Pixel Jersey Remix #1 – Ireland Away 94-96

Hot on the heels of the recent debut edition of Kit Interested here on Pyro On The Pitch.com, along with Champagne Kit Campaigns, Retro Shirt Reviews, and the Cold War Classic over on MuseumofJerseys.com, the kit-related content keeps on coming thick and fast. But it’s a little different this time as we present our latest effort, Pixel Jersey Remix.

In a similar vein to the “If Football Kit Brands Made National Flags” series on the POTP Facebook and Twitter pages, here we indulge in some fun with our favourite jersey designs and templates and re-imagine what the shirt could have been like in various absurd alternate realities. Of course for some professionally produced fantasy kits, rather than our crudely rendered affairs (but with soul), check out Museum of Jersey’s Fantasy Kit Friday and their other good works, as well as Kit Bliss who also come up with some great stuff.

For the first installment of Pixel Jersey Remix, we have gone with possibly the most appropriate design there is for this concept in Ireland’s first Umbro away shirt (supporter edition, with some features slightly exaggerated, but then again this is a “pixel version”). Debuted away to Northern Ireland in a Euro qualifier in 1994, the jersey different slightly to the home version through the collar, which featured a button on the first choice. Here we have a look at some away/third/who knows variations, plus a couple of homes, giving some of the best (in our opinion) a close-up.

Original design:

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Kit Interested #1 – Chelsea; Australia; Portugal; Porto; Ireland

Welcome to our newest feature here on PyroOnThePitch.com, with a series for the kit interested, by the kit interested, and containing interesting kit things (of the vintage variety of course). “Kit Interested” joins Retro Shirt Reviews, the Cold War Classic (over on MuseumOfJerseys.com) and Champagne Kit Campaigns in our regular explorations into the ‘fabric of football’, the appeal of which often results in small decreases in social media followers when certain folk realise that we are equally likely to focus on the grittier side of supporter culture history.

We wanted to stress the “interested” part (rather than all-knowing), as we are also keen to learn ourselves, as well as inform. That’s where you lot hopefully come in , as any feedback to fill us in on what we may not know is very welcome.

Tottenham Hotspur vs Chelsea, 26/08/1978:

A common complaint of many modern kit-fanatics is that of away and third strips being used in fixtures where they were historically not necessary, mainly – it is assumed – due to marketing reasons (often correctly so). At best, this is considered a callous disregard for the team’s proud traditional colours and at worst can actually create somewhat of a clash where none had existed before (Sheffield Wednesday vs Arsenal in 2015 being a prime example, graciously provided by MuseumOfJerseys since the modern game is not really our era of expertise).

Like many aspects of football, however, the tradition of seemingly inexplicable changes stretches back far longer than many might imagine – at least to 1978 when Tottenham Hotspur took on Chelsea in a Division One match. The white shirts of Spurs against the blue of their London rivals never caused an issue of course, but the navy shorts of the former against Chelsea’s continued blue, along with both sides’ white socks, did create a “lower-half clash”.

This had been negated in various ways in the past, such as the 1967 FA Cup final in which full blocks of white and blue were worn – one of three times Chelsea used the combination that season:

In the 70s, Chelsea then had the innovative idea to introduce an “alternate first-choice kit” to be worn against teams who had white socks, in which amber socks were used (distinct from the yellow socks of the yellow and blue away kit). But delightfully, instead of simply pairing the alternates with the rest strip, these were accompanied by shirts and shorts featuring amber trim, replacing all white from the regular kit (seen here against Real Madrid in the 1971 Cup Winners’ Cup final):

Tottenham took a similar approach when playing away in Stamford Bridge for the 71/72 League Cup semi-final 1st-leg, by donning white shirts, white shorts, and yellow socks. In doing so, they also removed the shorts clash, although this was less-concerning than the socks which covered an area more in-need of distinction for officials:

When Chelsea traveled to White Hart Lane at the end of the 74/75 season – for a game that would ultimately see them relegated to the Second Division – another set of alternate home socks were used; this time blue like the rest of the kit, but featuring predominantly red trim:

The socks were slightly odd, as the red used now was a reference to the away version, which had green in place of the blue as the primary colour but contained the same red/white ratio on the turnovers. This trim was to compliment the red shirts and white shorts of the away kit, but the colour was only to be found on a sliver of the crest as far as the regular first-choice elements went at the time.

Following a season back in an all-yellow away kit (with blue detailing), Chelsea combined their recent change-colourways by bringing in a yellow/green/yellow strip for 1978/79, with Umbro sleeve-taping retained from it’s debut the year before. Now back in Division One, the campaign started with the previous season’s home attire employed against Everton at the Bridge, and away to Wolves.

But for any internet kit nerds of the day, all eyes would be on the Tottenham vs Chelsea derby coming up next to see how the sock issue would be handled this time. When the teams emerged, traditionalist Chelsea fans who made the short journey over may have been upset to see their side in an away kit for, perhaps, the first time ever at White Hart Lane:

Without home-alternates this year, the idea of blue and white shirts and shorts with yellow and green socks may have been out of the question even for Chelsea, who had questionably (in a fashion sense) combined their home shorts with the red and green away kit at Millwall in 1977:

While the change may have seemed utterly illogical to some, it seems that using the full away kit was considered the easiest option to avoid any sort of clash entirely. Except to a significant portion of the audience watching highlights at home on TV, a new clash was very much in effect that was far worse than anything seen in the fixture before.

Commentator Brian Moore explains as the match kicks off:

And it’s Chelsea in a change strip of yellow shirts and green shorts, and yellow socks, who are attacking the goal to our right… We apologise if there’s something of a clash if you’re watching in black and white, Spurs in the slightly darker shorts and the slightly whiter shirts.

Maybe the amount of viewers effected was already negligible (we’d love to see some records for colour vs black and white TV licenses in the UK in 1978), but clearly there had been a significant oversight. For those who tuned in to watch on an older/cheaper set, we can see from converting a suitable screen shot to black and white that “something of a clash” was an understatement:

While it may have been unfair on some, the only eyes that really mattered were the ones witnessing and participating in the game live in colour, and to the players, officials and fans, there was a clear, if unusual, distinction. It would have been interesting to see if any of those in attendance that day were savvy enough to cop the potential problem the kit configuration would have without colour, and in fact many doubtlessly did realise when watching the game later on The Big Match.

Over the coming years, the black and white clash became less and less of an issue as technology advanced and prices of colour televisions lowered (although, surprisingly, 12,000 black and white TVs remained licensed in the UK as of 2014). But on a global scale, with the world’s varying degrees of ‘development’, the clash remained an important factor for FIFA and contributed to the the strict distinctions demanded (resulting in some memorable mash-ups) in World Cup matches for years to come.

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Greece vs Australia, 11/11/1980:

One kit trope that we love here at POTP, is when a team who aren’t usually known for it wear white shorts with their otherwise usual home colours. Two classic examples stem from the 1978 World Cup, when both Brazil and Spain (see last link above) were forced to swap their blue shorts for white due to clashes against Argentina and Sweden respectively.

In a similar way, we are also big fans of strips consisting of ‘colour/darker colour/white’ in terms of the shirt/shorts/socks. Australia sported this look to great effect at their debut World Cup in 1974 with yellow/green/white (seen vs West Germany below), while more notably wearing one of the most bizarre shirts of all time due to the fact that the double diamond of Umbro on the chest was accompanied by the three stripes of Adidas on the sleeves:

Several years later, Australia (now “fully-Umbro’d”) traveled to play Greece in November 1980, as part of a European tour that also included a game against England at St. Andrews, before a ‘club vs country’ affair with Leicester City. While the English match would be the main event, the Greeks themselves had just come off their first ever major tournament appearance at Euro 80, which they had followed with 0-1 World Cup qualifier defeat to Denmark.

As of that year, the “Socceroos” were still using their yellow/green/white format, as seen in another match against the English back in May (an Australian football centenary game in Sydney). But for the Greek encounter on November 11th in Athens, Australia reversed the shorts and socks colours to create a yellow/white/green strip, much to our satisfaction:

While not as crazy as the 1974 jersey, the Australian shirt by this time was still pleasingly odd in a perfectly Ozzie way. In the late 70s, Umbro had introduced a wordmark under their diamond logo, including on Australian kits. But uniquely (?) for the 80-82 iteration, the “umbro” now appeared on one side of the centralised crest, and the double diamond on the other.

The host side, meanwhile, were in their change strip of white/blue/white, which had actually been used with black shorts at the Euros. The logo of ASICS can just about be seen…:

…but an advertising hoarding with the same logo displays the word “Tiger”:

This is because the company had originally started life in 1949 as the Japanese footware-firm ‘Onitsuka Tiger’ and had only rebranded to ASICS (an acronym for the Latin “anima sana in corpore sano” – “healthy soul in a healthy body”) in 1977, with the logo having first appeared on running shoes back in 1966. The ‘Tiger’ theme is still used by ASICS to this day when it comes to trainers, but evidentially it might also have applied to their tentative first steps into the football kit world in the early 80s.

Breaking down the kit choices side by side, it seems plausible that the reason for the Greeks not to wear their home blue shirts may have been because the Australian ‘keeper was also wearing blue (see below), and so the away shorts and socks were also used. Then, even though sock clashes wouldn’t have been considered a pressing issue in friendlies, the Australians changed to their alternative white shorts and green socks, perhaps to account for the aforementioned “black and white clash” which would have occurred on certain TVs (presumably a greater issue in poorer Greece than it was in the UK in 1978).

After a 3-3 draw, the boys from Down Under moved on to Britain for their match against an English side who, like Greece, would be in white/blue/white. Unlike with the Greeks though, this was England’s expectant first strip so perhaps yellow/white/green had been the Australians plan for the tour all along.

Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any visual evidence for the England game or what was worn. But this brilliant website does display an Australia away jersey that was apparently used against Leicester a few day later, suggesting that two full kits were more than likely brought with each element used as needed. Or was there just two jerseys?

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Portugal, 1990/91

We have one more example of white shorts being surprisingly inserted into an established national kit, but this time it would not be a forced mash-up – rather, a conscious change of style direction. The country in question is Portugal, who may have took inspiration from their Iberian cousins change at World Cup 78 and decided they wanted the look for themselves…twelve years later.

As we saw in the recently published Euro 84 Football Special Report, the Portuguese were an Adidas side had who worn the stunning diagonal-pinstripe “Chelsea” template at the tournament. By the end of 1989, Portugal were playing out their fruitless World Cup 90 qualifiers in the usual red/green/red home colours, now with a with a greater presence of white on a shirt that featured dual sleeve ‘flashes’ (seen below away to Brazil in a friendly), and an all-white away kit that kept the same jersey template in reverse, but with different-style shorts (seen away to Switzerland in a qualifier):

After a 0-0 draw away to Czechoslovakia in the change kit on November 15th, 1989, Portugal would not take to the field again until August 29th, 1990, when they would host now-World Champions West Germany in Lisbon for a friendly. A 1-1 draw was played out, but the 20,000 in attendance at the Estádio da Luz were lucky enough to witness the home side’s new change in kit direction:

The jersey from 1989 remained but the green shorts were gone, now replaced by a rarely seen design in white with red details to better matched the shirt. The “missing” green was transferred downwards, however, to the socks (with white Adidas branding), where red lost out:

The kit made it’s competitive debut away to Finland in a Euro 92 qualifier the following month, before a visit of the Dutch to Porto for another qualifier on October 17th, 1990. With the away side in white/orange/white, both teams engaged in dual Adidas ‘jacket-porn’ before the match with two outstanding anthem-tracksuit tops on show (some of which didn’t have a crest on the Portuguese side):

A friendly in January 1990 away to Spain provided the answer to a question on everybody’s minds: which shorts would be used with the away shirt? As mentioned, the white shirt that had been around since at least 89 had been used with it’s own pair of shorts originally, when the home pair were green. But with the new shorts seemingly matched specifically with the shirt template (which was the same for home and away), it makes sense that 1990 shorts were indeed retained:

These configurations were used in qualifiers in February against Greece, Malta (away) and Malta (home). But come the Autumn, for the return tie against the Finns (see below; and possibly a preceding friendly against Austria), a new kit was introduced that revived the old red/green/red system. A friendly away to Luxembourg in October, in which a new white/green/white away kit was used, confirmed that this experimental era was over:

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Porto vs Werder Bremen, 24/11/1993

Ditching the white shorts theme, but very much continuing with the Portuguese theme, Portugal are well known around these parts for their continued use of an Adidas trefoil shirt as late as December 1994 (seen below vs Lichtenstein, December 94; the same template that had debuted in it’s away version against Luxembourg in 91). This seems shockingly out of date when some nations, such as Ireland, were on their third generation of shirt past the trefoil (Equipment; World Cup 94; Umbro), and were most likely the last ‘major nation’ to do so (at least in Europe).

It seems that at club level, things weren’t TOO different either, as demonstrated by 92/93 Primeira Divisão champions Porto in their Champions League campaign of the following season. Also with Adidas, Porto started the competition wearing a ‘trefoiled- kit’ that used the same shorts-template as Portugal 90/91 (see above), as used against Feyenoord in the second round…:

…before moving onto a strange new shirt featuring just an ‘adidas’ wordmark, but with a miniature variation of the “Equipment” logo incorporated into the collar, as seen against Milan:

The away and third kits that year, however, were full on Adidas Equipment – the “post-World Cup qualifers style” that added corresponding lower sections the diagonal shoulder bars. While most sides used this template with a primary background colour and secondary bar colour, Porto ingeniously only coloured the outlines of the bars, effectively creating all-white and all-blue strips that wouldn’t cause an issue against the blue or white clad team that had triggered the switch in the first place.

