Aston Villa changed kit suppliers in 2000, switching to Diadora after five years with Reebok.
Given that the home kit had been striped in 1999-2000, you might have thought that the Italian firm would go for the easy crowd-pleaser of bringing back the ‘classic’ Villa look of claret shirts with blue sleeves, white shorts and blue socks.
While the home shirt was fairly traditional, though, the primary shorts were blue for the first time since 1969-70, with claret socks used. A nice all-black away kit, trimmed with claret and blue, was introduced while there was a white and black third strip, which was called into use very early that season.
Villa were competing in the Intertoto Cup and qualified for the semi-finals with victory over Czech side Marila Příbram. That set up a clash with Celta Vigo, with Villa losing the first leg in Spain 1-0. For that match, both teams wore their first-choice kits, but – not unreasonably – Swiss referee Dieter Schoch wanted greater clarity for the second leg at the Hawthorns (Villa Park was being redeveloped) on August 2.
The only problem was that the change kit Celta had with them was red shirts with navy shorts, meaning Villa were forced to deviate from their traditional strip and wore the white shirts. However, the third kit’s default shorts were black and so Villa needed an alternative set, with the blue home ones put into use. Given that the blue and claret were used very sparingly on the shirt – claret only on the cuffs, for instance – it made for a lopsided look.
Celta won 2-1 to qualify but Herr Schoch did not inspire awe, issuing 12 yellow cards and three reds, with Villa manager John Gregory not impressed with his pernickety nature around the kits, either.
He was unbelievably petty. Both teams wore their normal kits in the first game, but we had to change for this guy because he said they clashed. Then he made us change socks because we had ‘AVFC’ printed on them twice – and you are only allowed to have that once. He even checked the keepers’ gloves. Goodness knows why.
Later that season, the white shirts – paired with the black shorts and socks of the second kit – would enjoy slightly better luck in a 1-1 draw at West Ham United.