Historical Football Kits

 

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23 April

euro 2020For the last couple of weeks I have been sequestered in the deepest cellars of HFK Towers preparing the new Euro 2020 section. I'm pleased to announce that the Index Page is now complete with only the kits to be worn by North Macedonia to be anounced.

UEFA confirmed the final list of venues earlier today and in due course I shall add the fixtures to the site so that when June rolls around I'll be able to create the usual match-by-match record.

Enjoy.

8 April

motherwell fc may 1927I have tweaked a number of early Motherwell kit graphics: (1913-24, 1924-28, 1927-28 socks corrected, 1959-60 arm bands added). The photograph was taken in May 1927 when the team, which had finished as runners-up in the Scottish League, were invited to Spain to compete in a post season tournament. After beating Swansea Town, the Scottish side beat Real Madrid in the final and were awarded an unofficial version of the Copa del Rey trophy, donated by King Alfonso XIII.

bristol rovers admiral kit 1976(Photo credit: Motherwell FC)

In April 1976 Bristol Rovers turned out in a new Admiral strip for a couple of matches. For reasons unknown, when the 1976-77 season started, Rovers were back in their unbranded tops with crew necks.

(Photo credit: Bristol Rovers Memorabilia)

Northampton Town (1901-02 added), West Bromwich Albion (1932-33 added), Ayr United (1968-69 added).

31 March

motherwell fc 1958-59When I added the white Motherwell "floodlights kits" for 1958-62, I stated that these had short sleeves, based on the photograph posted on 26 March below. I've now received this photograph from Matt Johnstone showing detail from the much larger version that hangs in Fir Park. This shows definitively that the players are wearing long sleeved shirts rolled up to the elbow, thus hiding the armbands. Helpfully, the player at the centre of the picture has his sleeves rolled down, revealing the hidden detail.

Also added today are Motherwell's 2002-03 third kit and 2009-10 change.

26 March

I've completed the new Motherwell Change Kit Section, which is sponsored by Motherwell FC. I am grateful to Stuart Graham, the club historian, Matt Johnstone, our old chum Willie Kay and club officials who took the trouble to compile and send to me the photographs from which I was able to create the graphics.

motherwell 1958-59This squad photograph from 1958-59 reflects common practice in Scotland at the time of having the first team decked out in the first choice kit while the reserves wear the change strip. They are modelling two new strips and for the first time they have a white change kit. Known as the "floodlights kit," this did service in several home games against European opposition under the new Fir Park floodlights. The two-tone chest band has been revived several times, most notably in the 2019-20.

There remain some gaps in the record and no information has so far come to light covering the first 40-odd years of the club's existence. I hope the HFK Elves will be able to fill in some of the gaps.

(Photo Credit: Motherwel FC)

23 March

motherwell change kit 1928I am very pleased to announce that, in the first agreement of its kind, I am today opening a brand new section covering Motherwell's Change Kits. This section is being sponsored by Motherwell FC and is launched today as a work in progress. Once I have posted all of the material that I have in hand, I shall invite the HFK Elves to fill in the remaining gaps.

Illustrated here is the traditional change strip worn between 1928 and 1958. This was needed so rarely that photographs of it in action are exteremly hard to come by.

(Photo Credit: Matt Johnstone)

18 March

We have more Scottish club updates from Ian McConnel today. St Mirren (1960-61, Jan-May 1962 added), Airdrieonians (January 1961, January 1962 added), Dunfermline Athletic (1960-61, 1961-62 (two kits) added), Third Lanark (1960-62 cold weather kit added), Raith Rovers 1961-62 added, Dundee United (1961-62 cold weather kit added), Aberdeen (1961-62 (two kits) added.

17 March

qpr 1927-28This photograph of Queens Park Rangers from 1927-28 reveals the unusual arrangement of their sleeves.

Southampton (1927-28, 1928-30, 1930-31, 1934-38, 1948-49 alternate added, 1945-46 corrected), Reading (1956-57 corrected, 1975-76 added).

16 March

bolton january 1886This cutting from Cricket & Football Field (2 January 1886), submitted by Andy Boocock, caught my attention. It describes a match between Bolton Wanderers and local rivals, Great Lever and mentions that Bolton were wearing "white, spot yellow jerseys." Since we know that Wanderers were in striped shirts at the start of the season my first reaction was that this was a change strip but as Great Lever wore dark blue shirts and knickers, there would have been no need to change. Since we recently were able to confirm that the team had worn white jerseys with "red spots the size of threepenny bits" in 1884, it seems possible that they had bought another set of spotty tops part way through the 1885-86 season. Bolton was, after all, replete with cotton mills capable of turning out all sorts of patterned fabric.