Considering that, the situation that would occur when Werder Bremen arrived for that year’s Champions League group stage (which only came after a first and second round and led directly to semi-finals) was most peculiar. The main issue was that the Germans had seemingly only brought their home strip of white/green/white, which wouldn’t do against the white and blue stripes of the home team:

Perhaps the blue version of the bars template was not yet produced by this stage, but needing some sort of alternate attire Porto emerged in a top that was presumably a change shirt from the season before. It appeared to be the Adidas Equipment template used the likes of Spain and France that featured a total of six bars across the two shoulders, but, unlike those, the Porto version incredibly displayed a trefoil in the collar (which was also white, unlike the other versions) instead of the “triangle” (or, eventually, a lone wordmark in the case of the French, meaning that this template had seen all three Adidas logo varieties):

The unusual jersey proved good luck, whatever the case, as a 3-2 victory was secured while wearing it (or Porto were just better). A few months later in March 1994, when Anderlecht were the Portuguese champs’ opponents in the same group, again white was worn by the visitors. But by now, the “correct”, up-to-date shirt was available, and Porto played and won – en route to making it to the quarter-finals – in the same template as their opponents:

Funnily enough, the only consistent feature throughout was those old 1990-shorts from the home kit, which had been retained in the first-choice strip when the trefoil shirt was dropped. This meant that during Porto’s 93/94 season, the shorts had somehow ended-up paired with at least four different jerseys that they had never intended to be used with.

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Finally, for this bumper first of edition of Kit Interested, we turn to the Republic of Ireland, who’s 1992-1994 Adidas strips were recently highlighted in Campaign Kit Campaigns #4 and #5. In the latter of these, it was mentioned that after two World Cups the Irish had yet to lose a WC finals match in their home shirt, and equally yet to win a WC finals match in their away shirt.

After switching to Umbro following the USA edition, amazingly the Boys in Green’s only other World Cup appearance to date at Japan/Korea 2002 produced the same result after four matches. We thought a sort-of handy graph/timeline was in order show how this phenomenon of the “cursed away” jersey unfolded:

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YouTube Links:

Chelsea vs Tottenham Hotspur, 1967
Real Madrid vs Chelsea, 1971
Chelsea vs Tottenham Hotspur, 1972
Tottenham Hotspur vs Chelsea, 1975
Tottenham Hotspur vs Chelsea, 1978
Millwall vs Chelsea, 1977
West Germany vs Australia, 1974
Greece vs Australia, 1980
Brazil vs Portugal, 1989
Switzerland vs Portugal, 1989
Portugal vs Germany, 1990
Portugal vs Netherlands, 1990
Spain vs Portugal, 1991
Portugal vs Finland, 1991
Luxembourg vs Portugal, 1991
Portugal vs Lichtenstein, 1994
Porto vs Feyenoord, 1993
Porto vs Milan, 1994
Porto vs Werder Bremen, 1993
Porto vs Anderlecht, 1994
Ireland vs England, 1990
Ireland vs Egypt, 1990
Ireland vs Netherlands, 1990
Ireland vs Romania, 1990
Ireland vs Italy, 1990
Ireland vs Italy, 1994
Ireland vs Mexico, 1994
Ireland vs Norway, 1994
Ireland vs Netherlands, 1994
Ireland vs Cameroon, 2002
Ireland vs Germany, 2002

Ireland vs Saudi Arabia, 2002
Ireland vs Saudi Arabia, 2002

*****

 

 

Champagne Kit Campaigns #5: Republic of Ireland, World Cup 1994

After the previous edition of Champagne Kit Campaigns, in which the Irish Republic’s road to USA 94 was examined, we continue with a sort of part two to that story by going on to the tournament itself. While a second round exit meant that not TOO much champagne was warranted (enough will have already been drank after the first game), it would be a historic time in terms of the strip, as Ireland played their last match to date wearing Adidas.

Thanks to world-renowned kit dealer Barry Rojack for some invaluable information.

Background:

For a full background on what was worn by Ireland leading up to 1994, of course check back to the aforementioned CKC#4. But briefly, having started the qualifying campaign still in a 1990-style “trefoil and stripes” design (with an updated crest), most of the matches saw the Irish wear the popular Adidas “Equipment” shoulder bar template in 92 and 93, with all but one in the traditional green shirt/white shorts/green socks combination. The odd game out was the historic last qualifier away to Northern Ireland in Windsor Park that secured a place at the finals, a result matched by the equally fantastic reverse strip.


Ireland's Adidas "Equipment" away kit in it's one and only appearance, worn vs Northern Ireland, World Cup qualifier, 17/11/1993.

The trefoil had been appearing on Adidas kits since the early 70s and even continued to be used by some “behind the times” nations past 1994. It’s Equipment-era successor, on the other hand, initially appeared to have an extremely short lifespan in comparison, with the bars logo first appearing in 1991 and, for the most part, disappearing by 94/95 (later resurrected sans-Equipment branding for World Cup 98). The French foreshadowed the forthcoming change of general direction by already dropping the element from their Equipment shirts in mid-1993, with an enlarged “adidas” wordmark remaining, giving it only little more than a year.


French Adidas "Equipment" away shirt on the left, already without Equipment logo in August 1993 (vs Sweden), contrasted with Portugal shirt with trefoil still being used in November 1994 (vs Austria).

Ireland were in a similar position due to their non-participation at Euro 92 – presumably the reason for their late adoption of the style. It would only be fourteen months from their first game in the new attire against Latvia in September of that year, until the “all-Ireland” clash in November 93; a relatively short time compared to the seven years that the trefoil had been seen on Irish shirts.

The countdown to the World Cup began on March 23rd, 1994, when Russia came to Dublin’s Lansdowne Road for a friendly, with the away side in a kit familiar to those who have read CKC#3. Most importantly though, it was the first chance for the Irish public to see what the team were going to wear that summer in the USA, although the game wasn’t broadcast live on TV.

Using a brighter shade of green than the last kit, the “Equipment” motifs were indeed a thing of the past, with a lone Adidas wordmark appearing on the chest opposite the crest. But incredibly, a trefoil did sort of make it back onto the shirt in the form of the sublimated shadow pattern, that basically portrayed the FAI logo bursting through the iconic Adidas “flower”. Subtle diagonal shadow stripes also incorporated FAI insignia, while a broad green/white/orange v-neck collar was complimented by small Irish tricolours on each sleeve.



The 1994 Ireland jersey in it's debut match, demonstrated by Liam O'Brien who ultimately would not be in the World Cup squad, Ireland vs Russia, friendly, 23/03/1994.

The shorts were mostly plain, but also included fabric pattern. The socks, however, were perhaps the most exciting part of the kit, due to their white turn-overs that featured green/orange/green stripes. This type of “French-formatting” (as seen with blue/red/blue stripes over white French kit elements) had been employed on Ireland’s old O’Neills strips in their green/white/gold colourway, but this was the first time in the Adidas era that Ireland’s stripes weren’t a uniform white or green.



Full Irish home kit featuring green/orange/green stripes over white sock turnovers, Ireland vs Russia, friendly, 23/03/1994.

At the previous World Cup, Ireland had been one of the only Adidas nations to wear a bespoke design, so the use of quite a common template afterwards may have disappointed some over-entitled fans (not us, since we love this era of templates). The 1994 shirt was a return to a unique kit (at least for the home, we’ll get to the away), but with quite a left-field design, it was maybe not what many had expected or hoped for. One source of continuity that hung on for now from the Equipment period was the numbers on the back, featuring an outline and three diagonal stripes in the corner.


The diagonal stripe numbering style first seen on Irish kits in 1991 retained for the new shirt, and Russia jersey, Ireland vs Russia, friendly, 23/03/1994.

As the 90s had progressed, the tight-fitting shirts of the last decade were replaced by looser, baggier cuts and longer shorts, as demonstrated by Ireland’s transition from trefoil to Equipment. But the location of the upcoming World Cup, and it’s devastating heat and humidity, gave another reason for a massive jersey besides style: ventilation. In the Russia game, the deliberate airiness of the new Ireland shirt was demonstrated by 19 year old debutante Gary Kelly especially, wearing the long-sleeve version which incidentally featured plain green cuffs.


Gary Kelly in his debut international wearing the long-sleeve version of the new home shirt, Ireland vs Russia, friendly, 23/03/1994.

New kits were introduced for the goalkeepers also, but, unlike the outfielders, they would be wearing a standard template known as “Predator” worn by many net-minders at the time that featured visible shoulder pads. “Blocks” of yellow and maroon on a black background covered most of the first choice jersey, with an “adidas” positioned on the round-neck collar and a central crest beneath.


Packie Bonner in Ireland's new goalkeeper shirt, Ireland vs Russia, friendly, 23/03/1994.

A 0-0 draw against the Russians was followed by an excellent 0-1 victory away to the Netherlands in April. The form continued to look good in May with a 1-0 win over Bolivia in Dublin on the 24th, and an even better display than the Dutch game with a 0-2 defeat of world champions Germany in Hanover four days later. Throughout all these games the standard home kit was used, but strangely the goalkeeper shirt of Alan Kelly didn’t feature a crest for Germany game (if not the other two also) having initially been seen on Packie Bonner’s version against Russia.



Ireland kit, front and back, above, and Alan Kelly's crestless goalkeeper jersey below, Germany vs Ireland, friendly, 29/05/1994.

The last warm-up fixture was on June 5th at home to the Czech Republic, who had most recently been part of the Representation of Czechs and Slovaks for a failed qualifying campaign and were now on their own for the first time. In a game most noteworthy for the away team’s rarely seen early Puma shirt, the class of the side that would burst onto the world scene at Euro 96 was already evident as they soured the going away party with a 1-3 defeat. But thankfully, the crest returned to Bonner’s goalie top.


The away side cause an upset at the World Cup going away party wearing an interesting early shirt, Ireland vs Czech Republic, 05/06/1994.

Bonner's jersey with crest reintroduced, Ireland vs Czech Republic, friendly, 05/06/1994.

Despite the loss the country prepared itself for World Cup fever, blindly optimistic for a repeat of the euphoria of four years earlier. Accordingly, opportunistic companies were ready to pounce on this enthusiasm with endless amounts of  World Cup Ireland-related merchandise, including “supporter jerseys”.




World Cup fever in Ireland with bunting, t-shirts (featuring a Denmark flag, who hadn't qualified) and O'Neills-made supporter jerseys (Hillary is modeling a 1990 Ireland/Italy version), June 1994.

True to form, former Ireland kit-supplier O’Neill’s produced many of their own “Adidas inspired” versions (based in an alternative timeline where Ireland used the “Spain 1992/93” Adidas template with a 1986-92 style Irish crest, which is actually beautiful), but a new development was the appearance of hideously inaccurate counterfeit shirts that tried to pass for Adidas. Among other missteps and poor material, the “home version” most prominently featured the instant give-away of a lace-up turnover collar.


A jolly fan wearing the hideous, counterfeit "collared" Ireland jersey, June 1994.

The actual official supporters replica shirts, like all Irish commercial jerseys since the 80s, could only be sold with the logo of the FAI’s corporate partner – in this case still Opel. It was a genius money-making move by the the association in which they had no problem turning their loyal supporters into walking billboards, when no other country did. However, lucky South American and Australian Ireland fans will have had versions produced in their regions devoid of the sponsor, as Opel had no presence in those markets.

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Republic of Ireland, 1994 FIFA World Cup

At the World Cup draw in December 93, Ireland had been placed in an all-European pot 3 and ended up in the so called “group of death”, Group E, along with:
Italy from pot 1 (hosts and top 5 ranked teams), Mexico from pot 2 (Africa and Americas) and Norway from pot 4 (lower Europeans and Asia). A grumpy minority lamented that it would have been better not to have qualified at all than face an early exit, but up to three teams could progress to the next round giving the aging Irish a decent chance.


The World Cup 94 draw in Las Vegas at the moment Norway were selected to complete Group E, 13/12/1993.

The specter of the grueling heat would also be present though, with games scheduled for daytime to suit global TV audiences and only two substitutions allowed per match. Somewhat over-cautiously, the Irish contingent brought a set of long-sleeves jerseys as well as short sleeves, but of course they would not be needed.

As always at the World Cup, kit distinctions were also more strictly enforced, meaning interesting kit mash-ups were certain. And rules against excessive corporate branding meant that certain kit-maker related elements sometimes had to be subtly changed for the tournament.

Round 1, Group E

ITALY
MEXICO
Republic of IRELAND
NORWAY

Match 1: Italy vs Ireland
Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, 18/06/1994

Ireland were to start the World Cup the way they had finished the last, with an encounter against Italy. Being the “away” side in the fixture they prepared to wear their change strip of white/green/white against the blue/white/blue of Italy, as they had done four years earlier on Italian soil. (From the pre-match graphics it is also interesting to note the branding of this being “World Cup XV” – evidently a Super Bowl-inspired marketing attempt to appeal to the home American audience.)

But upon viewing the Irish team fifteen minutes before kick-off, the FIFA official reported that the Italians had elected to wear their own away kit of white/blue/white, meaning that the Irish had one and a half minutes to change. As reported by Museum of Jerseys here, captain Andy Townsend suggested only changing the shirt to create a green/green/white strip – a request denied by the FIFA official. The teams emerged shortly after with Ireland in their first choice colours; the massive crowd (a majority of whom were Irish) none the wiser of the kit-chaos:

The rush turned out to be somewhat of a blessing, however, as ‘keeper Bonner later recalled how the quick turnaround meant there was no time to think, which in turn took the pressure off. What did cause pressure was the afternoon sun – clearly the reason for the Italians choice of white shirts (in the other match, the “home” Norwegians also chose to wear their white away jersey). In a vein attempt to counter this, notoriously pale left-back-turn-left-midfielder Steve Staunton and the Scottish-born Ray Houghton both took to the field in white caps (along with manager Jack Charlton and some subs), and kept them on as long as possible before kick-off:

As for the kit itself, there were two crucial differences to the version used in the pre-tournament friendlies. The text “Corn An Domhain USA ’94”, Irish for “World Cup USA ’94”, now ringed around the crest, doubtlessly enraging many consumers of the replica who’s shirts suddenly seemed out of date:

The other difference, which may have been lost to more viewers, was the numbers, which had been changed to a standard “box” format. This was a result of the aforementioned branding rules that meant the three stripes on the previous style could not be allowed, despite the fact that the numbers used at Italia 90 were really nothing but stripes. Tournament front-numbers also returned to an Irish shirt after their debut at the US Cup in 92, while players names on the back made their first ever appearance:

Also of note was the fact that left-back Terry Phelan missed team-photo, as he had put on boots with the wrong studs and was busy changing them. As we discussed last time, Phelan had been known for turning the tops of his socks inside out, or indeed simply wearing his own pair, due to muscle issues, and of course this continued into the World Cup with his altered versions clearly displaying less white trim than the other players:

The Italians “white-advantage” didn’t count in the end, as Houghton’s first half goal, along with a mammoth performance from centre-back Paul McGrath, gave the Irish a famous 0-1 win. Despite any reservations anyone might have initially had after the change from the arguably more classy Equipment gear, the new Irish jersey had now been worn in victories over the Dutch, the Germans and the Italians, with clean sheets in all. Could the luck continue for the boys in green?

