Thursday, July 19, 2007

London Fashion Week

As one or two of you may have noticed from the comments section for the post below this one, there's going to be a definitive history of goal nets on here in the next few days or so. I will be working on this tonight (and if anyone has any titbits if information that they'd like to share with me, then email me!), so I've got to keep tonight's post on here relatively brief. I'm not, for once, going to delve into the past but bring you right up to date by nudging you in the direction of a handy little page for geeks like us.

The venerable Historical Kits website (the undisputed UK champions of cataloguing football kits down the years) has produced a handy guide to the kits that the teams of the Premier League, the Football League, the SPL and the Scottish Football League will be wearing next season. You can see the English page here and the Scottish page here. It goes without saying that none of these kits would have made the grade in 1982 (the high point of football kit fashion), but there's a mixed bag this season, with some teams going gratifyingly minimalist and others going, well, just plain horrible. Let's have a quick look at what we've got to look forward to.

The Premier League: Well, at least most of them have decided what they're wearing next season, which is a start. Special praise should go to Spurs (who are celebrating their 125th anniversary with a home kit apparently based on the 1961 double winning team - try to ignore their sky blue and white halved "anniversary" third kit), Manchester City (pleasingly bonkers - shadow stripes, pinstripes and a Le Coq Sportif logo on the shoulder) and Fulham, who have regressed right the way back to the 1975 FA Cup Final with a completely plain white shirt. On the down side, Newcastle United have proved yet again that it is possible to mess up something as simple as black and white stripes, Birmingham City, Everton, Sunderland, Wigan and West Ham have all succumbed to absolute monstrosities from Umbro, who have gone from being Britain's best kit manufacturers in about fifteen years to being, well, you work out the rest. Derby County and Middlesbrough are still too shy to show us what they'll be wearing next year. Amateurs.

The Championship: The entire Football League is a graveyard of fashion this year, but there are some in each division that have contrived to be even worse than the rest. Crystal Palace, for example, have decided to eschew stripes in favour of what looks like stripes in the shape of a heart, Coventry City and Bristol City have simply allowed Puma to incorporate their colours into one of their Sunday League kit template designs, and Diadora's designs for Watford and Preston North End make it look as if their players have breasts. On the up side, Burnley (winners of the award for the best kit in the entire league last season) have been admirably restrained, whilst Ipswich's pinstripes hark back to a time when they spent their time winning things like the UEFA Cup, rather than worrying about whether they could beat Colchester for the sake of local pride.

League One: Half of next year's League One clubs haven't decided what they wearing next season, and the remainder of them range from the suitably restrained to the downright awful. You can't really go wrong with blue and white quarters, and Bristol Rovers' effort looks more like a proper football kit than most. Millwall and Southend (who are still wearing the same as last season) have also gone for the "less is more" look. Meanwhile, dear oh dear... Walsall. Step forward. You are the winners of the Worst Kit Of The Season award before a quarter of the clubs have even declared. Their kit seems to be based on the pinafore of a 1950s Lyons Tea House waitress.

League Two: Could there be a better Axis Of Evil than Nike making Franchise shirts? No, I didn't think so either. Those two organisations are made for each other. Mind you, Marshall Amplifiers should know better than to be their sponsors. Bradford have gone retro (their kit is better than the picture on Historical Kits might suggest), whilst Shrewsbury's yellow and white collars are appropriately mad for a club whose badge, until this summer, had three lions with their tongues sticking out on it. Rochdale are celebrating their centenary by reverting to the black and white stripes that they wore in their first season, whilst poor old Macclesfield have a big "S" (presumably for "Silkmen" - their nickname) scrawled across the front of their shirts. Presumably this was designed by the chairman's three year-old grandson.

Scotland: In the SPL, things aren't too bad. Celtic appear to be trying to invoke the spirit of the 1967 European Cup Final, whilst Dundee United and St Mirren have both sexy Hummel kits (Dundee United's even has shadow stripes - be still, my beating heart). Rangers, meanwhile, haven't had a decent home kit in twenty-five years, so it's no surprise to see them in a by-the-numbers Umbro disaster (Hearts, to stretch a pun to breaking point, follow "suit"), and Motherwell's kit this year, whilst pretty bad, is at least made by Bukta, who I had kind of assumed didn't even exist any more. The majority of clubs in the Scottish Football League haven't declared yet, but a couple of those that have deserve a mention. I fully expect to see three page adverts for Nike featuring the heroes of Hamilton Academicals, Airdrie's red chevron is a srangely reassuring sight, and East Fife have gone for a look that mildly resembles an abstract artistic rendition of the Hiroshima bomb.

St Albans City will almost certainly not even get their new kit delivered until the middle of September (they played last weekend's pre-season mini-tournament at Kettering in their away kit from two years ago. Now, I have goal nets to read about.


Ed said...

The bloke in the picture there looks to me to be Gary Hobson, in his Hull days before he signed for Brighton in 1996. A few weeks after we'd beaten a Hull team featuring Hobson (a defender) 4-0 at the Goldstone. In a season when we were appalling.

Brighton have a good kit this season, apart from it being 8 sizes too big. The shorts are blue again, rather than white. Following last season's magnificent decision to bring back PROPER Brighton blue instead of that sky-blue striped monstrosity, all is well again in the football world.

ursus arctos said...

Goal nets, eh?

I assume corner flags are next?

I think nets that have the design of the club's badge are intriguing, though I've always wondered whether they are distracting for spectators directly behind the goal.

I think my favourite is probably Sampdoria's, which reproduced their Rorschach like mascot (which is the head of a sailor with a Genovese cap and pipe, but susceptible to a whole host of contradictory "readings"). River Plate's isn't bad either.

During my undistinguished goalkeeping career, I never had the opportunity to guard such an aesthetically distinguished net.

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