In the course of researching this item, I came across an unrecorded Bolton Wanderers strip from 1887-88 which I've added.

Berwick Rangers 1983-84 added.

southend united 1964-65Last March I revised Southend United's kit graphics 1961-1968 to show them in navy blue and white. This was based in part on this photograph from 1964-65. However, old colour photographs can be misleading and I do remember watching the team play at Southport in 1966-67 wearing what seemed to be rather scruffy, washed out miid-blue shirts but memory can also be unreliable. However, Jack Bond has now resolved the issue by confirming that the team played in royal-blue and white during this period. It was not until 1968-69 that they switched to navy blue and attracted the dispproval of the Football League.

15 March

salford fc match programme august 1980

Salford City won their first senior competition on Saturday when they beat Portsmouth on penalties in the final of the EFL Trophy, a match postponed since last April due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The cup, which now revels in the dignified title of The Papa John's Trophy was handed back immediately because Sunderland and Tranmere Rovers met at Wembley the following day to salford fc august 1980contest the 2021 final. This seems a good moment to share these images of the official match programme from club's first game in the Cheshire County League as Salford FC, submitted by Ralph Pomeroy.

(Photo credit Steve Hardy: Football Grounds in Focus.)

I am grateful to John Disson, whose family have supported Queen's Park Rangers since the 1890s, for sending me an article he wrote for the club to mark 50 years since the reintroduction of the teams signature qpr 1959-60broad hoops in 1960. This is a year later than I had previously thought and is confirmed by this photograph showing the 1959-60 team wearing the nondescript white jerseys introduced in 1953.

(Photo credit: Official QPR match programme September 14 1959.)

spurs in hungary may 1905Tony Sealey and Bob Goodwin recently found this photograph of the Tottenham Hotspur side that toured Austria-Hungary in May 1905. Although this appeared in a Hungarian newspaper prior to Spurs' matches against Budapesti Torna Club and MTK Budapest on 12th and 14th May, Bob has identified the line-up as the one that met a Viennese Select XI on 4th May. I assume that they borrowed the hooped jerseys because of a colour clash.

5 March

alloa athletic 1959-60Today we have some more Scottish club updates courtesy of Ian McConnel. Raith Rovers (August 1958 added), Ayr United (August-October added, November 1958-59 corrected), Airdrieonians (1958-59 socks corrected and dates adjusted, 1959-60 added), Motherwell (1958-59 added and dates adjusted), Falkirk (1958-59 cold weather kit added), Aberdeen (1958-59 cold weather kit added), Queen of the South (1958-59 cold weather kit), Rangers (1958-59 added), St Mirren (1958-59 two kits added, 1959-60 added), Cowdenbeath (1959-60 added), Third Lanark (1959-60 cold weather kit added), Alloa Athletic (1959-60 added - above).

4 March

Further to yesterday's post about Watford, Greger Lindberg has found a report in the Northampton Chronicle & Echo (27 June 1927) which states that the team had changed from their old black and white strip to "turquoise shirts with white collar and cuffs, white knickers."

east stirlingshire 1962-63In the early 60s East Stirlingshire dropped their traditional narrow hoops in favour of black jerseys. The 1962-63 version shown here featured a very unusual collar.

Rochdale (1979-80 socks corrected), Lincoln City (1993-94 corrected), Greenock Morton (1977-78 Umbro trim added to shirt; the rarely worn Adidas shirts from 1983-84 were matched with their regular Umbro shorts), Grimsby Town (crest history revised), West Ham United (1991-92, 1992-93 shorts trim corrected),(). Exeter City (1909-10, 1960-61 added).

exeter city 1960-61I was under the firm impression that Jimmy Hill was responsible for introducing the first single colour strip (other than all-white) when he had his Coventry City team kitted out in all sky-blue in 1962-63. This has now been thrown into doubt by this picture of Exeter City wearing matching red shirts and shorts in 1960-61.

