I’ve been following English football since the late 80’s, when kit culture truly took off. My first replica was Liverpool’s away jersey from the 1989/90 championship season, bought in a damp caravan in Norwich. They didn’t have the red home shirt in my size so I took the grey one as consolation. It was a truly awful piece of merchandise, but I was in love.
Liverpool’s league fortunes have changed since then, but my love of football’s sartorial ins and outs has grown into a hobby of unreasonable scope. And I’m not alone. Browse a list of websites covering the subject (run entirely by middle-aged men, it should be noted) and the mind truly boggles. Naturally, Soccer Banter had to get involved.
Here, then, is our preview of the kits for all 20 Premiership teams for 2011/12. Think of it as an over-opinionated fashion show for the football-obsessed. Which all of you are. Don’t hide from us. We’re here for you.
Of course, our thoughts are not yours, so let us know what you think. Add your comments below.
2011/12- Kit by Kit
Today’s football kit is basically a throwback to the 60’s and 70’s when kit suppliers had it right: tight-ish shirts, baggy shorts and jacked socks. Check any supplier’s website; they’re all touting their new designs as being ‘inspired by a bygone era’. That most clubs are embracing the fashion is a testament to how uniforms should look: no frills, just basic colours and a bit of flair now and then.
Love the oversized badge to commemorate 125 years of the Woolwich Arsenal, though the laurel leaves are a bit rich for a club that hasn’t won anything in six years. Arsenal’s home kits are historically strong, but where the Gooners fall down (I love writing that- should be the name of an anti-Arsenal fanzine) is with their away kits. When discussing this year’s away offering, Andrey Arshavin is quoted as saying that Arsenal will look like “horse racing jockeys” on the field. Fantastic. I didn’t know he was still making such valuable contributions to the club. Also, if Samir Nasri were wearing a cape in this photo he’d make a credible crime fighter.
Villa, strangely, are dressed for success. This year’s home kit is a vast improvement, and has last season’s garish checkerboard side panels relegated to a subtle all-over motif. Their away kit is a delight, and I love how scowly and dangerous Gabriel Abonglahor looks in his promo photo. Low marks for the keeper kit, however. Shea Weber looks as though he’s just BASE-jumped from a Vegas hotel roof with Travis Pastrana.
Blackburn’s kit is fine, it’s just never really good. You can tell this is a uniform that you sometimes just have to hide when you’re out and about, depending where you are. And that’s never good. The styling’s decent and there’s something very Northern England about the yellow and black away kit, but still, can you believe Blackburn were once Premiership Champions?
The only thing that keeps my eyes from rolling into the back of my head when I think of Bolton Wanderers is wondering what nonsense owner/sponsors Reebok will dream up for their on-field attire. The first comment from the article at onebolton.co.uk, which covered the release of this year’s Bolton kit, is “Isn’t it time someone blew up Bolton?” This, friends, is when you stop writing.
Far more important than this year’s Chelsea strip is the inadvertent hilarity of these promo photos. The lack of chemistry between these four men is unreal. How much extra do you think Drogba and Torres were paid to touch each other? Where the kits go, the home shirt’s not bad; I’m glad Adidas got rid of that band of red that’s been on the collar for the last few years. This small success aside, the away kit is comprehensively terrible. It looks like Adidas combined bits of left over 70’s tracksuits and their 1994 World Cup keeper jerseys, stood back and said, “There.” Ugh.
Everton’s uniforms over the last few years have been fantastic. The Chang beer company has a great logo and you really can’t miss with Toffee blue and white. This year’s efforts, home and away, are excellent to the point of making me sick: simple, solid colours with no futuristic striping or shapes. It’s a simple recipe and I wonder why more manufacturers don’t get it right. Sadly, the goalkeeper jersey destroys all goodwill built up by the outfield kits. Even the muddiest fields of English winter couldn’t disguise Tim Howard in the most embarrassing jersey he’s ever worn. What a shame.
Ever wonder what it’s like to live out eight months of mediocrity wearing a wetsuit in West London? Say hello to the cozy confines of Fulham’s 2011/12 kit. Both jerseys are clean and simple, but you can’t make any mistakes in this thing, it is TIGHT. Wait ‘til you see Bobby Zamora cruising around in this top. He looks like an absolute beast. I bet Fabio Capello has nightmares of Bee-Zee turning up at his house wearing the all-black kit and scuba gear, just sort of floating around his kitchen, wailing “England call up,” over and over like one of the wraiths from Lord of the Rings. Gosh, you couldn’t dream this up, could you?
Here we have a pretty standard Livvie home red accompanied by a pretty standard Stevie Gerrard tough-man scowl. Points for the nice all-red affair, though I could do without the shoulder tapers. There’s not much to say about the awful white and blue third kit other than that I know I’ll grow to hate it even more each time Liverpool lose to Stoke this year. Is anyone familiar with Standard Chartered’s corporate colours, by the way? The black away tops are much better. In fact, King Kenny should have Andy Carroll wear this kit at all times along with a Cylon mask, and make him stand outside Fernando Torres’ house until he (Andy) gets arrested (again).I’m just saying.
No complaints here. Both home and away are great examples of Umbro’s classic esthetic that makes even Carlos Tevez seem svelte and stylish. Like Everton, the boys at City have been fortunate to sport some pretty sturdy duds in recent years. Unlike Everton, City are hotly tipped to win something this year. What’ll it be, do we think? Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t include a link to this video and ask, very quietly to myself, what the hell does Andy Bell thinks he’s doing in that helmet?
