Kit Interested #2 – Anderlecht Champions League 93/94; Ireland Socks 87-90; Gallery

Welcome to issue #2 of Kit Interested, a sort of virtual mini-magazine taking a look at interesting kit situations that we think are worth sharing. Click here if you missed the bumper debut installment, where we began with a look at a Spurs-Chelsea game in the late 70s; a Greece-Australia game in the early 80s; Portugal and Porto in the early 90s; and Ireland’s “curse” of away shirts at the World Cup.

As mentioned above, last time in ‘KI’ we examined some of Porto’s unusual 93/94 Champions League kits . Their run included a meeting with Belgian champions Anderlecht and by pure coincidence it is to them, in the same campaign, that we first turn.

That season may be particularly compelling due Adidas’ continuing change over from the trefoil era to the Equipment and post-Equipment eras, the effects of which could be seen on Porto’s updated attire during the later rounds. Another aspect, which would probably be lost on some new fans from today’s ultra-comercialised world, was the prohibition of over-branding at the time in UEFA competitions.

Anderlecht, Champions League 1993/94

Anderlecht’s Champions League began with a First Round two-legged tie in September 1993 against the Finns of HJK Helsinki, who had already dispatched of regional neighbours FC Norma of Estonia in the preliminary round. There would be a group stage in this edition of the tournament too, but now quite yet.

From the 2nd leg in Brussels’ Constant Vanden Stockstadion, we see Anderlecht’s initial shirt in the competition (as well as the gruesome barbed fences needed to keep off the fearful Belgian hooligan, like we saw here), the white and purple of which was deemed acceptable against HJK’s blue and white stripes. On first glance they appear to be in their standard league home kit, which used the Adidas Equipment template with diagonal bars top and bottom, but there were some differences:

To comply with sponsor regulations at this stage of the competition, the huge “G” on the front of the jersey – the logo of ‘Generale Bank’ – had been reduced in size, so it was closer to the top bars rather than nearly touching both on the domestic version. A miniature “G” logo on the right sleeve was also removed, but no Champions League badges were in sight just yet to replace it:

Besides these alterations, there were differences within the kit to some other versions used by clubs such as Arsenal away and Porto away. Only one of the bars on each end of the shirt were in line with each other, unlike the two on those mentioned above, and the shorts bars were “sliced” diagonally along their tops (see above gif) – clearly intended for use with one of the other variants of Equipment templates – instead of straight across like on the shirt.

Lastly, looking at the number style used on the back, a slim outline of the block digits was the only real detail with the removal of another logo, “LS”, which was present in the league – presumably another sponsor.  But again, look at that fence:

With 3-0 wins home and away, the Belgians progressed to the next round in October 1993 to take on Sparta Prague – technically still representing the old Czechoslovak First League as the last champions, rather than the Czech Republic’s new version. A 5-2 aggregate scoreline advanced Anderlecht again, doing so in the same kit as used in the first two games but with more long sleeves on show as the weather got colder:

Now, plopped right in the middle of the tournament, it was time for the group stage, running from November 24, 1993, to April 13, 1994. Anderlecht were placed in the second of the two groups of four, Group B, along side Milan, Porto and Werder Breman, with the top two set to progress to the semis.

The group began with the Italian side visiting a fantastically snow covered Constant Vanden Stock. This also created the need for the fantastic orange Tango (or Etrusco Unico?) ball:

As were the rules in this era for colour clashes, the home side changed from their usual white shorts and socks to allow for Milan’s of the same colour, pleasingly – and seamlessly – combining their purple away versions with the home jersey:

The jersey was where the real change was at, though. As the competition had now progressed to a more “important” TV-watchable round, all shirt sponsorship was now banned and so the “G” disappeared completely, while a Champions League “star-badge” now did appear on the right sleeve. But most interesting was the fact that the that Adidas Equipment logo was suddenly gone, replaced by a strange purple panel and with an enlarged Adidas wordmark underneath:

At first, the somewhat clumsy alteration may have seemed like an adherence to the branding rules too. But the logo was still present on the shorts and socks, not to mention seen on the likes Spartak Moscow and Monaco’s versions in the same round:

Unless there was some sort of misunderstanding where Anderlecht had thought that they needed to remove it, the change seems more in line with Adidas’ next phase of marketing. This had already begun with the French national team’s self-censorship of the logo a few months earlier (seen below away to Sweden, August 93) only two years since it had first been introduced by Liverpool and would be followed by the new wave of national kits about to be released for the World Cup, which also all featured an ‘adidas’ wordmark only:

After a 0-0 draw in the snow against the Italians, it was to be a high-scoring affair in the German rain next with the Belgians’ visit to Werder Bremen’s Weserstadion in December. The same kit colours as the previous game were used by the traveling side as they scored three but conceded five:

But again there was updates. The purple panel under the collar was gone leaving only the ‘adidas’, which looked far more sensible, and the Champions League star-badge was replaced with the black rectangle version:

After this match came the break, with Anderlecht’s next continental fixture not until the following March. During the meantime, a league game away to FC Liègeois on January 15, 1994, shows that domestically the version with the Equipment logo was still in use…:

…but on February 26th at home to KSK Beveren, a short-sleeved panel-version was seen side-by-side with other players wearing long-sleeved logo-versions:

When the tournament finally resumed on March 2nd, Anderlecht welcomed Porto and appeared in all-purple for the first time in the competition, accommodating the Portuguese side’s blue and white stripes. Apparently the resulting shorts clash wasn’t considered an issue:

The away jersey was of course like the home counter-part, and unlike its league counterpart, in the lack of maker-logo. A white sleeve patch also appeared this time:

On the back there was one slight difference to the previously seen shirts, apart from colour. Box-type numbers were preferred over the outlined-blocks of before:

The away kit at home proved good luck as a winning goal the 88th minute gave Anderlecht a famous European night. For the return game in Porto two weeks later, the kits were of course reversed – Porto in all-blue and Anderlecht in all-white, with the short-sleeved version of the logo-less/sponsorless, shirt appearing for the first time:

As the kits had been reversed, so too would the result as the Belgian champs were defeated 2-0 in the Estádio das Antas. The next game in the San Siro against Milan at the end of the month was now a must-win game, as it always looked likely to be.

Despite the earlier mentioned rules, as in Brussels (except now far less cold) Anderlecht used the purple shorts and socks again with the now standard European-jersey:

On the back the regular number style returned, mirrored by the shirts of the opposition. Perhaps the numbers were produced by the same company:

A respectable 0-0 proved fruitless, as the scoreline, coupled with Porto’s 0-5 win in Bremen, meant that both they and Milan would progress no matter what happened in the last group games. When Werder did come to Brussels in April, the same kit-configuration was chosen as last time and a 1-2 away win meant that Anderlecht finished bottom of the group:

The continental dream was over, but another league championship victory soon after meant that one more shot at Champions League glory, however unlikely, would come the following season. First there was a different trophy to win, though, in the Belgian Cup.

