have apparently only issued the club with two goalkeeper outfits (neither of which are shirts originally manufactured for goalkeeper use as they are teamwear outfield shirts with badges applied, however that’s another discussion point entirely). The one designated as home is yellow, which is also retailed by the club in the club store, and the designated away one is off-white, which is kit-room-issue only.
Macron have manufactured Hibs’ kits since 2017 and in each season since then, they have supplied three goalkeeper options per year, with two being retailed in the club store. The 2017-18 saw Hibs have white, red and yellow options and in 2018-19 Macron supplied black, neon green and fluo yellow outfits, the latter never being used or seen until around a dozen appeared in the club shop as the seasons end was approaching, presumably the club looking to flog off surplus Marathon Bet-emblazoned shirts as that deal was coming to an end. Given that the neon green and fluo yellow shirts (and also identical in colour to the third-choice outfield kit) were so similar in colour, it was perhaps not a surprise that these shirts never saw action.
Back to 2019-20, the two choices of yellow and white are increasingly appearing to be a rather poor choice and, as a result, the purple outfield away kit has been used by custodians Ofir Marciano and Chris Maxwell on at least four occasions.
At the time of writing, this is double the amount of times that the outfield players have used it, both in the league cup, first against Elgin and secondly in the semi-final defeat to Celtic at Hampden Park last weekend.
Luckily, Hibs are one of the dwindling number of clubs which has all kits available in both short and long sleeves, therefore the transition from outfield to goalkeeper shirt has been a simpler one.
To traditionalists, Hibs should only ever wear non-green shirts against Celtic domestically – in fact, many of my father’s generation believe Hibs have no need for an away kit at all, using the argument that the Hibs and Celtic managed to play each other from the 1800s through to 1991 wearing traditional home kits. That argument aside, it’s now accepted practice that teams will have change kits and use them when not necessary, this season alone Hibs have worn change kits six times, with the third-choice grey being used in all but two fixtures.
One example of this causing issue with the goalkeeper kits was against Motherwell away. Motherwell were clad in their usual amber and Hibs chose to use the grey kit, rendering both yellow and white kits unusable. As a result, Ofir Marciano wore the purple away kit. All the other uses of the purple kit by the goalkeepers have not been because of a direct clash, however it has tended to be when playing light-coloured sides.
In the league cup semi-final, both teams changed, Hibs to purple and Celtic to gold, meaning that Maxwell had no option but to wear the white goalkeeper kit.
On a side note, the goalkeeper kit situation is not the only Macron/Hibs kit-related anomaly. Since 2017, only the first team have worn white shorts with the home kit, youth and reserve sides use plain green shorts (the same style as used in 2017-18 and 2018-19, with updated versions for 2019-20 with the new Macron ‘Hero’ logo). Adding to the confusion, these shorts are sold as training shorts, but are different to the training shorts that the team train in, which are also retailed by the club!
The topic of re-purposing kits brings back the oddity of the Hibs kits in season 2009-10.
Hibs’ kits were manufactured by Le Coq Sportif, and this campaign was the last in a partnership that had begun in 1998. In 2009, Hibs unveiled a ‘kit system’ with interchangeable elements – allegedly, the rationale behind this was the view that families would not have the same disposable income to spend on football kits following the economic downturn at the end of the last decade.
The home kit was green shirts, white shorts and green socks, and the away was a white shirt with white socks (which were also often used with the home shirt) and shared the home shorts.
As admirable as this approach was, it created a problem for away matches against Celtic. The solution for this, was to come up with a third kit, which Hibs took a novel approach to.
In 2009, Hibs released for retail two goalkeeper kits, both were identical in design to the white away shirt, one was black and green and the other was red and black, while a yellow and black outfit was also used on occasion but was never retailed by the club. Like most clubs, the goalkeeper shirts were produced in long sleeve only.
Prior to the first outing of the season at Celtic Park, the club announced that the players would wear a short-sleeved version of the black goalkeeper kit – this version of the kit had already seen action by a goalkeeper, as Graham Stack opted to use it rather than the long-sleeve shirtd and also cut the sleeves off the other two kits when black wasn’t used.
The club announced that the long-sleeve dversion would be the only version of the shirt retailed, as only enough short-sleeved editions were manufactured for the players.
However, as the season came to an end, surplus kit room stock did make its way into the club store as the club were changing to Puma for the 2010-11 season and a few lucky fans (myself included) managed to grab the not-for-retail version.
Maybe Hibs should revert to wearing goalkeeper kits outfield rather than the opposite way round, as the black kit was used in a rare last-minute victory at Celtic Park and the club qualified for Europe, which is in stark contrast to the club’s current fortunes….