- This series continues with Spurs – see here for the previous articles
When MOJ asked me to pick my favourite five change kits to coincide with the launch of the new one, I knew it would be difficult: there are just so many to consider.
Tottenham have had an entirely new set of strips – home, away and third – every season since 2004-05 and no design has been the designated the away kit for two consecutive seasons since the Umbro ‘ice-effect’ shirt in the early 1990. That one actually lasted three seasons as the away kit and astonishingly a fourth campaign as the third and so might have made the list on longevity alone, but there is always a memory of West Ham and Arsenal fans suggesting it was bird mess on the right shoulder, which clouds my fondness.
What are Tottenham’s change colours, though? Since World War 2, the breakdown is: navy 30+ seasons, yellow 21, sky blue 11, purple 3. Black and green have made fleeting appearances but there have been seasons where the third kit was used more than the away.
I have only owned two of the shirts I have selected – I had the corresponding home kit of two of the selections and feel too old walk around in modern shirts since I turned 40!
My first and my personal favourite, this was the change kit when I first fell in love with Tottenham aged six but I’m certain I never saw it in the flesh as I didn’t go to an away game until I was about nine – and that was at Nottingham Forest, where we never changed – but still it’s a thing of simple, silky beauty.
No trim or collar/cuff detail, just a graceful set of navy epaulette-style panels on the shoulders. It received plenty of wear, over 20 times across two seasons and, most famously of all, at Wembley in the 1982 drawn FA Cup final and replay. It wasn’t that rare to see a team win the FA Cup in their away kit – when Tottenham did so in 1982, it was the fourth time in the previous seven finals, but it didn’t happen again until Liverpool in 2001, and not at Wembley until Chelsea defeated Everton in 2009.
These Le Coq Sportif shirts even re-appeared two years later, at the tail end of the 1983-84 season, (now with added sponsor) for the UEFA Cup semi-final in Split and at Lotus Road where Guinness met Holsten for pint or two in Division 1.
1995-96 away/1996-97 third
Purple had been seen in the previous away kit by Umbro but it was very much a secondary colour. Pony elevated it and added navy stripes, something that hadn’t been seen on a Tottenham kit since the late 1950s (if you don’t count shadow stripes!).
The authorities thought it was too dark and would clash with match officials in black (referees still wore black in the FA Cup) so a yellow third strip was used part way through the season. It was worn in wins at Coventry City, Leeds United and QPR but the following season it was ‘relegated’ to third kit and it wasn’t called upon once.
My endearing memories of this kit are a Vic Reeves-inspired thigh-rubbing celebration at Highfield Road and Sam Fox modelling it in publicity photos, a sad indictment of Tottenham under Alan Sugar.
Navy had often been used as the away colours until the Football League banned it in 1969, due to the similarity with the black outfits worn by match officials.
This was the second change kit by Adidas and we got to see it premiered at White Hart Lane on the final day of the 1999-2000 season against Sunderland, memorable for a wonder goal by Stephen Carr.
The short-sleeved version saw the three stripes on the shoulder fan out to form the cuff trim. Worn with interchangeable home shorts and socks, we saw several permutations which added to its charm. There were only two league wins away from WHL that season, but both were achieved in this shirt.
2006-07 third/cup away
This was a nod to the 1895-98 home kit of chocolate and gold, though that was striped whereas this cult classic was all-brown with cream trim and gold detailing.
Only 1000 limited edition replicas were initially available, and they all sold in the club shop on the day of a prestigious pre-season friendly with Internazionale.
Initially said to be a cup second kit, it was also used in the Premier League as a third strip but was mostly worn in victories around the continent as Tottenham progressed to the quarter-finals of the Uefa Cup.
Brown kits always seem to make those ‘worst kit’ lists, something I’ve never understood. I loved it, owned it and still have it – not that it fits, though!
A return to the tradition of away colours being a reversal of the home strip, this was Nike’s first away kit of what became a deal that will last until at least 2033!
If the marketing spiel is to be believed, the famous cockerel crest was encased in a retro-style shield “to protect it whilst away from White Hart Lane”. Tottenham had moved to Wembley for a season while WHL was demolished and the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium built – the following season, the crest was gone and significant delays with the building work meant Tottenham didn’t play at the new stadium until April 2019!
This kit, like the home strip, had navy shorts as first choice but there were a white pair available for European nights too and they were often used, notably on the first day of the season, at St James’ Park.
Maybe its my age, but I still prefer plain shirts with a little trim or collar detail over the outlandish modern designs.