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Thanks to Mike Bradbury's entertainingly discursive "Birth of the Saddlers" I have been able to substantially update the Walsall section with new graphics and background information on the precursor clubs, Walsall Town and Walsall Swifts in the 19th century.
Here's a little coda to the story I ran in January about the variant strip worn by Chelsea 1973-75 and shown here on the left. HFK's elves discovered that this was worn to avoid a sock clash against Leeds United and others. Management thought that their regular blue shorts would make the kit "too dark" so kitted the team out with white ones. Now Keith Ellis has found this image from a match against West Ham United showing the "dark kit" in action. Examining the image closely, however, I noted that there are no stars on the crest, suggesting this is an earlier iteration of this variant from the period 1968-70. I later found this footage showing Chelsea in an identical strip at Elland Road in 1969-70.
This fine photograph, sent in by Jim Jenkinson, shows Dumbarton Athletic, a team that was absorbed by Dumbarton in 1889. Although it is not dated, I believe it to be from between 1885 and 1887 when SFA records tell us the team played in black and white stripes. This term was widely used to describe the one-inch hooped jerseys that were common in Scotland at the time.
This is Leicester Fosse pictured in 1890-91, the season that they adopted white shirts for the first time. I have enhanced the contrast to show the contrasting collars and I have assumed these were light blue. This is a previously undocumented strip: plain white shirts were used between 1892 and 1899. We have also established that the previous chocolate and blue shirts had an enormous pocket on the left breast.
This rare photograph is of the original Workington AFC team taken in 1905-06. Formed in 1884, the club was wound up in 1911 due to the financial difficulties involved in running a professional football side on the remote Cumbrian coast, a Rugby League stronghold. It is considered to be the precursor of the modern team which was formed in 1921 and, despite facing the same challenges, still exists.
The original postcard is on sale at Sports Pages.
I have finished replenishing the Buy From links for the Premier/Football League club pages and FA Cup section. Many of the items that are out of stock at Toffs can now be found with our other affiliate partners but I suggest you buy soon as I suspect once these are sold out that will be it. As far as possible I have removed obsolete links and added new ones for items that have come onto the market. I plan to review all Scottish club links shortly.
The decision by West Bromwich Albion to wear a replica of their 1968 FA Cup final strip to honour the launch of the Jeff Astle Foundation has prompted much favourable comment in social media. Other charity kits added today include Tottenham Hotspur, Bolton Wanderers, Reading and Leyton Orient.
Colorado Rapids (new shirt sponsor added).
Please bear with me as I am currently doing some housekeeping on the site and will resume normal updates soon. In particular, Toffs have drastically reduced their catalogue rendering many of our "Buy From" links obsolete. Some of the out of stock items are now available from other retailers and I am replacing these links.
MLS kicks off in North America this weekend with a new logo and two new teams. This has been "MLS Jersey Week" during which all the new kits have been launched with the exception of NewYork City and Orlando City, who revealed their new shirts some time ago. So, ladies and gentlemen, you are now welcome to visit our new MLS 2015 section.
5 March - More Crest History Updates
We have Oleg Baranov to thank once again for the research into crests published over the last week.
3 March - More Crest History Updates
Coming soon - MLS 2015.
The good people at Frickley Museum have sent us this photograph to see if we can identify the team, which probably played in West Yorkshire. The style of clothing worn by the officials and the length of the players' knickers place this firmly in the period 1900-1914. The team strip of white shirts and dark knickers was very common and is no help but the crest is intriguing as very few teams wore one at the time. Anyone?
Crest History Updates
This is the shirt worn by Billy Jennings for Bolton Wanderers in the famous "White Horse FA Cup final" in 1923. Judging by the rust stains, this has spent many years stored improperly but it has at least survived. Had it been in better condition it would no doubt have fetched more than the £6,000 it was sold for last year. The crest details have allowed me to improve the Bolton graphics 1921-1953.
On the right is Alan Morton of Rangers pictured in March 1922. The point of interest is that he is wearing the iconic black socks with red turnovers which were introduced that season. However, he is also wearing the older style of shirt with a buttoned crew neck. Collared shirts were introduced the following season and remained in use for 40 years.
18 February International Updates
Northern Ireland: new change strip added.
1938: Cuba socks revised (left).
1962: Hungary crest updated.
1966: Hungary crest updated.
1970: Brazil sock turnovers amended.
1974: Brazil sock turnovers amended.
1978: Hungary crest updated.
