By Jay from Design Football
- MOJ note: Last year, we asked Colin Forde to talk about his five favourite Liverpool change kits and we’re expanding on that theme this summer, with this the first of a few such articles. We hope you enjoy
Celtic recently revealed their new home shirt for the 2022-23 season, but in recent years it has largely been the change designs which have got pulses racing.
The new change kit is based on the Umbro design used from 1992-94. While current supplier adidas have been lauded for the alternatives they’ve provided, effort being put into away and third shirts certainly isn’t a purely post-2019-20, three-striped phenomenon. As something of an admirer of Celtic – or a “Diet Tim”, as I’ve been called – several change kits in my lifetime have made me go all gooey.
It was definitely before my football-following time but the 1983-1986 away had to wait until the final match before its scheduled putting out to pasture to become truly iconic. Complete, by that point, with CR Smith sponsor, this understated offering was all about the colour tone – and a title-clinching, 5-0 victory over St Mirren at Love Street.
The remarkable swing from Heart of Midlothian to Celtic on that day – the former’s loss to Dundee playing an equally vital role – was burned into the memories of all present, has gone down in folklore and the neatly necked-and-cuffed lime-green shirt worn has unsurprisingly influenced several after-comers, particularly in the 21st century.
Skipping the 1992-94 away design which has inspired the newly released primary change – I owned a wonderful holdall based on the original but not the shirt – the 1994-95 third fitted nicely into the early-to-mid-90s era, with its bold graphical design.
Crucially, though, the shirt was in Celtic colours – green and white, with the addition of tertiary golden yellow and, er, quaternary black – and provided an option for those wanting to express support but were somehow all-hooped-out. It was less useful in match situations but did boast alternate-coloured sleeves, which – if we are to believe the yellow was a substitute for proscribed orange – perhaps helped to evoke the flag of Côte d’Ivoire from the front and an intended Irish tricolour from the reverse.
I actually mentioned wanting the 1994-95 third shirt in my chaotic 2009 article about my shirt-owning aspirations but, while I’ve bagged several of the others, it still eludes me.
This was the first Celtic shirt I ever owned, in a size that unnecessarily began with at least one ‘X’, naturally, and long sleeves. Personally, I can’t fathom how anyone could ever become all-hooped-out and I adored everything about the design of this release, including the nod to the famous club look.
The kit was carried over to 1999-00 with NTL replacing Umbro in the central sponsor position but my own personal nostalgia and association are all-important. I’m welling up thinking about the first-season version I had and the champions wore – somewhat echoing the look of the home equivalent, which was also worn in the glorious previous campaign.
2009-11 Away (Nike)
I have no personal preference when it comes to the sponsor here – it carried the logos of Carling in 2009-10 and Tennent’s in 2010-11 – as my version is sponsorless, thanks to the club’s admirable approach to retail sales which endures to this day.
The original ‘Bumblebee’ is legendary, thanks hugely to its association with the derogatorily-monikered but immense Three Amigos (Pierre van Hooijdonk, Jorge Cadete and Paulo Di Canio) in its first season and the famous stopping of the ten in its second, but Bumbles fever didn’t quite grab me in the 1990s. Instead, the second iteration – with, yes, its more faithful referencing of the home hoops – was the one I embraced, also ending up with a bar scarf, gloves and even a Peruvian hat in the luminous yellow and black.
Finally, it’s a shirt from a decade ago which was the last to hugely excite me, and while it isn’t the classy third, it is indeed a third example featuring hoops, this time in greyscale.
And it also includes Irish tricolour details – with *gasp* orange rather than gold/yellow – by way of the sock turnovers and the cuff turnovers. See Barcelona’s 2012-14 third shirt and Olympique de Marseille in 2017-18 for two more of my favourite instances of that particular gimmick.
No miniature nor whiteout sponsors here – though my replica was devoid of Tennent’s’s branding – but still kitting out Celtic in a winning 125th-anniversary season, as it turned out, here’s hoping that the domestic double will be repeated, at least, in its own tenth anniversary season, and may adidas et al deliver more great change kits in the years to come.