Result: Italy 0-1 Ireland

Match 2: Mexico vs Ireland
Citrus Bowl, Orlando, 24/06/1994

Three days after the the Summer Solstice, Ireland took to field in Florida at the crazy time of 12:30pm for an ominous first-time encounter against the side in the group most-equipped to deal with the conditions – Mexico. In record heat and humidity for a World Cup match, again Staunton wore his now trademark cap along, no doubt grateful for the water-breaks allowed during the games. Thankfully the Mexicans decided to wear their home colours of green/white/red, meaning that the Irish could use their lighter white shirt and socks for the first time, and, since shorts clashes apparently weren’t an issue, white shorts, eliminating any sort of semi-clash:

If the home shirt was somewhat plain, the bold away equivalent more than made up for it. Remaining from the green jersey was the diagonal shadow pattern, sleeve flags, and a similar collar, although the order of colours was reversed and ratio of orange to green reduced. But the most striking and obvious difference was the vertical green bars emanating from the shoulders and collar, bordered by orange trim, and disintegrating into white as they descend down the shirt:

The ample amount of green meant that the “adidas” wordmark was placed over the colour, appearing in white like it did on the home shirt. The front numbers, on the other hand, were made orange to account for the fact that they spilled over onto the white when in double-figures, contrasting the green names and numbers used on back:

The crest too was placed over a green bar, meaning both badge and maker logo were positioned unusually wide – wider than on the home shirt. At first the template also appeared to be a bespoke design for the Irish, but was later used in modified form by the likes of Karlsruher SC (home and away, 96/97), Stockport County (home 96/97) and Turkey (away, 96-98). Lastly for the outfielders, the socks on display for the first time were not a straight reversal, as the turn-over stayed white allowing the green/orange/green stripes to remain:

In goal, meanwhile, Bonner kept with the first choice ‘keeper kit. The heavy, padded jersey certainly seemed unsuitable for the American baking, and looked an especially out of place oversight compared to the loose, short-sleeved masterpiece worn by a man famous for his shirts at the Mexican end – Jorge Campos:

After a 1-0 loss to Norway in their first match, Mexico bounced back by taking a 2-0 lead against the hot and sweaty western European islanders (Ireland that is). But after an infamous sideline spat that also involved a stubborn FIFA official – who inexplicably wouldn’t allow a change – and an irate Charlton, 35 year old substitute John Aldridge headed in a late consolation goal for the Irish, the goal difference implications of which still gave hope of progression to the next round.

Result: Mexico 2-1 Ireland

Match 3: Ireland vs Norway
Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, 28/06/1994

For another early kick-off, Ireland returned to Giants Stadium in New Jersey – contradictorily the home of the New York Giants American football teams. Finally the “home” side, the Irish were now free to choose any kit combination they wanted. But instead of staying loyal to the colour of their country, the choice was made to follow the Italians and Norwegians example by using the away kit and taking the supposed advantage of a white shirt.

For the third game in a row a different combination was achieved, as green shorts were inserted allowing the away kit to be seen in it’s intended form for the first time. From a functional stand-point, perhaps this allowed for more visual recognition for a team less used to playing in all-white, as well as not having to worry about green on the other team’s kit:

There was a change in goal too thanks to the Norwegian’s red clashing with maroon, as Bonner now did join his teammates in switching shirts (no more than that as black shorts and socks were used with both options) to a purple/grey-based version of the first choice. After Italy’s Diadora and Mexico’s Umbro, Norway were the first opponent to use also Adidas, and Bonner’s Norwegian equivalent, Erik Thorstvedt, was in the template too – a black/blue/green variant:

From the bench, we also get a nice look at the amazing Irish t-shirts worn by the players and staff. In an alternate world it could have made a suitable third-choice jersey had the green, white and orange on the sleeves been fully hooped (along with some other details) but, like the goalkeeper gear, the black theme was not a great fit for the heat:

After a frustrating game, 0-0 was the final score. At the same time in Washington, Italy and Mexico played-out their own 1-1 draw, creating the incredible situation where, for the first time ever, a World Cup group had ended with all four teams level on points (four) and goal difference (zero).

As the highest goalscorers, Mexico went through on top, with Ireland’s win against Italy and goal against Mexico being enough to send them through in second. Still reeling from the opening defeat, future finalists Italy crept through as the lowest ranked third placed qualifier, ahead of the eliminated Norway who had only managed one goal.

Result: Ireland 0-0 Norway

Elsewhere at the tournament, Adidas’ colourful templates would be an enduring highlight. Ten of the twenty-four nations present were contracted to the brand, with Romania, Sweden (who, continuing the theme of the heat, came with a white away shirt rather than the usual blue), Bulgaria and Norway (home) using an evolution of the Equipment template that featured dual “rib bars”. The collars and cuts of these jerseys were similar to the Irish effort, with the Swedish version also even featuring diagonal shadow stripes.



Above: The great Norwegian home strip used at the World Cup, which added navy raglan sleeves to the popular "rib-bars" template."; Below: Sweden's white away kit with the same shirt template.

The second most prevalent Adidas theme, thanks to Spain, Argentina (away), and Norway (away), used a smarter turn-over button collar and employed columns of stacked diamonds (not to be confused with Umbro) running down the right side. Already witnessed by Ireland in the friendly, Germany’s sensational first and second choice shirts, with their colourful diamond-flurried chests, were like the Irish away; not in design, but in at first appearing bespoke before being adopted by others.



Above: Spain's "diamond-columned" away shirt; Below: Germany's first choice strip - the away did not see use in the tournament.

The Irish home shirt was still joined by several other unique offerings from Adidas. In almost all cases, however, the templates at the tournament were the superior offerings, as the four specialised USA and Nigeria kits aren’t exactly looked back on favorably. But for kit nerds, the Irish shirt could be considered the most special of all as the only outfield jersey at the tournament to (sort of) feature a trefoil.



Above: The "stars" part of the USA's "stars and stripes" kits; Below: The Nigerian away shirt that looked designed for a trendy nightclub..

Round of 16

Match 4: Netherlands vs Ireland
Citrus Bowl, Orlando, 04/07/1994

On American independence day back in Orlando, it was an even earlier “high-noon showdown” for Ireland against the Dutch in the next round. Again a replay from Italia 90, this time it would be a replay of the kit configuration too.

The Netherlands, as the “home team”, elected to wear their usual (at the time) orange/white/orange strip. As seen back in April, under normal terms this would have meant Ireland in their first choice too, but now, like in 1990, white/green/white was required:

As we have discussed, the use of white suited Ireland anyway. But there was concern from some at this unprecedented third game in a row without the trademark green jersey, considering the alternative had proved less successful on the pitch. Even at the last tournament, a draw and a win on penalties had been delivered in the home kit, while the away had been used in two draws and a defeat.

Unlike when the sides met in Italy, during which the yellow Irish goalkeeper jersey was changed only for the yellow-wearing Romanians, Bonner also used his away top once again to avoid an orange vs maroon/yellow clash. It would turn out to be his last major competitive cap (a Euro qualifier against Lichtenstein would follow), although not his most pleasant one.

Early in the game, an error from Phelan allowed Denis Bergkamp to score, before an innocuous looking Wim Jonk strike was unfortunately palmed into the goal by Bonner. A second half disallowed McGrath effort was the closest Ireland came to a response, and they were out – the curse of the away shirt had struck again.

Result: Netherlands 2-0 Ireland

Rep. of IRELAND ELIMINATED at Round of 16

Baring the initial Italian game, the World Cup had not quite delivered the same delirium that had been unleashed four years prior, but that would have been extremely difficult. Never the less, the team returned to Dublin as heroes to most of the population and received a public homecoming reception/celebration/display of appreciation in the Phoenix Park:

As for the kits, which is the main reason we are talking about all this, amazingly that first game back in Giants Stadium proved to be the one and only time that the ’94 home jersey (and socks) was used in a competitive setting. This was of course because, following the World Cup, Umbro took over as Ireland kit manufacturers, ending a relatively short eight year relationship with Adidas.

Although not the first Irish kit to be only used once in competition, the set and setting for the game makes it’s use makes comparable to the much celebrated Dutch Euro 88 shirt, which was only ever worn for the five games of that tournament (the Irish kit was used more over all thanks to the friendlies). Despite the awkwardly blocky numbers, the lack of any real design elements, and the insane bagginess, the historic result against Italy (Ireland’s first win during 90 mins in a World Cup finals match) will always give this kit great meaning, and time has been kind to the concept as the 90s become more and more retro.

Breakdown
Team: Republic of Ireland 
Year(s): 1994
Competition: World Cup 94
Kit Supplier: Adidas
Competitive Games: 4
Kit Colour Combinations: 3
Kit Technical Combinations: 3

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Video Links:
Northern Ireland vs Ireland, 1993
Sweden vs France, 1993
Portugal vs Austria, 1994
Ireland vs Russia, 1994
Germany vs Ireland, 1994
Ireland vs Czech Rep., 1994
Irish World Cup report, 1994
Italy vs Ireland, 1994
Italy vs Ireland, 1994
Mexico vs Ireland, 1994
Mexico vs Ireland, 1994
Mexico vs Ireland, 1994
Ireland vs Norway, 1994
Ireland vs Norway, 1994
Norway kit 1994
Sweden kit 1994
Spain kit 1994
Germany kit 1994
USA kit 1994
Nigeria kit 1994
Netherlands vs Ireland, 1994
Netherlands vs Ireland, 1994
Irish homecoming, 1994

*****

Retro Shirt Reviews #7: Shelbourne Fanzine Special

With Shelbourne FC returning to Umbro kits for the first time in 8 years this week when the League of Ireland First Division kicks off, we thought it appropriate timing to upload our most recent Red Inc. fanzine special from last year, which funnily enough includes the first time the Reds wore Umbro in the early 80s. What’s more, a brand new article by ourselves will be in the imminent next issue, RI65, on sale at Shelbourne’s first home game of the season on Friday week.

Red Inc. is the longest running fanzine in Irish football, having been produced by the fan-group Reds Independent since 1999. After a Shels-inspired Pyro On The Pitch installment to start our RI guest slot, our Retro Shirt Reviews series was adapted for RI64, where usually we would breakdown an obscure jersey from our own POTP collection. But for this installment we deviate from that regular format to take a look back at some of the possibly lesser known kits from Shelbourne’s past.

A large thank you to Maurice Frazer and those at Shelbourne FC Photos for picture permission, follow their page if you are a Shels supporter.

Intro:

August 2018: DUBLIN has recently been awash with grown men proud as punch in their new English Premier League jerseys (usually derived from only a handful of clubs), especially when their teams have been playing meaningless cash-cow friendlies in the Aviva Stadium. This is particularly embarrassing when trying to explain to confused, non-Irish friends why there are so many people in Ireland supporting Liverpool for example.

The rise of two certain clubs in the Premier League since the new millennium mean that there are also a lot more blue English league jerseys around than there was in the 90s. But there was a time when the archetypal football club nicknames of “the blues” and “the reds” were synonymous with two native clubs: the blue shirted Waterford FC – who dominated the League of Ireland from the mid-60s to early 70s – and Shelbourne FC of Dublin.

Legends:

Established in 1895, one legend suggests that Shels’ original colourway of red, white and blue was a tribute to the Union Jack, reflecting that football was traditionally a sport of the Anglo-Irish establishment at the time (as opposed to the Gaelic Games associated with “old Irish” communities). Similarly, city rivals Bohemians were known to have close ties to the British Army (as with many clubs from “garrison towns”) and allegedly housed British soldiers during the 1916 Easter uprising. But just like how you would be hard-pressed to find a communist in the fanbase of teams called Dynamo/Dinamo or CSKA in eastern Europe these days, any early links to loyalism were soon long forgotten by the local supporting communities of both clubs.

Another legend states that Shelbourne were true pioneers in being the first Dublin team from any sport to adapt the city’s three castle coat of arms as their crest. There are also theories that the red jerseys used by St. Patrick’s Athletic upon their foundation in 1929 were inspired by an admiration of the already popular Ringsend outfit. Considering the historic connection of the shirt to Irish football history, as well as Shels’ use of red seemingly outdating that of both Liverpool and Manchester United (for whom many of  the Irish public would later develop an infantile fascination), it is no wonder that the club nickname would morph into the “real reds”; and more popular as of late, the “auld (old) reds”.

60s-70s:

In standing with the time, Shelbourne’s kits would remain minimal in design for the next several decades, with white collar variations and cuffs on the shirt being the only possible addition to the crest – if one appeared. A stylishly noteworthy strip that did offer a splash of colour was used at the time of the famous Cup Winners Cup tie with Barcelona in 1963, featuring a crew neck jersey with no trim and a blue crest with gold castles. Ten years later, huge winged collars with v-insets hearkening back to the 30s would again be all the rage. Shels were no exception to the trend with an otherwise plain shirt (crest later added), but like the national team, stripes now appeared on the white shorts.

The club continued to keep up with the ever-evolving kit styles, as by the end of the decade red shorts were employed for the home attire; the v-inset disappeared from the collar; and three elegant white stripes ran the length of each sleeve. But it was the brand of O’Neills that appeared parallel to the badge on the chest, not adidas. The shirt used the same template as the Irish national team jersey, meaning three stripes were also on the turnover of the collar. In what appeared to be clearly a blatant act of plagiarism of the West German company’s famous design – that would go on for decades, with the company shamelessly take “inspiration” from other well known shirt features later – amazingly after much legal battling it was declared that O’Neills would be allowed to continue to produce three striped sports gear, but in Ireland only.

