Welsh Premier League
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This grainy photograph is of Mid-Annandale and was taken in 1926. It was sent in by Duncan Darragh who received it from a descendant of William Stewart, one of the players in the picture. The team played in Lockerbie and weremembers of the ill-fated Scottish Third Division between 1923 and 1926.
On the other side of the border lies Carlisle and shown here is Carlisle AFC, the first association football team to be formed there in the late nineteenth century. I am now satisfied that there is no connection with Carlisle United and have removed the striped kit from the record.
13 September - More 2017-18 Updates
Premier League: The latest development in the trend to equip elite football teams in identical corporate kit has fallen to Nike who have launched their new Camo outfits to be worn by Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur in Europe. The concept appears to be based on the dazzle camouflage adopted by the Royal Navy during the First World War to confuse U-Boat commanders. Presumably we can look forward to our bold boys sailing serenely past Johnny Foreigner who will be quite unable to locate his target.
League One: Southend United have changed their shirt sponsorship.
11 September - 2017-18 Update
Premier League: West Ham United (3rd), West bromwich Albion (3rd) plus more sleeve sponsors.
Championship: Derby County (3rd updated).
Scottish Premiership: Rangers have at last released their change strip.
According to an item on the FA of Wales' website published before the World Cup qualifier in Chisinau, "Wales will play in yellow against Moldova after the Football Association of Wales raised a concern with UEFA about a potential kit clash. As a result, the FAW was granted dispensation to wear an alternative temporary strip." Moldova currently wear all-red so there should not really have been a problem with Wales' grey alternative strip although it could be argued that this would not have provided the degree of light/dark contrast currently required in international games. More likely, I think, is the fact that Wales have failed to win in any of the five games that they have worn their change strip and they were keen to ditch it. Wales won 2-0.
Photograph courtesy of FA of Wales Official Website.
The mighty Bedale AFC, an amateur side from Yorkshire have inspired some terrible punning thanks to their sausage-themed change kit, sponsored by Heck. Leading contenders include "the wurst kit of the season" (The Sun), "Bedale AFC say detractors will be eating their words as they cook up a storm," (Northern Echo), "the Yorkshire (Porkshire?) team," (Who Ate All the Pies) and "Bedale AFC might score a few bangers this season," (Daily Mirror). More enigmatic is the comment on the Dispensable Soccer website that describes this as "a horrendous kit embezzled (sic) with a meaty looking motif. Thanks to Alisdair Gibbs-Barton who was the first of many to spot this.
Regular visitors will recall that the colours of the Romanian national team during the 1930s has been a regular topic of controversy going back several years. I though I had resolved the issue in August 2015 when I made a detailed analysis of the photographic record in the light of new knowledge about the effects of orthographic film stock. In January 2016 a contemporary press report of the Romania v Peru match in the 1930 World Cup proved conclusively that the Romanian team wore red shirts with yellow collars. So what are we to make of this poster that appeared on the interweb in June?
I think we need to consider the history first. The Romanian national team had only been playing internationals since 1922. Attendances at home games averaged 10-15,000 so the game was hardly at the forefront of the public imagination. On the 7 June 1930 King Carol seized the crown in a coup d'état engineered by the Prime Minister and as his first act, announced that the national football team would participate in the inaugural World Cup in Montevideo, due to start 35 days later. Arrangements were therefore made at breakneck speed and my guess is that the artist commissioned to design the poster did so in such haste that he failed to check the colours.
29 August - New Third Strips
Premier League: Crystal Palace.
Championship: Ipswich Town‡, Fulham‡, Millwall, Sunderland, Aston Villa, Burton Albion, Cardiff City‡, Derby County, Hull City. Most of these have been registered with the EFL and appear in the official handbook although they have yet to be officialy launched by the clubs.
League One: Rochdale.
Scottish Championship: Queen of the South.
Welsh Premier League: Aberystwyth Town.
‡ Change strip retained from last season.
As promised, the new Northern Ireland Premiership section is now open.
I'm going to have a little lie down now and enjoy the bank holiday weekend. Back next week when I'll start on the mass of historical material that's been building up in the mail silo here at HFK Towers.
I've added the 2017-18 Welsh Premier League section to the site. The Northern Ireland Premiership will be added in a few days.
17 August - 2017-18 Update
Republic of Ireland new kits added.
Premier League: Manchester United (European kit), Everton (3rd, special), Liverpool (sleeve sponsor), Burnley (3rd*).
League One: Fleetwood Town (2nd*).
League Two: Barnet (1st socks corrected), Morecambe (3rd).
Scottish Premiership: St Johnstone (3rd).
Scottish League Two: Peterhead (2nd).
8 August - 2017-18 Update
Premier League: Leicester City (3rd), AFC Bournemouth (3rd).
Championship: Sunderland (2nd), Wolverhampton Wanderers (3rd).
League One: Blackpool (1st*, 2nd, 3rd), Northampton Town (3rd), Walsall (3rd).
Scottish Premiership: Hamilton Academical (2nd), Ross County (2nd*), Kilmarnock (2nd), St Johnstone (3rd).
Scottish League One: Arbroath (2nd).
Scottish League Two: Berwick Rangers (sponsors added), Stenhousemuir (sponsors added), Cowdenbeath (2nd).
3 August - 2017-18 Update
Premier League: Chelsea (sleeve sponsor added).
League One: Doncaster Rovers (1st socks confirmed).
2 August - 2017-18 Update
Premier League: Burnley (2nd), Swansea City (3rd).
Championship: Barnsley (3rd), Hull City (2nd), Burton Albion (1st socks updated), Fulham (2nd).
