Like many footy bloggers, I’m not just a fan but also a player. And because I’m not a streamstress or cobbler who can fashion my own equipment, that also makes me a consumer.
Unfortunately, being as cynical and poor as I am, I’m not a very good consumer. Yet, that doesn’t stop me from leafing through the pages of the Eurosport catalog a few times a week, making a mental checklist of all the merchandise I don’t need and will never buy, but would gladly splurge on if I had the means. It’s like window shopping at home and I’m addicted to it.
As a kid in Virginia Beach, I could easily spend an hour or more at the local soccer shop, which wasn’t but 400 square feet, pouring over every last piece of merchandise, from posters to socks. I was, and still am to this day, transfixed by it all.
Boots and shorts aside, I’m probably most drawn to kits. Whether they be replica jerseys or the general templates for amatuer teams, I’m like a moth to flame. I pour over them, critiquing designs and colors, outfitting my imaginary teams with home, away and third kits. It’s actually quite the source of general amusement.
Why yes, I probably do have too much time on my hands. Granted, we’re also talking about bathroom reading. But, apparently I’m not the only one who thinks jerseys are interesting. (Sadly, I found the Football Shirt Culture site after already having written about the jerseys)
So, inspired by the freshest edition of Eurosport, I’ve decided to share my passion for the trivial with you.
And no, unfortunately for my checking account, I’m not a shill.
Where shall we start?
How about with the fierce rivals of my beloved Liverpool, Manchester United?
While I run the risk of coming under fire for praising anything Manc-ish, their new home top is a vast improvement over the last one. Last year’s version had their badge housed within an oddly-shaped constrasting background, an eyesore that has been simplified/corrected this year.
In fact, simplicity is the word for this shirt, which is probably why I find it so aesthetically pleasing. I love retro-looking kits and this one fits the bill perfectly. No silly designs with needless slashes of contrasting color to be found here. It’s one color, with a badge, the kit-maker’s emblem and the sponsor. Simple but effective.
Funny, though, the striking resembalance it shares with a kit Liverpool had not two years ago.
My only knocks on Liverpool’s 2005 Champions League-winning jersey were the white patches underneath the armpits and the overly designed collar. But, neither of those two design characteristics keep it from being one of my all-time favorite Liverpool jerseys of recent history.
(and speaking of my All-Time Favorite Liverpool kits, that post will soon be on its way…)
I promise you this; if I ever become rich enough to buy a club, the home shirts will look a lot like the one to the left. They’ll be the primary color of the club, badge and emblem — and that’s it.
(I’m thinking Nottingham Forest could probably be bought for a decent sum now-a-days. A solid club with a lovely history whose color is also red? Somebody find me a billionaire, stat!)
In fact, it would probably look a lot like this Liverpool shirt adidas has out right now and which I own. While I’d prefer a solid shirt, I’d be willing to compromise for the three stripes. This is probably why I’m pretty fond of our current home Liverpool kit.
Because of my proclivity for simple/clean/retro, I also think this top is quite sharp.
Courtesy of South Africa’s oldest club, Orlando Pirates, this would be a fantastic pub team jersey. Not only is the plain black a good look, but the skull & crossbones badge is bad-ass.
Unfortunately, black jerseys soak up sun like a thirsty drunk as one of my former rec teams learned a few years ago. Sadly, I was the one who pushed for a similar black shirt (the adidas squadra jersey) and quickly found out that it was a poor choice in a southeastern coastal climate.
Another replica kit I thought would make a great pub team shirt is last season’s Celtic away jersey. My personal feeling is that stripes or hoops on a kit are often hit-or-miss and have to be judged on an individual basis.
In this case, the green and black are a sharp pairing. Sadly, this kit been replaced this season by a simple solid green shirt.
Another top with stripes that has won me over is the latest Argentina home shirt. While the light blue and white stripes are nothing new, but they don’t dominate the whole shirt within the current adidas template and the black three lines provides a nice contrast.
Then again, maybe it looks more attractive now that there are more likeable Argentinian players and my hatred of a certain obese, cheating #10 has waned a bit over the years.
Yet, there are striped and hooped shirts which I’m not crazy about. When it comes to stripes, it’s not a good idea to house the shirt sponsor’s logo in a solid box. Stripes on sleeves are distracting too. When you combine the two, you get something like the greek tradegy/candycane that is Olympiacos’ home top.
Hoops are just as easy to screw up, like with the Sporting Lisbon home jersey.While similiar to the legendary Celtic home shirt, the Portugese club shows you can ruin a good thing. In their case, making the hoops too thin didn’t quite work.
Sometimes, a shirt isn’t necessarily bad, but just isn’t as good as the one it’s replacing. I think this is the case of the new 07/08 Tottenham away top, which reverts back to a more traditional color.
Not being a Spurs fan, I thought last year’s electric blue was pretty fetching. And like Craig Bellamy, I prefer not to have a collar.
This year, Tottenham have a fourth kit, celebrating their 125th anniversary.
Strangely enough, the split colors is somewhat hypnotising. (adidas employed this look for Rapid Wein’s away jersey) While it’s highly doubtful I’d buy it if I were a Spurs fan, I might have myself a laugh and outfit the beer league team in it… if I found them in a bargain bin.
Speaking of the bargain bin, there are more than a few new jerseys who are destined to end up in one, if not the trash basket.
Case in point, the abomination that is the new Chelsea away kit.
We are here at Stamford Bridge, where we’ve secretly replaced the fine away kit they had last season with the ugliest color known to man. Let’s see if anyone can tell the difference!
Firstly, we have to give full credit to adidas for their attempts to make Chelsea look as foolish as possible. They took a perfectly unoffensive white jersey and replaced it with a school crossing guard’s uniform.
Fortunately for all you Chelsea fans out there, batteries are included, although you may want to look into buying rechargables.
But Chelsea aren’t the only ones with silly kits. Mexico’s Club America is using the same ugly pattern on both its home and away (as seen here) shirts this year to spectacular results.
Maybe that should read ‘Craptacular’?
Regardless, I should give credit where credit is due, because while Europe has seen its fair share of ugly kits, the Mexican league and their Latin America brethern have been among the global leaders in on-the-field eyesores for quite some time. Keep up the good work, amigos!
Sadly, history is littered with ugly kits from all over the world and I can’t catalog them all. Care to see some of the classics? There’s an old collection here, here and here. And then, there is the treasure chest that is Premiershirts.net’s Hall of Shame.