3 March

watford fc 1928-29Although it is thought that Watford played in turquoise jerseys in the 1930s, the evidence is scanty, all club records for the period having been destroyed. Recently, however, I was sent a scan of a programme from a match between Queen's Park Rangers and Watford which confirms the visitors' unusual colours. watford fc 1906-07Unfortunately my correspondent did not provide the date for the game. As I looked into this I came across two photographs that may show the jerseys in question worn in 1928-29 (above left) and 1935-36. In the course of my digging I came across this rather fine colourised image of the team wearing their splendid red, green and yellow jerseys in 1906-07.

(Photo credit: The Watford Observer)

1 March

wolves circa 1891I was contacted last month by Nick Walters who curates the Wolves Shirt Museum blog concerning the team group on the left, which he had colourised based on my graphic. This has always been a puzzling image that doesn't seem to fit with what is known about Wolverhampton Wanderers' kit history from contemporary sources. The photograph appeared in The Wolves: The First Eighty Years" (Percy Young 1959) without a date attributed although in his updated 1976 history, it is described as "circa 1890." We know that wolves 1892the club registered their colours for the 1891-92 season as "blue and orange" (Burnley Express 11 July 1891) but on the eve of the new season this was changed to "old-gold and black shirts, quartered," (Preston Herald 16 September 1891).

My theory is that the photograph shows the original blue and orange jerseys. However, the players all seem very young. Furthermore none of them nor the officials present in the circa 1890 photograph appear in the 1892-93 team (right). This raises the possibility that Percy Young was mistaken and the older picture is not of a Wolves team at all. Another possibility is that the blue and orange shirts were assigned to the reserves or an affiliated youth team. This remains an open question and I am very keen to hear from any Elves who can shed light on the subject.

One thing that is clear is that my interpretation of the photograph was incorrect (dark blue still appears dark when photographed with orthographic film) and I have reversed the colours in my graphic.

wolves shirt 1899In the course of our correspondence, Nick directed me to this picture of a shirt dating from 1899, the oldest Wolves shirt to have survived. The property of Brad Gwilliam, it was worn in the 1899-1900 season by his great-grandfather, RE Gwilliam, who played for the team 1899-1902.

(Credits: The Wolves: The First Eighty Years" (Percy Young 1959), Brad Gwiliam/Wolves Shirt Museum.)

15 February

notts county 1963-64Notts County (1963-64 socks corrected - see left), Accrington Stanley (1952-53 added), Accrington Stanley modern club, (2001-02, 2002-03 detailing updated), East Fife (1970-71 added), Wimbledon (1962-66 entries tidied up and 1963 FA Amateur Cup final strip added), Newcastle United (red shirts worn against Leeds United in the FA Cup, January 1931, added), Cheltenham Town (1995-96 & 1996-97 now presented in the correct order, August 1997 added),

stoke 1980-81 no sponsorLee Hermitage wrote to me recently enclosing this photograph of a Stoke City player warming up before an away game in 1980. "I stumbled across this variation of Stoke City's Umbro shirt with a deep, white V-neck, rather than the standard wing collar....I've never seen this version of the Stoke shirt of that era. Maybe it was only brought out at venues where Stoke needed to change from white shorts/socks?"

Stoke are indeed wearing their alternative black shorts but this is not the reason for the unusual shirt. In 1980 the TV companies were refusing to televise matches in which teams wore sponsored shirts. To avoid being blacklisted, clubs ordered at least one set of shirts without sponsorship. No doubt it was easier and cheaper to get Umbro to supply these with their standard broad V neck rather than the bespoke flappy collar that featured on their regular set.

(Photo Credit: Aston Villa official match programme December 1980.)

10 February

airdrieonians 1959-60I have given the original Airdrieonians section an early spring clean, mainly to render their iconic diamond more accurately. The photograph is of the 1959-60 team.

Wrexham (1984-85 European kit added, Sept 2001-02 branding changed).

In the course of their research, HFK elves Tony Sealey and Richard Essen discovered that when Tottenham Hotspur played Swansea spurs change kit 1928-29Town at Vetch Field on 10 November, 1928, the visitors wore red tops in the first half, blue in the second. Spurs change strip at the time (pictured right) would have been perfectly alright for the game so it appears that they either packed the wrong kit or the hamper went astray on the journey. Swansea's change shirts at the time were maroon but all reports refer to Spurs wearing red in the first half so it is likely these were sourced from somewhere else. Changing shirts at half-time was not unusual (it rained heavily that day) but coventry city april 1968why they changed into blue tops is a mystery. If anyone can shed light on all this, please let me know.

