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 We 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. It can accurately be described 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. We came across two versions of the Köln shirt (see below) while visiting the city in 2015 in a marvelous bar featuring several vintage Köln shirts framed along the walls (and wrestling was on the television).
As you can see, ours and the Köln shirt differ at collar with the latter featuring a round-neck rather than a v-neck. If given the choice, we probably would have gone for a round-neck, especially as the material at bottom of the “V” 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!).
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 we’re sure looked glorious. It has since faded to near invisibility, but is just about still there:
A close, personal acquaintance of POTP, 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 we 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, sprouting out of the red sections that come up the sides and loop around the arms.
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 We Own”.
Lastly we come to the label, which has also become frayed and bunched over time, and had to be manually turned over and straightened to examine it. We were rewarded for our efforts as we discovered, to our 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:
Huge apologies for the fingers.