Retro Shirt Reviews #6

So far in our Retro Shirt Review series we have seen some beautiful obscure vintage tops from the 70s to the early 2000s, made by Erima, Puma, Reebok, Adidas and Umbro. Quite a selection of classic brands, and this streak continues now as we look at a jersey from another amazing shirt maker from the golden age.

  • Club: N/A
  • Year: Circa 1982-’85
  • Make: Admiral
  • Sponsor: N/A
  • Number: N/A
  • Similarly Worn By: Hull City

Well would you ever look at this absolute gem, produced by classic English kit manufacturers Admiral. The sky-blue shirt seems to be teamwear from the early 80s, originally part of a batch intended to be destined for a club to apply it’s crest, sponsor and numbers, but obviously for whatever reason this did not happen:

A cool blue line of trim runs through the white sleeve cuffs and v-neck collar – an extremely popular feature on kits at the time. Vertical shadow striping – another popular ’80s design – is also present and comparing the top of the shirt to the bottom in the picture above, the light and dark shade stripes switch depending on how the light is hitting them, which is pretty great.

Looking at the collar, you can see that the stripes aren’t exactly symmetrical which is a pet-peeve for some kit enthusiasts. However we’re fine with it here and the Admiral logo has been purposely placed exactly within a stripe to help make up for it:

Admiral had began to switch from their turn over/wing-collars of the ’70s to the v-neck design around 1980, most famously with the English national team shirt of ’80-’83. England’s away shirt was red at the time, but we like to imagine our jersey as a perfect fantasy third option for them, as the colour and style sinks up nicely with similar English blue alternate efforts from the period.

We can’t find anything identical to this template online, but among the closest is Hull City’s shirt from 1982 which is of a similar cut with v-neck and cuff trim, and while pin stripes were used rather than shadow stripes, they are also off centre (their follow-up 1984 shirt did feature stripes in different shades though, while keeping the pinstripes to border). Examining the labels, the same layout is used on both showing that our shirt could have originated as far back as 1982:

Being an ’80s shirt, it is of course a very tight fit. Which is a good motivator to stay in shape so it can be worn, but also makes it definitely not an option on a Monday morning after a particularly busy weekend. As mentioned, there is no number on the back, but here is a shot of it anyway showing more of that fabulous shadow striping and those tiny, tight sleeves:

In closing, this is one awesome piece of kit that we are delighted to have in the Pyro On The Pitch shirt collection as much as any actual team apparel (for which we can rarely identify the actual clubs that used them anyway). We leave with one last look at that iconic Admiral logo, placed lovingly within the shadow stripe all those years ago:

Bonus: International Selection

Bit of a cheat this time for our regular International Selection section, as we don’t have an actual football shirt to show. Instead we have chosen to highlight an excellent t-shirt that relates to that most nostalgic of tournaments for a certain age-group: the 1990 World Cup.

Yes, it’s the freaky geometric mascot of Italia ’90, named “Ciao”; the greatest World Cup mascot of all time. Let us see in a few years time if the 2002 mascots will have aged quite as well.

***

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.

***

Retro Shirt Reviews #4

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edit: AZ Alkmaar wearing the template in 1978.

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

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

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

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

Apologies for the fingers.

Bonus: International Selection

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

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

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

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

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

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

Retro Shirt Reviews #3

In today’s Retro Shirt Review we feature this saucy green and white Reebok affair of unknown club or year, but the sponsor suggests a German lower-league/amatuer origin. I like to imagine this shirt as from an alternate 90’s timeline where Ireland wore Reebok, as this template seems to me to be clearly inspired by the Adidas Equipment style at the time which Ireland employed. Some other companies blatantly ripped-off Adidas’ large over the shoulder stripe design, but Reebok borrowed the concept in a different way by plastering their own logo over the upper part of their shirts.

Like the two German shirts featured in Retro Shirt Reviews 1 and 2, this shirt is made with two large pieces of fabric sown together at the top of the shoulders and sleeves, rather than separate pieces for the sleeves like with most shirts. When laid out flat, the unusual cut of the shirt, particularly around the shoulders and wide sleeves, is evident, although not surprising given the style of the time.

