- As always, The Arsenal Shirt was a valuable resource – keep an eye out for the second edition later this year
- Many thanks to David Breach and former Southampton player Dave Puckett for sourcing footage of the away game at The Dell to confirm our suspicion regarding the kit worn there
The summer of 1982 was one of big changes on the kit front for Arsenal. For the first time since Bertie Mee had reintroduced white sleeves for the 1967-68 season, the first-choice shirt underwent noticeable changes, while there was an even bigger shock in store with the change strip.
Gone was the classic white crew neck on the home shirt, replaced by a large red v-neck, while navy trim was added to the shirts and shorts and the colour was prominent on the new hooped socks.
In his programme notes at the beginning of the season, Arsenal manager Terry Neill accepted that people might think that he had an influence on the navy and green second strip but assured fans that he hadn’t. Whereas the previous yellow shirts had been joined by royal blue, here navy was the secondary colour and it would become ubiquitous on Arsenal change strips. It was the first time since the early 1960s that contrast sleeves were employed on the away.
As this was the last season before sponsors’ logos were allowed on televised games, versions without the JVC markings also had to be used, including in the Uefa Cup against Spartak Moscow when the Gunners were forced to change at home to avoid clashing with the visitors’ all-white.
Due to the fact that the second kit was green, Arsenal had to have alternative goalkeeping options for games where that strip was used. As well as the traditional netminder’s colour, Gunners number 1s Pat Jennings and George Wood turned out in blue and red shirts that season while, away to Middlesbrough in the FA Cup, former Spurs keeper Jennings wore a white shirt with navy shorts.
It was the first of seven different seasons where Arsenal used four goalkeeper shirts, but what really made this campaign unique was the fact that it was the only one where the club have mashed up their home and away kits.
When the Football League introduced a rule on shorts-clashing in 1975, for a time Arsenal used red shorts with the home shirt but kit-man Tony Donnelly wasn’t in favour of such a look and, thereafter, they opted to wear a full change kit when a shorts-clash arose.
However, when Arsenal went to Everton in the third round of the League Cup in November 1982, changing kit wasn’t an option as the green and navy shirts were considered to clash with the hosts’ blue and so the red shirts were worn with the away shorts and socks (right).
Then, on December 28, the navy shorts would have clashed away to Southampton and so the white home set was worn (left) – this would become common with yellow shirts during the 1980s – and a third mashup was used for the league game away to Everton in March 1983. This time, only the away shorts were used (below right).
There are eight possible combinations available by mixing a team’s default first and second kis – the five used by Arsenal in 1982-83 is a club record.
Those three mashup games also provided goalkeeper variants, with the one used by Jennings at Goodison Park in the league cup looking like a proper strip.
Arsenal finished in tenth place – their final 11 league games were loss-win-loss-win-loss-win-loss-win-loss-win-loss – they were eliminated from the semi-finals of both domestic cup competitions by Manchester United. Despite the green and navy kit being popular with fans, the players complained about visibility issues – more than a decade before Manchester United’s grey-kit debacle.
So it was that a new yellow strip was introduced for 1983-84, featuring shadow striping and paired with navy for the first time. The home strip also underwent a small change as solid red socks replaced the hoops.