By Matt Smith
- The Premier League kit-tracker will be back soon, along with Matt’s ratings for the Away Kits Table. He wrote this piece ages ago and we apologise for the tardiness in getting it published
It began so well.
“Oooh, ahhh. That’s how it always starts. Later there’s running and screaming.” – Ian Malcolm, Jurassic Park: The Lost World, 1997.
For their trip to Mansfield in 1992, Rochdale wore a unique home-and-away mashup that Alf Stewart would have been proud of. The blue home shirts were combined with black shorts and socks from the change strip; the only combination that they could have worn against the Stags’ yellow/blue/yellow. Well done. But it was as if both clubs then got together to form some sort of Evil Kit Agreement of Doom, because for years afterwards some heinous crimes were committed. It got really, really bad.
Mansfield added white socks to an amber and navyish outfit for no other reason than they could. At least they turned up at Spotland for a League Cup tie with some alternative amber socks so as not to clash with Dale’s white pair…yet they still wore their blue shorts, for some reason.
It led to SHORTS CLASH #1, but the home side – who wore white home shirts for the first half of that season – changed to a white pair to avoid that.
In the return leg at Field Mill, Rochdale keep their white shorts and socks. That’s right, they didn’t even know about the Stags’ inexplicable colour change that season and we had SOCKS CLASH #1…until the Mansfield kit man chucked some black pairs into the away changing room.
The Stags arrive at Spotland in blue shorts again and this time decide that they’ll change for once and borrow white versions from the home team. SHORTS CLASH #2 leads to one side looking distinctly egg-themed.
Dale have an all-blue home kit with yellow and black the away choice again. Like 1992, only without Right Said Fred at the top of charts. Fred would have declared “wrong” as the visitors took to the field in blue socks, even though the home team had been in that same colour all season. SOCKS CLASH #2 wasn’t avoided as the referee let them get on with it. We can only hope the assessor had him struck off.
It’s all getting a bit silly now as Mansfield again wear blue shorts for their visit to the north-west. And yet another ref lets SHORTS CLASH #3 go. He might as well have told each team to have spider-keepers and unlimited subs if rules weren’t his thing.
After Mansfield’s relegation in 2008, Rochdale – wearing white shorts for the entire period – sat silently waiting for the Stags to emerge from the forest of non-league obscurity and recommence battle in a haze of amber and blue.
So, in 2013, we knew exactly what would happen on the day darkness fell again on the Fields of Recurring Clash….Mansfield rolled up in blue shorts once more. Just don’t let them try and convince you that they knew about Dale’s white, they were merely being predictably mischievous and hoping for one more terrifying clash.