I have often been puzzled by the number of variations on Coventry City's sky blue kit that appeared in the late 1960s. Jim Brown has now confirmed that most of these were worn in the latter part of the 1967-68 season. The variant on the left was adopted in March 1968 and worn until the end of the season. The familiar version with blue and white rings at collar and cuff was reinstated at the start of 1968-69.

9 February

My apologies for the apparent lack of activity over the last three weeks. I've been working on a major project which I hope to publish by the end of the month. However, today I'm taking a break to catch up with some of the material in the rangers v hibs april 1958HFK inbox beginning with some more Scottish updates from Ian McConnel.

In April 1958 Rangers wore "silk" tops in their match against Hibernian, shown here. They also seem to have adopted a warm weather top that season which featured a contrasting V neck and short sleeves for the first time.

Clyde (1955 Scottish Cup final socks corrected, 1956-57 & newcastle v hearts november 19571957-58 socks detailing modified), Dunfermline Athletic (1955-57 cold weather kit modified, 1955-58 kits tidied up), East Fife (1956-57 socks corrected, 1957-59 detailing amended), Dundee (1956-57 added, 1957-58 crest amended), Airdrieonians (1956-57 two strips added, 1957-58 cold weather strip added), Stirling Albion (1956-57 added), Kilmarnock (1957-58, 1959-61 added), Queen's Park (1957-58 added), Falkirk (1957-59 shorts trim added), Raith Rovers (Jan-May 1958 detailing adjusted), St Mirren (1957-58, 1958-59 stripes adjusted), Dundee United (1957-58 shorts & socks corrected), Inverness Caledonian (1957-58 added).

As an added bonus, Ian has found some photographs of the floodlit match between Newcastle United and Heart of Midlothian played on 20 November 1957. This allows us to finally confirm all the details of Toon's elusive floodlights kit. Hearts wore their own floodlights shirts with white sleeves.

(Photo Credit: Ian McConnel)

15 January - Huddersfield Town (Again)

hudersfield town april 1912In the course of my update of the Huddersfield Town section earlier this week, I dropped the April 1912 graphic because I was unable to find the source. After consulting with Roger Pashby, I found the email (which dates from ten years ago!) in which he sent me the photographs shown here. The tops are clearly the team's change strip and the fact that they are worn in home matches is not in itself significant. At the time the "senior" club retained their first choice strip when colours clashed and it was not until 1921 that the Football League introduced the rule requiring visiting teams to change.

What is significant is that the image on the right is from the match against Hull City on 9 April 1912. There is no reason for Huddersfield to change out of their normal white shirts for this game but it came over the Easter period at the end of a sequence of four matches in five days. In fact the teams had met the previous day at Anlaby Road and it seems likely that there was no time to get their white shirts washed and dry in time after they returned to Huddersfield.

(Credit: Leeds Road: Home of my Dream (Ian Thomas 1994) retrieved from The Huddersfield Town Collection).

coventry city january 1962Jim Brown has sent me evidence that Coventry City adopted the white strips with contrasting blue sleeves in November 1961. The photograph shows them wearing this unusual outfit at Notts County in January 1962. It is well documented that they also had an all-white strip with V necks and short sleeves in 1961-62 which I believe was worn in the warmer months.

Rotherham United (1949-51, 1951-52 detailing updated).

13 January - Boston United

boston united 1959-60I'm grateful to Christian James who has sent me a collection of photographs to improve the Boston United section. (1957-58 socks corrected, 1965-66, 1970-71 added, 1973-77 socks corrected, 1980-81 added, 1981-82 collar corrected, 1978-80 sponsorship added, 1983-84 & 1985-86 added, 1986-87 & 1987-88 sponsor corrected, 1990-91 detailing added, 2000-01 shorts corrected.) Pictured is the 1959-60 team.

12 January - Huddersfield Town Major Update

huddersfield town afc 1913-14An enduring puzzle that goes back to the very beginning of HFK has been how to interpret early photographs of Huddersfield Town, such as this example from 1913-14. The stripes appear to be quite pale and initially I thought they must have been light blue although the few contemporary records I was able to find consistently described their huddersfield town fixture card 1909-10colours as "blue and white." Once the role of the orthographic film stock, widely used at the time was understood (it makes blues look pale and reds/yellows dark), I revised my graphics to show conventional mid-blue.

