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 #5: Republic of Ireland, World Cup 1994

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

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

Background:

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


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

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


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

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

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

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



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

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



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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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



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

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


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

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

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




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

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


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

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

*

Republic of Ireland, 1994 FIFA World Cup

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


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

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

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

Round 1, Group E

ITALY
MEXICO
Republic of IRELAND
NORWAY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Result: Italy 0-1 Ireland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Result: Mexico 2-1 Ireland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Result: Ireland 0-0 Norway

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



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

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



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

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



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

Round of 16

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

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

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

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

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

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

Result: Netherlands 2-0 Ireland

Rep. of IRELAND ELIMINATED at Round of 16

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

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

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

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

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

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Cold War Classic #11: USSR vs Norway, 1985

Our regular guest slot over on MuseumOfJerseys.com is back, with installment eleven of the Cold War Classic. In each edition we usually discuss a vintage east vs west international match-up (the exception so far being Austria vs Sweden, 1973) from the Cold War era, specifically relating to the amazing and fascinating kits of the time and their evolution. Detailed backgrounds are included, and all retro kits relevant to the story are expertly illustrated in glorious colour by MOJ top boy Denis Hurley.

For the latest installment we look at Norway and the Soviet Union as they progressed through World Cup 86 qualification, culminating in a freezing show-down in Moscow that required extra garments. See below for a preview and link to the full article.

In 1984, Norway and the Soviet Union were paired together along with Denmark, Ireland and Switzerland in World Cup 86 qualifying Group 6 (see here for a look at Ireland’s many kit variations during the campaign). By modern standards, it seems a harsh, cut-throat draw for all, displaying the type of competition that existed before the introduction of many of Europe’s weaker teams – in part thanks to the break-up of the likes of the USSR. Also of major significance was that Ireland were the only side who didn’t wear red home shirts, meaning that many change kits would be needed.

With two teams going through, the top-seeded former European champion Soviets were group favourites. Denmark and Ireland both possessed emerging, talented squads, but neither had made it to a finals before, while Switzerland did have several tournament appearances to their name, but not since the 1960s. Still years away from their own golden era, this left Norway as the bottom side, having been drawn from a seeding Pot E (the lowest) that only also contained Finland, Malta and Luxembourg.

The USSR, wearing the adidas that they were known for throughout their later period, began the group away to Ireland in a sublime all-white away kit, with red v-neck collar, short-sleeve cuffs, pinstripes, and stripe trim…

-READ ON at MuseumOfJerseys.com-

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