- See here for the first instalment in this series
- Thanks, as ever, to the great Simon ‘Shakey’ Shakeshaft for his help
It could be argued that this was the template which set the ball rolling in terms of football-kit design.
Admiral had made a splash when they took over the production of the Leeds United change kit in 1973, but apart from the dual striping on the sleeves (which also appeared on their first England home strip), they kept things simple.
However, the new Coventry City kits launched in 1975 really pushed the boundaries, carrying the shirt’s design on to the shorts, earning the nickname which endures to this day. There were variations in the Admiral logo and club crest while front numbers were used before Talbot became sponsors in 1980. Change kits in red, yellow and the infamous brown were used.
Along with Coventry, the most memorable usage of the template was by the Wales national team, who began wearing Admiral in 1976. For the first time, green and ‘daffodil yellow’ – which appeared on the crest – were used as trim colours and a reversal formed the basis for the change kit.
Taking advantage of less strict rules than those applied by the Football League, Admiral put their logo on both collar lapels with the badge in the middle. The away socks were used with the home shirt and shorts on five occasions.
The Admiral logo also appeared on the collar of the Eintracht Frankfurt kits as they sought to make inroads in Germany.
Nowadays, templates don’t tend to last for too long – sometimes one used by a top side may appear as teamwear the following year – but Admiral got a lot out of the tramlines. Compare Dundee’s 1976 home (left, with complementary change kit in the middle) and Bangor City’s from 1979 (right).
In 1977, another Scottish side, East Fife, had donned the design, with theirs unique in that it didn’t have matching shorts. Then, in 1978, the North American Soccer League outfitted its teams in Admiral and the Vancouver Whitecaps (top, middle and right), Tulsa Roughnecks (bottom, left and middle) and San Jose Earthquakes (bottom, right) all had similar kits.
Admiral also established themselves in the Middle East around this time and Saudi Arabia had three versions of the style, including a rare red third kit.
To match their kit, Coventry had the tramlines on their tracksuits too. The tracksuit differed slightly from the shirt in that the lines ran down the sleeves.
Two sides which had different Admiral kit styles, Manchester United and Sheffield United, had the tracksuit too. The Red Devils’ players had their initials on the left sleeve and upper leg – though in practice the players didn’t always wear the correct ones – while the Blades had ‘Admiral’ writ large across their upper chests.
Apart from Coventry, the only other side to do the ‘double’ were Saudi Arabia, though the tramlines weren’t on the sleeves of their tracksuits.
One variant of the tramlines came in 1982, on the kit worn by Belgium at the World Cup in Spain. The curve remained the same but instead of the tri-stripe, the Admiral logo was repeated. Belgium didn’t wear their white strip at the competition but did use the shorts from it against Argentina.