Pleasing Clashes #2 – Barcelona v Athletic Club, 2014

This one may ruffle some feathers as the home team wore a fourth kit but if it’s some consolation, it was retained from the previous season.

To mark the 300th anniversary of the Siege of Barcelona, the Camp Nou side wore their Senyera kit — originally the club’s away choice from 2013-14, sans the red hooped gradient on the socks.

The game took place on 13 September, two days after the national day of Catalonia. The Diada Nacional commemorates the fall of its capital city, during the War of the Spanish Succession, in 1714.

If the hosts were in their usual blue and garnet, visitors Athletic Bilbao would still had to deviate from their red-and-white stripes. The Basque side’s away strip for the season was based on the ikurrina, making both teams wear the respective colours of their community.

Since regional nationalism is a huge facet of each clubs’ identities, it was fitting that they did it against each other.

Newcastle United – 2007-09

Since Sir Bobby Robson’s sacking shortly after the start of the 2004-05 season, the next few years were turbulent times for the Magpies, taking years to find an adequate successor. All the while, debated success for 47 years came by virtue of the 2006 UEFA Intertoto Cup.

Newcastle’s new home kit for 2007-08 was their penultimate with Adidas and the last to follow a two-year cycle, premiering in their last home game of the 2006-07 season, against Blackburn Rovers.

The Premier League was undergoing a rebrand for the start of next season so they were permitted to wear the incoming typeset, the sleeve patches on the day were of the outgoing variety.

The shirt was a prominently black affair and as it sometimes was during the 1990s and made more obvious in the 2010s, it featured blue trim — lighter than what was previously and has since been seen on the black-and-white jersey.

Change strips for the club refreshed each season from 1995-96 and this term, the away utilised the ‘snake’ template in light blue with its piping in black.

The third was predominantly white and used the same design as the home albeit with a different neck, stripe layout and socks. The stripes and piping were light blue, with pinstripes in between the former.

Its Adidas appliqués were in black, ensuring at least two of the colours were on all three uniforms, with the home and third using all three. This allowed interchangeability across them all, although the away was only seen in its default configuration.

The black-heavy home let it to be used against teams in white; the blue was picked for trips to Derby County and Fulham. Away to Reading in late October, the home shirt was paired with the third’s shorts and socks despite not alleviating a clash.

A fortnight later at Sunderland, the away was favoured over the layout from the trip to Berkshire, making the 07-08 Tyne-Wear derby at the Stadium of Light one of the rare occurrences where one side fully changed.

The Madejski Stadium was the only time where the third bottoms got an outing this season. Its shirt was worn once, in the League Cup Third Round loss at Arsenal. The Gunners‘ home kit meant the visitors had to use the ones from their away, if you ignore the glaring sleeve clash.

Premier League and FA Cup meetings at the Emirates Stadium later on had both teams in their home kit. At Old Trafford, Manchester United changed socks instead.

Newcastle made no improvement from the previous season, despite Kevin Keegan’s managerial second coming midway through, finishing on 43 points once again. Results elsewhere ensured they finished one place higher, in 12th.

The 2008-09 change kits may look like their templates were a cut of the same cloth but there were differences in the panelling, with the purple away being of the more contemporary design seen elsewhere.

The grey third made its debut in a pre-season home friendly against Valencia, its only markings on the day were the Premier League numbers on the back. This shirt was more scarce than its predecessor as it made no competitive appearances.

Its alternate garments were also seen at St James’ Park though in an official capacity, somewhat. Premier League newcomers Hull City reverted to stripes after their Championship Play-Off triumph and launched an all-dark grey away, for their debut in the big time.

They brought their “flint” kit to Tyneside in mid-September and inevitably, were forced to borrow from the hosts. The home faithful hoped that cock-up would distract from the disarray behind the scenes in their own back yard, causing Keegan to walk out nine days prior.

The Tigers would have amber socks available for their home kit when travelling to Tottenham Hotspur a month later, different to the ones they were planned to have.

One can guess that either; the Humberside kitman thought the slight difference in shade on the day was adequate enough, lighter shorts were also needed for greater differentiation, the amber stockings weren’t aesthetically pleasing, or simply the items couldn’t be sourced in time. I think that covers all the bases.

The two teams were drawn together in the FA Cup Third Round, which went to a replay. Hull’s previous white away kit was called upon for the second tie, avoiding a repeat of that mess but again snatching a win.

Meanwhile, Newcastle’s opening game of the season was at Man United, who this time stuck with black socks so the old third pair were used. Those white shorts were worn at Sunderland, as they should have last time around, near the end of October.

