Welsh Premier League
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The team pictured here is Ipswich Association FC. Although most of the team are wearing plain, dark shirts, several players have turned out in other tops and all sorts of knickers and headgear are on display. This is not unusual for amateur teams of the late Victorian period.
In 1888 the club merged with Ipswich FC, the local rugby club, to form Ipswich Town and adopted striped shirts. In the absence of any primary source information, I had assumed that these were mid-blue and white but a couple of press cuttings from 1896, again submitted by Brian Webb, which describe them as dark blue and white, have sent me back to the source material for another look. The team photograph on the right corroborates this and into the bargain, offers a decent look at the club crest.
This team group, photographed in 1911, is more ambiguous but it seems likely that the team are wearing very badly faded shirts on which the stripes are made to appear even more pale by orthographic film stock.
I have concluded that the team wore navy and white stripes up until they turned professional in 1936. While black knickers seems to have been the official choice, these are mixed with white and navy versions in most team photographs.
(Photographs courtesy of Pride of Anglia which offers an excellent collection of team photographs from the amateur era. Free registration required.)
This cigarette card serves as evidence that Northampton Town switched from striped to plain jerseys in 1909-10, solving a long standing riddle. The only existing photographs show the team wearing plan white tops, which I thought were most likely change shirts.
I've had another look at my source material for the Leeds City section and made a few changes. A missing kit for 1908-09 has been added and I've concluded that the shirts worn 1909-11 were navy with narrow gold stripes and not the reverse. The confusion is caused, I now believe, by orthographic film, which reversed the tones as shown on the 1910-11 team photograph on the right. Incidentally, this also shows the reserves wearing the plain green shirts introduced afer five young Irish players were signed for that season. I now consider these tops to be a change kit.
Brian Webb has sent in a few more press cuttings. We can now confirm that Cheltenham Town adopted hooped shirts in August 1932, Wycombe Wanderers dropped their striped tops in favour of Oxford blue jerseys with Cambridge blue sleeves in 1912, not 1919, and Grimsby Town adopted chocolate and blue shirts in 1898-99, a year earler than my records showed.
Here's another puzzle but one of greater vintage. The team featured in this photograph is Nottingham Forest published in the Illustrated Sports and Dramatic News (20 March 1892) sent in by Brian Webb. Eight members of the team are wearing a crest, which suggests it come from some sort of representative game. Close examination reveals a monogram with the letters "FCP" or "PCP" whch rules out this being the club or Nottinghamshire FA badge. Any theories?
Several cuttings submitted by Brian Webb have allowed me to pin down the date that Cheltenham Town switched from hooped tops to white shirts with red collars and sleeves as the begining of the 1938-39 season. Furthermore the emblem worn on the new shirts is revealed to have been a robin and not the town coat of arms as I previously thought.
Here is evidence that Arsenal's old gold shirts change shirts that appeared for the first time in the 1950 FA Cup were still in use eight years later. Here they are playing Northampton Town in the FA Cup third round in January 1958 and both sides had to change. The Cobblers are in their usual alternative blue tops but these would have clashed with the visitors change strip (blue shirts with white sleeves). Lesser clubs borrowed shirts in these circumstances but not proud Arsenal! (Photograph submitted by Peter Stevenson.)
We always enjoy a puzzle at HFK Towers but this image, submitted by Karl Fletcher, seemed straighforward enough. It shows the Chamberlain brothers turning out for Port Vale in 1978-79 wearing plain Admiral strips. My records show that the Valiant's kit for that season had Admiral's trademark trim on the shoulder and sleeves as shown by this example from Old Football Shirts. When I looked into this further I came across the club programme from that season and discovered that both styles appeared on the cover. What I found intriguing is that the version with the sleeve trim is being worn in photographs that have been staged for the camera whereas the two images taken during matches show the plain style. This leads me to wonder whether the trimmed set may have been supplied for the pre-season photoshoots before being replaced by the more plain set. If anyone can provide photographic evidence to confirm this one way or the other I would be grateful.
Adidas have launched their new 2019 international strips ahead of the World Cup finals next year, featuring some interesting retro designs. These will feature on HFK when we launch the 2018 World Cup section shortly after the draw for the finals in December. Among those that will not grace the competition are new outfits for Scotland and Wales. Northern Ireland, who must overcome Switzerland in the play-offs to reach the finals also have a smart new strip.
2017-18 Club Update
I'm going to post material from the late 19th and early 20th century today. Most are from contemporary newspaper cuttings and submitted by regular visitors.
Paul Nagel (unitedkits.com) has shared this cutting found by James Thomas that mentions that when they visited Walsall on 21 January 1899 the home team wore dark red tops in anticipation of a colour clash. Newton Heath, however, also changed into "a black and red combination" expecting the home side to wear their usual white tops. Later the Heathens switched back to their own regular (white) shirts.