If you think that the current convention of visiting teams changing elements of their strip when there is the slightest suggestion of a clash with those of the home side and that FIFA's regulations about high levels of contrast are ridiculous, these press cuttings reveal how things might have been. At the 1904 Football League AGM, Liverpool's secretary, John McKenna (left), tabled a motion that would require all teams to play in red shirts or jerseys at home while visitors would wear white tops and dark knickers. The motion was seconded by Sunderland but rejected after some discussion. You might think that McKenna's proposal was tongue in cheek but in 1906 he put the motion again with support from Manchester United. Thanks to George Chilvers and Kjell Hanssen for uncovering these invaluable cuttings - click on the images to view large versions.
This is a rare photograph of Dumbarton Harp, one of many clubs that sprung from the Irish Catholic community in the late 19th century in Scotland. Taken in 1918-19, Harp were members of the Western League at the time. In 1923 this competition was incorporated into the Scottish League as the new Third Division but in January 1925 Harp resigned and were disbanded due to financial problems. The Third Division itself was abandoned the following season.
I've reviewed and updated the Forfar Athletic section and added a crest history. On the left is the Forfar team from 1936 wearing their distinctive light and dark blue shirts.
Liverpool's latest charity kit has been added.
West Ham United's new shirt sponsor has been added.
Keith Ellis has found this cigarette card showing Billy McCracken of Newcastle United and Ireland wearing a Newcastle shirt with a crest that looks distinctly different to the one worn in FA Cup finals from 1911 on. It is in fact the old city coat of arms and was worn in the 1910 FA Cup final against Barnsley. It can be glimpsed in this YouTube clip.
There is quite a lot more on Falkirk's early strips and crests today, thanks to Andrew Hewlett. I now have a team photograph from 1881-82 (left) that shows the embroidery was worn only by the team captain who, as was customary, is seated in the centre of the front row with the ball at his feet. In 1909 the team dropped their navy tops in favour of a lighter shade of blue (right) and we can now see the new tops sported a crest as well as a contrasting yoke.
On the left is one of Falkirk's first star players, English international Jocky Simpson, in an undated photograph.This shows the lighter blue shirt with a unique collar. Since we know that Simpson signed for Blackburn Rovers in January 1911, we can now place this shirt as being worn in the 1910-11 season.
Finally, on the right is a photograph of George Anderson wearing a brand new shirt with another hitherto unknown crest dated sometime in the 1930s. After a little research I found his obituary that confirms he played for Falkirk for just one season in 1938-39 before the war interrupted his playing career, which gives us the dates we need rather neatly.
(1906-07, 1909-10, 1910-11, 1938-39 added: 1915-20 collar revised: crest history updated.)
Scottish crest histories added: Edinburgh City, Elgin City, Falkirk. The photograph on the right is from the better meddle website and shows a Falkirk player in a typical 1880s jersey with some intriguing embroidery.
A recurring issue when writing about the early history of football clubs is that all too often inaccurate or self-serving contemporary articles written by club officials are accepted as fact and pass into the authorised histories. A good example of this is the origin of the first Arsenal crest perpetuated by Arthur E Kennedy (left), an early vice-chairman of the club. The work of historians prepared to research primary sources such as Mark Andrews and Andy Kelly rather than rely on repetitious secondary accounts is therefore extremely valuable. On their Arsenal History blog they have conclusively proved that the crest was not adopted in 1888 as official histories state but in fact appeared in an article written by Kennedy for the 1904 Book of Football and never appeared in any club handbook or on their stationary prior to its inclusion in the Official History published in 1986. Kelly and Andrewshave also shared new research that allows me to update the Arsenal Change Kits section.
Another example of misleading information is this drawing from the cover of a Gillingham programme from 1958-59 (sent in by Richard Ralph) which suggests the club crest featured a unicorn. Now I'm convinced this is not the case. Examining team photographs and various versions of the Kentish Horse (such as this one from the county's flag) it is clear that the ears and/or mane are often drawn erect giving the appearance from a distance of a unicorn's horn. We can assume that the artist commissioned to design the programme cover was not local as no Man of Kent would make this mistake.
The photograph of Chelsea's Ajax-style shirt prompted Nik Yeomans to sift through his extensive programme collection where he found conclusive evidence that the team wore their regular third strip with the red/green panel and that the top featured on 20 January is a fake. Nik also found an unrecorded change strip from 1963-64.
