The Dirty Dozen
Many supporters see replica shirts as their opportunity to show off tremendous loyalty in public, buying their team’s new merchandise year in, year out. A side’s colours are often the subject of the terrace choirs; take Newcastle United, who take great pride in supporting their ‘black and white army.’ However, I don’t think many Everton supporters will be displaying Tim Howard’s goalkeeping top this season, thanks to a rather hideous camouflage kit that wouldn’t look out-of-place in a paintball arena. Nevertheless, shirt designers at Goodison Park look like fashion gurus in comparison to this selection of horror shows. Here are the dirty dozen:
- Manchester United 1995/6 – Whilst perhaps not the most abhorrent of jerseys, this grey number still made waves when Manchester United visited Southampton at the Dell only to fall 3 behind before half-time. As expected for a man whose excuses for poor performances could fill a book, Sir Alex Ferguson made the team change kits at the break. Although they did pull one back, United still lost 3-1 and Fergie blamed the infamous ‘invisible shirts’ for hampering the ability of his players to pick each other out. It has never been seen since to the disappointment of all those who don’t follow the Red Devils.
- Hull City 1992/93 – The club’s nickname is the Tigers. Yes we get it. There is no need to advertise this fact by sporting a shirt featuring an animal print. If the tactic behind this creation was to scare the opposition, it hardly worked, given Hull only narrowly avoided relegation during the 1992/3 season. As far as kits go, this one is grrrrr-oss.
- Norwich City 1993 – Whilst yellow and green are never the best combination of colours; the Canaries went out of their way to make things a lot worse with this effort. Affectionately christened by supporters as ‘the bird poo top’, the club achieved a European spot while wearing it, so perhaps borrowing a hippy’s pyjamas for your club’s kit is the way forward.
- Shrewsbury Town 1992/3 – So flamboyant I’m not sure even Lady Gaga would consider it for a night out, certainly the Shrews fans didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when their team took the field in this fancy number. Evidently the early 90’s was not a good era to be a shirt designer, as the pattern on this one can only be described as modern art gone wrong.
- Mexico(Numerous) – Goalkeeper Jorge Campos was a colourful character, sporting shirts to live up to such a personality. Showing off enough lurid tops to fill this entire column alone, the Mexican liked to stand out on a football field, through either his dazzling dress sense, or an eye for goal, bagging 33 goals for his club side the Pumas, a record Emile Heskey can only dream of.
- Arsenal 1992 – A unique take on a convict’s uniform, this particular model offered an interesting mix of black arrows on a yellow background. Perhaps a response to the ‘Boring, Boring Arsenal’ chants of the time, it certainly livened up away days for Arsenal supporters back in 1992. Some even described it as looking like a ‘bruised banana.’
- Chelsea 2007-08 – Despite Roman Abramovich’s billions,Chelsea clearly couldn’t afford the floodlight bills during this year, hence the creation of the luminous away shirt that glowed quite magnificently in the dark. Some called it ‘eye catching,’ I thought they looked like 11 Pikachu’s running round a pitch.
- VFL Bochum 1997 – Given Germany is a country usually so reserved in nature, Bochum certainly went against the mould with their eyebrow raising shirt of 1997. Seeing how many colours of the rainbow could be squeezed into one design was clearly the main objective here and it wouldn’t look out-of-place as Joseph’s Technicolored Dreamcoat.
- Athletic Bilbao 2004 – Actually designed by a Basque artist Dario Urzay, the method behind this madness was apparently to replicate a ‘blood splatter,’ a notion that seems rather sadistic in the first place. Good job it didn’t work then, as it looked more like someone dropped strawberry yoghurt on it from a high tower.
- Cameroon 2002 – Useful in the hot climates of their home country, the basketball-style vest went down a treat with some fans. Not me. I would cringe seeing people display this shirt in the gym never mind in the football arena. Fifa agreed as well, banning the kit for the 2002 World Cup. Wouldn’t be much use on a cold, blustery January evening either.
- Colorado Caribous 1978 – The American side lasted a year in the NASL, a good thing given the kit they brought to our beautiful game. With a circle of tassels around the midriff, the inspiration behind this disaster was to apparently recreate a Western pioneering spirit. Instead they looked like a team of male cheerleaders.
- Newcastle United 2009/10 – Not content with the humiliation of relegation to the Championship the season before, the Toon Army then pulled out this out of the bag. Looking like a cross between a cheesestring and a boiled sweet, the only possible excuse for this painful view is surely a colour blind designer. One would hope.