Recently Roger Pashby, who runs the outstanding Huddersfield Town Collection website, sent me a photograph of this 1909-10 fixture card, the season that the club dropped their original red jerseys and it clearly states that the new colours would be "light blue and white."

Armed with this information I have re-examined the photographic record and concluded that the club wore a shade that was intermediate between pale "Cambridge Blue" and conventional mid or royal blue. I believe they switched to mid blue and white shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War, although I can't be certain about this.

As a result I have completely overhauled the Huddersfield Town section that includes alterations and additional detailing to graphics up to 1962.

(Credits: Huddersfield Town Collection)

11 January - Scottish Clubs Update

st mirren v airdrieonians 1955-56Aberdeen (1954-55 added), East Fife (1953-55 detailing corrected, 1955-56added), Heart of Midlothian (1954-55 alternative kit added), Dundee (1954-55 added, 1955-56 detailing added), Airdrieonians (1954-55 early season kit added), Raith Rovers (1954-55 corrected), Clyde (1954-55 corrected - the kit with a crest was worn only in the Scottish Cup final, 1955-56 warm weather kit added), St Johnstone (1954-55 shorts detailing adjusted), Dunfermline Athletic (1954-55 corrected, 1955-57 kits now designated for warm or cold weather), Rangers (1937-50 change kit corrected), St Mirren (detailing adjusted).

dundee v ranger 30 december 1950Pictured are the matches between St Mirren and Aidrieonians in 1955-56 (top left) and Dundee v Rangers (lower right) at Dens Park on 30 December 1950. In Scotland it was the home team that changed when colours clashed which is why Dundee are wearing white shirts so it is not clear why the visitors have also changed into their unusual alternative tops.

6 January

Euro 1984: Yugoslavia (trim adjusted on all strips).

FIFA World Cup 1998: Yugoslavia (1998 red trim added).

Lincoln City (1989-90 detailing added). Tony Sealey has unravelled the confusing sequence of kits worn by Wimbledon between 1972 and 1975.

5 January

bradford city 1938-39My thanks to Michael Gluck for this photograph, which shows that Bradford City adopted these smart broad striped shirts in 1938-39, earlier than I had previously thought.

The Lancashire Evening Post (16 May 1906) reported that the directors of Grimsby Town had decided to grimsby town 1907-08change the team's colours to "white jerseys, with a bright red collar and waistband, black knickers, and black stockings, with red tops." This colourised photograph, taken the following season (1907-08) provides a good view of this curious collar but there is no sign of a waistband. We think this was a misprint for "wristband."

(Credit: British Newspaper Archive retrieved by Dave Wherry)

Arsenal (1919-20 socks revised), Bootle (1892-93 added), Burton Wanderers (1896-97 added), Lincoln City (1896-97 confirmed as dark red and white).

4 January 2021

arsenal march 1933In July 2013, drawing on the research of Mark Andrews and Andy Kelly I published the story of how Herbert Chapman first created the iconic Arsenal shirt in 1933 by ordering a set of sleeveless Viyela jumpers to be worn over the top of their white change shirts. You can read the full story on the History of Arsenal Blog.

Last month Tony Sealey alerted me to the fact that in the new edition of The Arsenal Shirt (Simon Shakeshaft & James Elkin 2020) a slightly different narrative emerges. According to reports in the Nottingham Evening Post and the Daily Mirror (4 March arsenal v liverpool 19331933) Arsenal were expected to wear the jumper and shirt combination against Liverpool at Highbury that afternoon. The cutting on the right (Nottingham Journal 6 March 1933) confirms the team wore their new colours that afternoon but the photograph (above left) from the Sunday Pictorial (5 March 1933) clearly shows Alex James and David Jack wearing conventional flannel shirts.

According to The Arsenal Story (Tom Whittaker 1957), the jumper and shirt combination proved troublesome in the wash and was rejected in favour of a more conventional solution. The club had been given permission to nottingham evening post 4 march 1933change their colours on 21 February and I assume the experimental tops were tried out in training and found wanting so conventional red and white flannel shirts were ordered to replace them. I've been able to confirm that in the two matches played after permission for the change was granted, the Gunners wore their plain red tops so we can certain that the new colours were indeed introduced on 4 March.

What remains puzzling, however, is that the Nottingham Evening Post (4 March 1933) reported that Chapman contacted Hollins & Co to place a rush order for the Viyella jumpers the day before the Liverpool game.

(Credits: The British Newspaper Archives)

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