League One: Southend United (1st, 2nd), Bury (2nd kit and sponsors added), Peterborough United (3rd).
29 July - 2017-18 Update
Championship: Leeds United (2nd), Nottingham Forest (2nd), Millwall (2nd), Norwich City (3rd).
League One: Peterborough United (2nd), Shrewsbury Town (2nd), Gillingham (1st*, 2nd*, 3rd*).
League Two: Cheltenham Town (2nd), Lincoln City (2nd), Crawley Town (2nd).
Scottish Premiership: Celtic (3rd), Hamilton Academical (1st).
Scottish Championship: Brechin City (1st, 2nd), St Mirren (2nd).
Scottish League One: Airdrieonians (1st*, 2nd*), Albion Rovers (1st, 2nd*), East Fife (sponsorship confirmed), Forfar Athletic (1st*, 2nd).
Scottish League Two: Annan Athletic (1st*, 2nd*, 3rd*), Cowdenbeath (1st), Elgin City (2nd), Peterhead (1st*).
27 July - 2017-18 Update
Premier League: Arsenal (2nd), AFC Bournemouth (2nd), Southampton (1st socks confirmed), Brighton & Hove Albion (2nd).
Championship: Fulham (1st), Bolton Wanderers (socks confirmed), Burton Albion (1st).
League One: Oldham Athletic (socks confirmed).
League Two: Wycombe Wanderers (2nd), Cambridge United (2nd shorts/socks confirmed), Crawley Town (1st), Grimsby Town (3rd socks confirmed), Notts County (socks confirmed), Stevenage (1st socks confirmed).
25 July - 2017-18 Update
Premier League: Manchester City (2nd), Leicester City (sleeve sponsor added).
Championship: Preston North End (1st, 2nd, 3rd), Sheffield United (2nd), Reading (1st, 2nd).
League One: Fleetwood Town (1st), Shrewsbury Town (1st), Charlton Athletic (1st), Wigan Athletic (2nd, 3rd), Northampton Town (1st).
League Two: Exeter City (3rd), Cambridge United (2nd, 3rd), Port Vale (2nd), Chesterfield (shorts corrected).
22 July - 2017-18 Update
Premier League: Liverpool (3rd), Newcastle United (2nd), Huddersfield Town (3rd), Manchester United (3rd).
Championship: Derby County (2nd), Sheffield Wednesday (3rd).
League One: Charlton Athletic (2nd), Bristol Rovers (1st, 2nd).
League Two: Newport County (1st, 2nd, 3rd).
Scottish Premiership: Partick Thistle (1st).
20 July - 2017-18 Review
With more than half of the new season's kits released I thought this would be a good opportunity to have a little chat about trends.
One of the features to have emerged this season is an increase in the use of complicated patterns printed or woven into the fabric of shirts as well as a lot of extra detailing, reminding me of the excesses of the 1990s. Perhaps this represents a reaction against the trend for simpler designs we have seen over the past decade. The positive reaction of supporters to the change kits introduced by Plymouth Argyle and Huddersfield Town suggest there is an appetite for extravagant tops.
The global big three brands have a strong presence but are by no means dominant. Of the 75 Premier League/EFL teams whose new kits have been published on HFK, 33 are supplied by Nike, Adidas or Puma while 42 are from one of the smaller, independent brands.
Adidas' iconic three-strip trim makes their products instantly recognisable and has the virtue of being flexible enough to be placed almost anywhere. Last season this was down the sides of the body while the latest releases place the stripes across the shoulders. The results are generally smart if uninspiring.
By way of contrast Puma's form stripe lacks the flexibility of their arch rival's trim so every year they try to come up with a new eye-catching gimmick. This time round it's the "ascension stripe" made up of spots of varying size that create a fade effect. Frankly I don't think this is one of Puma's better ideas and it's unlikely it be around for long.
Nike are offering additional trim options for their Vapor design including varous tape styles down the side of the body and shorts, additional collar trim and contrasting shorts. Nevertheless, this still remains the last word in corporate blandness.
Among the smaller players, JD Sports' stable of brands have left the stage (apart from Sondico which is now owned by Sports Direct) as has Dryworld, a victim of their inability to meet financial obligations and deliver replicas on time. This has allowed Umbro and Errea to add a few more clubs to their portfolio.
Umbro have reintroduced their iconic diamond trim but in tonal rather than contrasting colours. This subtle incorporation of branding into the overall design is in stark contrast to the more aggressive approach of the big three. Furthermore all of their designs are distinctive and original.
Clubs and designers continue to look to the past for inspiration and the latest Celtic strip, produced by New Balance and celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Lisbon Lions' triumph is a masterpiece. Elsewhere Under Armour have drawn inspiration from the early Eighties for Southampton's new outfit.
Although Macron and Joma have lost ground in England they still have a significant presence in Scotland where they deliver some well-designed bespoke kits as well as their smart and workmanlike standard designs.
Overall then, there remains a welcome diversity of design as well as innovation, driven to a considerable extent by the smaller independents.
A less welcome trend, however, is the growth of shirt sponsorship by online casinos and commodity speculators. Half of the teams in the top two tiers of English football this season carry shirt sponsorship that promotes gambling and let's not forget that the Football League is sponsored by SkyBet. High profile gambling controversies led the Football Association to sever its links with Ladbrokes in June but in the laissez faire world of the Premier League and EFL revenue rules. The social cost of gambling is well-documented and it's unfettered promotion in elite sport is in my view as unhealthy as was the involvement of tobacco and alcohol promotion in the past.