Current Season Updates
Thanks to everyone who contacted us about the mystery Chelsea strip from 1973-75 with various theories. Nik Yeomans has now found the solution in the club's programme notes from February 1974 where we learn that the change was made because both sides normally wore white socks. (Until the early 70s clashes of this sort were not an issue.) The fashion-conscious management thought wearing all-blue with black socks would look "too dark" so white shorts were worn instead (ignoring the fact that now both teams would be in the same shorts). The result was a pleasing reminder of Chelsea's earlier strips and appeared a few times before blue socks were adopted when socks clashed.
I have reinstated Chelsea's Ajax-style change strip after Rodney George confirmed that it was worn just once at Manchester City. This is Steve Kember's match shirt from Richard Boulert's collection (photo courtesy of oldfootballshirts.com).
Current Season Updates
After a meaningful chat with his mum over Christmas, Vincent Tan has announced that Cardiff City will revert to playing in blue from today, a decision endorsed by the Football League.
Now here is an oddity. On the left is Charlie Cooke playing for Chelsea at Leeds in 1973-74. The team wore the same strip, which resembles their classic 1950s outfit, at Stoke and West Ham in the League and in two league Cup ties against Stoke City in 1974-75. If you know the story behind this unusual variant strip please contact me.
Inverness Caledonian Thistle (2014-15 3rd kit added).
Wales 2015 strip added.
World Cup 1934: Austria socks corrected. The Wunderteam borrowed a set of light blue shirts from SC Napoli for their game with Germany because both sides usually wore white shirts (photo right).
World Cup 1962: Czechoslovakia sleeves corrected v Hungary.
Word Cup 1970: Belgium socks corrected v El Salvador.
World Cup 1974: Detailing added to Argentina, East Germany and Brazil kits in final group stage.
World Cup 1994: Logos added to Saudi Arabia shorts.
World Cup 2010: Texture added to Mexico shirts.
My thanks to André Conceição e Silva for the World Cup updates.
Sadly, Hereford United became the latest former member of the Football League to be wound up in the High Court on 19 December and their record has now been expunged from the Southern League. A summary of recent events has been added to their club section.
Wales: I've had this photograph of an original Wales shirt from 1914 knocking around for a while: note the interesting crest. It is still unclear when Y Ddraig Goch was adopted by the FA of Wales although we do know that the Prince of Wales' feathers adorned the team shirts in their earliest matches.
Scotland: Strip worn against Switzerland in November 1982 added: Euro 96 unused change strip added.
World Cup 1954: England sleeves corrected v Uruguay.
World Cup 1986: Mexico shorts detailing corrected.
Within hours of posting yesterday's question about the blue/gold halved Leeds United shirt, HFK's elves were at work solving the mystery. Steve Lawrence, Jonathon Auty and Martin Hart identified the player as Bert Sproston who played for Leeds between May 1933 and June 1938, narrowing the possible dates down. Martin then found this team photograph from 1934-35: although the quality is not very good, it is possible to make out that the gold panel is on the left of the shirt. From the following season until this style was dropped in 1948, blue appeared on the left.
Here is another treasure found by Keith Ellis on eBay, a very rare original photograph of Wolverhampton Wanderers in 1925-26. This confirms the unusual single band worn below the collar that was earlier removed from HFK for lack of corroboration. A more elaborate collar was introduced the following season. Note how dark the jerseys appear: the old gold of the period was almost brown but I believe the film stock in use at the time made them appear much darker than they were in fact. (To bid on this item visit HFK's Wolves page and click on the eBay link there.)
Crest updates: Millwall (2014), Birmingham City (1996-97), Swansea City (1979, 1984), Carlisle United (1969), Yeovil Town (1985), Cambridge United 1974, 1983, Newport County (1948), Everton (1920, 1978, 1982 improved, 1985 added), Brighton & Hove Albion (1983 corrected), Chesterfield (1978), Aldershot Town (2014). Thanks to Joe Finnan, Andrew Scott, Chris Worrall, John Taylor and of course Oleg Baranov for their contributions.
6 January 2015
Happy New Year to all our visitors!
Blackpool 1931-32 now confirmed (left) although we still need details of the socks: Derby County (1973-75 dates revised): Cardiff City (Aug-Sept 1994 added): Arsenal (1921 change strip added): Leeds United (1938-39 updated). Leeds adopted gold and blue halved shirts in 1934 and wore them until September 1948. All the images I have been able to corroborate have blue panels on the left so the image on the right is a puzzle. If you can confirm the dates and/or player please contact me.