Retro Shirt Reviews #8

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

International Selection:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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.