THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Colour not heavily used as home shirt

icon shirtstuff17 September ~ In 2014-15, yellow away strips are rife. Carlisle, Barnsley, Coventry, Southend and Plymouth Argyle – every league corner of England suddenly has a yellow change shirt. Did kit manufacturers anticipate a Brazil triumph this summer? Perhaps they're designed to confuse opponents by melding with the hi-viz jackets of police and stewards. What's certain is their popularity confirms the dearth of yellow home strips in England's top four divisions.

The colour of away kits, like button-down collars and shorts of varying roominess, is as subject to trend as any aspect of strip design. A few years back every French side travelling in Europe seemed to wear all grey. Like the referee's black, grey is barely a colour, clashing only with dirty-white and sky blue opponents. Yellow, a traditional goalie's colour, is a wise alternative throughout four tiers where only Watford, Norwich, Oxford United and Burton Albion wear it as home shirts.

Some yellow change strips are more legendary than many first choice kits; Spurs won the 1982 FA Cup in all-yellow, an away kit Leeds used from the outset of colour TV. It remains to be seen if Sheffield Wednesday's current version will become similarly iconic after August's win at the Riverside.

Between them Southampton and Arsenal played four FA Cup finals from 1976-80, wearing yellow shirts with blue shorts. In 1980 Arsenal contested the Cup-Winners Cup final in this combination, as did Juventus four years later.

Of course, all-yellow Torquay United dropped into the Conference last season. Cambridge United came up to join Mansfield and Newport County in related hues, usually marketed as anything from amber to ochre. Those French clubs undoubtedly called their grey "silver", just as Wolves' mustardy-orange classic becomes "gold”. Combine these off-yellows with black stripes, as per Hull City (or Port Vale's change strip), and you have the quintessentially doughty Scottish lower-league shirt.

Black and amber is to Scotland what claret and blue is to England; somehow, strangely, more “traditional”. The dark blue of Dundee, Ross County, Raith and Falkirk reprises the national team's shirt. But East Fife, Alloa, Berwick, Annan and even Auchinleck Talbot – Scotland's most successful junior club – bask in the hardy traditionalism evoked when yellow is smothered by black stripes. Peñarol might have won three World Club championships, but to Scots they'll always resemble a colliery town Sunday league team.

Outsiders might assume Scotland's two biggest clubs set the template for SPFL strips. However only four other clubs wear Rangers-style royal blue shirts. Celtic and Hibs, like Plymouth and Yeovil in England, are the only League clubs in predominantly green tops.

While the SPFL just doesn't do red and white stripes, it shares England's attitude to yellow. Dumbarton and Albion Rovers have exploited varying amounts on their home kit since the 1960s; Celtic and Kilmarnock have clinched major Scottish domestic honours this century in yellow away tops. However, with the 2003-04 League Cup, Livingston became the only club to do so in a predominantly yellow home shirt. It thoroughly suited their new town, recently formed image. In both Scotland and England, yellow itself is destined to remain an arriviste. Alex Anderson

 

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