Book review – Three Lions on a Shirt: The Official History of The England Football Jersey
I never thought that I would be mentioned in the acknowledgements of a book about England shirts, but then I shouldn’t have reckoned without the force of nature that is Simon ‘Shakey’ Shakeshaft. Without Shakey, there’s a better-than-even chance that you wouldn’t be reading articles on this blog.
Of course, that a Welshman should be so central to such a project shows what a totem he in terms of kit knowledge. With The Arsenal Shirt (co-written with James Elkin) and The Spurs Shirt (co-written with Daren Burney and Neville Evans) already under his belt, Three Lions on a Shirt is more of the same, with Messrs Burney and Evans jointly authoring this one, too.
This review should have been written ages ago but other things got in the way and then I decided to wait until today, February 25, as it’s Shakey’s birthday – though unfortunately the Wales national rugby team couldn’t help him mark it with victory against England.
Simply put, this is a book that is a must for anybody who considers themselves to be a football kit enthusiast. With matchworn shirts dating from the very first international in 1872 all the way up to the present day, beautifully photographed and accompanied by informative text, it is a comprehensive tome.
Down through history, the England shirt has been at the forefront of manufacturers’ innovations and the journey through St Blaize, Hope Brothers, Bukta, Umbro, Admiral, Umbro again and Nike makes for an effective chronicle of developments in design and production.
The chronology of each first-, second- and third-choice shirt is broken up with feature articles that look at how Nike design and produce the kit, goalkeepers, the kit men and the England women’s team.
At a time when we are more spoiled than ever in terms of football kit literature, this is an essential part of any such library – it can be bought directly from the publishers Vision Sports Publishing here.