- We were honoured to be involved in the second edition of The Arsenal Shirt, which is out soon – this is one of the shirts to feature
When Nike took over as Arsenal’s kit manufacturers in 1994, they were not afraid to rock the boat.
Most notably, the famous white sleeves were reduced to half their usual size, while hooped socks returned for the first time since 1983-84 season. In addition, the Gunners’ change shirt – yellow for all but one season since 1968 – was now navy with turquoise accents.
However, with match officials still wearing black kits in domestic cup competitions, an alternative was needed and so, when Arsenal travelled to Anfield to face Liverpool in the Coca-Cola Cup quarter-finals on January 11, 1995, the navy couldn’t be used and they appeared in yellow shirts.
The design followed that of the home and away, with the same two shades of blue as on the away kit as the minor colours. The away shorts and socks were also used, but a 1-0 defeat to the Reds – who went on to win the competition – looked to be the only outing for the third shirt.
However, when they made it to the Coca-Cola Cup semi-finals in the latter season, with Villa the opponents, the yellow shirt was called upon for a second and final outing. Earlier that season, at Barnsley in the Coca-Cola Cup and Sheffield United in the FA Cup, the new away shirt – featuring more of the lighter shade of blue – had been worn alongside the black-clad referees and linesmen, so this decision may have been because of the potential for it to clash with Villa’s blue-sleeved home shirts. Away to both Villa and West Ham United in 1995-96, Arsenal had been able to wear their home shirts.
The shorts and socks from the new away kit were used this time, but the shirt remained winless as a scoreless draw – following the 2-2 at Highbury – meant that Villa progressed on away goals (which only came into force at the end of extra time).
Despite the lack of success, the rarity of these shirts – replicas were never sold – means they are among the most sought-after for Arsenal collectors. While long sleeves were worn in both games, short-sleeved versions were also prepared.
Should you come across one, an easy way to work out whether it is from 1994-95 or 1995-96 is the number on the back – the 1994-95 ones have the Nike swoosh on them.