Defeating great rivals Club Brugge in Liège’s Stade Maurice Dufrasne, Anderlecht did so while debuting their kit for the following season. A new template, drawing on the previous iterations bars motiff, was worn as the double was completed, but the Equipment logo itself was finally banished for ever…:

…until 1998 at least.

Since this section worked out like a miniature club-version of Champagne Kit Campaigns, it seemed apt to include a CKC-style breakdown at this point:

Breakdown
Club: Anderlecht 
Season: 1993/94
Competition: Champions League
Kit Supplier: Adidas
Games: 10
Kit Colour Combinations: 3
Kit Technical Combinations: 5

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And now a somewhat random selection of interesting kits, lesser seen shirt designs, and aesthetically pleasing jerseys in picture form.

Gallery

Banik Ostrava, 1990:

Bari, Adidas, 1991/92:

Chealsea away shirt and socks with home shorts, Umbro, 1987:

Hendon FC, 1974:

Latvia away, Adidas, 1995:

Maglie, imitation-Adidas sleeve flashes, 1993:

Netherlands goalkeeper, Adidas, tracksuit bottoms continuing the yellow on black stripes creating a virtual full-body kit, 1983:

Prussen Munster, Adidas, wearing an Equipment style template nearly a decade after the original and a decade and a half before it was reintroduced, 2002:

Brann Bergen, Hummel, Denmark 1992 style and colourway, 1993:

Türkiyemspor Berlin, Lotto, year unknown:

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Having broken down Ireland’s World Cup shirts game by game in the last KI to show that they have so far never won a World Cup finals match in an away shirt, a similar project on the country’s European Championships record would be of less interest considering the considerably smaller sample side. But their first appearance at the tournament in 1988 was notable for more than just the famous victory 1-0 over England (well, in our eyes, not many others would care).

Republic of Ireland’s sock situation, 1987-90

The Irish had began their successful Euro 88 qualification campaign in 1986 after having recently switched kit makers to Adidas for the first time, after over a decade with local firm O’Neills. Fairly plain designs were seen at first, such as the outfit worn at home to Bulgaria in October 1987 (below left), but there were hints of the detailing to come later withe addition of orange trim to the white v-neck and cuffs for a friendly against Israel the following month (below right):

The first friendly of 1988 against Romania also saw the debut of Ireland’s first tournament jersey. The upgraded, new model featured a lighter shade of green on modern shinier material; an enlarged trefoil; sleeve hoops; turn-over collar (with the v-neck becoming a crossover v-neck); Adidas’ iconic striped numbers on the back: and a retention of the orange trim:

ireland-romania-1988

But we say debut of jersey rather than the full kit, as the shorts and socks were the same as seen before, both baring standard Adidas stripes and trefoils – meaning a slightly mismatched shade of green on the socks to that of the shirt. Not immediately obvious (although you won’t be able to stop seeing it now) was the fact that the socks also featured white feet, visible just above the boot in the images above.

This look was used for the rest of the pre-tournament warm-up games, such as at home to Yugoslavia and Poland (Ireland perhaps preparing for their Euro group opponents the Soviet Union by taking on other Eastern Block teams; we can’t find evidence for what was worn in the last friendly away to Norway on June 1st). A version with “OPEL” sponsor, like the fans had to buy, was used for Frank Stapleton’s testimonial against a Rest of World XI in May:

When the kick-off finally came for Ireland’s biggest ever match until point against England in Stuttgart in Euro 88 Group B, it turned out that the real tournament kit had not yet been seen at all. Like the UEFA ban on sponsorship in their club competitions discussed earlier, kit-branding was constrained by more demanding specifications at this time, which had most notably effected Euro 80 with several makshift cover-ups.

By Euro 88, the rules had been relaxed so that logos themselves were now allowed if kept below a certain size and not repeated excessively. Accordingly, the trefoil on Ireland’s shirt was significantly smaller than the one seen in the lead-up, although few will have noticed the change (game vs Poland on the left for comparison):

More likely to have been noticed was the difference further down the kit (certainly by ourselves closer to the time), as the trefoil on the socks of before was clearly considered excessive. The stripes alone would have been fine, but apparently the discovery was made too close to the finals to switch to stripe-only pairs like the Dutch and the Soviets (who’s Olympic 88 team, incidentally, demonstrated how the sock trefoil was fine in a non-UEFA setting later that summer) and the Irish instead took to the field against their former colonial overlords in nondescript, slightly dark green stockings:

At least the off-tone green was consistent with the original pairs. Of course in today’s world Adidas would have nearly certainly supplied alternates for the Irish, but here, seemingly, a convenient smaller brand was chosen at near last minute (although since this is the FAI we’re talking about they may well have received fair warning).

The poorer quality compared to Adidas’ material was evident through better photos of the game, as the socks were practically see-through when stretched to their desired length, but the foot of the sock was still white at least bringing in some consistency. Naturally, the same models were kept on for the other two games against the USSR (left) and Netherlands (right):

After the “heroic” elimination at the Euros – which could never be considered a failure due to the magnificent defeat of the English – Ireland set out for what would become an even more historic journey to the quarter finals of the World Cup (don’t worry, we’re not going that far).

First up on this new quest was another politically charged fixture away to Northern Ireland in September, who’s green and white strip gave an opportunity to finally see the Irish away kit. Interestingly, white socks with plain green turn-overs were chosen (below left) despite the trefoil now being acceptable again, as seen on the North’s own Adidas socks (below right):

Perhaps this indicated that the socks had originally been intended for the Euros and its rules (the smaller trefoil used on the shirt also matched that on the Euro home jersey, supporting this theory). In one sense though, the solid blocks of green on the turnovers rather than stripes actually complimented the shirt, and solid numbers made a return at the expense of the striped style on the back which also matched:

For the following two games – a friendly at home to Tunisia and a World Cup qualifier away to Spain – the pre-Euro kit returned complete with enlarged shirt trefoil, and stripes and trefoils on the socks.

Ireland’s next competitive fixture was away to Hungary in March 1989 when the away kit made its second and last appearance in this form. Unlike against Northern Ireland, however, the non-Euro version was used for the first time – again with the larger shirt trefoil and correctly branded Adidas socks – meaning the only real consistent element between the two matches was the shorts (and the number style remaining solid):

After this, the non-Euro home kit was worn for the next several games until the return match against Northern Ireland in Dublin. Now, with only two games left in qualifying, the socks first seen all the way back in 1986 against Wales (both manager Jack Charlton’s and Adidas’ first match with Ireland) were finally retired and striped pairs which would have made more sense at Euro 88 turned up, again with trademark white feet:

Even though the old socks had been hold-overs from a previous strip and were of a shade to reflect that, their retention was reasonable (until the Euro situation) as they really did fit the kit and were the style of the time. Considering that they had already spanned two qualifying campaigns, it was then slightly apt that a random substitution be made at this point rather than leave them be for the last two games in the group (and a friendly against Wales the following March where this configuration was also used).

