By Tony Sealey
In this day and age, we are used to clubs in the UK introducing three new kits per season with the occasional use of an emergency ‘fourth strip’, normally from the previous year.
However, can you imagine a time when an English top flight club wore nine different shirts in one season? This is what Queens Park Rangers did in the 1974-75 season.
Since the mid 1960s, QPR had worn blue and white hooped Bukta shirts, typical of their time, with a plain blue crew neck collar and plain white shorts and socks. However, for the start of the 1974-75 season, their manager Gordon Jago, signed a contract with the new upstarts on the block, Admiral.
While retaining the traditional hoops, the shirt featured a blue wing collar, blue and white stripes down the side of the shorts and blue and white turn-overs on the white socks.For their opening game of the season at Sheffield United, blue socks with a pair of white cadet stripes were worn to offset a clash with The Blades white socks. Therefore, the correct new home kit did not make its competitive debut until their second match of the season at home to Stoke.
The next variation of the Admiral kit appeared at Luton on August 31, when plain white socks were worn and these continued to be worn throughout the month of September, with the blue and white Admiral socks returning on October 5.
The final variation of this kit was worn at Stoke in November, when plain blue socks were worn.
The Admiral kit continued to be worn till the end of November, when it was abruptly dropped. The exact reason for this is unknown, but a couple of reasons have been cited. One is that the original contract had been signed with manager Gordon Jago and after his resignation in September 1974, the club wished to terminate it, which Admiral accepted. The other, is that the players revolted as they were not receiving a cut of the fee to the club from Admiral and refused to wear it.
A new kit appeared on December 14, at home to Sheffield United. This too, had a large white winged collar, but was unbranded and was worn with plain white shorts and socks, though blue socks were worn in the League at West Ham on January 18.
This match against West Ham was the last appearance for this kit, as on the following weekend, against Notts County in the FA Cup, another new shirt appeared. Now branded with the Umbro logo, this featured a blue winged collar, but was still worn with plain white shorts and socks, though blue socks were again worn at West Ham in the FA Cup fifth round match.
But this is not the end of it. For two games earlier in the season, the previous season’s crew-necked kits were worn; at Orient in the League Cup and, at Burnley, with blue socks, on December 7, immediately after the end of the Admiral period. Then for three further matches at home to Chelsea and Manchester City and at Luton, in March, the un-branded white-collar shirt reappeared.
For their change strip, Rangers started the season with a new Admiral change kit. It featured an all-red shirt with a crew neck collar and a black stripe down the outside of the sleeve. It also had QPR in black italic script on the left breast. The shorts were black with red and white stripes and the socks red, with black and white turn-overs. This kit was worn in two away games at Leeds and Leicester in August and September. When they played at Manchester City on September 26, they wore the Admiral change shirt that they had worn in the previous seasons FA Cup sixth round match against Leicester, which was again red, but with a white inset v-collar and cuffs.
From late October, the signs of an issue with Admiral began to appear. For the match at Wolves on the 26th of that month, they wore a new Umbro change shirt of red and white quarters, which was normally worn with black Umbro shorts and now black socks with red and white turn-overs.
This kit was used as a change for the remainder of the season, with two exceptions. The previous season’s yellow and blue Bukta third kit was worn against Derby at the Baseball Ground on November 9 and, a red and white Umbro halved shirt, which – unlike future versions – did not feature a club crest, was worn in the match at Everton on March 8.
So, there you have it, four different home shirts, in ten variations and five away shirts, giving a total of nine different shirts in the one season. But could it have been more? As stated earlier, manager Gordon Jago resigned earlier in the season, due to a breakdown in his relationship with chairman Jim Gregory. One of the reasons cited at the time was Jagos decision to purchase a third kit, though it is unclear whether this relates to this season, or a previous one.