For what would prove to be a promotion-winning season, Ipswich Town launched a new home kit in the summer of 1999. Produced in-house under the club’s Punch brand, it was a smart design with white panelling and red trim.
So popular was the look that, for their first season back in the Premiership, it formed the basis for the new white and black change kit – which bore a few similarities to the Coventry City away from the previous campaign – though the collar and sleeve shape differed. It proved to be a good season for the George Burley’s side, as a fifth-placed finish earned a place in the Uefa Cup.
They would return to European competition with a new sponsor’s logo as their partnership with Greene King came to an end, with TXU Energi taking their place. The home kit was replaced as its two-year term came to an end, while the away remained the same apart from the change across the chest.
While the white kit was worn on occasion against non-blue teams in 2000-01, the Tractor Boys made it through the campaign without needing a third strip – all-blue was used away to Coventry’s sky-blue and white stripes. However, Blackburn Rovers were back in the top flight for 2001-02 and so the trip to Ewood Park in March 2002 meant that an alternative had to be found.
The solution was to again use the basic design of the 1999 home/2000 away, reversing the colours of the away but using the v-neck of the new 2001 home. Unfortunately for Ipswich, they lost 2-1, their fourth defeat in a row and part of a run that saw just one win in their final 13 league games.
It meant they finished 18th and were relegated – the next two seasons back in the second tier would see two more unique third strips, something we will look at in the near future.