1980s:

The peak of Shelbourne’s later success would coincide with the club’s association with English kit-masters Umbro. But few are aware that Umbro were also briefly around as Shels began to embark upon the 1980s, a decade that  would see them hit their lowest ebb until that point. By this time jerseys were changing from heavier materials to sleek, streamlined and slim-fitting polyester, and an away game to Bohemians in 1981 shows a shiny white alternate shirt featuring a modern (for the time) red v-neck and cuffs, with Umbro diamonds and wordmark. The earlier-used diamond-only Umbro logo appears on the red shorts, which are accompanied by red socks with white trim. We can assume that the home shirt was a straight reversal. Although great, the unfortunate lack of a crest prevents this becoming an all-time Shels classic.

Shelbourne would soon be donning the three stripes again, but while O’Neills would later return, this time it wasn’t them. Much is made of Cork City’s early Guinness sponsored Adidas kits – a partnership that made sense since there was a factory producing Adidas licensed kits in the city – but again many modern fans may be unaware that the Reds wore Adidas before Cork City had even been founded in 1984. As well as a trefoil, a sponsor appeared by 1983 on a Shelbourne shirt for what seems to be the first time, in the form of Iveco.  This was an impressive combination as the van and truck company’s name was also being seen on the Adidas shirts being worn by Bayern Munich at the time, with their red and white colourway making some versions virtually indistinguishable from a Shels jersey if it wasn’t for the addition of the corporate name Magirus underneath.

In addition to the white sleeve stripes and Iveco sponsor, a home strip from this time featured a turn-over collar and a shield crest, which was apparently placed over the Adidas logo. The reason for this, as seen through other versions of the shirt, was that the trefoil on these basic teamware templates was positioned to the left where a badge usually would be, and so instead of going with a reversed “off” look it seems it was decided to put the crest there instead. The real beauty was the magnificent all-white away strip, which differed in it’s red v-neck and cuffs, red stripes, and a trefoil, but lacking a crest. The absence of this meant that the Adidas logo was placed on different different sides on different players jerseys, the likes of which was not uncommon at the time.

If Shelbourne were moving surprisingly well with the times, 1984 would see a slight step back. While still “shiny” material, a template was used that brought back the wing-collar/v-inset to an absurdly large degree, rivaling any huge collars from bygone eras. This was because the design was actually from several years before, as worn by Limerick FC in their in League winning 79/80 season. Their FAI Cup final version of the same year also displayed a black trefoil within the v-inset as well as chest (and humorously the clearly shoddy print job meant that even as the teams lined up the L and C in “Limerick Savings Bank” had fallen off several players’ jerseys) while Paul McGrath-era St. Pat’s also employed the template. Shels’ identifiable Iveco version was used as part of a lesser seen kit colour combination for the club, in red shirt, red shorts and white socks.

Another new strip was brought in for 1985 as a turn-over and v-neck collar returned, and delightfully pinstripes were seen on a Shelbourne shirt for the first – the most quintessential feature of 80s football kit fashion. Also freshening things up was the revival of white shorts, while Iveco was replaced on the shirt with a white panel containing the logo of “Corona Holidays”. But now, there was no sign of either crest nor trefoil, again possibly depriving this kit of a higher place on the pantheon of the club’s greatest gear. While the three stripes should still have left no doubt as to who the manufacturer was, as we have seen the O’Neills situation could have made things a little less clear if it wasn’t for the classic Adidas sweatshirts used by the subs.

The following year of 86, the remarkable turnover of kits continued with what was to be the Reds last Adidas offering, but what a way to go out it would be. Again pin stripes were the theme, but beautifully used to divide red shadow stripes, meaning alternating shades of vertical red strips. A tidy white v-neck was used, with the Adidas trefoil returning again in the “badge position”. Another significant change was the addition of popular Irish clothing retailer Penneys as sponsor. Like the previous shirt, their wordmark appeared in a white panel across the shirt. Red shorts were also used again with the home strip. Even without a crest, the ensemble was a marvelous piece of art thanks to a jersey that many supporters today would be undoubtedly willing to part with large sums of money to get their hands on.

1987 saw a new make and a new sponsor, as O’Neills took back over the reigns and a company called TransIrish replaced Penneys. It was the most unremarkable Shels jersey in years, as besides the two companys logos there is little else to mention; even the v-neck and cuffs were red. White shorts again returned, and the away strip was a straight colour reversal. The kits nearly were actually quite nice in a minmalist  sort of way, but one thing definitely of note was the team tracktops, which were mostly red but featured a white inner hood with white strings, and a white horizontal section on the torso and sleeves, with “Shelbourne FC” in the centre. A crest and white O’Neills logo appeared above, while a squad number was placed around the left ribs section. Great stuff.

Although TransIrish remained as sponsor for another year, Shels changed kit provider for the third consecutive season as 1988 brought possibly the most intriguing shirt yet. The O’Neills tracktops also stayed but the kit was now being produced by little known brand Union Sport, who also made kits for Bray Wanderers ,Dundalk FC, and, in a similar red and white style to Shels, Sligo Rovers. The kicker is that Union Sport’s logo was a literal Confederate flag (minus a couple of stars), which did appear on the chest of a Shelbourne shirt. With said flag being a common symbol of far-right white nationalists in Europe (this came up last time too), it is especially hilarious considering the Union fought against the Confederacy in the American Civil War.

Another change was the crest, which was now permanently on the chest for the first time in years. The white shield used since the 70s was gone, leaving three larger white castles standing independent over the red background of the shirt. A Union Sport wordmark was also used instead of the flag logo, but white bars running down the sleeves and sides of shirt were interjected by the flag. From afar, this gave the appearance of Denmark’s 1979 Hummel kit which had chevrons in the same places, as well as a similar collar and the same colourway. It seemed that once again Shelbourne were in a plagiarised template, as well as politically incorrect by modern standards.

1990s:

As the 1990s dawned, Shelbourne made a deal with O’Neills for the third time. After the four different kit providers of the 1980s, the Irish brand would retain some stability by staying around for the next eight years, coinciding with Shelbourne’s return to league and cup dominance. A new era dawned with many of the jerseys worn fondly remembered today. But the teams lack of success in the decades before, coupled with poor coverage of the League of Ireland in general, meant that many of the shirts we have looked at are sadly less recognised; particularly Shels’ Adidas era.

Before Shelbourne did win finally win the league again in 91/92, O’Neills provided a perfectly 90s piece for 90/91, which was slightly understated compared to the “geometric shards” shirt that would come a couple of seasons later, but suave enough to make it an absolute classic. With a smart collar and button combination, white “flecks” appear all over the red of the shirt. An O’Neills logo joined is by a new sponsor, SpeedWay, who’s red and white logo fits seemlessly into the overall design. But most significantly, a new crest which incorporated the blue background and gold castles of the past was introduced. The white away shirt with red shorts was a perfect match.

The 90/91 kits may be among O’Neills greatest work in football, slightly redeeming themselves for their indiscretions. The above mentioned 1992/93 shirt was also a crazy classic. But around the same time they would be up their old tricks with another shirt that was extremely familiar, using identical shoulder bars and general layout on a white Shlebourne away shirt to that of the Adidas Equipment range, used by the likes of Spain and France at the time. Before O’Neills left for good – to be replaced by Umbro in 1998 – they proved that it wasn’t just Adidas that they were prepared to rip-off. The FAI Cup final and subsequent replay of that year was significant for another another rare appearance of a red-red-white kit, but in classic O’Neills-level subtly, the shirt looked suspiciously similar to what Brazil were about to wear in the 1998 World Cup.

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Pic sources: British Pathé YouTube; the41.ie; finnharps.com; corkpastandpresent.ie; Sportsfile.ie; Shelbourne Cult Heroes books by Séan Fitzpatrick with photos courtesy of Maurice Frazer and the Frazer family; Getty Images; Shelbourne vs Shamrock Rovers 1987 progamme thanks to @1895Barry; The Bar At Tolka (framed team photo); vintagefootballshirts.com; 1993 FAI Cup Final preview; retroloi YouTube.

*****

 

 

Retro Shirt Reviews #8

It’s been far too long since our last Retro Shirt Review, as the previous edition was an exclusive article for the pages of Shelbourne FC fanzine Reds Inc. and focused mainly on Shels’ lesser known shirts of the late 70s to early 90s. Now we return to our usual formula with a close up look at a vintage jersey from our own collection, and a piece of fabric that was definitely worth the wait (plus, stick around for the bonus International Selection at the end).

  • Club: N/A
  • Year: Early 1980s
  • Make: Le Coq Sportif
  • Sponsor: Brousse-Cardell
  • Number: 13
  • Similarly Worn By: ?

Sweet baby Jahova, will you look at what what we have here. A strong contender in the “best thing we own” category, this sleek, long-sleeved, double pin-striped(!) LCS effort from the early 80s can be perfectly described with one word: *insert one of several superlatives here*:

The shiny white material is perfectly complemented by the blue collar and cuffs, with the former a rather thick wrap-around style. As usual, we have no idea what club this is, but from the make and sponsor it is safe to say that this is the shirt of a French amateur team.

The sponsor in question is French firm Brousse-Cardell (brousse=bush), which as far as we can tell were (are?) an import company. Both their wordmark and the manufacturer’s logo are of dark blue felt:

Going closer we get a better look at the glorious and lovingly created double pin-stripes, individually stitched on to the shirt, which are a lighter blue than both the collar’n’cuffs and corporate logos. Speaking of which, the Le Coq Sportif logo is perhaps the most interesting thing on the shirt, as it is our main clue as to when the jersey is from:

Like with Adidas’s logos, there have been several iterations of the trademark triangle-cockerel over the years, corresponding to different eras. Since the 70s this often saw the cockerel standing “on front” of the triangle, or sometimes within while touching the sides, and usually a Le Coq Sportif wordmark was underneath.

As you can see above, none of this applies to our shirt as a more minimal design was preferred, used by LCS back in the 60s. With the shirt material and pin-stripes suggesting an 80s shirt anyway, the closest we can find in terms of the logo is on Argentina’s 1980-82 model so we’re going to haphazardly guess that what we’re looking at is from around then (or maybe a couple years after to account for the style).

Unfortunately the inner label has faded and is completely blank, eliminating it as a possible source of information. But on the back we have one last feature in the number, which employs thin, blue felt stripes of it’s own to beautifully form a 13:

Really outstanding stuff all around. A classy crest applied to the front would be the only thing we can think of that could improve things, although we are now well used to crestless-shirts in this series given the nature of who they were used by.

With this gem from “The Sporting Cock”, we have continued our streak of highlighting a different shirt manufacturer in every installment of Retro Shirt Reviews to date. This will change for the coming episodes, but with a whole lot of old-school Adidas awesomeness on the horizon you won’t mind too much.

International Selection:

  • Country: Republic of Ireland
  • H/A: Home
  • Year: 199899
  • Make: Umbro

Back in Retro Shirt Reviews #5 we checked out not one but two white Republic of Ireland away shirts from 1994, that featured a whole lot of green and orange. A few years later and the Irish had mostly abandoned orange, save for their crest, with navy introduced instead.

This began with an interesting and unique jersey debuted at home to Croatia in the first game of Euro 2000 qualifying in September 1998. Below we have the replica version featuring an Opel sponsor, as all Ireland supporter shirts had done since the 80s – a delightfully capitalistic practice we are surprised hasn’t spread to other countries (click here for our look at when sponsors were a semi-regular sight in international matches themselves):

The shirt is noteworthy as the first Irish jersey to feature a central crest since 1985. The main body consists of a sort of shadow-stripe system, where one of the alternating stripes is made of two dark green borders and a “mesh” of diagonal dark green squares within. Interesting to note is that the stripes on the right side align with those on the sleeve while those on the other side do not.

The mesh is also used in the large sublimated rendering of the FAI logo that dominates the shirt, sitting over the stripes, with the half of another crest in the left corner overlaying it in turn. The navy element is confined to the trim on the collar turn-over and it’s lower section, which is unfortunately missing the original button, while single white hoops toward the end of either sleeve complete the look.

Inside the collar the words “VAPA TECH” are repeated over and over – Umbro’s name for their futuristic fabric technique of  the late 90s. The label on the lower left side of the shirts says “Only Ireland”, reflecting Umbro’s “Only Football” tag line of the time, but accurate here as this certainly is a bespoke design.

The back of the shirt, if nothing else, provides a nice look a the stripes without the gigantic badge:

While not exactly considered an all time-classic, the shirt has grown on us to the point that we consider it a respectable entry in the pantheon of Irish shirts. Certainly better than most of what was to come over the 2000s and the future crest we like to call the “modern marketing abomination“.

***

Cold War Classic #9: Hungary vs England, 1981

Our regular guest series over on MuseumOfJerseys.com is back, with installment number nine of the Cold War Classic. In each edition we usually discuss a vintage east vs west international matchup from the Cold War era, specifically relating to the amazing and fascinating kits of the time and their evolution. Detailed backgrounds are included, and all retro kits relevant to the story are expertly illustrated in glorious colour by MOJ top boy Denis Hurley.

This time we take a look at when player names were briefly popular on international shirts in 1981, as England would most definitely find out.

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Cold War Classic no.9 – Hungary vs England, 1981

…By the time the Cold War ended in the early 1990s, the classic three-stripe motif first seen on French kits 20 years earlier had evolved to large post-modern blocks covering one or both shoulders with the adidas trefoil receiving a similar fate. And, following their historical cameos, front numbers began to appear full-time on shirts used in international tournaments. Another new addition seen at the 1992 European Championships was the player’s last name on the back above the squad number.

Like front numbers, names had appeared on American football jerseys and in other American sports for decades, including the North American Soccer League of the 70s and 80s. As it turned out, adidas’s updated Equipment design for the 1990s was not really the ideal template with which to introduce the concept to European football, as it meant the letters would have to pass through two different colours if it was a medium-to-long name…

READ ON

*****

Cold War Classic #8: Finland vs East Germany, 1986

Our regular guest series over on MuseumOfJerseys.com is back, with installment number eight of the Cold War Classic. In each edition we usually discuss a vintage east vs west international matchup from the Cold War era, specifically relating to the amazing and fascinating kits of the time and their evolution. Detailed backgrounds are included, and all retro kits relevant to the story are expertly illustrated in glorious colour by MOJ top boy Denis Hurley. This time we look at branding and sponsorship on national team jerseys and focus in on two great nations – one which continues to exist to this day.

