Midweek Mashup – Scotland special

By Jay Mansfield

Museum of Jerseys wrote a piece last month on the interchangeability (it’s a word, believe it or not) of Scotland’s last two sets of kits, touching on some of the prior occasions when they had occasion to change.

I’ve been researching Scotland kits over the last four decades on-and-off for the last couple of years, and I’m somewhat fascinated with data, so I decided to look at how often Scotland have mashed up their kits during that time. Of the 344 matches where I know what they wore, Scotland wore alternative versions of strips a little under 10 percent of the time (9.59 percent). The table below breaks that down by decade:

Decade Games Mashes %
1980s 81 10 12.35
1990s 91 2 2.20
2000s 86 7 8.14
2010s 86 14 16.28

Scotland’s mash tendency traces a u-shaped curve. It’s perhaps to be expected that they alternated things most frequently in the fussy 2010s, but there’s a surprisingly high figure in the 1980s as well.  This can be explained by Scotland having a flirtation with adopting strips that could easily be mixed and matched – which is surprising because kit clashes weren’t ever really managed domestically in the Scottish leagues prior to the 2000s.

It’s true that, throughout their history, Scotland’s first- and second-choice kits were more or less completely modular by default, but this perhaps became more pronounced in the 1970s with the arrival of kit culture. Scotland’s 1976-1980s Umbro strips were more consciously interchangeable with the colours of body and each trim element inverted on its alternate. Perhaps someone at the SFA or Umbro anticipated having to alternate kit elements.

Scotland-1980-1982-Umbro-away-01Scotland-1980-1982-Umbro-home-01The Scottish governing body have something of a reputation for being reactionary and stuck in their ways. In the late 1970s and early 80s, however, they were doing some innovative stuff, like adopting shirt names in 1979. Following that, in truth, short-lived experiment a brand new set of kits were rolled out in 1980. The home was a gentle progression of what had been happening for the previous eight years or so, but the away was a complete departure.

Like the previous set, it was the same template as the home, but, instead of neutral white, it was a bold red, almost bordering on pink. The red trim on the shorts meant they weren’t completely modular, but both sets could be comfortably interchangeable. While it was most often the away socks that were worn with the home kit, the home socks were worn with the away kit in a World Cup 1982 qualifier in Tel Aviv. There was an oddity, though, in that, against Portugal in 1980, white socks with two black stripes were used with the home shorts and socks – these had also appeared with the previous shirt against the same opposition.

The next set, launched in 1982, took the same semi-modular approach, with both kits utilising near identical templates, and the same colour templates as their predecessors.

Scotland-1982-Umbro-home-01Scotland-1982-1985-Umbro-away-01The home was worn twice with elements from the away kit, and Historic Football Kits notes that the away kit was worn with the home shorts and socks in a friendly against Canada in 1983 (one of three in five days!). That said, the modular approach was defeated as much as the team was when they wore bespoke navy alternative shorts in a 2-0 reverse against Switzerland in November 1982.

Upon the launch of the 1985 sets however, the mashups dried up. While the new strips were the same basic design, the colourways weren’t entirely complementary. That particular home kit was worn twice with the 1982 away socks though, as was the 1988 away in a 1989 World Cup qualifier in Cyprus.

Aside from white teamwear socks being combined with the 1988 home kit in 1990, that was it in terms of mashups for a further 8 years when the 1998 home socks were worn with the 1996 away kit in a 1-1 draw with Norway at the 1998 World Cup.

Scotland-1998-Umbro-away-red-socks-Norway-World-Cup-01The 1990s were a decade where the notion of mixing and matching kit elements wasn’t really considered. Instead of international kits being launched as sets, we began to see home and away strips released in alternate years as had already happened domestically.

Strips became hermetically sealed from their colleagues; instead of digging out the away shorts if there was a clash, alternative bespoke shorts in the same design and colourway would be used. Scotland’s 1991 away shirt was only worn once, against San Marino. It had been launched with purple shorts, to match the purple and pink chest graphic, but in its only competitive appearance it was paired with white inversions of the away shorts, rather than the white home shorts.

Despite the potential of mashups in the latter day Umbro kits, it wasn’t until the partnership with Fila that alternative kits began to appear more regularly. The then-Italian company designed four sets of strips for Scotland, and both were more or less interchangeable. I mean, all kits are interchangeable if the will is there, but some are a bit more designed to be so. There were five mashups over the duration of Fila’s five-year contract, but four of those did appear to be when the Scottish kit controller decided that the designated white home socks were bad luck and binned them for bespoke navy alternatives. The fifth was when a plain navy teamwear set was used, at home to Germany in 2003.

After the departure of Fila, fellow Italians Diadora took over the contract, but they were a little less inclined to design modularity into the sets, perhaps because they were in the midst of adopting an asymmetric style. Most of Diadora’s kits for Scotland had precisely colour-coded accents, even if the garment’s main colour was the same as another. As such, during the seven-year duration of the partnership, Scotland only wore alternative kits on two occasions. Both involved the 2003 sets, which were a little more utilitarian. The away socks were worn with the 2003 home kit, and the away shorts were worn with the 2005 home kit in a friendly against Austria.

Scotland-2005-2006-Diadora-home-navy-shorts-Austria-01

Scotland-2004-Diadora-home-white-socks-Spain-01Since 2010, Scotland have been wearing adidas kits, and the tendency to wear mix-and-match kit has risen again. As mentioned earlier, this may be because the football authorities are getting fussier about what teams wear and how they manage colour clashes. Scotland have worn adidas in 86 matches over the last decade, and they’ve mixed things up 16.28 percent of the time.

This isn’t to say that the kits themselves were particularly modular; only the 2011, 2017, and 2019 sets were. Nevertheless, in the modern era of ‘no two people on the pitch should wear the same colour garment’ Scotland have worn alternative elements with seven of the 11 adidas strips they’ve worn in men’s senior internationals. We will look at these in a future article. If we considered the women’s and youth teams, there’d be even more examples.

It’s somewhat tantalising though to look back on nearly an entire decade without mashups and wonder what could have been. We know that the 1988 sets were somewhat interchangeable, as evidenced by the away shorts being worn with the home shirts (and, bizarrely, red teamwear socks) by the U16s in the final of the 1989 World Cup. The mid-90s kits would have been a visual cacophony however, but the 1998 home shirt combined with the 1999 away shorts and socks might have resulted in a neat all-navy ensemble.

As an aside, it’s interesting to note that Scotland only wore red socks with the home shirt in 54 percent of all games between 1980 and 2019. There seems to have been an attachment developed to them, but the national team have only worn them regularly between 1973 and 1991.

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