The follow-up pair could then, logically, be saved for the up-coming 1990 World Cup kit reveal where it belonged. Except shockingly, when the new World Cup shirt actually debuted against USSR in April 1990, the resilient trefoil socks made a stunning return from retirement for one last match. Of course:

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YouTube Links

Anderlecht:
Anderlecht vs HJK Helsinki, 1993
Sparta Pargue vs Anderlecht, 1993
Anderlecht vs Milan, 1993
Werder Bremen vs Anderlecht, 1993
Werder Bremen vs Anderlecht, 1993
Liègeois vs Anderlecht,1994
Anderlecht vs Beveren, 1994
Anderlecht vs Porto, 1994
Porto vs Anderlecht, 1994
Milan vs Anderlecht, 1994
Anderlecht vs Werder Breman, 1994 (Dailymotion)
Anderlecht vs Club Brugge, 1994

Ireland:
Ireland vs Bulgaria, 1987
Ireland vs Israel, 1987
Ireland vs Romania, 1988
Ireland vs Rest of World, 1988
Ireland vs Poland, 1988
Ireland vs England, 1988
Ireland vs USSR, 1988
Ireland vs Netherlands, 1988
Northern Ireland vs Ireland, 1988
Hungary vs Ireland, 1989
Ireland vs Northern Ireland, 1989
Ireland vs USSR, 1990

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Early Modern #1 – Kits and Gear (Shelbourne Fanzine Special)

This article was originally published back at the beginning of March (2019) in issue 65 of the excellent Shelbourne FC fanzine Red Inc., produced by the fine fellows at Reds Independent. We had originally catagorised this as a Football Special Report, but since it was followed by a new “Early Modern” in the next issue of RI in May, the executive board-room decision was made to class it as a stand-alone mini-series.

After our first two RI entries naturally focused on Shelbourne (Pyro On The Pitch #10 and Retro Shirt Reviews #7), we decided to take things in a different direction this time and provide some general enlightenment on the roots of football kits as we know them.

Intro:

Upon hearing the word “modern”, most people would not think of the 1500s. Yet this is said to have been the period when the Middle Ages ended and the “Early Modern Period” began. It is really no wonder why when considering seismic events around the time that would shape the next several hundred years, including the the break-up of the church, the recent “discovery” of the new world and the foundation of what would evolve into many of today’s established nation-states.

Of course it is also true that the idea of “modern” is now so old that when the term was coined, the 16th century was in fact recent enough history. So much has happened since then that we have basically passed by the “modern era” (think of your stereotypical 1950s American nuclear family) and are now living in the post-modern world. But given the timeline of the planet, and indeed universe, all these terms are arbitrary and one could as easily define the age of Christ or the discovery of fire as the beginning of modern human times.

Organised football does not have quite as long a history, although there is something intriguingly esoteric about nature of the sport (man’s attempt to control the inherent chaos of a sphere/”planet”, within the lines of order/”civilisation”, that he has created) that seemingly give it huge appeal to all class of human. But as sport, and football in particular, is always a mirror for the greater world, the post-modern macrocosm of society is reflected in the post-modern microcosm of the game.

Considering the grim realities that lay behind the wealth of “western culture” these days, and therefore likewise behind the massive industry of professional soccer, most of us are not fans of this fact and lament the grotesque, corrupted demon-spirit that metaphorically controls the sport at the highest levels. True local football grounds like Tolka Park (for the moment) at least still give real supporters the chance to continue to experience a purer form, unlike conditions at corporatised top flight stadiums around Europe and the Sky Sports-watching culture.

But similar to your average citizen’s concept of “modern” history, some fans may also not realise that many practices currently seen in and around football, and football gear, date back far longer – in experimentation at the least – than is generally thought. In this vein we will now look back at some real “ahead-of-it’s time” thinking, specifically when it came to kits for now, and the “early modern” aspects of the footballer fashion world.

The numbers game:

When viewing videos of old-old-old school football, several things immediately stand out to contemporary eyes such as weird goal posts, keepers without gloves on, horrifyingly uncomfortable boots, and literal shirts being worn as shirts (hence the name). But one of the most obvious differences is a lack of numbers on the back of said shirts, a practice that would not become common until the 1930s.

While numbers had already been used in the Americas since at least 1923 – possibly inspired by American football in the North – the dawn of numbered shirts in Europe was August 25th, 1928, as both Arsenal and Chelsea used the feature in their league games against Sheffield Wednesday and Swansea Town respectively. A short-lived method for two teams wearing numbers was tried in the FA Cup on April 29th, 1933: Everton wore 1-11 and their opponents Manchester City wore 12-22.

Although proposals for the formal introduction of numbers for all teams were refused repeatedly by the FA (partly due to the cost of applying the digits to fabric), the English national team debuted numbers in their game against Norway on May 14th, 1937, in Oslo. The Norwegians themselves would soon follow suit when hosting the Irish Free State in a World Cup qualifier on the following October 10th – both sides would use numbered jerseys for the first time in their histories.

Deemed a practical success, the FA soon gave in and approved the use of shirt numbers 1-11 for each team (no more were needed as substitutions were another sixteen years away) for the 39/40 season, which was promptly cancelled after a handful of games due to the outbreak of World War 2. But the conflict couldn’t stop progress as Scotland debuted numbers in an October 10th (clearly a big date in numbers history), 1944, war-time friendly against England – despite opposition from the conservative head of the Scottish FA who had been quoted as saying “numbers are all right for horses and greyhounds, but not for humans” – before France adopted the trend in a match against Italy on April 4th, 1948.

It may not be surprising that numbers on shirts date back to this time, as anything pre- World War 2 seems like ancient history so the usage is quite old. What’s more intriguing is that their cousins, front numbers, have a history long before their generally accepted international debut at Euro 92 (or the 92 US Cup as far as Ireland, Italy, Portugal, and USA are concerned).

Frontal numbers even out-date numbers on the back, as on their July 1923 tour of Argentina, Scottish club side Third Lanark are documented wearing large numbers attached to their chests, along with their opponents “Argentine Zona Norte”. This method obviously didn’t catch on, although other examples of outside the box formatting famously include another Scottish side with Celtic’s refusal to cover their green and white hoops for many years, instead placing squad numbers on the front and rear of their shorts – a practice forcefully discontinued only in 1994.

A brand new way:

For the next step in front numbers, we must move to continental Europe in the late 1960’s and go into some other important new features that came first. With the spatial-real estate of the shirt-back now taken up (or so it was thought), most of the front was still virgin land full of potential save for the odd club badge (often only appearing on cup finals shirts in England), and while Celtic staunchly refused to sully their traditional shirt design even with numbers, it turned out that most other clubs were willing to go much further than that in the form of corporate branding.

Austria and Denmark were the first countries to legalise advertising on club shirts in their domestic competitions, with the baton soon very much passed to France. In England kits designs were still extremely minimal, but the ever stylish French were ahead of the game with 1966 Coup de France winners Strasbourg mindblowingly already wearing the logo of Le Coq Sportif on their smart double-hooped shirts, and shorts, in the final.