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Cold War Classics no. 8 – Finland v East Germany, 1986

…the brand we are talking about is of course adidas, which by the end of the era was being worn by the international football teams of every country in the eastern bloc. This apparent juxtaposition seems to prove that links to the west were more acceptable than may have been perceived, at least on state level, and that capitalist practices such as shirt branding were apparently compatible with communist ideals (even if trefoils were half-heartedly covered or removed at times). In retrospect, the adidas trend ties in with the eventual fall of communism in Europe, as, logically, they would not have been needed if all was going positively on that side of the Iron Curtain.

We have theorised before on how the need to realistically compete at the highest level, including when it came to kit and equipment, eventually trumped any ideological loyalty. Plus of course, there is the money. Adidas’ three stripes had started to appear on national teams’ kits of the region by the 1974 World Cup, with Poland, Yugoslavia, and Bulgaria all donning the distinctive feature at the tournament. The Poland away shirt even displayed a trefoil too. Czechoslovakia were next in 1976, followed by Hungary, the USSR, Romania and Albania in the following years.

The last domino to fall was East Germany…

Read on

 

***

 

Champagne Kit Campaigns #3: Russia 1992/93, World Cup ’94 Qualification

With the World Cup currently taking place in their country at the time of writing, it seems appropriate that our latest Champagne Kit Campaign goes back to look at Russia’s first ever time to compete in qualification as an independent state. We say “seems” since this is pure coincidence, as we are not doing anything special for the World Cup (although we will say it does contain the best collection of kits at a tournament since 1994 in our opinion).

This is our second look at World Cup ’94 qualifiers in the series after our examination of Norway’s 92/93 kits in episode #1 (followed by the Dutch at World Cup ’78 in #2), and it will definitely not be the last time that we revisit the period. Back in Politics On The Pitch #1, we also broke down how the collapse of communism in Europe at the time effected these qualifiers, which is of course extremely relevant to this Russia team, so check it out for more information if that type of thing is up your street. Now, on with CKC#3.

Background:

Russia’s international footballing history began at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics, as following unofficial games against amateur sides in 1910 and ’11, the Russian Empire would field a team for the first time at that year’s tournament. Amber shirts and black shorts were used in these early years, representing the old imperial horizontal tri-colour flag of black, yellow/amber and white; colours which continue to be associated with nationalism in the country today.

The first opponents were Finland, who were in fact part of the Russian Empire at the time, and a 2-1 loss to their subordinates was followed by a 16-0 massacre at the hands of the German Empire.


Flag of the Russian Empire, 1858-1883.

This modest start on the pitch continued, as Russia’s first games on home soil saw them concede a combined 21 goals and scoring none over two games in three days against Hungary in Moscow in July, with both games drawing 3000 spectators. This grew to 8000 for the visit of Sweden the following May, when Russia would score their first home international goal in a 4-1 defeat.

Things continued to improve as a 1-1 draw with Norway in September came next, before away games in July 1914 saw back-to-back 2-2 and 1-1 draws in Sweden and Norway respectively.

But any chance for further progress stopped here, as international sports competition was interrupted by the international political competition of World War 1. The away game against Norway, as it turned out, would be the last match that a “Russia” would compete in for 78 years, as after the War, the Empire was overthrown before another match could be played.

The new entity of  the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), Союз Советских Социалистических Республик (CCCP) in Russian, or simply the Soviet Union, was created on December 30th, 1920. Several unofficial games would be played in the ’20s and ’30, but the first and only official match of the era for the Soviets came against Turkey in 1924. Naturally, red shirts were adopted by the new side reflecting the red of socialism and the state’s flag, with a stylised “CCCP” for a crest.


Flag of the Soviet Union.

The Soviet Union take to a snowy field for their first official match, vs Turkey, 1924.

After World War 2, the USSR and their communist ally countries of Europe refused to take part in the the qualifiers for the upcoming 1950 Brazil World Cup, as the Cold War began to set in. But they would return to the international scene for the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, and by the Melbourne games four years later had adapted their shirt with what would become one of the most iconic shirt features of all time: the “CCCP” letters were now displayed across the chest.


Blurry "CCCP"s across the Soviet shirts, vs Yugoslavia, Olympics, 1956.

The Soviet Union would go on to win the first ever European Championships in 1960 and would remain as one of Europe’s most prominent sides for the next three decades, rarely missing out on World Cup qualification. At the 1966 edition, a change strip of white shirts with red trim and blue shorts was used against North Korea that would inadvertently foreshadow the future Russian colourway, but was quite possibly based on the flag of the Soviet naval ensign.


USSR's "Russia kit", vs North Korea, World Cup 1966.

Soviet naval ensign.

By the 1980s, a hammer and sickle themed crest was added to the shirts, which were now being made by Adidas. In this decade several iterations became quintessential examples of kit-style in the era, and would go on to be some of the most favoured shirts of many kit historians and casual fans alike.


USSR in one of their several iconic shirts of the '80s, vs England, Euro 88.

Classic USSR away kit, vs Netherlands, friendly, 1989.

As the 1990s began, the state of the Soviet Union was closing in on the end of it’s existence as communist regimes across eastern Europe collapsed. The football team would make the most of the little time they had left though, as after World Cup ’90 they would contest a whopping 27 games across friendlies, minor tournaments, unofficial games and Euro ’92 qualifiers, until the dissolution of the USSR in December 1991.

A friendly away to Scotland in February 1991 seemed to be the last time that the CCCP lettering was worn across the torso of the shirts (in this instance an away shirt), as the following month against Germany a new strip was debuted employing an eccentric Adidas template. The new shirt featured a “checkers” design on one shoulder and sleeve, and other patterns reminiscent of World War 1-era dazzle camouflage for ships (so henceforth we shall refer to this template as the “dazzle shirt”), but was devoid of a CCCP.


One of the last times the "CCCP" would be seen on a Soviet shirt, away to Scotland, friendly, 1991.

USSR, for the first time wearing what would turn out to be their last home kit, vs Germany, friendly, 1991.

A Euro ’92 qualifier away to red shirted Hungary in April saw the debut of the away version of the shirt, as part of an all-white ensemble. But then, a May game against England in Wembley for the “England Challenge Cup” saw a return of the previous “CCCP”-baring home shirt. It seems this was brought for it’s short sleeves as a warm weather alternative, as for their other game of the competition – vs Argentina at Old Trafford – the long sleeved dazzle shirt was again used. The England tie would prove to be actual the last time that the CCCP would be seen on a Soviet national team shirt.


USSR wearing their last away shirt for the first time, vs Hungary, Euro '92 qualifier, 1991.

USSR going back to CCCP shirts one more time as a warm weather option, vs England, friendly tournament, 1991.

USSR back in the "dazzle shirt", vs Argentina, friendly tournament, 1991.

Later in the month, the home shirt’s own short-sleeved version saw use for the first time at home to Cyprus in the European qualifiers, as part of an all-red strip. A warm weather version of the away shirt was also worn that summer, such as against Italy in another friendly competition: the Scania 100 Tournament.


USSR wearing the short sleeved version of their home shirt as part of an all-red strip, vs Cyprus, Euro '92 qualifier, 1991.

USSR's short-sleeved away shirt, displaying "dazzle camouflage" features, vs Italy, friendly tournament, 1991.

The year concluded with a final Euro qualifier away to Cyrpus in November, with a 4-0 win securing qualification for the Soviet Union had they continued to exist as a political entity. The white kit worn would be the last ever strip to be used by a Soviet side, as amid continuing turmoil, the Union formally dissolved on the 26th of December, 1991.


The last ever match of the Soviet Union, vs Cyprus, Euro '92 qualifier, 1991.

However, it was not to be the last time that the dazzle shirts would be seen in international football. The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) had been formed immediately following the collapse of the Soviet Union as a confederation of the former Soviet republics, and as a “successor state” of sorts, a football team was created to inherit the USSR’s Euro ’92 spot.

The CIS played it’s first international in Miami against the United States in January 1992 in the short sleeved version of the last Soviet away jersey, with the long sleeves used in a follow up tie against the same opposition (who wore all-blue on both occasions) in Detroit days later.

In the absence of anything else, a Spanish language report of the game used a Russian flag to represent the CIS in match graphics, the presence of which – along with the continued use of a shirt featuring a hammer and sickle on the crest – demonstrated the confusing transitional nature of the era. The red ’91 Soviet home shirt also saw a revival and was worn one last time in a pre-Euro ’92 friendly against England.


CIS wearing the USSR's away kit in their first international match, vs USA, friendly 1992.

The Russian flag being used to represent the CIS, vs USA, friendly, 1992.

CIS wearing the USSR's all-red, vs England, friendly, 1992.

By the tournament itself, CIS would finally have their own kit in the form of the new Adidas Equipment range, and it was confirmed that like the USSR, red was being used as first choice shirt colour. White stereo shoulder bars dominated the shirt, with the CIS initials appearing in the centre of the chest in lieu of an actual crest. The new “Adidas Equipment” brand logo replaced the trefoil for the first time, while the white shorts only added a player number to said brand logo, both in black.


The CIS finally debut their own kit, vs Germany, Euro '92.

The numbers on the back of the shirts were white, but the presence of the shoulder bars proved problematic with regards players names – being used along with front-numbers for the first time in an international tournament. So as not to clash with the white of the bars, black was used for the letters, which over the red background were not exactly legible either.

The issue seemed to demonstrate that the template had not really been designed with the new kit requirements in mind (France also used the template at the competition but did not experience the same problem due to their two red outer bars, while Sweden in the other “mono-shoulder” version used yellow trim on their outer-right blue letters to avoid the issue).


The back of the CIS shirt, demonstrating the black lettering used for player names, vs Germany, Euro '92.

In their following game against the Netherlands, the CIS would use the away version of the new shirt for the first and only time, before returning to the red shirt for their last game of the competition against Scotland. It would be the last time that a CIS team would ever take to the field, making them what has to be the shortest-lived international side to ever compete at an international tournament.


The one and only outing for the CIS away kit, vs Netherlands, Euro '92.

The CIS' last appearance in international football, vs Scotland, Euro '92.

Finally we are approaching the conclusion of what is still just the background to our featured campaign. But this has all been relevant to what was about to happen. Well, maybe not that stuff about the colour of the player’s names, but we though it was interesting.

With the conclusion of the Euros, the need for a combined CIS side was no more and a new Russian team officially succeeded both the USSR and CIS in FIFA cannon, taking their allocated spot in the upcoming World Cup ’94 qualifiers in the process. The Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were also granted places, but as the earliest former-Soviet states to declare independence, they were the only ones besides Russia allowed to take part.

The likes of Ukraine had lobbied for a tournament between the nations who had made up the USSR instead, but this was blocked by Russia who naturally didn’t want to miss out on their chance at World Cup qualification.

 
Flag of Russia.

Before the qualifiers got under way though, there was still time for one friendly game and on August 17th, 1992, Mexico visited Moscow’s Lokomotiv Stadium to play in what was to be the Russia’s first international match as a modern state.

Amazingly, the short-sleeved version of the white Soviet dazzle shirt was brought back from the dead yet again (insert some sort of obvious Rasputin joke here), now being employed as a home jersey for Russia who were to wear white as a primary shirt colour. The only difference to what the USSR would have worn the year before was the shorts, which were the same as the CIS (minus numbers) rather than the shorter in length red-trimmed pairs used by the Soviets, which also meant that the kit contained both a trefoil on the shirt and Adidas Equipment logo on the shorts.


Russia wearing the old Soviet Union away shirt as their first ever home shirt, vs Mexico, friendly, 1992.

This meant that the jersey in question had now been worn by three different teams representing three separate political entities – also surely the only instance of it’s kind – as well as  the interesting dichotomy of a post-communist Russian side wearing a hammer and sickle insignia on their chests.

The use of the shirt did make sense though, as considering the turmoil of the time, it is not really surprising that producing new sports gear was not on top of anyone’s agenda. Of the available options to hand, it was evidently felt to be more appropriate to revert back to the less obviously Soviet shirt, rather than wear one which blatantly proclaimed “CIS”.

And so would be the state of Russian football and it’s kits going into the World Cup qualifiers of October 1992. With the upcoming tournament set to be hosted by their old Cold War rivals in the United States, surely a country with such stature and proud sporting tradition would have their own national team shirts ready to start a journey that would lead to a first appearance on the world stage…

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Russia, 1994 FIFA World Cup Qualification

On December 8th, 1991 – eighteen days before the USSR dissolved – the World Cup qualifier draw took place. The addition of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania helped to boost the number of participating European teams from 32 to 39, which dropped to 38 after the withdrawal of Lichtenstein who had been set to take part for the first time.

But the the changing political map inevitably meant the disappearance of  states also, with this having a profound effect specifically on Group 5. The group as originally drawn had contained the USSR and Yugoslavia – itself in the process of collapsing into chaos – as the first and second seeds:

While Russia would ultimately be awarded the Soviet Union’s place on June 1st, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (now not including Croatia, Slovenia, or FYR Macedonia) had been suspended by FIFA and UEFA a few days earlier, after UN sanctions relating to the region’s escalating war. The immediate impact was losing out on their Euro ’92 spot, but also removal from the World Cup qualifiers (now down to 37 teams).

As the top seeds had lost a significant portion of the available players who would have joined the Russians in a united Soviet/CIS side, and the second seeds having vanished entirely, Group 5 was left unusually weak. Five groups of six teams and one of seven had originally been intended, but the Yugoslav suspension also created the odd situation where Group 5 contained only five teams, compared to the bloated seven of Group 3. Also worth mentioning is that only two points were still being awarded for a win rather than three at this stage, and the ultimate top two teams in each group would qualify.

Four of the five countries in Gourp 5 weren’t involved in the 1992 European Championships, so some qualifying games had already taken place in May and June of that year. Further fixtures in September and October meant that some teams had played two, or in the case of Iceland, three times before the brand new Russian side had even taken part in a group game. But later that month, the wait would finally be over.

