In the spring of 1992, with the Football League title in their sights, Leeds United signed a five-year kit deal with Admiral Sportswear, who would also take over the shirt sponsorship of the club. This is examined in detail in the excellent Do You Want To Win?, by Daniel Chapman.
Admiral gave Leeds a classy home kit and mixed things up with the blue away strip, but things weren’t going well business-wise for the fabled manufacturer and so the relationship with Leeds only lasted for a season.
Into the breach came Japanese maker Asics, who had outfitted Blackburn Rovers in 1992-93 and were making a splash with Aston Villa, Newcastle United (see here for their kits) and Portsmouth also entering their stable.
There was a nice simplicity to the Asics kits – it’s something we’ll revisit again in the future – and while the horizontal blue and yellow stripes below the logo of new sponsors Thistle Hotels may not have been what traditionalists wanted, there was still no mistaking that this was a Leeds kit.
Apart from the blue Admiral kit, yellow had been the first-choice colour for Leeds change strips going back to the mid-1970s. Asics opted for the usual colours, but in a new striped format.
As a result, three other combinations involving the shorts and socks from the away kit were seen – the blue shorts at Ipswich (creating a bad overall clash), the yellow socks at Chelsea and Sheffield Wednesday and both at Aston Villa, West Ham and Manchester United, despite the lack of a sock-clash in the latter.
The switching worked both ways, of course, though the away kit was only altered once, for the game at White Hart Lane against Tottenham:
However, when Leeds travelled to face Blackburn Rovers, neither kit was suitable and a new third strip was produced. Featuring the same colours as Newcastle’s third kit, it was the first deviation away from Leeds’ palette since the red kit of the early 1970s.
While the large amounts of (an admittedly darker) blue might have been questionable against Blackburn, this kit proved to be so popular that it was promoted to the second choice for the 1994-95 season, albeit with changes to the Asics logo and the order of the striping.
It was then itself usurped by an all-yellow kit in 1995-96. The yellow and blue striped kit was dispensed with in the summer of 1994 and, while they would still wear the blue shorts with the home shirt when required, new blue alternative socks were used instead of the yellow, creating two further unique looks.
And then, sadly, there was one more. Having worn the 1993-94 away shorts at Old Trafford in the FA Cup, Leeds went there in the league in April 1995 and opted to wear the third-kit shorts.