We’ve already looked at the competition held to design the Melchester Rovers away kit when Roy Of The Rovers re-tooled itself as a monthly comic in 1993, but this wasn’t the first time that such a contest was held.
After we published the other piece, Seb Patrick – writer, fellow ROTR nerd, When Saturday Comes contributor, all-round good guy and the curator of the excellent Branch of Science site – got in touch. He had scans from 1991, when the comic was still a weekly, of a similar competition, though to find home and away kits.
The results were staggered, with the new away kit, and those which just fell short of the top prizes, revealed a week before the home. It’s interesting to note how many of the away entries were yellow – despite it being the home secondary colour, Rovers didn’t often use it on their change kits.
Bottom left above is an entry by Matthew Pemberton, who you might recall was also shortlisted in the 1993 competition. He is now a professional designer.
It would probably take a lot of time to spot, but if you look closely enough at the home strips, and also at Melchester’s kit history, there is one fairly common style which is absent. It gave an ever-so-subtle indication as to what the winner might be.
Wonderfully, the writers worked it into the story. The Melchester Gazette was about 25 years ahead of its time as mock-ups are all the rage now, while the Roy Of The Rovers comic became a magazine, presumably an official club publication. Meanwhile, Carford City’s players had a gruff ‘You won’t shake us’ attitude.
Winner Robert Moore (as he is described in the strip, with the previous week’s announcement having said that he was Robert Lee) also got to see himself rendered in pen and ink, and the in-universe reaction was very positive – well, from those Melchester fans who were always able to heard over the other 40,000 or so.
Sega must have been ponying up enough cash to insist on their logo appearing in white and blue (that deal would end in 1992, with TSB taking over) and, oddly, the club crest didn’t appear at all. Numbers on shorts were another area in which the club were ahead of the rest of England.
The stripes would remain in place during the run of the monthly comic, though the return of the strip in Match Of The Day magazine would see things being mixed up once more. We may return to that later.