The national team wasn’t far behind and seemingly became the first to feature a manufacturer brand on their kits in 1969, with the logo of French legend Raymond Kopa’s Kopa company appearing on the shorts. The same year, shirt sponsorship was introduced for French club teams, with specific brands supplying and sponsoring all teams in cup competitions (another strange idea that would last until the 90s), soon including above the number on the back.

Not stopping with manufacturer and sponsor logos, small front numbers were also adopted by French club sides around 1970; an idea already used by American soccer teams in accordance with some of their other sports uniforms. This combination of new elements combined to create the birth of the modern kit, with Olympique Lyonnais’s cool 1971 effort an example of a real ahead-of-it’s time classic that foreshadowed a future national team template rather than club (white with same-colour v-neck, LCS logo on the left, club crest on the right over a dual red/blue vertical stripe, and small squad number in the center).

Front numbers would be mandatory in the French cup for the next ten years and hence used by clubs across the board. Like kit-maker branding, the idea would soon spread to the French national team who had switched from Kopa to an LCS logo on their shorts in 1970, adding Adidas franchised shirts in 1972.

The first French Adidas shirt was revolutionary in it’s own right, debuted against Greece in September 72. While no trefoil was yet present, the famous three white stripes appeared on football shirt sleeves – and indeed down the sides as well – for the first time on an international jersey, with one of the inner lines coloured red to beautifully create a tricolore.

On October 10th, 1972, the USSR visited Paris for a World Cup qualifier still wearing a kit that would not have been out of place when they first joined FIFA in the early 50s. The French, in contrast, appeared in an incredible white/white/red strip that was twenty-five years ahead of it’s time, with blue/red/blue sleeve stripes, tidy wrap around collar, and most importantly small front numbers on the chest. The French goalkeeper kit was significant too as it in fact did feature an Adidas trefoil, perhaps making it the first international kit to feature both a trefoil and front number.

Interestingly, numbers themselves at this time in France were produced by specific manufacturers, and the font used by the national team was visibly trademarked by “Somms”, who also supplied numbering for many club sides at the time such as PSG. The French would only use front numbers for another couple of games for now, including against Ireland in Dalymount Park on November 15th, 1972, but the vision of the future had been set.

Paint it boot:

In England in 1973, Liverpool were among the first to bring in this continental kit style of shirt that featured more than just the club badge, as a small Umbro diamond began to appear parallel to their crest. In 1976, a non-league club called Kettering Town became the first in Britain to use blatant advertising, as the words “Kettering Tyres” were applied to their shirts for a reported four-figure fee, although it was into the 1980s before clubs were allowed wear sponsors on TV.

But before either of these frontiers were crossed, there was one other way for certain companies’ logos to be displayed on a player for the viewing public to see, in the form of football boots. Adidas had been the dominant force in the boot game, with their three stripes appearing on football footwear since the 1950s, although by 1970 Puma were on the scene as used by Pelé.

While the white flashes on Adidas and Puma boots will have no doubt already annoyed traditionalists, what was to come in 1970 would be an even bigger step into the future. Until that point boots had mostly been classic black, with a less appealing brown leather used for older models.

Like many of his peers, Everton’s Alan Ball had been wearing black Adidas boots until hearing that German firm Hummel and their new British based franchise were looking to enter into the market. What’s more, they were willing to pay £2000 for a player to boldly step on to the field in their latest innovation: a white football boot.

The forward-thinking Ball jumped at the chance and agreed to a deal, but upon receiving the boots discovered that they were of poor quality and not fit for purpose. Wanting his two grand, Ball had some apprentices paint his old Adidas pair white and wore them on August 8th, 1970, in the Charity Shield against Chelsea. Sales of Hummel subsequently skyrocketed.

Ball’s painted boots eventually ran in the rain, exposing them as not actually being Hummel and the deal was postponed briefly. But pandora’s box, or pandora’s boot, had been opened, and when Ball moved to Arsenal in 1971 his team mate Charlie George clearly liked the idea and donned his own pair of red Hummel in 1972, with several other league players continuing the style during the rest of the 70s. Of course at the time of writing, it is more rare to find a footballer in a traditional pair of black boots than not, but at least we know it is not a new phenomenon.

Patriot names:

So we have now established that many of the elements that make up a modern player’s look – glaringly apart from personal appearance of course – were in place by 1970, with kit branding, sponsorship, front numbers and fancy non-traditional boots all being used in one way or another. But something is missing, and for this we must once again go to the rear.

Front numbers had already been appearing on jerseys in the North American Soccer League (as well on sleeves – revived by Deportivo in 92/93) and another element adapted from American football was soon to come in the form of player names on the back. While small player names on shorts had featured in a Lyon 1973 Coupe de France strip, the first European side, club or country, to use names on shirts seems to be AZ Alkmaar, but their 1977 Adidas shirt uniquely featured each name across the front where you would expect a sponsor to be.

Meanwhile, the secretary of the Scottish FA Ernie Walker would happen to pay a visit to the United States and attended a NASL game in the late 70s. Apparently open to innovative new ideas in a way that the association chairmen of the 40s, who had so vehemently opposed numbered humans, was not, Walker delighted at the idea of player names on shirts and returned to Scotland with new plans for the national team kit.

The emblazoned shirt names above the squad number were revealed to the public when the players took off their tracksuit tops ahead of a friendly with Peru in Hampden Park on September 12th, 1979, making Scotland the first national team in history to employ the motif, appearing for a further 12 matches before the idea was nixed. But Walker was a true visionary, as in his programme notes for a fixture against Austria that had followed the Peru game he correctly predicted : “they (shirt names) will be commonplace in the future” and that “in 20 years, as likely as not, club sides will probably have followed suit”.

One of those 13 games that Scotland played with player names was against England in a Home Nations Championship game in May, 1981. Perhaps England’s next two opponents in Switzerland and Hungary were watching and inspired, as in May and June of that year both would take to the field in World Cup qualifiers at home to the English in shirts featuring player names on the back. Their Adidas made apparel, as opposed to Scotland’s Umbro, meant that the idea had already transcended brands.

The Swiss and Hungarians would both quickly ditch the idea themselves, but this 79-81 period can clearly be defined as a sort of proto-era for player’s names. At the same time, while not going quite as far as to feature names, Turkey achieved visual parity by placing a “Türkiye” across the top of the back of their shirts.

Furture ad-vancements:

Lastly, we come to an area of ahead of it’s time thinking for which we are still not actually in said time yet. While shirt sponsorship at club level has become a fully accepted facet of the game, and hugely necessary for the financial reward it brings, corporate logos in senior internationals have taken a little longer to catch on (unless it’s rugby you’re talking about).

Yet there was a time in the 1980s when national team shirt sponsorship looked set to be the next new football-fabric craze. This would have seemed unlikely going in to the decade due to FIFA’s strict anti-branding rules, that meant Dutch shirts at World Cup 1978 had their “adidas” wordmark covered in black tape (at least on one set a of kits made in Germany by Adidas Erima, as a second set made in France by Adidas Ventex only featured a trefoil with no Adidas wordmark). Similar UEFA codes saw trefoils and wordmarks both covered on Dutch and Belgian shirts at Euro 80 also, with a preemptive complete removal of Admiral and Erima logos respectively from English and West German kits worn at the tournament.