The Athletic News (7 September 1903) records that Leicester Fosse adopted red jerseys for the 1903-04 season (right) and this led to a dispute with Barnsley FC over which team should change when they met. It appears that Football League rules of the time stated that the team that had been members the longest could retain their first choice colours in the event of a clash. (Photograph courtesy of Histoire Maillots.)
There is some marvelous early footage on Football and the First World War including Bradford City v Gainsborough Trinity (1903), Bolton Wanderers v Burton United (1904) and Sunderland v Leicester Fosse (1907).
It is likely that the crest worn by six members of the Aston Villa team that won the FA Cup in 1887 (left) is that of the Birmingham FA rather than the club. Regular visitors will know that players selected to play for their county or national association often removed the crest from their representative shirt and had it sewn into their club jersey to show their status.
Sporting Life (23 January 1889) reported that Birmingham wore their new "black jerseys with amber cuffs and collars, and white knicks," in a hastily arranged match against Loughborough, nine months earlier than previously thought.
I'll end with a puzzling item. In April 2012 I published this cutting from the Burnley Express (11 July 1891), which mentions that Wolverhampton Wanderers were planning to switch from red and white to blue and orange for the coming season because of a new rule that required members of the Football League to register unique colours. On the basis of that I interpreted this undated photograph of the Wolves team to be in the new colours.
Now Brian Webb has discovered two further cuttings (Burnley Gazette 26 August 1891 and the Preston Herald 16 September 1891 shown left) that state that Wolves' registered colours would be "old gold and black quartered, black knickers." Since these were published several months later we have to assume that the club's plans changed over the summer. At the time "quarters" usually referred to what we would call "halves" and the only images ever to have surfaced that this might be applied to are these unique diagonally divided jerseys.
Here are some detailing updates for Scottish clubs from 2007-08 courtesy of Ian McConnel: Rangers (1st, 2nd, 3rd), St Mirren, Heart of Midlothian, Hibernian, Motherwell, Dundee United, Aberdeen, Gretna, Partick Thistle (all 1st).
Scotland wore pink stockings for some reason against Slovakia (who were in all-white) last October.
AFC Bournemouth (1992-93, 1993-94 revised).
On the left is a rare photograph of Northwich Victoria taken in 1893 when they were members of the Second Division of the Football League. The trophy is the Cheshire Senior Cup.
The battered image on the right, equally rare, is of Accrington and was also taken in 1892-93, their last season as members of the Football League. It shows that for this campaign the team had reverted to white knickers. (Photograph courtesy of Football League Players.)
Macclesfield (1893-94 added).
I've updated the Chester City section to reflect the current state of my knowledge about the period 1901-1920, smarten up some modern graphics and update the crest history. We now have evidence that Wrexham wore yellow and blue tops in 1893-94, and I've revised the unconfirmed 1892-94 graphic accordingly.
This important cutting from The Athletic News 8 May 1893 (submitted by Kingsley from Wrexham AFC) indicates that Everton wore Cambridge blue jerseys in the 1892-93 season, three years earlier than previously thought. Click on the thumbnail to bring up a larger version. A second cutting from February 1893 confirms that the Toffees wore "blue jerseys" in their match with Sheffield Wednesday two months previously. (Cutting © The British Library Board).
The same document records that Darwen wore white shirts in 1892-93 rather than salmon pink.
10 October - 2017-18 Update
I noticed that England wore white socks in their last World Cup qualfier in Lithuania on Sunday, a considerable improvement on the clashing red ones they normally wear. I wonder if this is a prelude to the new strips we can expect to be introduced for the World Cup next year?
(Photograph © Sky Sports.)
John Bunyard sent in this photograph from the FA Cup taken in September 1946. It is the first evidence we have that Maidstone United were still wearing their traditional striped shirts immediately after World War Two. There are still large gaps in the record for the Stones and any help is welcome.
Birmingham City replaced their Continental shirts with old long sleeved shirts with collars during the exceptionally hard winter of 1960-61.
Thanks to some more historical material submitted by the club's historian, I have been able to revise some more graphics for Wrexham's early years. Kingsley has also provided cuttings that provide some new information on several clubs in the first 25 years of the last century. Chester (1906-12 added): Scarborough (1902-04 corrected): Ashington (1898-99, 1922-23 modified, 1902-03 added): Southport (1922-23 added).
Hibernian (1979-80 added).
Well I was wrong about the Carlisle team in striped shirts (see below). I've now had a read through of Jon Tait's "The 'Gate - A History of Shaddongate United FC" and discovered that this is indeed the Carlisle United team from 1905-06. The striped tops were most probably kept after the club adopted plain blue jerseys in 1902 and were presumably worn when colours clashed. The club was known as Shaddongate United until 1904 and this photograph (courtesy of The News & Star) shows the 1897-98 team wearing very smart navy and gold shirts and showing off the Carlisle Charity Shield, their first ever trophy.
The Carlisle United section has been updated.
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 were members 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. (See 27 September for update.)
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.