UEFA Qualifying Group 5:

Russia
Hungary
Greece
Iceland
Luxembourg

Match 1, home to Iceland , 14/10/1992:

18,000 fans braved the cold in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium for Russia’s first ever competitive game in their modern form, and the somewhat appropriate visit of Iceland (especially considering the tradition of playing Scandinavian teams in the pre-WW1 era). The low temperature was evident at the two benches, where hats, gloves and indeed blankets were the order of the day:

But more important, of course, was what was being worn on the pitch, and in answer to our rhetorical pondering at the end of the Background section, Russia in fact did take to the field once again using the old Soviet away shirt as a home jersey; naturally now employing the long sleeved version for the more wintry conditions.

However, someone had at least dug up a set on which the crest had yet to be applied, and additionally the trefoil was covered up with a Russian flag. Perhaps this shows that bitterness towards the west hadn’t just dried up over night, or else more likely that there was no actual deal with Adidas in place and Russia were just “pirating” the shirts:

But in the absence of their own bespoke national team shirt, a way was still found to further differentiate that it was in fact Russia playing and not the USSR, as the shorts and socks were now blue and red respectively. This amazingly meant that a shirt originally intended to bare a hammer and sickle in it’s crest, was now the top section of a kit that’s colours made up the Russian flag:

Added to this brilliance is the sheer delight of a shirt matched with shorts and socks that it wasn’t designed to be used with. After the Adidas Equipment shorts worn against Mexico, the shorter in length trefoil style was back, and we also get what appears to be another of our old favourites; an outfield player wearing goalkeeper gloves for no other reason than to keep warm:

Iceland for their part were in their first choice strip of blue and white, and the white/blue vs blue/white of the two team’s shirts and shorts created a clash situation the likes of which we have seen Bulgaria continually try to avoid before (again see link above). But it was clearly a minor miracle that Russia were able to take to the field in “their own” kits at all, so it is maybe no surprise that nothing was said here:

With their nearly Soviet shirts/Russian flag kits, a second half goal by Sergei Yuran – a Ukrainian who like Andrei Kanchelskis had chosen to declare for Russia – was enough to give the hosts “all 2 points”,  in what was a historic game for the nation.

Russia 1 – 0 Iceland

Match 2, home to Luxembourg , 28/10/1992:

If conditions were bad for the Iceland encounter, then things were about to hit a whole new level two weeks later for the visit of another of Europe’s “minnows” in Luxembourg, as the Russian winter really began to set in. The match would most likely have been postponed in modern times, but as this was 1992 it went ahead and as a result may be one of the most heroic games in the history of the sport.

In comparison to the 18,000 in attendance for the previous fixture – modest for a country of nearly 150 million but respectable, all things considered – only 1750 spectators made it to the same venue. Part of the reason was a heavy snow, which from certain camera angles made it seem like the game was being played in the middle of desolate tundra rather than a football stadium. Despite obviously having been cleared using some sort of vehicle, a fine layer also covered much of the pitch, but enough was visible to allow for the sports game to proceed:

And it was a good thing too, as finally Russia were able to wear jerseys that they could call their own – albeit quite bare ones which clearly weren’t made for them. Adidas was again the brand, with the trefoil on the chest again covered with a Russian flag as the “caretaker crest”. But dark blue raglan sleeves were accompanied by red Adidas stripes, as well as the branding on the shorts and socks, making it quite clear what was being worn:

The blue shorts from the Iceland game were retained, but since Luxembourg were wearing all-red, white socks with blue trim were introduced.

The away team’s shirt was noteworthy for it’s use of another elaborate Adidas template of the era (a sort of cousin of the Soviet dazzle shirt, in spirit if not design), which may not have been used by any other national side (seen here worn by Legia Warsaw). The near-turquoise shade of blue as a secondary colour only adds to the beautiful strangeness:

As you can see above, leggings were employed by most if not all the players, another of our favourite old school practices (and you better believe someone was wearing goalkeeper gloves who shouldn’t have been). The eccentric Luxembourgian manager-legend Paul Philipp (apparently nicknamed “The Spasti One”) was well prepared for the Moscow freeze too, donning a stylish-but-practical parka, while also exhibiting the equally fetching orange Adidas Tango ball:

Continuing the impressive the side-line style was the unmistakably Adidas jacket being warn by the official in charge of substitutes. Bonus points are added for the large manual number indicators, while the sparse crowd can be seen on the snow covered terrace opposite:

The fans who had braved the elements were rewarded with an early goal from that man Yuran, which was followed by another from Dmitri Radchenko to give Russia their second victory. While the game against Mexico had been historic for being their first match, and the Iceland game their first competitive match, now Russia had played their first game in what were their own actual shirts. Kind of.

Russia 2 – 0 Luxembourg

Early 1993 friendlies:

Russia’s next two games came the following January in the Nehru Cup, an annual tournament hosted by India that the Soviet Union had participated in and won several times. While it is pretty irrelevant to our main subject, the make up of that year’s competition may be one of the most amazing and diverse assortments of national teams you could find, with Finland, Bolivia, Cameroon and North Korea (the eventual winners) joining Russia and the hosts. What we do not know is if Russia maintained their makeshift kits for the tournament, as presumably short sleeved versions were at least needed for the Indian heat.

But by the following month, when Russia took on the United States in Orlando – just over a year after CIS had played there in Soviet shirts – they did so at last wearing a kit that was entirely made for them. Adidas had been replaced by Reebok, who at this stage were just beginning to wade in to the football kit market, and a template that was used that we have seen before (see Retro Shirt Reviews #3).

The brazen incorporation of a huge Reebook logo motif on the shirt was quite the turn around from covering up the Adidas logo the previous year, with a smaller Reebok logo within the left shoulder section, and interestingly there were front numbers as well as finally an actual real crest. The shiny shorts, which too were shorter in length than the Adidas Equipment style, also featured a modified version of the big Reebok logo:

With this modern and stylish outfit, the last remnants of the previous era finally faded away (although the red away shirt and white shorts used due to the USA’s white shirts and blue shorts, gave quite an almost Soviet feel to the kit). Or so you would have thought…

That is because after completing the North American tour with two more games against El Salvador and the USA, Russia traveled to Israel for one last friendly in March before the qualifiers resumed, and incredibly went back to old Soviet shirts. This time the red version of the dazzle shirt was worn, again using a batch with no crest, but unlike the Iceland game the trefoil remained unobscured (perhaps not seen as an issue since this was a lower profile game). White “per-Equipment” Adidas shorts were used, but based on the stripe count, the white socks appear to have been of another brand:

Match 3, away to Luxembourg , 14/04/1993:

After the hellish conditions in Moscow for the previous tie (although hell is hot so that’s not really apt), 3180 were in attendance on a calmer spring evening at the classically European Stade Municipal in Luxembourg for the return game, thus giving a nation of less than half a million people a greater turn out than the biggest country in the world.

The hosts wore the same red kit as seen in Russia, while the visitors chose to go with all-white rather than blue shorts as before. But more notably, after having paid homage to their Soviet predecessors by bringing back a shirt that seemed done and dusted, Russia returned to Reebok once and for all.

The home version of the red shirt seen against the USA was used, but curiously the number was moved to the right rather than centrally like on the away. This seems to be because the red section of the big Reebok logo comes down at a more diagonal angle on the home shirt; too close for comfort to the also red numbers. The white socks used with the otherwise Adidas kit against Israel were also back, indicating that they were indeed Reebok made:

Goals from Kiryakov, Shalimov and Kulkov delivered a 4-0 victory as expected for the Russians, seen below following the third goal with marvelous Germanic country names and frilled flag graphics:

Luxembourg 0 – 4 Russia

Match #4, home to Hungary , 28/04/1993:

On a fine evening for football, 25,000 were in attendance at the Luzhniki for the visit of Hungary next, now the de-factor second seeds in the group. Having only come up against the two weakest sides so far, this was to be somewhat of a sterner test for Russia, although the visitors were in the midst of a particularly weak era.

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As Hungary’s red, white and green Umbro-made strip did not produce any sort of clash, Russia could go back to their first choice “flag kit” of white, blue and red:

It was the first time that the blue Reebok shorts were being seen (at least in a competitive setting) and what a shade of blue they were, as well as that amazing shininess:

To top off the day, goals from the two Ukrainian born players mentioned earlier and one from Kolyvanov in between gave Russia a 3-0 victory, keeping up their impressive 100% record in competitive football to date and with zero goals conceded. Of course more impressive to use was their streak of not yet wearing the same kit more than once.

But with the respectable crowd and comfortable weather conditions, full first-preference colours and kit with actual crest, and an emphatic victory over a regional rival with a proud football tradition, this finally felt like Russia’s first true big day as a national team.

Russia 3 – 0 Hungary

Match #5, at home to Greece , 23/05/1993:

As Russia’s march towards qualification went on, so too rose the crowd as the visit of  Greece attracted 35,000 spectators. Before the game, a minute’s silence took place. If anyone knows the reason why, do get in touch.

The all-white kit seen away to Luxembourg made a return for Russia, making it the first time so far that they had actually worn the same kit twice. This allowed the visitors to use their all-blue Diadora affair, which made more sense than the over-all clash that would have occurred if they had gone with blue shirts and white shorts against Russia’s apparent first preference of white shirts and blue shorts, like what happened at the Iceland game:

This seems like a good point to give our customary nod to the goalkeeper’s attire. Here, cult-hero Dimitri Kharine was in a classically early ’90s top featuring black sleeves, a busy yellow and purple/pink design on the torso with no crest, a multicoloured horizontal band (seeming to be dark yellow from a distance) that also appears at the end of the sleeves, and of course his trademark tracksuit bottoms:

More delightful Adidas FIFA gear was being worn by the sideline official; a tracksuit in the style (and colourway) of the shirt template that had been used by France a couple of years prior, among others. A less well-dressed, slightly suspicious individual (purely due to his out of place-ness) stands near by:

On the pitch Russia finally conceded a goal and dropped points, but a penalty from another Ukrainian born player Igor Dobrovolski was enough to keep the ever growing Luzhniki-faithful confident of progression to the World Cup:

Russia 1 – 1 Greece

Match #6, away to Iceland , 02/06/1993:

Russia next traveled to Reykjavík, and with a similar athletics ground and attendance (3308) to the Luxembourg away game, the visitors  were no doubt equally expectant of a similar result here which would secure qualification. But Iceland had taken a point in Luxembourg in their previous match, and more impressively had beaten Hungary 2-1 in Budapest a year and a day before this visit of Russia. Although conditions were better than for the reverse fixture the previous year, you wouldn’t have been able to tell it was summer time by the Icelandic bench who were wrapped up very snugly:

Meanwhile, in the ten days since the Greece game, Russia had only gone and got themselves another new kit. The big Reebok logo was replaced by a solid blue shoulder/sleeve with red border, and both the crest and front number had been moved from their respective sides to the centre of the shirt. The more contemporary longer and non-shiny shorts style was also back on Russian lower-halves:

With Iceland in the same strip as in Moscow, Russia debuted another new combination in white, white and red, helping create more of a difference than before, although the large blue element on especially the shirt (but also the shorts reflected from the shirt sleeve onto the opposite leg) meant that there was basically enough similarity to potentially still cause problems:

Kharine was also in a new shirt which still featured purple prominently while grey replaced yellow as the accompanying colour, but like the previous version, no crest was to be seen:

For the second match in a row Russia went a goal down, before Kiriakov pulled one back for another 1-1 draw:

The point earned gave Russia 10 points to date, behind Greece on 13 who had already mathematically qualified. Iceland would continue their good form with 2-0 and 1-0 home wins next against Hungary and Luxembourg respectively to conclude their group games, but it was not to be enough as they could only finish on 8 points. Hence, Russia had qualified for their first World Cup finals.

Iceland 1 – 1 Russia

Summer Friendly:

In late July, Russia went to Paris for a friendly match against France. With the way the new Russia kit had fit together against Iceland, it seemed that perhaps white shirts, white shorts and red socks had been decided on as new first preference colours. But with the French also in their usual white shorts and red socks, a change was already needed.

Russia went to white socks not yet seen, featuring a Reebok logo half way down. But the all-white look was decided against in favour of blue shorts, and since apparently none had yet been made to go with the new shirt template, the big Reebook logo/shiny style made a return creating another mis-matched kit (both in design and shade of blue):

Match #7, away to Hungary , 08/09/1993:

With the pressure now off, Russia could go to Hungary in September in a relaxed mood, although top spot in the group was still up for grabs between them and Greece.

As we have seen before in our debut edition of the Cold War Classic, Hungary seemed to have a habit of inexplicably wearing their away shirts at home. This seemed to have been the same here as both teams turned out in change kits, with the hosts ending up in Russia’s own home colour of white; odd since the two countries home strips had clearly been proved compatible at the reverse fixture in Moscow.

But the issue may have stemmed from the visitors, as Russia debuted another new shirt: a blue version of the template on the home shirt, with red replacing blue on the sleeve. Why this shirt was brought instead of the white one is a mystery, but presumably the presence of the large red block was deemed significant enough by the referee (who must have been stricter than the one in charge of the Iceland away game) to clash with Hungary’s red shirt, who instead then used their white away shirt and white socks to match instead of the usual green:

To make matters stranger, Russia had still yet to come up with accompanying blue shorts to match the new template, despite now even having a blue version of the shirt itself. As a result, the big Reebok logo shorts in blue used against France were retained, while red socks with solid white turn overs were seen for the first time:

Uzbek-born Andrey Pyatnitsky opened the scoring for the visitors, a player who was on his 4th national team, exceeding even the dazzle shirt. Pyatnitsky had featured in one match for the USSR in 1990 and was a CIS regular in ’92, but had also earned two caps for his home country of Uzbekistan before finally switching to Russia in 1993.

Hungary pulled one back shortly after, but a Kiriakov goal in the second half gave the advantage back to the visitors and was met with a hail of projectiles from Budapest’s unhappy Népstadion as the Russian players celebrated:

Aleksandr Borodyuk strike in the 89th minute secured an away win to keep Russia undefeated and end their mini-run of 1-1 draws.