By the following World Cup, the increasing commercial market for shirts and the power of FIFA partners like Adidas meant that non-excessive kit branding would now be allowed (with Chile’s Reebok style of 1998 being an example of excess that had to be scaled back to remove elements of the huge Reebok logo incorporated into the design of the upper section). As boundaries continued to be pushed, some countries realised that the money made from shirt sponsorship need not only benefit clubs financially, but countries too.

Of course in line with the rules this would have been impossible in competitive fixtures, but friendlies were apparently fair game. Thusly, on April 27th, 1983, the ingenious Swedes of Sweden emerged for a match in the Netherlands wearing shirts with the logo of local bank “Sparbanken” on both front and back of their shirts – in the “player name position” in the case of the latter.

Dutch TV was not happy with this unexpected advertisement that they would be broadcasting for the next 90 minutes, and the Swedes were requested to change. Already in their away strip and without another kit, the Sparbanken wordmarks were instead hastily covered up with tape, mirroring what the Dutch themselves had previously had to do with their Adidas logos.

The idea of international shirt sponsorship was clearly one that the rest of Scandinavia approved of, as Denmark, Norway, Iceland and Finland all produced and wore jerseys in the decade that featured sponsors. The likes of Brazil (already having featured a sly sponsor within their crest earlier in the decade) and Malta at the very least had also done the same by 1989, with a sponsored Portugal shirt used in a match as late as 1997, but the practice had become mostly obsolete by then.

Of course with regards to this, we cannot forget the Republic of Ireland who’s deal with Opel in 1986 gave them the dubious honour of being the only nation to give supporters no choice but to purchase replica shirts that featured a sponsor, with the unspoiled player version forever out of reach. Ireland jerseys with Opel logos were occasionally used in games, but only unofficial testimonials and the like for which caps were not awarded (although used in David O’Leary’s 1993 testimonial against Hungary in which, due to a UEFA mix-up, the Hungarian players were in fact given senior caps).

Due to the fact that the industry of “big football” is now of an out of control money making machine used as a tool by sociopaths, oligarchs and despots for reasons far beyond sport, we feel it is only a matter of time before rules are relaxed again, and the once sacred space of national teams shirts becomes nothing more than another avenue for worldwide brands to display their gaudy logos and slogans. At the very least, sports-capitalists everywhere must look admiringly at the Irish model of screwing over the paying public by turning them into walking corporate adverts, as they already do at club level.

Conclusion:

In this piece, we have focused solely on kits and boots, and have not even explored every aspect. But in other areas of the game there are often deep roots that must be considered too, before complaining about modern football.

Of course there is a limit to this, and, as touched on earlier, the money and greed at the top of the tree has no connection to what you or I want. As non-traditional traditionalists, we here at Pyro On The Pitch.com will casually sit back and contentedly wait for the bubble to burst, as it may do with society as a whole, and during the meantime continue to bask in the glorious afterglow of the an age of football culture that is gone forever.

*****

Champagne Kit Campaigns #6: Brazil, World Cup 1978

Welcome to the long-awaited sixth installment of Champagne Kit Campaigns, the series in which we have already featured some classic Norwegian, Russian, Dutch and Irish attires. For the first time we now turn our attention to a non-European nation in one of the world’s most recognisable and aesthetically pleasing teams, as seen during a suitably colourful era in which “modern” styles were slowly beginning to emerge.

Background:

From 1954 until 1976, Brazil’s famous yellow shirts, blue shorts and white socks were made by native sports-apparel manufacturers Athleta. No branding from the company appeared in any way on the exterior of the kits, as was the case for most nations at the time (but, since the late 60s, not all). Besides the trademark green collar-cuffs, green and yellow sock turnovers and crest, a lone, white stripe running down the side of the shorts was the only other design element in sight when the side played their last game of 1976 against the USSR.

When next in action – a friendly at home to Bulgaria on January 23rd, 1977 – there would be two small differences: the colour on the socks had been reversed from green-over-yellow to yellow-over-green; and on the shorts – which had remained a particularly light shade of blue throughout the 70s – the stripes had multiplied by three. There was apparently no other outward indication to say so (apart from the goalkeeper, see below), but it was clearly the beginning of the Adidas-era for the seleção (“selection”).


Brazil with (blurry) three stripes of Adidas on their shorts, vs Bulgaria, January 1977.

The same kit was worn for a scoreless World Cup qualifier in Colombia the following month, with the hosts graciously forgoing their – at this point – orange home shirt and wearing all-white instead. The Brazilians returned the favour when the two teams met again on front of more than 132,000 in the Maracanã Stadium in March, donning their blue and white away strip for the first time in the Adidas years, and were rewarded with a 6-0 win.

The darker shade of blue – for both the shirts and shorts trim – than currently seen on the home shorts made a future combination seem unlikely, yet it had already happened at the previous World Cup. The layout of the jersey remained identical to the home, continuing a lack of branding, but this time a trefoil appeared on the shorts of at least some of the players.


Brazil in away kit with trefoi-less (left) and trefoil (right) shorts, at home to Colombia, March 1977.

In the same group, which was in fact a preliminary stage before the final round, the only other country were Paraguay where Brazil traveled next a few days later. From this game comes the first confirmation of a trefoil on the home shorts (it may have already been worn by some players against Bulgaria or Colombia, but we have no visual evidence right now), as well as it seeming that both colour variations of the socks were in use within the team. After a 0-1 win and another draw at home to progress as group winners, a number of glamorous home friendlies (a rarity these days in the country with the money laying abroad) were scheduled for over the winter months.

The regular first-choice strip was used for the opener against England on June 8th (in which the English utilised a rarely-seen red/white/blue combination), before the visit of white-socked West Germany four days later gave an excuse to mix things up. Despite the fact that a sock-clash had recently been acceptable in a competitive setting against Colombia, plain blue (matching the shorts) alternates were chosen for this game, while again some players wore shorts with trefoils but some without.


A trefoil visible on Brazil's blue shorts, with blue sock combination, in the friendly against West Germany, June 1977.

The arrival of Poland with white jerseys on June 19th meant that the blue shirt was given another outing at home, and trefoil-less white shorts were preferred by (or forced upon) the majority. This was also the case when the home strip returned for games against Scotland on the 23rd and Yugoslavia on the 26th (where the goalkeeper, usually in blue or green, sported an interesting white jersey without the signature “Brasil”) but the logo was at least again present for the final friendly in the run against France on June 30th.


Brazil shorts clearly without a trefoil during the game vs Scotland, June, 1977.

