- 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.