Hungary 1-3 Russia

Autumn Friendly:

Russia had now played 7 of their 8 games in the group, and with final opponents and top-spot rivals Greece still play to Luxembourg in October in between, Russia used the time to play a friendly in Saudi Arabia. With the Saudi’s in white shirts, green shorts, and white socks, the Russians channeled the French by going blue, white and red:

But even though Russia could have worn the white shorts seen against Iceland which would have perfectly complimented the away shirt, for some reason the white big Reebok logo shorts were resurrected to also get their chance to be mis-matched with the away shirt:

Match #8, away to Greece , 17/11/1993:

After Greece had won in Luxembourg as expected, the last match of the group when Russia were to visit Athens became a virtual play-off to see who would top the group as both teams had 12 points going in to the game, although Russia had a superior goal difference in the case of a draw. But with both sides already on their way to their respective debut appearances at a World Cup, there was a festive atmosphere with plenty of pyro from the 75,000 in attendance at the Olympic Stadium to greet the teams:

Better late than never, but here we finally get a look at some excellent Russian tracksuit tops as the players  pose for their team photo:

This was another game where it seems like it would have made most sense to repeat the kit configuration of the previous tie, with Greece in all-blue and Russia in all-white to eliminate any confusion.  Instead we got a repeat of the colour swatch from Russia’s opening game of the group against Iceland, as Greece wore blue, white and blue with Russia in white, blue and red.

But the issue with the shirt template that seemed to have caused the away-kit vs away-kit situation in Hungary reared it’s head again, as evidently it was felt that the amount of blue on the sleeve of the home shirt would clearly clash with the Greek jerseys. And so the big Reebok logo joined it’s shorts counterpart and was resurrected, the first time it had been seen since Greece came to Moscow in May, but unlike on previous occasions front numbers did not feature. To appropriately conclude things, news socks were debuted; red versions of the ones which displayed a Reebok logo halfway down:

This is a game that we will come back to cover itself on the site some day, as unsurprisingly there was pyro on the pitch, and plenty of it as it was to be Greece’s night. The only goal of the game came in the 69th minute to seal the game and give Russia their first competitive defeat, and the team who had originally been fourth seeds topped the group.

In the light of their own qualification, this won’t have mattered too much to the Russians in the end. But more impressive than their achievements on the pitch in their first 14 months as team, was their amazing record of having worn seven distinctively different kits in their eight games of the group, summing up and wrapping up this incredibly interesting time period for the team, and the series of events that had led to it.

Greece 1 – 0 Russia

*

Breakdown:

Team: Russia 
Years: 1992, 1993
Competition: World Cup '94 qualifiers
Kit Supplier: Adidas(unofficial?)/Reebok
Competitive Games: 8
Kit Colour Combinations: 5
Kit Technical Combinations: 7

*

Aftermath:

This was not to be the end of Russia’s relationship with the big Reebok logo shirt as at least three more versions would be used through home and away kits in ’94, ’95 and ’96,  between various other Reebok kits. Which is perfect really considering what we have seen here. The other template with the blue seelve, meanwhile, never saw the light of the day again, clearly being deemed more hassle than it was worth. But it was a nice idea.

***

Retro Shirt Reviews #5

 

This time on Retro Shirt Reviews we have a sort of a “youth special”, with what is also the first fully identifiable club featured so far in the series, as well as TWO bonus shirts in International Selection at the end. Click here for all entries.

  • Club: Lørenskog IF (Norway)
  • Year: Circa 2001
  • Make: Umbro
  • Sponsor: COOP/Comet Sport
  • Number: 7
  • Similarly Worn By: n/a

Today’s shirt is the first long sleeve to feature in Retro Shirt Reviews and originally caught our eye last year due to the blue/red/white colourway, which we are a major fan of on kits. As with all in our collection, the shirts are purchased with the intention of being worn, but when this jersey arrived at POTP offices we discovered that it was in fact a youth team shirt which had not been evident online. It is quite a large youth shirt though and nearly did in fact fit, but not quite. Never the less we held on to it, since it is quite an interesting top and well worth discussing.

It is hard to make out the crest in the above picture due to the nature of dark red over blue and how the crest was printed on, but it is indeed that of Norway’s Lørenskog Idrettsforening. At the time of writing, Lørenskog are a member of the Norwegian “2. divisjon”, which of course like in many countries is in fact the 3rd tier.

On closer inspection of the crest below, an “LIF” is visible inside an odd curvy shape within a circle, strangely along with the date 19/11/1933; strange because the club was founded on April 17th, 1929, through the merger of Lørenskogkameratene and Solheim IF. The delightful word “FOTBALL” sits underneath (we are also big fans of very similar translations of the word “football” in non-English languages).

The mysteriously mismatched dates theme continues with the fact that the year “1924” is also patterned into the fabric – visible above to the bottom left and right of the crest – along with a 3D “UMBRO” motif – also visible above beneath the crest. 1924 is of course the year that Umbro were founded, at least explaining this one.

But as for 1933, could this have been when the team were first entered into the Norwegian league, or when the crest itself was designed? We don’t know, but as always please get in touch if you do and we will fill in the explanation here.

The modern iteration of the crest, incidentally, also contains white and blue making it far more legible, and some versions do actually include the 1929 date:

Going back to the shirt itself, and through a post on OldFootballShirts.com we can see that the senior team used the same template and that the shirt is apparently from the 2001 season, so that is what we are going with for the year of shirt.

Our original guess had been circa 1998, as this was when Umbro were reintroducing the double diamond logo to their shirts, albiet more usually in miniature beside the wordmark. The diamond taping, originally seen in the ’70s, had also made a return, also seen on the likes of the Manchester United jersey. But unlike United, here we have the addition of dual diagonal bars – in our eyes a welcome interruption to the taping, limiting it to the shoulders rather than full sleeve.

The red collar and cuffs with white trim are a sheer delight, and the collar itself employs a smart one button system to fasten (from the below shot we can also see that there is no label on the shirt). This use of white, as well as on the shoulders, gives the jersey some much needed “pop”.

It is unfortunate that a similar thought process regarding the white trim hadn’t go into the crest, although it was most likely far cheaper to have it printed on monochromatically. The rich red of the Umbro logo – felt, of course, rather than the printed crest and sponsor of choice which came later- displays a similar issue as it is not wholly legible to the untrained eye from a distance. It’s chunky, furry goodness, however, is extremely satisfying.

Adding more white, though, is the main sponsor: COOP, presumably as in “Cooperative”, which appears to be a supermarket chain. The fact that it is kind of reminiscent of a “CCCP” across the shirt gives it extra point from us.

While COOP was replaced on senior team shirts with another sponsor, the secondary sponsor did appear on both: Comet Sport. Comet are a Norwegian sportswear chain, as their athletic stick figures represent, one of which seems to be diving desperately for a dramatic table tennis shot.

The placement of this logo centrally in the chest, above the other sponsor, is a bit jarring and out of place in our opinion, and would have been better left free for potential cup final details, which admittedly would have been extremely optimistic and a huge loss of revenue.

Finally we come to the back of the shirt and Comet make another appearance here, inside the number, which for the second time in this series is a “boxed” 7. With the white again balancing out the red stripes, it is a nice size and not much else needs to be said. Nice.

Overall, the shirt has a lot of taking points and some nice features. As mentioned earlier, blue/red/white will always be a POTP favourite, and the cuffs, collar, felt Umbro, long sleeves, and number on the back are all major pluses. The main drawbacks are of course the fact that the shirt is too small to wear (at least for this writer), meaning it is merely a “collectable”, along with the slightly illegible crest and irksome second sponsor. As always, these are not major critiques, and like all shirts in football it is what it is, you can’t change it, and it is a part of history.

Bonus: International Selection

For this episode’s International Selection, it just seemed right to pair these two shirts together due to colour, style, year and country. They seemed especially appropriate to include with the above youth jersey, as both shirts are child sizes from the ’90s and were recently rediscovered in the POTP attic.

1st Half:

  • Country: Republic of Ireland
  • H/A: Away
  • Year: 1994
  • Make: Adidas

Here we have the marvelous Irish away shirt used at World Cup ’94 (admittedly not so marvelous to some prudish purists, but we’re the bold and brave type of purists), featuring three giant bars “disintegrating” down the shirt and a nice mix of white, green and orange – easily the most usage of orange on an Ireland shirt, home or away, until this point. The crest is probably the 2nd best Irish crest of all time, behind the one which preceded it at Euro ’88 and World Cup ’90 (for more info on said crest’s even longer history, click here), although purists would again probably argue that the original shield and shamrocks Irish badge tops both.

This is also of course a replica version, hence the inclusion of the OPEL sponsor. From a purely aesthetical point of view, and just accepting it for it is, this adds to the shirt in our opinion (we like to imagine it as a hypothetical club jersey) and while the orange employed does clash slightly with the orange outlines of the large vertical stripes, there wasn’t really any other option given the nature of the design.

A diagonal shadow stripe goes runs across the shirt, along with a faint but complex FAI pattern which can just about be seen (if not “made out”) in the image below. The Irish flag adorning the sleeve is a fun addition. Why not?

Somewhat strangely, due to circumstance, the shirt was debuted and used in three consecutive games during the 1994 World Cup (a loss to Mexcio, a draw with Norway and a loss to Netherlands), before never being seen again. It was the only one of it’s kind for this template at the tournament, although a similar design was also later used by the likes of Turkey, Stockport County, and Karlsruhe SC, all in 1996.

2nd Half:

  • Country: Republic of Ireland (away)
  • H/W: Away
  • Year: 94/95-95/96
  • Make: Umbro

Of course the reason that the above shirt was never to be seen again for Ireland was because after the World Cup the team’s kit deal switched to Umbro, meaning that it had been destined only to be worn at the World Cup. Ireland used their new Umbro home kits for the next two games, Euro qualifiers against Latvia and Lichtenstein. But an away tie to Northern Ireland in the next game presented the first need for the new away kit, with the shirt featuring strange, navy-trimmed orange and green bars emanating for the collar and widening as they go down, filling out the sides of the shirt.

Orange was clearly employed even more liberally that on the predecessor, comprising nearly a third of the shirt, and this trend would continue as the next Ireland away shirt would in fact be orange, and much maligned. As for this one, the positioning of the orange on the left is also quite strange as the bottom half of the shirt hence makes out the flag of the Ivory Coast. The out of place orange section in the middle of the green bar was apparently included so that the OPEL, now in green, would not clash where the L partially covered it.

On the back of course, the “flag” is reversed giving us an actual Irish tri-colour. The orange section on the green bar remains for continuity with the front.

On the backs of the actual player’s shirts, green numbers were used which fit nicely in the white middle, but the inevitable clash of the naturally wider double digits was remedied with a white border on the numbers.

There was little need for the shirt after this, although it did make a reappearance against Bolivia in the 1996 US Cup. Although slightly ludicrous, we loved it at that time of childish, blissful ignorance, and so it takes it’s place here in the hallowed halls of Retro Shirt Reviews.

***

Politics On The Pitch #2: The Non-Flag Kit Colours Of Europe

Last time, for the inaugural edition of Politics On The Pitch, we took a frankly fascinating look at how the break up of communist Europe influenced World Cup ’94 qualifiers. Now we go in a more historical direction as we examine the national teams of Europe who have represented their country wearing a primary kit colour that is NOT featured on their national flag – and hopefully explain why.

Sport is something that people will try and distance from politics, but of course nearly everything is political on some level. This extends to what the athletes are wearing, specifically the colours and badge, as one person’s national flag can be another person’s “butcher’s apron”.

As all world states are political entities, the national football teams that represent them are inherently political. In romantic theory, these teams embody the spirit of their state, sometimes including it’s political system or ideology, and this is reflected most prominently through the kits. For example, when the USSR was created what else but red would their football team have worn?

But of course some of the world’s most prominent national sides play in colours that are nowhere to be seen on their country’s flag and can survive several regime changes. So used to these seemingly random colourways are we that the general football fan probably rarely thinks twice about them, but the reasons are often of a deep, historically political nature. More interesting still is why certain colours, despite maybe appearing on a states flag, are unavailable or unacceptable to use.

*****

Germany/West Germany

The modern German national side can trace it’s lineage back to 1908 and a first international vs Switzerland. The black, red and gold of the future national flag (conceived in 1848 but officially introduced with the Weimar Republic) was still 11 years away. Instead, the 1908 side was representing the German Empire who’s flag was made up of black, white and red horizontal bars.

But by far the largest and most dominating kingdom within the Empire was Prussia and it was their traditional white and black colours, the “Schwarz und Weiss”, that were the inspiration for the national team kit. The shirt originally featured black more prominently with a Prussian imperial eagle and sometimes with white shorts (Germany at the 1912 Olympics), but soon the famous white shirt and black shorts combination was settled on (originally with black socks, later white) and retained by the team of the new republic after the collapse of the German Empire in 1918.

It would remain to the present day (with all-white occasionally also seeing action), having transcended the the Nazi and West German states that were to come, and eventually be inherited by modern, reunified Germany in 1990.


The "Weimar" German national side in Prussia's black and white, vs Hungary, 1920.

Germany continued to use white shorts in the early years, vs Uruguay, Olympic Games 1928

"Third Reich" Germany, away to England, 1935.

First official match of West Germany, vs Switzerland, friendly, 1950.

West Germany in all-white strip to avoid clash with the home sides dark shorts, away to Argentina, friendly, 1982.

First match of reunified Germany, vs Switzerland, friendly, 1990.

As well as their home shirt, Germany is famous for an away shirt that also is not reflected in their flag and while the colour is not exactly political in itself, the reason for it’s need is. Black and then red were originally used as away shirt colours, which continued into the Nazi era. But after World War 2, the red associated with the previous regime was not no longer acceptable and similarly black was the colour of the SS.

Neutral green was decided upon instead, often incorrectly attributed as a tribute to Ireland as the first non-German speaking side to play West Germany after World War 2. The colour had in fact been adopted by the Deutscher Fußball-Bund in 1926 and, in the same vein as the Prussian colours on the home shirt, it has been theorised that green was chosen to reflect the flag of the state of Saxony giving another possible political link. But perhaps green had been favoured by the DFB simply as a nod to the grass on which their sport was played.

As for the Ireland myth, it appears that West Germany had already worn green in their three proceeding games of 1951, including vs Turkey which also blows the German speaking part of the story  (the other two games were against Switzerland and Austria). But in the absence of colour footage we cannot be sure. Whatever the case, West Germany’s alternate green (used with several shorts and sock combinations, as well as finding it’s way into the home kit on one notable occasion to avoid a World Cup sock clash, see below) would be a welcome, vibrant staple of many international fixtures to come, occasionally giving Ireland fans a brief glimpse of what it might have looked like if their team was at international tournaments.