The French game presents us with a bigger bombshell however: a faint trefoil and Adidas word mark were actually present on the chests of the jerseys, and possibly had even been there since an earlier match. We know this thanks to the great work done by Soccernostalgia and specifically their Soccernostalgia: Retro Soccer Magazines Facebook page (which exists besides their regular Facebook page) and a post showing close-up shots of the match that clearly reveal the presence of the trefoil (as does this match-worn shirt from the time)

In July, World Cup qualification concluded with a round-robin of three teams who were to play each other once on the neutral soil of Cali, Colombia. The top two would advance to the finals, but the third still got a second chance through a play-off with a European group winner. A 1-0 win over Peru (with “trefoiless” shorts again) on the 10th of the month put one Brazilian foot in the World Cup, and four days later an 8-0 bullying of Bolivia emphatically announced Brazil as qualifiers, and contenders, for the 1978 World Cup in neighbouring Argentina.

1978, pre-World Cup

The 8-0 was the last international for nearly nine months as Brazil would not play again until a tour of “return friendlies” in April, 1978, against the highest profile opponents from the year before – France, West Germany and England. The visit of exotic, South American “royalty” was exciting enough on it’s own for Europeans, but, unbeknownst to the public, this Brazilian side was also bringing a visual treat in the form of some of their greatest kits to date (in our subjective opinion of course).

Ahead of the game on April 1st in Parc des Princes against the French (where the visitors would end up as “fools” after a 1-0 loss), captain and veteran of two World Cups already Rivellino displayed the first part of the gear-evolution with an amazing raglan sleeved tracksuit top, complete with stripes and trefoil.


Style-icon Rivellino ahead of the game against France, April, 1978.

When the warm-up jackets came off, the real feast for the eyes was revealed in the form of Brazil’s new jerseys. Employing Adidas’s “World Cup Dress” template beautifully, the collar and cuffs were perfectly primed to incorporate the ever-present darkish green, and a trefoil returned in a more obvious way while stripes finally now did appear on the sleeves. As was standard on this particular design, the Adidas logo sat particularly high on the chest of the shiny material.


The new Brazil home kit with complete Adidas branding, as seen against France, April 1978.

Besides the shirt, a trefoil was now also standard on the shorts, and the seemingly random green/yellow or yellow/green sock turnovers were replaced with perhaps the piece de resistance of the kit: green, yellow and green hooped-stripes over the white background.

The strip was not quite “complete”, however, at least for some. On the backs of the starting XI’s jerseys, solid green numbers appeared, akin to those on the previous jersey and mirrored by smaller, white numbers on the shorts. But for the substitutes, who were really the ones wearing the kit in it’s truest form, Adidas’s trademark striped number font appeared for the first time.


Above, the sold numbers on starting Brazilian players's backs, and below, striped numbers on substitutes, during France vs Brazil, 1978.

In Hamburg four days later, another of the great Brazil shirts was on show as a slightly new away kit was used. Unlike in Paris, the shirt sleeves were devoid of stripes, but a white trefoil sitting parallel to the crest still gave the shirt an early-contemporary look much like that of their West German opponents’ Erima shirts.

There was more classic 1970s inconsistencies, however, as some players’ jerseys had no trefoil. Considering the sock situation last time, it also would have been nice to see Brazil use their alternate home socks from the year before to avoid the clash, but perhaps this royal blue/white/sky blue combination would have been considered a step too far.


Brazil wearing their away kit in West Germany in April, 1978.

After a two-week break for Brazil (having beaten the Germans 0-1), 92,000 packed into Wembley for the grand finale against the English (a 1-1 draw). While back in the home kit, strangely it would not be the same shirt as used against France, although just as good. The trefoil was now lower, like on the away jersey, and the material seemed of the the less-shiny variety. Finally, on the back, the striped-numbers were now standard, although the solid style remained via the shorts.


The amazing Brazil jersey, front on back, as seen against England in Wembley, April, 1977.

The use of two distinct home shirts on the tour suggests a similar situation to that of the Dutch during the same year (as we saw in CKC#2) who rotated between kits supplied by Adidas Ventex and Adidas Erima. Indeed, examining the label of a Brazilian shirt from the time (via ebay) with the “upper trefoil” positioning (a different collar means that it is a “Santos/Nacional” template rather than “World Cup Dress”) shows the Ventex trademark, while the label of a jersey apparently used against England shows Erima.

Besides the fact that an updated, fresh look for the upcoming World Cup was warranted, the new jerseys’ appearances coinciding with visits to the home of Ventex (France, worn by the French national team), and subsequently to the home of Erima (likewise West Germany, making the similar layouts of the two jerseys used in the German match even more “suspicious”), makes us wonder if they were picked up en-route, or perhaps “part of the deal”.

To conclude their World Cup warm-ups, Brazil welcomed Peru and Czechoslovakia to Rio for friendlies in May, 1977. The weather must still have been balmy heading into southern hemisphere winter as a short-sleeved version of “World Cup Dress” was seen for the first time, with the trefoil now back in it’s “expected” raised position evidentially meaning a Ventex model. After 2-0 and 3-0 wins kept the home fans upbeat heading into the tournament, the question on everybody’s minds must surely have been “which shirt version will be used at the finals?”.


Brazil in the kit used for final World Cup warm-ups against Peru and Czechoslovakia (pictured), May 1978.

*

World Cup 1978, Argentina

At the draw in Buenos Aires on January 14th, 1978, top seeds Brazil ended up in group three of four along with all-European opposition: Sweden, Spain and Austria. As in 1974, when Brazil had finished 4th losing out to Poland in the third-place play-off, the group stage was to be followed by a second round of two more groups, with the top placed sides then ultimately progressing to the final.

With two of the teams in the group wearing yellow shirts as first preference, and three using blue shorts, clashes and combinations of some variety were inevitable. As always, stricter regulations on clashes in World Cups – in part due to those watching on black and white TVs – meant that some classic or unique kit mash-ups were already guaranteed.

Furthermore, following the dawn of World Cup finals kit branding in West Germany four years earlier, 1978 was naturally to be the most commercialised tournament to date. Most teams involved were now wearing some sort of visible trademark from the likes of Adidas, Puma, Erima, Umbro, and even Mexico’s Levis/Adidas hybrid.

Off the pitch it was also set to be one of the most politically charged, as sport was being used as a propaganda tool for not the first or last time. The deaths and disappearances of thousands at the hands of the ruling military Junta – for whom hosting was a proud honour and perfect PR exercise aimed at those home and abroad – resulted in Johan Cryuff famously boycotting the tournament, and, more clandestinely, rebellious groundsmen painting the base of each goalpost black to commemorate the victims of the regime.