In my alternate timeline fantasy, a company known as Sport Schneck has clearly beaten Opel to be Ireland’s shirt sponsor, and presumably Bayern Munich’s. Upon a quick translate search, it seems that Sport Schneck translates to Sports Snail or Sports Slug, which is a great name. Perhaps this is some tongue in cheek joke regarding the irony of a slow snail as an athlete, or something else lost in translation.

Tight shadow striping also hearkens to Irelands’s 92-93 shirt which featured a similar pattern. On the back is a white, felt, “boxed” number 7 (worn by the alternate timeline’s version of Andy Townsend no doubt), which looks slightly small in person.

The label displays a classic, clean Reebok logo with no other information, and frankly nothing else needs be said.

As noted earlier, this general motif was used by Reebok teams throughout the decade, most famously by Chile at the ’98 World Cup who in fact were using an altered, stripped back version (on a shirt also noteworthy for it’s huge front numbers) so as to abide by FIFA’s branding rules. Perhaps in a similar vein, my alternate timeline Ireland jersey doesn’t feature a crest due excessive marketing on the coat of arms of a new materialist, dictatorship of 1992 Ireland.

Bonus: International Selection

  • Country: West Germany (away)
  • Year: n/a
  • Make: Adidas

As teased in the previous edition of RSR, the bonus international shirt this time is a bit of a cod as it was never really worn by a German team. I look on it more as a modern re-imagining of a late 80’s West Germany away shirt, as it combines elements of both their away shirts used at World Cup ’86 and ’90.

The main geometric design is of course inspired by the 1990 away shirt and template used by many teams of the time, but in a blockier, less minty fresh form. The shade of green is more reminiscent of the ’86 shirt, as is the solid white and black crest as opposed to the white outlined used in ’90. But the positioning of the crest, laying directly opposite the trefoil, is more consistent with 1990 than ’86 where it was lower down.

I realise that shirts like this may outrage purists, which I would understand if I was trying to claim it as a style legitimately worn by West Germany. But of course it is not, and I would rather bore a friend explaining the differences listed above (and have done) then try to pass it off as an actually used shirt. Past our usual, obscure, lower-league/amateur German clubs shirts, we are not of the strict match worn shirt collector ilk here (as noble a pursuit that is). I look at this as a piece of football culture art fashion, which is really more the Pyro On The Pitch style. Although in saying that, some may have bought this shirt thinking it actually was used at one stage, so yeah, not cool for them.

Having now accidentally featured 3 German club shirts and (almost) 3 German national team shirts in a row (we like German things), next time we will take a break from our Teutonic theme.

Retro Shirt Reviews #2

I have fond memories of purchasing this shirt as it aligned with an “80’s/early 90’s athlete on coke” thing I had going on in terms of style early one summer. However,  I haven’t worn it in some time. Specifically since somebody made a particular negative remark, not regarding the artistic design but my perceived psychical form while wearing the garment.

This is because it is a very baggy, classic 90’s loose fit. Comparing it with last weeks breathtaking Erima number is a pretty interesting look at the change in direction of the cut of football shirts from the different eras. Both are mediums, but the Erima one from the 80’s is tight enough that it may as well be a small, while the Puma shirt from the 90’s might be considered a large by today’s standards. The Erima shirt fits me snugly but nice, so I was swimming in the Puma shirt.

When purchasing it I honestly, and naively, hadn’t really taken this into consideration. I had been wooed by the interesting diagonal bars coming from the bottom of the shirt and the white shape on the front left which reminded me of a part of the symbol for Pi. Although it was one of those things that after I had made the order I was like “did I really want that?” so I definitely do not rate it on the same level as the Erima. But the deed was done and now I own it.

Edit: As pointed out by friend of the site Denis Hurley, of MuseumOfJerseys.com, it appears the design is actually an enlarged section of the Tetra Pak logo, sponsors of Eintracht Frankfurt at the time who also wore this shirt. This makes it even more interesting than originally thought, as it suggest either the template was directly inspired by the Tetra Pak logo, or that the shirt was made bespoke for Eintracht and Tetra Pak before then being used as a general template. Either way, a nice sneaky bit of extra advertising. Thanks Denis!

