- Thanks to Andrew Rockall for his input in informing us of some lesser-known variations and goalkeeper kits
This is a part of an occasional series where we look at a club’s spell with a particular manufacturer. At present, the others are Arsenal: the adidas years and Barcelona: the Kappa years.
Tottenham Hotspur’s six-year kit deal with Hummel from 1985 to 1991 was notable for a few reasons, most notably the fact that the club and the manufacturer’s UK arm effectively went into business together, as part of Spurs owner Irving Scholar’s diversification plans. Full details are sketch – a forthcoming book on the history of the Spurs shirt will reveal more – but this piece outlines some of what went on.
Of course, this is Museum of Jerseys rather than Museum of Business Deals, so we are focused on the aesthetics. Spurs wore three different home shirts and, barring shadow patterns, each only featured white and navy, two colours more than capable of complementing each other without the need for a third. The German firm (no, not originally Danish, though Danish-owned now) used trim elegantly and sparingly, compared with later efforts and thankfully, they felt that dicking around with the sleeves wasn’t necessary.
What was a big departure with the new home kit, however, was the fact that the shorts were white, a look Spurs generally only favoured when playing in European competitions. Our friend Jay from Design Football has a fairly sound theory that changing a noticeable element of a kit in such a way is okay if the overall proportions of the strip stay the same, i.e. if the missing colour is reinserted elsewhere. While that didn’t happen, there certainly was more navy on the shirt, in a very dynamic pattern which utilised Hummel’s famous chevron motif.
This was the kit that Diego Maradona would wear in Ossie Ardiles’ testimonial in 1986, and when Arsenal visited White Hart Lane they wore their yellow away kit due to fears of a clash because of the amount of white on show.
The away copied previous makers Le Coq Sportif’s use of light blue, and diagonal stripes again abounded.
With no navy shorts or socks to wear when clashes arose with the home kit, Spurs instead mixed and matched the white and sky-blue.
At Manchester City in August 1985, the white-blue-white look – a reverse of City’s – and the sunny weather coupled to cause such confusion that the hosts actually left the field soon after kick-off and returned in their red and black away shirts and shorts with the home socks. The blue socks were called into action with the home kit for the trip to Southampton.
Goalkeepers Ray Clemence and Pat Jennings were given plain shirts with subtle shadow stripes, very similar to the Le Coq offerings.
In the summer of ’86, a new third kit was introduced, the first time that such a strip had been marketed by the club, presumably keen to maximise sales and profits from the Hummel tie-in.
Despite the fact that Spurs (and Arsenal) had had to switch from navy to yellow away shirts in the late 60s as the Football League deemed them too close to the black of the referees’, the new shirt was a dark blue version of the away. Small differences were the absence of the chevrons from the sleeve and white contrast collar and cuffs with a navy stripe.
There was a change on the goalkeeping front, too, with a style matching the outfield shirt used.
The third shorts and socks were used when required in away games with the white shirt, and also in three home games with Arsenal in 86-87 – the 100th North London derby in January, the League Cup semi-final second leg and then the replay after the sides finished 2-2 on aggregate.
The white-navy-navy look was used away to West Ham United.
The navy shorts would return as first-choice on the second Hummel home kit, but its first outing was in the all-white format against Coventry City in the FA Cup final at Wembley in May 1987.
On first glance, it was a very plain white shirt, but there was a pleasing herringbone fabric pattern, while the Hummel sleeve tape was also present, albeit white-0n-white. Due to a snafu, however, half of the Tottenham players played in shirts without the logo of sponsors Holsten.
Come the start of the 87-88 season, the navy shorts were back in situ, and they were present too on the navy strip, which was upgraded from third to second choice. It also received new socks to match the home set.
Mixing and matching again occurred, with navy shirts and white shorts used at Sheffield Wednesday. However, as Richard Totis points out in the comments at the bottom, the sky blue was soon reinstated to second-choice kit – the navy must have been too troublesome for officials.
Though the home style had changed, the pattern remained on the goalkeeper shirts, albeit without the contrasting raglan sleeves.
The home kit would undergo a tiny change in the summer of 1988 as the Holsten logo was updated. It would also fear on another goalkeeper variation:
There was also a brand-new away kit for 1988-89, and it was to last three seasons, until the end of the Spurs-Hummel association. In the classic yellow, it had the newest iteration of the chevrons, larger but fewer, low on the sleeve, with
black navy [see comments] the chosen trim colour.
The ‘Hummel’ wordmark was repeated through the fabric, with every second line upside-down – this also featured on Aston Villa’s new kits. Also of note was the fact that the crest on the shirt and socks (oddly, not the shorts) was rendered in colour.
A year later, the new home kit would take some of its cues from the away – ‘THFC’ now featured in the fabric as well as ‘Hummel’ – while also representing a gradual evolution from its predecessor. Real Madrid were wearing something very similar at the time, too.
The new goalkeeper shirts featured a totally new style, one which could have gone atrociously wrong but carried just enough subtlety to work, in our view. The low placing on the logos on some green versions was questionable, however.
With Everton and Chelsea both still in blue socks and Arsenal nearly a decade away from switching away from red, there was no call for a dark pair to be worn with the home kit. Against Wimbledon and Chelsea, though, white shorts were used, and Gary Lineker wore the long-sleeved home shirt (featuring extra chevrons) as he scored the winner at Stamford Bridge in January 1990, representing Spurs’ last league win there.
In 1990-91, Spurs would reach the FA Cup final – Paul Gascoigne’s wonderful free kick in the FA Cup semi-final win over Arsenal at Wembley remains the iconic moment for that kit, we feel.
However, for the final against Nottingham Forest, a new Umbro kit – with noticeably longer shorts – was worn, denying Hummel a fitting swansong. Since 2000, the brand has only been seen in the Premier League on Aston Villa, while Barnet in 2007-08 was the company’s last English contract.
Hummel has rightfully reunited with the Denmark national team, though, so hopefully this can be the springboard for a return to wider prominence. Spurs will switch from Under Armour to Nike in the summer of 2017, but we’d love to see the chevrons at White Hart Lane again in the future.