First Round, Group 3:

Brazil
Sweden
Spain
Austria


Match 1: Brazil vs Sweden
Estadio José Maria Minella, Mar del Plata, 03/06/1978

Kicking off against Sweden on the third-day of the tournament in Mara Del Plata, it was finally time to see what Brazil were wearing. Seemingly the “non-shiny” Erima jerseys got the nod, complete with striped numbers, but notably absent from both shirt and shorts was the trefoil:

The fellow-yellows of Sweden, who like many others were also in the World Cup Dress template, had been drawn as the “away” side in the fixture and were hence wearing their own stunning blue and white change strip:

Showing that the Brazilian’s lack of manufacturer logo had nothing to do with the rules, the Swedes’ version of the same design quite clearly displayed a white trefoil (plus a wordmark, which evidently shouldn’t have been allowed judging by the Netherland’s cover-up job) that contrasted the otherwise yellow trim beautifully (the icing on the cake being the yellow numbers on the back):

Having gone 0-1 down on 37 mins, Reinaldo equalised for the seleção just before half-time to give us a good look at all those great yellow shirts and light blue shorts through the celebrations. Given it was winter in Argentina, which was apparent by the hats and jackets in the crowd, long sleeves were used by all squads throughout the tournament, much to the delight of stripe aficionados like ourselves:

The score would remain 1-1 until the last play of the game when one of the most bizarre incidents in World Cup history occured. With a corner to Brazil as the clock ticked past 90, the ball was swung in and headed into the goal by Zico:

But to his and his teammate’s dismay, the ref – Clive Thomas from Wales – had simultaneously blown for full-time:

As Thomas sternly walked away, while indicating that time had indeed ran out, the “neutral” Argentinians in the crowd enjoyed the disappointment and anger of their South American rivals:

Result: Brazil 1-1 Sweden


Match 2, Spain vs Brazil
Estadio José Maria Minella, Mar del Plata, 07/06/1978

Brazil returned to Estadio José Maria Minella – named after a former esteemed midfielder for the local club, but built by the Junta only two years earlier – four days later for the second of three consecutive visits to the stadium in the first group stage. However they were suddenly now the “away” team, which against the “blue-shorted” Spanish created the next noteworthy situation:

Due to the blue vs blue clash, Brazil emerged in their away shorts (also without trefoil if you’re counting) to recreate a great look also seen at the last World Cup – yellow/white/white:

The trim on the shorts was of course blue to match the away jersey, so the strip that had been created consisted of three different stripe-configurations across the shirt (green over yellow), shorts (blue over white) and socks (green, yellow, green over white). Of course this was also the case for the home kit, considering the usual white stripes over light blue, but there it was “intended”.

Other interesting highlights from the match included huge the Spanish flags surrounding much of the pitch, presumably the work of Argentine-based ex-pats:

…and the state of the pitch, which had not sufficiently recovered from the first game was clearly hampering play in certain areas:

Spain were incidentally one team without any branding at all on their kits, as one of the last hold-outs along with Italy. Spanish gear had been made by Deportes Cóndor since 1933 (thanks to POTP supporter Lucas for this info), but it would turn out to be the final year of partnership with the local firm and hence final World Cup wearing traditional plain shirts and shorts, while the Italians impressively saw out the rest of the century before giving in.

The pitch surely won’t have helped matters for either side and a 0-0 draw was played out. Following the robbery of victory through a certain Welshman already, a slightly worrying situation for Brazil had suddenly developed going into the last group game:

Result: Spain 0-0 Brazil


Match 3, Brazil vs Austria
Estadio José Maria Minella, Mar del Plata, 11/06/1978

Next up for the so far underwhelming Brazil was a surprisingly strong Austrian side, who had already won both their other matches. Back in the home kit, through the Brazilian team photo we see an interesting detail in that some players (see Oscár, no.3) were in jerseys with narrower outer-stripes on their sleeves. As demonstrated by this Nantes 1976 team photo, and later Sochaux in 1981, the variation wasn’t uncommon in France, perhaps meaning Ventex after all (although we don’t know if it was also used by Erima).

On the 40th minute, the 24 year old with boy-band-esq looks and a name to match, Roberto Dinamite, put his side in front for the first time in the tournament:

Austria were the only side repping Puma at the World Cup, and did so in a very smart template with black shorts and socks:

It was, of course, the Austrian’s third game in a row facing teams in blue shorts. Against Spain, they had combined their white shirts with the white shorts and red socks of their red-shirted away strip, but when facing Sweden, who used the same shade of shorts as Spain and with the added white/yellow TV clash, both sides were strangely allowed wear their full home kits. While we’re on the subject, Spain achieved one of their all-time great unintentional combinations at same time as the Austria-Brazil game through their meeting with Sweden, where their white away shorts were inserted into the otherwise home kit.

In the end, the single first half goal was enough to win it for Brazil, giving them second place and qualification ahead of Spain. Finishing behind Austria was a shock, but would it necessarily mean a more difficult “path” to the final? (since another group was more like a carpark than a path).

Result: Brazil 1-0 Austria


Elsewhere
, it transpired that Brazil weren’t the only big team to under-perform in the first round. In Group 2, West Germany’s 0-0 draws with Poland and Tunisia meant they finished runners-up, saved by a 6-0 demolition of Mexico in between. The Netherlands in Group 4 also drew 0-0 with Peru before a 3-2 loss to the Scottish, but progressed on goal difference after an opening 3-0 defeat of Iran.

In Group 1, the hosts had secured their qualification early with back to back 2-1 wins over Hungary and France, but a 0-1 loss at the hands of the Italians on the last day meant they too would be condemned to 2nd. Overall, these results mean that Austria, Peru and Poland were progressing as unlikely group winners, with Argentina, Brazil, West Germany and Netherlands making up a formidable list of runners-up.

Poland and Peru were the real losers in this, as the would have hoped to have been facing Austria rather Brazil in their group, along with either Argentina or Italy. As it was, they were up against all-South American opposition, while the plucky Austrians were rewarded for their round 1 performances with the delightful prospect of Italy, Netherlands and West Germany.

Second Round, Group B

Argentina
Poland
Brazil
Peru


Match 4, Brazil vs Peru
Estadio Ciudad de Mendoza, Mendoza, 14/06/1978

Having ended up in the South American-heavy Group B in Round 2, Brazil finally “escaped” Mar del Plata and headed west to Mendoza. The familiar faces of Peru were the first opposition in this new pool, with the two teams jousting for the third time in less than a year.

In the home kit once more (with the thin stripes again noticeable), that kid Dinamite was on hand to win a penalty that would help his side go 3-0 up:

But wait, what’s that on the shorts? For the second time in this CKC, it’s another bombshell:

While slightly blurry above, a trefoil was clearly visible. As with the year before, perhaps some had already been wearing shorts with the Adidas’s trademark off-camera, but certainly the intended World Cup kit had been meant to be sans-trefoil. However, like how we saw with the Netherlands it was not unheard of for squads as this World Cup to bring slightly different versions of their kit.

Against a hapless (later suspiciously hapless while playing the hosts) Peru, 3-0 it ended. At least the opponents’ famous sash shirts get a look in here:

Result: Brazil 3-0 Peru

 

Match 5, Argentina vs Brazil
Estadio Gigante de Arroyito, Rosario, 18/06/1978

Another fixture that was no stranger to the international calendar awaited in Rosario four days later, and on paper it was the toughest the date for Brazil. Argentina had beaten Poland 2-0 on the same day that Brazil defeated Peru, and, assuming both Brazil and Argentina would repeat these results when they switched opponents, this meant the game between the two was a near semi-final.

