When Celtic’s numbers were up
- This is a modified excerpt from Football Type 2, on which we had the privilege of working with Rick Banks. You can buy a copy here while on Wednesday, May 27 we will give a copy away on Twitter
Opening question – what shirt number was Jimmy Johnstone wearing when Celtic won the 1967 European Cup final?
It’s a trick, of course: Celtic’s number 7 carried his digits on his shorts, like his team-mates. The Bhoys didn’t wear any numbers at all until a friendly against Sparta Rotterdam in May 1960, when they were added to the front and back of the shorts. Numbers would be added to their change shirts, but the club didn’t want to spoil the famous hoops.
They were forced to conform to a UEFA edict regarding shirt numbers in 1975 and, oddly, in a 1985 game at Hibernian the Celts wore a European-spec kit set with numbers on their backs.
The shirts worn in the league in 1993-94 were the last to have their backs free of numbers in the league. In that season’s Uefa Cup, white numbers were placed on a green square, higher up than normal so as to fit in with the hoops. The kit had to be modified for European usage, as the liberal usage Umbro diamonds on the hoops contravened rules on manufacturers’ markings.
For 1994-95, the Scottish League made it a rule that clubs had to have shirt numbers, but, for the first two games of the season, Celtic tried to test the definition of the meaning by wearing them on their sleeves.
However, that approach was not met with approval and, so, for the Old Firm derby away to Rangers on August 27, 1994, there were numbers on the backs of the shirt, albeit in green with a white outline. Shorts numbers remained, but smaller than previously, in black and only on the front.
The Bhoys won 2-0 against Rangers at Ibrox but their Glasgow rivals would go on to win a seventh straight Premier Division title. Ever since then, Celtic have had numbers on their backs.
6 thoughts on “When Celtic’s numbers were up”
Interesting pierce of history.
I think this shirt has been the best in celtic history.
About the numbers itself how was watching a game of celtic before they had numbers. I guess the farest seats/standing area would not distinguish the players.
What about on tv?
When did the goalkeepers start wearing number one on the shirt? I remember seeing photos from late 80’s and early 90 ‘s when they had numbers on the shirt, but in the European Cup Final in’ 67 it was still on the shorts.
Sometime in the early 1980s I would think, Simon, when they began to wear full GK kits rather than white shorts/socks
I just had a look on Youtube and found clips from 1979 where Peter Latchford is wearing a black number 1 on his shirt as well as numbers on the shorts.
It’s funny because my dad is from near Glasgow and has supported Celtic his whole life, yet when I brought up the fact that they didn’t have shirt numbers for ages, he was entirely perplexed and had no idea what I was talking about. He barely believed me when I showed him the proof!
It’s funny Charlie, isn’t it – some people are big fans but the team could be wearing pink and purple and they wouldn’t notice the kit!