West Germany most likely in green away shirts before a month beofre playing Ireland, vs Austria, friendly 1951.

West Germany in green shirts and black shorts, vs Turkey, World Cup 1954.

West Germany classic away kit, away to England, Euro '74 qualifier, 1972.

West Germany in away shirt and shorts but home colour socks, away to Bulgaria, Euro '76 qualifier, 1975

West Germany in home shirt and shorts but away colour socks due to World Cup clash rules, vs Mexico, World Cup 1978

West Germany in a rarely seen green/green/white kit combination, vs Turkey, Euro '84 qualifier, 1983.

West Germany in all green, vs Argentina, friendly, 1984.

***


East Germany

You can’t talk about West Germany without East, and like their western neighbours, East Germany also adopted the Weimer flag upon their creation in 1950 with the addition of the state’s coat of arms. But the foundation of the East German national football team in 1952 (and their federation who would go on to be known as the Deutscher Fußball Verband der DDR, great name) also saw the need for a new shirt colour. As with West Germany’s away shirt, black was not an option due to the Nazi link and while red with it’s connection to socialism maybe could have still worked despite it’s fascist connotations in Germany, it was also already the home shirt colour of the Soviet Union.

Obviously the white and black retained by West Germany was out of the question, and a side representing a new worker’s republic wouldn’t have made much sense taking to the field in the colours of the old Kingdom of Prussia anyway. Very few options remained, with even an obscure choice like green also snapped up by the West.

It would seem by this process of elimination, the only reasonable colour left available to choose was blue – which would also worn be East German athletes in other sports. But the use of blue was in fact not so random and actually had a direct link to the state. We can thank read Lucas for enlightening us by sending the following fascinating explanation:

East Germany wore blue because was the colour of the uniforms worn by the youth of the then-ruling party, the SED (Unified Socialist Party).

White trim was used, with white shorts and blue socks, and a reversal of this colour scheme was used for the away kit and later as first preference. Combinations such as white/blue/blue, white/white/blue and all-white were also used when required. The blue and white palette would be employed from their very first (unofficial) international in 1952 against Poland until their last ever match, vs Belgium in 1990.


East Germany in early blue and white strip, away to Czechoslovakia, World Cup '58 qualifier, 1957.

East Germany in all-white, vs Yugoslavia, friendly, 1962.

East Germany in white and blue, vs Italy, World Cup '70 qualifier, 1969.

East Germany vs West Germany, World Cup 1974.

East Germany vs Greece, friendly, 1983.

East Germany vs Belgium, Euro '84 qualifier, 1983.

East Germany's last match shirt, away to Belgium, 1990.

***

Italy

Back in Aesthetically Please Moments From Video Game Football History #6, we briefly examined how wrong it would look for Italy to wear the green, white and red of their national flag. When an Italian side first took to the field, vs France in 1910, white shirts and black shorts were worn. But within a year, vs Hungary in 1911, the Azzuri we know today was birthed as they graduated to blue and white, along with the red shield/white cross of Savoy as the crest.

Like with Germany, the relevance of blue predates the Italian state as it was the royal colour of the House of Savoy as early the 14 century. Savoy united Italy into a kingdom in 1868 with blue becoming the national colour and it was adopted by many sporting, political and military bodies including the football team. I have also seen it said that until the 90’s the national football team was technically part of the military, with representing the country counting as national service, and this was why blue was “allowed” to be worn on the kit/uniform. This is unverified, but noteworthy to include as at least a fun theory.

During the years of fascist rule, the coat of arms of Savoy was accompanied by the “fasces” associated with Mussolini’s regime. The symbolism went a step further at the 1938 World Cup, where at the quarter final vs host nation France there was one notable exception to Italy wearing blue or white. In the midst of political tension between the two countries and anti-faicst protests in France, Italy wore a fascist inspired all-black strip instead of their usual white away, apparently at the behest of Mussolini himself.

After the fall of both fascism and the monarchy – and the start of the modern Italian republic in 1946 – the coat of arms was removed from both the flag and the national team shirt. But blue remained as the national colour with any royal connotation now long forgotten to the sporting world. White shorts have most often been used with the blue shirt, with an occasional all blue strip, but black shorts have continued to be worn at times adding another colour not seen on the flag.


Italy wearing white and black for their first international match, vs France, 1910.

Italy in blue and white, with the "fasces" on the crest accompanying the coat of arms of Savoy signifying the fascist era, circa 1935.

Italy's "blackshirt" strip, vs France, World Cup 1938.

Italian goalkeeper shirt with "fasces and Savoy" crest more visible, World Cup Final 1938.

Italy in blue and black, vs North Korea, World Cup 1966.

Italy in all blue, vs Hungary, World Cup 1978.

Italy in familiar blue and white, away to Romania, Euro '84 qualifier, 1983.

***

Netherlands

Like Germany and Italy, the Netherlands started international football in white and black, but with the colours of the Dutch flag sashed across the torso of the shirt (the popularity of white and black can also be attributed to the ease of production at the time compared to other colours). This was worn for their first international, vs Belgium in 1905, and the look was later revived as the inspiration for their 2006 away shirt. Black shirts were also used in the early years, as seen at the 1908 Olympics.

But post World War 1, at least by the 1924 Olympics, the famous orange was adopted. The origins of orange can be found in the southeastern French commune (municipal region) of Orange. It had been a principality in medieval times and the Prince of Orange title was eventually inherited by the German-Dutch House of Nassau in 1544.

Prince William of Orange led a successful revolt against Hapsburg rule in the Netherlands in 1581 and his grandson, the infamous/famous (depending on where you’re from) William III became ruler of the Netherlands, Britain and Ireland by 1689. The symbolic use of the colour orange relating to these events would have connotations long into the future, including the Orange Order, orange featuring on the Irish flag, why carrots are orange, and of course ultimately the wearing of orange by the Dutch team as the national colour of the Netherlands.

White shorts and blue socks were originally used but the black element seen in the early years was brought back by the 70’s to create the look most associated with the Netherlands, and used intermittently since then.


Netherlands in orange shirts, white shorts and blue socks, away to Belgium, friendly, 1925.

Netherlands in black shorts and orange socks, away to Luxembourg, Euro '72 qualifier, 1971.

Netherlands in white shorts and orange socks, away to Ireland, World Cup '82 qualifier, 1981.

For more recent writings on all things Dutch, specifically their amazing World Cup ’78-era kits, click here for our Netherlands special Champagne Kit Campaigns #2.

***

Northern Ireland

So, where to start with this one. First off, the team of “Ireland” became the 4th ever national side to appear  in football history (after the three British nations) when they took to the field for the first time in 1882, welcoming England to Belfast in a 13-0 loss. Their Belfast based federation, the Irish Football Association (IFA), had been founded two years before. Of course this is when Ireland itself as a whole was still part of the United Kingdom, so the political entity that the team represented was not in the interest of an independent, sovereign Ireland. Hence, we shall refer to this team as “Ireland-UK”.

In these early years, Ireland-UK wore blue shirts – “St.Patrick’s blue”- and white shorts. The use of blue stems from the Anglo-Irish “Order of St. Patrick” (again, an organisation not in the interest of Irish freedom) who adopted it in 1780. It became an unofficial national colour during this time of British rule, along with the more traditionally Irish and well known green. Of course Ireland did not have a national flag of it’s own back then and was instead represented on the Union Jack from 1800 with the red diagonal cross of St. Patrick, another British invention. But the blue on the Jack coincidentally meant that Ireland-UK were playing in a colour that technically did appear on their state’s flag.

With the conclusion of the Irish War of Independence in 1921, the country was partitioned into the mostly-autonomous Irish Free State and the smaller Northern Ireland, which remained in the UK. But this did not apply to the IFA, who continued to claim jurisdiction over the whole island and field teams as Ireland-UK while still wearing blue. This was coupled with the need for a new national team to represent independent Ireland, and it’s governing body – the Football Association of the Irish Free State (FAIFS) – was created in Dublin and accepted into FIFA in 1923. Of course this side wore green shirts.

In 1931, Ireland-UK switched from blue to green jerseys also, apparently to avoid clashes against the navy-blue of Scotland. The socks remained blue for some years before also becoming green and blue would later be commemorated and return as a third colour on some future kits. Meanwhile, the Irish Free State became “Ireland” in 1936, the FAIFS became the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) and, like with Ireland-UK, players from “north” and “south” were selected. The IFA had withdrawn from FIFA along with the other UK “Home Nations” in 1928 after long running disputes, meaning that by the mid-30’s there were two Ireland’s, both wearing green, one in FIFA and the other outside of FIFA.

As the official flag of Northern Ireland remained the Union Jack, Ireland-UK were now playing in a colour not seen on their flag (and this later remained true even considering the well known, but unofficial, flag of Northern Ireland, the red and white “Ulster Banner” introduced in 1953, see above). The crest, originally a Celtic-cross and harp motiff, was changed to a shamrock badge, similar to what Ireland were using adding another parallel.

During World Cup 1950 qualifiers, after the UK teams had rejoined FIFA, amazingly the two Irelands participated in different groups with certain players representing both. After this farcical situation, FIFA enforced in 1953 that from now on Ireland-UK be designated as “Northern Ireland” (although they remained Ireland-UK within internal British competition until the 70’s) and Ireland as “Republic of Ireland”. Players could now only be picked for one side based on the political boarders, and the IFA also changed it’s badge back to the original concept.

But as the century went on, and the political situation in Northern Ireland between British loyalists and Irish nationalists deteriorated, the use of green to represent the Northern Irish team became slightly odd. As divisions of identity widened, old symbols which acceptably represented “Ireland within the UK” in previous eras (what today would be called “cultural appropriation”) became unusable as the of the likes of the Celtic-cross, harp and shamrock were now more associated with the fight for Irish independence and unity, as well of course as the colour green. The blue, white and red of the Union Jack , or the orange of the Orange Order referenced earlier, became the “national colours” of Northern Ireland with some hardcore loyalists even known to “ban” green from their houses.

Despite this, the green shirt with it’s “typically Irish” crest remained for Northern Ireland and in replica form has doubtless been the only green garment worn by many an Ulsterman. But to them, the tradition of this green represents a golden age when the green of Ireland came with the caveat that it was the green of an Ireland happily loyal to the UK. Humorously, the use of the more loyalist orange on the shirt is basically out of the question as along with the green and white, this would create the colour palette of the Republic of Ireland flag. Especially ironic since the orange on said flag is there as symbol of peace to the Orangemen who despise it.


Northern Ireland (still referred to as "Ireland" in the British Pathé newsreel) in green shirts, with Celtic-cross badge visible, white shorts and green socks, vs Italy, World Cup '58 qualifier, 1958.

Probably the only instance of "The Troubles" era where Northern Irish loyalists were on the side of "green" against "orange" and not vice versa, vs Netherlands, friendly, 1977.


For even more reading on Northern Ireland, some of which relates to the above, click here for People On The Pitch #4: Linfield vs Glentoran, 1983.

***

Extra Time: Honorable Mentions or Non-Political

Republic Of Cyprus

Like Ireland, Cyprus is an island divided into “Republic of” and “Northern” regions. A slight majority of the country is made up of the historically ethnic Greek Republic of Cyprus, who claim the entire island, while the de facto state of Northern Cyprus is of mostly Turkish blood. A British colony as a whole until 1960, Cyprus was partitioned in 1974 following the Greek military junta’s failed attempt to unite the island with Greece and the resulting invasion of Turkish troops.

As Turkey is the only state that recognises Northern Cyrpus, their football team obviously is not in UEFA or FIFA. The Cyrpus that is a member – originally one of Europe’s weakest footballing nations until the introduction of micro states such as Andorra and Faroe Islands – wear white shirts, which is the colour of their mostly white flag (apart from an orange map of the (whole) island and two wreaths). But they do pay homage to their Hellenic heritage with blue trim and shorts, and with blue as the away shirt colour. A Greek white cross on a blue background is also the country’s naval jack.


Cyprus in blue shirts, away to England, Euro '76 qualifier, 1975.

Cyprus in their home white shirts and blue shorts and classic pitch/stadium, vs Yugoslavia, Euro '80 qualifier, 1979.

***

Slovenia

Like many states in the region, the flag of the former Yugoslav republic of Slovenia features the pan-Slavic colours of white, blue and red, and these were the colours of Slovenia’s shirt, shorts and socks respectively for their first international football match, post-Yugoslavia, vs Estonia in 1992. But by the time of their first qualifying campaign as a UEFA member in 1994
(for Euro’96) they had graduated to green as a secondary colour with the removal of blue and red, giving them a distinct look from their neighbours.

As well as featuring prominently on the flag of capital Ljubljana (quite similar to Wales), green is said to represent the mountains and countryside of the lush Balkan state. It is also used by other national sports teams such as basketball, but in recent times has been abandoned by the football team.


Slovenia in green shorts, vs Italy, Euro '96 qualifier, 1994.

Slovenia vs Yugoslavia, World Cup '02 qualifier, 2001.

***

Belgium

While all three colours of their flag often appear on their kits (the black, yellow and red of the historical Duchy of Brabant), Belgium share a trait with Romania in that both teams wear a shirt colour that is featured on their flag but not the “first” colour. By normal logic, Belgium would wear black as a home colour insread of red and Romania would wear blue instead of yellow.

But Belgium also have used white as a fourth colour and for away kits, and in the 1970’s their devotion to white went a step further. White became the colour of their first strip in 1970 and for the rest of the decade the previously red devils could be seen in white-hot kits at home, until the normal mostly red and black ensembles returned for the 80’s. This seems to have been a purely aesthetical change, but worthy of inclusion as an unexpected side to have worn a non-national flag colour at home. But like Cyprus’ blue, the Belgian naval ensign does actually feature white, perhaps giving us a deeper link after all.


Belgium in all white, vs Portugal, friendly, 1971.

Belgium vs Norway, World Cup '74 qualifier, 1973.

Belgium, vs Norway, Euro '80 qualifier, 1978.

*****