A number on the back is always nice, and here we also have the presumable team name of Keune, as it was common for German clubs to have their name on the back of their shirts since the days before player names became the norm. The shocking lack of this knowledge among the the general population causes issues, as many who see the shirt being worn from behind assume it to be a player name which at first glance appears to be “Keane” rather than the unfamiliar Keune.

As already mentioned, this Puma template was also worn in the same colourway by Eintracht Frankfurt from 1993, with their version of course also including a crest and sponsor. I’m not really keen (or not really Keune?) on red and black together in general, so what’s even better than both my shirt and Frankfurt’s is actually their away shirt from that season which uses the same template but in gloriously satisfying yellow, blue and white, with a dash of red for good measure.

In conclusion, this shirt will not be getting my highest grade of seven and  a half thumbs up like Erima got last time. But I will be generous and award 3 silver stars, as like all shirts it has it’s place in football history. Thank you Puma for this very 1993 effort.

Bonus: International Selection

  • Country: Germany (away)
  • Year: 1994-1995
  • Make: Adidas

Continuing the German theme from last time (and both club shirts have been German… I like German things), three letters come to mind when I look at the above beauty: D.M.T. Which is most definitely a positive. Despite seeing some (frankly ludicrous) derision for it online, I personally love the bold, tribal-esq, in your face aesthetic of this shirt, which Germany wore in friendlies in 1994, and in Euro 96 qualifying, but not actually at the World Cup.

One interesting thing about the actual shirt itself is that it is composed of two pieces of material for the front and back, which are stitched along the top of the shoulder and down the sleaves. This is opposed to different pieces used for the torso and sleeves which is more usual for football jerseys, and this was also the case of for the 88-91 shirt featured last week.

I have a sort of long term goal to eventually own every West Germany/Germany shirt from 1986 to 1996, home and away, as they may well be the best run of kits of all time. It’s not really a serious goal, as I won’t be lamenting it on my deathbed if I don’t end up getting them all and to be honest I doubt I ever will (unless I somehow end up very wealthy which would be most worrisome), because now that I think of it I’m not really that bothered. But owning shirts like the above is very fun as it takes most people who see it slightly off guard, which to me is one of the best things about owning “obscure” jerseys and why I buy shirts to wear them rather than just sit there in a collection. But next time we’ll complete the trilogy with another German effort from the above referenced time period, or at least one that appears to be.

Retro Shirt Reviews #1

  • Club: ???
  • Year: ???
  • Make: Erima
  • Sponsor: STORR
  • Number: 4

One word: STORR. Which is altogether appropriate, as on a recent trip to IKEA I noted that the shirts the staff were forced to wear are quite similar to this remarkably beautiful jersey. I even considered taking a sly photo of one of the staff members to include on this blog and refer to the top as “the IKEA shirt” from now on. But I feel that would be doing it a vast disservice.

This classic, slim fitting Erima work of art was most likely used by some sort of non-league/regional/amateur West German club side from the 1980’s, (which hopefully will be a reoccurring flavour in this series). In a look reminiscent of something Eintracht Braunschweig might have worn (perhaps I should have used them as a comparison instead of IKEA earlier), the unique blue/white/blue striping combined with smart wrap-around collar, raglan sleeves and “box” number on back make this an amazing shirt. “STORR” on the front pushes it to possible “Best Thing I Own” status.

Erima are also one of those brands that has a special place in my heart, possibly due to a love of general West German aesthetics on my part, and when I think of them I’m reminded of West Germany’s white/black/green kit combination at the 1978 World Cup which is a very good thing.

Overall, I give this shirt my highest grade: 7 and a half thumbs up.

Bonus, International Selection:

  • Country: West Germany
  • Year: 1988-1991
  • Make: Adidas

Ok, I know it’s nearly cliché to be highlighting what is generally accepted as the greatest shirt of all time, but it seemed appropriate to include this masterpiece. There is nothing to say about it that hasn’t already been said, except that when I mentioned the Erima shirt being possibly the best thing I own, this one was definitely the undisputed king for a while. I enjoy wearing it for the feeling I get attracting many glances and double takes from men, to which I’m like “eh, my eyes are up here, boys”. This also applies to some other shirts which will be highlighted in upcoming editions of this new feature, so stay tuned for more jersey porn!