Amongst the many joys of a new football season is the annual parade of new team jerseys.
Every year the terraces are awash with colour as freshly holidayed supporters squeeze themselves into the brand new incarnations of hallowed shirts, many of which have been horrifically abused by kit designers over the seasons.
To keep things in perspective as we prepare to receive the new season’s strips, here are some of the worst from years gone by:
Tottenham away kits through the Premier League years have been purple, yellow, brown, black, and blue, but our particular favourite was this pale early 90s number, that combined a light blue shirt with a dizzying array of pinstripes, some of which actually spelled out the word ‘Spurs’. Just in case they forgot who they were.
The middle of the 90’s was when vomit-inducing kit design reached its zenith. Chelsea were assembling a glamorous squad of elite European talent at the time, and paying them high wages to wear kits that resembled severely damaged television displays.
Liverpool have often struggled to come up with enough variations on the theme of ‘red shirts, red shorts, red socks’ to keep their fans flocking to the superstore for replica shirts. In 1995, Adidas took inspiration from neck injury victims and produced a kit with a bizarrely huge white V-neck collar. Even Robbie Fowler’s shock of blonde hair couldn’t compete in the fashion howler stakes.
The colours of white, yellow and blue have been synonymous with Leeds United for decades. Green and blue stripes, on the other hand, have been synonymous with ties worn by businessmen with no taste. Thank goodness Tony Yeboah’s thunderbolt goals were providing ample distraction from Leeds’ woeful away strip in 1995/96.
“Jason McAteer – when he plays, people watch!” went the slogan of a Head & Shoulders advert in the mid-90s. Sadly, those watching in 1996/97 had to learn what the colour ‘ecru’ looked like as Liverpool failed to establish themselves as the cream of anything except truly awful kit design.
The tale of the team with the invisible kit has become part of Premier League folklore, but there are many who remember all too keenly the 3-1 trouncing Manchester United received at The Dell in their ’50 shades of grey’ away strip that prompted all the players to quickly remove their clothes at half time.
Newcastle enjoyed a buoyant period in the mid-90s, but their confidence got the better of them when they splashed out on a fancy new away strip in 1995/96. You can just picture the design meeting, when some wise guy piped up: “How about a pink and blue hooped shirt with a grandad collar and a beer mat in the middle?” Incredibly, this actually happened.
Over the years, the standard of kits has improved. Designers have learned from the horror shows of the past, and the Premier League is, on the whole, a more dignified place. But every now and again, some new kit manufacturer steams in with a new monstrosity to humiliate certain teams and challenge even the strongest supporters’ stomachs. This season, that manufacturer is Macron, who have dressed Darren Bent and his Villa team-mates in the colour of regurgitated alcopops on a Sunday morning.