When usually facing each other, including at the most recent Copa America in 1976, both would wear their regular home strips. But interestingly, the last time they had played at a World Cup  in 1974 (also first World Cup meeting), Brazil wore their blue/white/white kit, with Argentina in grey socks avoiding a clash on that level.

The jersey change was slightly odd back then considering that it meant both teams ended up wearing alot of blue, and one would have assumed that Argentina’s vertical stripes gave enough distinction as it was. A lesson may have been learned, as this time Brazil repeated the look from the Spain game, while Argentina substituted their white socks for black creating an equally fetching look:

Again, it at least appears that no trefoils were found on anyone’s shorts, but, given what we have seen, there may have been one lurking somewhere among the squad. One of what there was definitely not, though, was goals, as the supposed play-off ended in a 0-0 stalemate. The results of both final games were now crucial.

Result: Argentina 0-0 Brazil


Match 6, Poland vs Brazil ,
Estadio Ciudad de Mendoza, Mendoza, 21/06/1978

Back in Mendoza one last time on the southern hemisphere’s shortest day of the year, a repeat from 1974 again lay in store for Brazil in the final group game. Back in West Germany it had been the 3rd place play-off, and now Brazil or Poland could well end up there again next. But a win could potentially take either to the World Cup final too, especially in the unlikely event that Peru beat Argentina later in the evening.

Again the “away” side, the allocation luckily gave the need for the away kit to be finally used in possibly it’s last chance. It was confirmed that, like the home, the blue shirt was devoid of a trefoil, but stripes and stripy numbers were now seen on a senior Brazilian away jersey for the first time ever:

This was another case of a different set of kit-colours being used from the previous World Cup, when Brazil wore the yellow/white/white strip against Poland’s all red. The Polish, in a home outfit nearly as amazing as Sweden away, were another side in World Cup Dress, wearing what appears to be the Ventex version:

Like Argentina before, Poland added their red away socks to the white shirt and red shorts of their home kit to accommodate Brazil’s ever present white pairs. In retrospect, the fact that the whites were the Brazilian’s only option seems like a significant oversight, as the onus was always automatically on the opponents to change. But this sort of thing is of course typical when considering the lack of regulations from era, and we wouldn’t change it for anything.

We mentioned our love for sleeve stripes earlier, and one great thing about this age of World Cups is the lack of official badges that would later haunt the sleeves of modern tournaments. For Argentina 78 in the winter, this meant satisfyingly long, uninterrupted stripes on the Adidas team’s jerseys, with the very notable exception of left Polish arms:

Instead of some sort of juicy political gesture (which probably would not have been allowed even by 1970s standards), the badge, containing a letter C with a heart in the middle, was strangely to represent a children’s hospital in Warsaw that had opened the year before.

At the this late stage, we finally take a look at the goalkeeper kit worn by Brazil’s – or “Brasil” as his jersey said – number 1, Émerson Leão. Since goalkeeper attire was always a bit different in the 70s and 80s (sometimes featuring far more branding and occasionally of a different make altogether) and therefore in a category of their own, we haven’t drawn too much attention to the fact that his “shades of green” strip featured trefoils throughout the tournament :

In the game, three Brazilian goals – including two from Roberto D. – and some South American class were enough to were enough to take the two points (three points for a win wouldn’t be introduced until USA 94), with one consolation goal in return from the Poles:

Two points clear and with a six goal advantage over Argentina, Brazil were in top spot. For now. But their fans celebrated like they were already in the World Cup final:

Result: Poland 1-3 Brazil


Of course
a couple of hours later, Brazil and the rest of the world would watch on as one of the most infamous matches in World Cup history unfolded. Peru completed their hapless destiny (losing all three games in the phase and without scoring a goal) and were suspiciously beaten by the six needed for the Junta’s team to advance.

Without losing a game, incredibly Brazil were out of the tournament. Except for one last thing.


Third Place Play-Off

Match 7, Brazil vs Italy
Estadio Monumental, Buenos Aires, 24/06/1978

At last Brazil had made it to the stage of the World Cup final, except a day before the actual final itself between Argentina and the Netherlands. Instead, River Plate’s Estadio Monumental was also the host of the 3rd/4th place play-off on June 24th.

For the game against Group A runners-up Italy, the full Brazilian home kit was worn one more time with the trefoil shorts again used by at least Roberto:

Before leaving the World Cup, we also get once last look at those great sock turnover hoops:

Italy, for their part, were notable at this tournament for tiny, numbered pockets on the front of their shorts, and uniquely styled numbers on the backs of their jerseys. Often incorrectly attributed to brand-less Adidas at this World Cup, Italian firm Baila Landoni produced the kits:

With the Italians having taken the lead (as evident by above) on 38 minutes, Rivellino – in what would turn out to be his last cap for Brazil – attempted to settled his team mates:

In the second half, Nelinho pulled one back on 64 minutes:

…before Dirceu scored his third of the tournament seven minutes later to win it for Brazil, with the wild celebrations displaying how much this “meaningless” play-off actually still meant:

Result: Brazil 2-1 Italy

BRAZIL – THIRD PLACE

Breakdown
Team: Brazil 
Year(s): 1978
Competition: World Cup 78
Kit Supplier: Adidas
Competitive Games: 7
Kit Colour Combinations: 3
Kit Technical Combinations: 5


Aftermath:

After initial disappointment in the first round Brazil had ended up third in the world, which was at least an improvement on the last tournament, and without having lost in seven games. Furthermore, they could quite legitimately claim that they were “cheated” out of a win in the first game, and a possibly even a place in the final.

Brazil would continue wearing Adidas into 1979, including during that year’s Copa America (held across several countries). In the January summer heat, a short sleeved, “trefoiled” version like that seen before the World Cup was back, but the Adidas logo was level to the crest rather than raised on some player’s shirts.

By 1980, the three stripes and trefoils were gone, replaced by logos of the kit manufacturer for the next decade – Topper. The brief, highly underrated Adidas era – our undisputed favourite for Brazil – was over. Or at least at senior level it was, as their Adidas-produced Olympic 84 and 88 (with, shockingly, green shorts) kits provides us with what an alternative timeline might have looked like where they had stayed on for a few years longer.

*****

YouTube Links:

Brazil vs Bulgaria, 1977
Brazil vs Colombia, 1977
Brazil vs West Germany, 1977
Brazil vs Scotland, 1977
France vs Brazil, 1978
West Germany vs Brazil, 1978
England vs Brazil, 1978
Brazil vs Czechoslovakia, 1978
Brazil vs Sweden, 1978
Spain vs Brazil, 1978
Brazil vs Austria, 1978
Brazil vs Peru, 1978
Argentina vs Brazil, 1978
Poland vs Brazil, 1978
Poland vs Brazil, 1978
Poland vs Brazil, 1978
Brazil vs Italy, 1978
Brazil vs Italy, 1978

*****