Retro Shirt Reviews #4

Taking this week to the now-famous Retro Shirt Review faux-wooden floor boards is a shirt that in another timeline could have been a contender for “Best Thing I Own”. A couple of minor drawbacks prevented this, as we shall see below, but this still is an amazing piece of history, art and of course clothing.

  • Club: ???
  • Year: ??? (Circa late 1970’s)
  • Make: Adidas
  • Sponsor: n/a
  • Number: n/a
  • Similarly worn by: 1.FC Köln (1976) and more (see below)

Needless to say, the first thing to talk about is the huge, amazing crest that dominates the front featuring a woodpecker sitting on a crossed hammer and tongs. When discussing this shirt when friends, families and co-workers, I like to describe it as “like something from some sort of tropical Socialist Worker’s Party or union” (as we have seen from every eastern European national team shirt in the 80’s, socialism is perfectly compatible with Adidas).

The other, more likely, possibility is that it was made for a company team, for which Germany is well known. Hammer and tongs together are of course a symbol of the blacksmith fraternity and the woodpecker suggests carpentry, so a business or factory that combined these two skills seems likely. Or maybe they just liked birds.

So as usual we have little to no information of when, where and by whom this was worn. But a version of the template had been put out by Adidas as early as 1976, as worn by Köln. I in fact came across two versions of the Köln shirt (see below) while visiting the city in 2015 when my colleagues and I chanced upon a marvelous bar featuring several vintage Köln shirts framed along the walls (and wrestling was on the tele).

As you can see, mine and the Köln shirts differ at collar with the latter featuring a round-neck rather than a v-neck. If I had the choice, I probably would have gone for a round-neck, especially as the material at bottom of the “V” on my one is unfortunately quite stressed from time (see above). But this is a minor complaint for what it is. VfL Bochum also used the roundneck template in the ’78/’79 Bundesliga, while NASL side the LA Aztecs wore the V-neck version in the same period. Many other teams would employ the design into the 80’s (please send examples!).

Edit: AZ Alkmaar wearing the template in 1978.

Now we come to the aforementioned drawbacks. Besides the stressed collar, some of you will have noticed the apparent absence of a trefoil. Or so it  seems, as it was once present in black which I’m sure looked glorious. It has since faded to near invisibility, but is just about still there:

A close, personal acquaintance, who excels at art, actually once offered to try and fill in the logo in black marker. The risk of ruin was of course too great, and I declined. Considering the less knowledgeable observer who might be confused by the “missing” logo, the unmistakable three stripes on the sleeves fortunately do their job to identify the brand.

 Another desired featured that is notable by it’s absence is a number on the back. While not a hideous disaster, this together with the lack of visible trefoil was enough to take the shirt out of the running for “Best Thing I Own”.

Lastly we come to the label, which has also become frayed and bunched over time, and I had to manually turn it over and straighten it out to examine it. I was rewarded for my efforts as I discovered, to my delight, an Erima logo and wordmark underneath the expected “adidas” and trefoil. For the uninformed, Adidas bought Erima in 1976 and the label shows that the shirt is a product of  “Adidas Erima” manufacturing in West Germany:

Apologies for the fingers.

Bonus: International Selection

  • Country: Argentina
  • Year: Circa 1987
  • Make: Le Coq Sportif

Like last time, here we have a shirt that, to be honest (we’re always honest), is not exactly a real international jersey. But historical accuracy is not really the point here since, as we have mentioned before, we are not collectors of expensive international match worn shirts. And either way, this is still amazingly beautiful:

While close, it is not exactly what Argentina wore in the 1986 World Cup. The LCS logo and white middle stripe system (the most obvious feature of the shirt that indicates it’s era) are the same. But the seemingly random, and slightly irksome, asymmetrical positioning of the AFA badge is an instant giveaway.

I say “seemingly” as the crest actually was indeed positioned this way the following year, as seen at the 1987 Copa America. But the LCS logo was also equally shifted, meaning my shirt is (again like last time) a sort of combination of the two versions.

Another difference is that the shirt texture on the actual ’86 shirt was greatly ventilated in comparison, and the shade of blue was slightly lighter. But another subtle and in fact welcome difference is that of the edges of the stripes: straight on the real version but pleasingly “zig-zagged” on mine:

Yes, I know the zig-zags were visible in the previous picture but I really wanted to include that super close up shot. Until next time.

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