Aston Villa, Chelsea, Derby County, Dunfermline Athletic, Ipswich Town, Manchester City, Newcastle United, Nottingham Forest, Oldham Athletic, Sheffield United, Sheffield Wednesday, Tottenham Hotspur, Umbro
- Further reading: as always, The Glove Bag has been an invaluable resource, while we’ve basically taken the ball from Seb Patrick and run with it.
The intention was to write a follow-up to this piece sooner than now, but plans never seem to work out perfectly.
As we saw, Andy Goram wore a red Hampden shirt – at Hampden Park – when Scotland played Romania in October 1991. It was a fitting send-off, as it had been superseded as the primary Umbro goalkeeper design by then.
Sartorially, the 1991 FA Cup final is remembered for Tottenham Hotspur’s new kit and the return to baggy shorts. That meant that, even allowing for his penalty save from Gary Lineker, Mark Crossley’s shirt was somewhat overlooked.
In a more turquoisey shade of green, it featured a series of black triangles arranged into a v-shape, trimmed in a shade of dark red. Incidentally, Crossley wore padded white shorts which were different to those of his team-mates.
Come the autumn, it would be rolled out across most of Umbro’s contracts – Celtic, Everton and Tottenham were given bespoke styles.
In addition to the green, yellow and purple variations were commonly seen.
Pavel Srnicek tended to favour it at Newcastle (note how low the Newcastle Breweries star had to be) while it gained primacy at Nottingham Forest in the spring of 1992 – Crossley wore it in the Rumbelows Cup semi-final win over Tottenham Hotspur and, after he got injured, deputy Andy Marriott had it for that final loss to Manchester United and the ZDF Cup final win over Southampton.
When Crossley returned to the team, he was in yellow as they won 2-1 at Old Trafford to dent Manchester United’s title hopes (a game where Ryan Giggs wore 10 for United, incidentally).
There was also a purple variant. Kevin Hitchcock of Chelsea used it quite a bit – referees seemingly having no problem with its closeness to blue, and Erik Thorstvedt of Tottenham also had to call upon that option away to Sheffield Wednesday.
We said three colours were seen on-pitch above, but there is a tantalising possibility that there was a fourth, blue, option.
— Ben Hunt (@leedshunter) May 2, 2017
The easiest explanation is that that’s a picture of a green shirt and it looks blue – but the doubt comes from the fact that the green had a white number. Unfortunately, we have no evidence of John Lukic wearing it.
STOP PRESS: Proof has come that the blue was worn, by Andy Rhodes of Dunfermline Athletic:
There most certainly was a blue version of that triangle shirt. Often worn by Andy Rhodes at Dunfermline Athletic. Yes, he’s Jordan’s dad ! pic.twitter.com/CWfBredvSY
— bm (@2barrymc) June 10, 2018
Loved this article, thanks! Andy Rhodes' version was definitely blue. 🙂👍 pic.twitter.com/WDEI5XfQ5L
— Gary Panton (@GaryPanton) June 11, 2018
In contrast to the Hampden, which had a durable lifespan of three years or so, this successor (dubbed ‘Premier’ in an American Umbro catalogue, but we’re not sure if that was the ‘real’ name) was supplanted after just a season.
The same three base colours were used, albeit with slight shade differences, with chalkstripes instead of the triangles. However, a big change was that, with match officials in the new Premier League wearing green instead of black, yellow was the most popular goalkeeper shirt.
You’ll notice that the crests were now housed in shields. Umbro had employed a retro design feel to their new outfield shirts, and each goalkeeper’s shirt was the exact same as the shield his team-mates had on their new shirts.
With clubs who had new homes – Villa, Ipswich, Forest and Sheffield United – the club colours matched quite well, while the new aways of Chelsea and Oldham used the same palette and so they matched too.
However, Man City’s new change kit was purple, while Sheffield Wednesday’s was yellow and black.
That looked fine when Chris Woods wore his own yellow shirt, but when Wednesday had to change he generally donned purple, while green was used in an early-season Coca-Cola Cup game (officials in the cups still wore black), before Wednesday secured Sanderson as sponsors.
Wednesday made it to the league cup final, where they played Arsenal. Both sides wore the same special inscription on their shirts, and, instead of the shield crest, Woods had exactly the same Umbro logo and crest as the rest of the team – who also had the Sanderson wordmark in black, as on the away kit, rather than usual red.
Again, Hitchcock was quite often seen in purple as well.
Obviously, the purple wasn’t suitable for Aston Villa’s Nigel Spink or Mark Bosnich when the yellow wasn’t available, so green was allowed. Incidentally, Manchester United had changed to Umbro in the summer of 1992 and Peter Schmeichel had a green shirt too but the extra colours on it meant that it was allowed in the league, except at home to Liverpool.
In the new Division 1 of the Football League, Derby County and Newcastle United also had green as the officials there were still in black too. Peter Shilton had left Derby by this time – whereas he had no problem wearing Umbro for England, with the Rams he generally wore an Uhlsport 544 shirt.
The previous design still retained some use, though. When Spurs went to Sheffield Wednesday early in the season, Ian Walker wore green this time rather than purple. Incidentally, it featured the updated Umbro logo with capped wordmark.
That was in September, but prior to that, there must have been a delay in the arrival of the new shirts at Wednesday’s neighbours Sheffield United.
On the opening day of the season, they hosted Manchester United and goalkeeper Simon Tracey wore a yellow 1991-92 shirt, with Football League sleeve patches and, oddest of all, some triangles missing.
Sheffield Wednesday also reached the FA Cup final, with Arsenal again the opponents.
As with Crossley two years previously, Umbro gave Woods a new design, but after the replay defeat he wouldn’t wear it again as the Owls signed a deal with Puma, and while it would see some use – Packie Bonner of Celtic wearing it in yellow while Chelsea’s Dimitri Kharine wore a red version in 1994-95, a different Umbro style was favoured in 1993-94.
We may look at that in a future article, if we can learn how to draw it.