I really can’t bring myself to hate on United anymore. There should just be a sign on the side of Old Trafford that reads, ‘Say Something’. That they managed to win the league (again) last year is testament to the collective impotence of the Premiership’s other 19 sides. That the toddler down the road from me has been sporting their perfectly serviceable 2011-12 home jersey for at least a month is testament to the baffling reach of United’s brand. We could be invaded by our worst Orwellian nightmare tomorrow and the first delegate would come down the ramp wearing a Paul Scholes replica jersey. It’s disgusting and phenomenal all at once.
There’s not much you can do to ruin the classic Magpie jersey, apart from the release of this video . It’s a dependable classic and I don’t think Puma have gone wrong with this latest rendition. The colour choice for the away kit is a bit much, but it’s atoned for with the dark menace of the third kit. It’s a shame that the air of intimidation encouraged by the kit will evaporate once NUFC have charged from the tunnel, but so it goes. Observant Newcastle fans may also be slightly annoyed that their goalkeeper will be wearing Tottenham’s third kit from a few years back. Ha!
While City enjoyed a convincing 2010/11 campaign to return to the top-flight, I’m more interested in their new Errea kit and the resoundingly crap promotion accompanying its launch. The kit itself isn’t half bad, particularly the green away strip. However there’s no better way to illustrate the gulf between Premiership haves and have-nots than a quick comparison of videos promoting the kits of the City clubs of Manchester and Norwich respectively. Do enjoy…
The last time I paid attention to QPR, Ray Wilkins was running around the turf field at Loftus Road. That’s a long time ago. I had to slap myself when I learned that QPR won the Championship outright and would be returning to the top-flight. Rangers’ official website claims that they’re still negotiating a shirt sponsor. In the meantime, we’ll have to do with these credible imaginings of QPR’s new home, away and third kits. The home kit is nothing special, and it would have been nice to see the hoops on the sleeves as well. I’ve always liked half-and-half designs, and the two potential third kits both look great, particularly the checked design.
Off the bat, the superhero promo is a nice touch. And is it me or does Jermaine Pennant look like he’s ready to take my clothes off for me in this shot? I’m not a big fan of the vertically striped jersey, but Stoke’s home strip looks positively lethal. Imagine if your college coach was like, “Forget all that redshirting nonsense I was on about before- I blacked out. I’m giving you the number 7 shirt, and our uniform looks just like Stoke City’s. Plus, you have access to low to mid-level campus stardom and as much random tail as you can handle for the next four years.” If that’s not motivation for a fitness test, I don’t know what is.
Umbro’s made another fine effort here with the home kit (love the big black shorts), however the verdict’s still out on the change kits. Full marks for style with the white band across the chest, but I’m just not sure about that blue. This jersey feels like the Christmas present that you wear proudly around your house over the holidays, and then when you return home from wearing it the first day back at school it’s stained with your tears from the unremitting black-balling you received from your safety-in-numbers, line-towing, home strip-wearing pals. No one can resist an easy target. No one.
This strip looks like something a coach would order out of the Eurosport catalogue for their U-16 travel team as a treat for their trip to the Dallas Cup. Everyone would get their last name on the back of their jerseys and tracksuit tops with their nickname embroidered underneath the club badge. They’d go on to be physically and emotionally bested by the juggernaut that is the Glasgow Celtic youth team, a group of rag tag no-hopers from Toronto and that Pumas team from Mexico that enters a side in literally everydivision in the tournament.
Seriously, that’s the best I can do here. They say you should write what you know.
Spurs fans: it’s fantastic that your kit supplier has, as a courtesy, consistently outfit your club in top-notch threads to help bury the ignominy of regular underachievement. This year’s design is no exception- although I’m not clear why the excellent navy away colour was dropped in favour of the, ahem, slightly less intimidating violet. That aside, do you ever just get tired of waiting?
First of all, please accept apologies for the fidelity of these photos. Surprisingly, there isn’t the clamour you’d expect on the Internet for Albion’s new jerseys. And it’s a shame because both are great, particularly the away offering. The promo photos are good as well. Jonas Olsson and Chris Brunt look like they’re ready for a fight, which is all you can ever ask of your idols, however middling, unless they dance for a living.
I’m not ashamed to say that this paragraph is the most attention I’ve paid Wigan Athletic in my life. It’s incredible they’re still in the Premiership, and they must be relieved to have someone besides West Ham as sparring partners in the relegation race this year. Despite a thorough search, I could scrounge only these grainy images of yet another season of utilitarian Wigan-ness. All strips, to be fair, aren’t bad. The home version is classic and the all white third is a nice surprise that reminds of England’s 2010 World Cup whites. But why, why, WHY does one team in the Premiership always insist on having neon on their jerseys? There should be a rule where one player from the starting 11 gets a yellow each time they walk out onto the field with even a scrap of neon on their kit. I’m serious.
Remember that alien delegation I was talking about earlier? I think they’re here, and I was wrong, they’re wearing the Wolves away kit. Oh my god… it’s happening!!! And one of them’s in a Marcus Hahnemann suit! Look at those shoes! Aiieeee!!! Run!!! RUN!!!