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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 is this drawing taken on 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.
Oxford United (1965-68, 1979-80 added; minor updates to other graphics 1968-82; 1979 crest added). These changes are sourced from oxfordkits.com, the successor to oxkits.co.uk, now offline. Arthurlie (1926-27 added.) Crewe Alexandra (2001-02 crest modified).
More crest updates courtesy of Oleg Baranov: Everton (1993), Ipswich Town (1933, 1965), West Bromwhich Albion (1972), Tottenham Hotspur (1930), Scunthorpe United (1947), Middlesbrough (1973), Huddersfield Town (1920), Crewe Alexandra (1958), Bury (various updates & additions), Brighton & Hove Albion (1983, 2004), Derby County (1984 Centenary, 1981, 1985, 1993), Charlton Athletic (1946), Plymouth Argyle (1964), Swansea City (1970), Barnsley (1986, 2001).
This photograph was recently discovered by Duncan Walker and Sandy Reid and is probably the earliest known picture of the East Stirlingshire team, dating from 1890-91. This was the Shire's "golden age" as the silverware on show suggests. You can read the full story on the official Shire website.
16 DecemberOn the left is an original Newcastle United shirt from the 1911 FA Cup final, showing very clearly the details of the traditional club crest worn for the first time in that match. Based on the city coat of arms, it was finally retired in 1976.
15 December Current Season Updates
Premier League: Sunderland (special).
Championship: Rotherham United (3rd corrected), Cardiff City (3rd).
League One: Colchester United (3rd).
League Two: Bury (3rd), Hartlepool United (Special), Newport County (3rd), Stevenage (3rd), Mansfield Town (3rd).
Torquay United have changed their first kit.
Scottish Championship: Rangers (2nd updated).
Scottish League One: Greenock Morton (1st corrected).
Scottish League Two: East Fife (2nd).