Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Get Your Kit On

Whilst there are many good things about being the supporter of a non-league football team (the cost of getting in, being able to get a pint of something drinkable at half-time, not having to worry about stupid kick-off times, not very often having to queue at the turnstiles, being able to stand up, and so on), there are a few things that irritate me about it, too. Firstly, there's not being able to see your team on the television. I noted with interest that Channel 5 have bought up the rights to show Serie A highlights next season, and I was somewhat disappointed, because football below the Conference has never been shown on the television in this country.

Quite why this is, I'm not sure. I mean, the quality can be really dreadful, but there's loads of it, and most of the clubs are so strapped for cash that they would do more or less anything for a cheque for £500. If Channel Five are happy to fork out good money for football from Italy, isn't it about time that someone like FTN or UKTV History threw their lot in with, say, the Northern Premier League? They could market it as "real, gritty football, the way it's supposed to be", and surely more people would watch it than watch the garbage that they show at the moment. It makes supporting a non-league team from a distance really difficult when you don't know who's who, who's doing what, who's playing well and who isn't.

Another minor bugbear of mine is the delay in getting the fixtures released. The Football League have theirs issued next week, but the non-league clubs probably have at least another couple of weeks to wait. I know that this is at least partly due to the fact that Conference needs a few weeks during June to randomly kick a couple of clubs out and allow those who have suddenly realised that they're in way over their heads to resign back to the county leagues, from whence they came. However, I'd like to know which social events I'm going to have to wheedle my way out of at the same time, which Saturdays at work I'm going to have to swap, and which matches I will be missing because I'm away over Christmas. It's something that I can cope with, but it remains a minor irritant.

There is one thing, however, that makes those things (and the more serious issues, such as the fact that, if my club went to the wall, no-one else bar a few hundred of us would really care that much) fade into insigificance, and that's kits. Firstly and foremostly, there's the issue of when we find out what next season's kit will look like. The bigger clubs now debut their kits for the next season on the last day of the season before, and the rest make theirs available over the following couple of weeks or so. Down here in the "Blue Chip South", though, there is silence from the manufacturers and from the club. For all I know, St Albans are lining up in the monstrosity that they spent last season wearing. I do know that next season's kit will be made, as this year's was, by Errea, and that St Albans aren't big enough a designer to make them something unique, so it's fair enough to look ahead to the new season by looking at the template shirts that Errea currently have on offer.

Now, the Axel design is what they wore last season (I could get quite fond of the away kit, which is the mirror image of what's on view there), and it's doubtful that they'll wear the same thing again next season, and some of the designs don't appear to even have a blue and yellow option (fortunately, the distinctly homo-erotic Elastic shirt appears to be one of them), so I'm at a loss to be able to predict what it will be - though if anyone from Errea does happen to see this, I'd quite like the away kit to be in the Stripes design. Pink or beige, please. Either would be good.

St Albans' colours, for those of you that didn't already know, are blue and yellow, and they've had a pretty bewildering selection of different kits over the years. You'd think that blue and yellow in itself would be pretty difficult to get wrong, but they've had a decent go at it over the last twenty-five years or so. From memory, they've had: plain yellow shadow stripes, blue with three thin white hoops and a thick yellow hoop (think France at Euro 84, only not made by Adidas), an exact copy of the 1988 Wimbledon FA Cup winning shirt, thin yellow and blue stripes (on two seperate occasions), blue with yellow sleeves, blue with a yellow chevron (about six million times worse than it sounds, that one), blue and yellow quarters, thick blue and yellow stripes (on two seperate occasions), blue and yellow halves, yellow with one blue hoop, yellow with blue flecks on the sleeves, plain yellow with blue colours, all plain yellow, and, last season, yellow with a diagonal blue stripe. You can understand my excitement at what next season may bring.

Last year, though, the new kit wasn't delivered until about three days before the start of the season, and the debate over when the new kit will be in the club shop will almost certainly continue until well into September. Such organisation, coupled with the fact that they still, so far as I'm aware, only have about ten contracted players at the moment, lead me to believe that the bookmakers' current placing of them as 7/1 second favourites might be a little bit optimistic.


Ed said...

I will always maintain that the single worst kit I've ever seen is Brighton's in the 1991-2. It was so bad, we got RELEGATED.


Amorous Badger said...

Not a patch on the Ipswich Town 'dipped in bleach' kit from around 1996.

MORE to the point, read my new blog, I need contributers.


Oooh can I has an add to your linky list please Ian?

200percent said...

Of course you can, Neil. I need to add some others, and had been meaning to do this for a while.

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