As a six-year-old at the end of my first season watching football, I didn’t appreciate the gravity of change when I saw the new Liverpool kits in Shoot! one day in July 1991.
I could appreciate the fact that the white elements represented adidas’s stripes, but the fact that they were seen as too aggressive, to the point of diluting the Liverpool brand, was lost on me.
This was of course the first wave of adidas Equipment kits, featuring the firm’s new logo – mostly, anyway – and it’s hardly surprising that adidas would use Liverpool and Bayern Munich to lead the way. Also of note was the fact that the Reds’ change kit was green and white, viewed in some quarters as a foreshadowing of the arrival of Carlsberg to replace Candy as sponsors.
The home and away shirts were constructed in what is known as a ‘batwing’ fashion – i.e. the trunk and sleeves are covered by the same piece of fabric. This meant that, for long-sleeved shirts, the lower arm part was stitched on. The shoulder stripes and adidas logo were sublimated, meaning they were emblazoned on the material rather than applied afterwards.
As the away shirt was green, a back-up goalkeeper shirt had to be on hand and yellow was chosen. More often than not, the white away shorts were replaced by a green set due to clashes with opponents.
The following season, 1992-93, was to be the first of the new Premier League (hence the ‘whole new ball game’ part of the title of this article, summed up best by this Sky promotional video) and it would also mark Liverpool’s centenary. Back then, teams tended to have special crests rather than completely new kits for their 100th birthdays and Liverpool would follow suit.
However, while the basic stylings of the kit would remain the same, there were a number of small alterations and some of these were previewed in the 1992 FA Cup final, in which Liverpool beat Sunderland.
This was something I was unaware of until it was mentioned by Jay from Design Football on episode 14 of the Football Attic podcast a number of years ago – essentially, the shirts worn were the 1992-93 style, but with the outgoing club crest and Candy logo still in situ. The sleeves were now stitched on, as were the adidas stripes, while the logo migrated the apex of the v-neck. A new, shinier fabric was also used.
The shorts and socks remained unchanged, but they were upgraded for 1992-93. The shorts were now shiny too and had the stitched stripes, while the adidas logo was straight rather than angled and now in green. On the socks, the centenary crest replaced the adidas logo.
The shiny fabric gave the appearance of a brighter kit but, in addition to that, a lighter shade of green was used for the change kit. In only the Coca-Cola Cup game at Crystal Palace were the white shorts used, with all-green effectively becoming the default away kit.
The goalkeeper shirts were also upgraded for 1992-93. With Premier League officials wearing green shirts, goalkeepers couldn’t use the colour in the league and so the yellow and red top became the de facto first choice, while grey and – on one occasion – blue were used as back-ups.