For some reason, the white socks from the current season’s third were opted at an all-blue Portsmouth, in mid-December.

The change kit was first seen competitively in the League Cup Second Round at Coventry City, complete with corresponding white bottoms — even if the main purple set would have provided a much better contrast. This gave all three kits for the season, in a way, their own bespoke white alternate legwear.

Its maiden Premier League appearance was against Fulham in November, only the alternate shorts were needed this time. It took until the first full weekend of February, against West Bromwich Albion, for the away to be in its proper configuration.

An interim manager standing in for an interim manager and a double-stint from a caretaker showed how much turmoil the club were in. Not even bringing in another club legend, in the shape of Alan Shearer, was enough to save them.

Salt was rubbed firmly into the wounds when a Damien Duff own goal on the final day condemned Newcastle to The Football League, by one point. Their stay though was short-lived, breaking the 100-point mark to return to the top flight at the first try.

Adidas’s final efforts before switching to Puma were questionable to say the least; the home raised no eyebrows but the third was essentially the same but with the white stripes now blue. And the away kit, let’s just say I refer to that colour scheme as ‘piss stain/urinal cake’, while others may affectionately call it ‘banana’ or ‘custard cream’.

Oleksandr Goryainov, Metalist Kharkiv v Everton (2007)

Upon finishing third in the 2006-07 Ukrainian Premier League, Metalist Kharkiv qualified for the First Round of the following season’s UEFA Cup. Sixth-placed Everton of England’s Premier League qualified for the same stage, as did the rest of the country’s participants who didn’t take the Intertoto Cup route.

The teams in question were drawn against each other, in the round before the group stage, with the first leg played at Goodison Park. Metalist goalkeeper Oleksandr Goryainov, for some reason, had his shirt sourced from elsewhere.

Whilst the outfielders were in a yellow Adidas kit with the blue ‘snake’ piping, a green jersey with black panelling was swiftly pressed into use. The club badge covered over its original markings on the right breast, and Everton’s domestic lettering were used to deputise the Ukrainian side’s DCH sponsor.

Black Adidas teamwear shorts featuring white stripes were worn, with padding on the sides to comfort the hustle and bustle of a shot-stopper, finished with the club’s numbering on the right leg. The socks were the same colour but with yellow finishes.

The back of the shirt was also in the newly-introduced Premier League typeset, complete with its logo fully showcased at the base of the numbers. This contravenes UEFA’s rules on branding, which only permit the identity of the respective club or national association on the digits. The UEFA Cup patch was applied to the right sleeve as per competition regulations.

For the second leg at the Metalist Stadium, the same shirt from the first game was used by the home custodian. What makes this a mystery is that their main goalkeeper shirt for 2007-08 was Adidas’s black one from 2006, with gold piping and white stripes.

What could explain it is that Goryainov’s opposite number, Stefan Wessels and Tim Howard in the respective legs, wore black. If that was Kharkiv’s only choice, Everton had their own green option to prevent this mess in the first place. They also retained their old yellow top but that couldn’t have been called upon.

Wolverhampton Wanderers – 1975-77

With help from Steve Plant’s book ‘They Wore the Shirt.

The style of shirt used by Wolverhampton Wanderers for the bulk of the 1970s was the same; made by Umbro with breathable Aertex fabric, and a collared triangle-insert neck. All the while, its markings evolved through the years.

Unveiled in 1970-71 for the warm weather, a long-sleeved version became the primary choice between 1972-74, replacing the crew neck design first seen in 1962.

For 1973-74, a new short-sleeved shirt was introduced, now having a buttoned-up collar but it didn’t last the entire season. It was usurped by the old one returning for that season’s League Cup Final with updated markings, which was kept on for what was left of the league campaign.

The Umbro logo was added to the outfield jerseys and shorts for the first time. The club crest was revamped, depicting three leaping wolves, replacing the single canine above the club’s monogram — moving to the centre from the left breast in the process. ‘Wembley 1974’ embroidery took the place of the old badge.

Beating Manchester City 2-1 in the showpiece allowed the embroidery to be updated with ‘F.L. Cup Winners 1974’ for the following season. The club’s initials replaced that from 1975-76, giving the shirt two club identifiers.

Information on the away kit was sketchy during the first half of this decade. The white crew neck shirt was worn as late as 1973-74, most notably at Norwich City in the first leg of the League Cup Semi-Final.

With Luton Town’s promotion from the Second Division in 1974, the trip to Kenilworth Road the following season gave Wolves at least one opportunity to change but visual evidence from that game is scarce.

The Football League clamped down on shorts clashes in 1975, forcing teams to adapt, typically by mixing and matching their home and change kits. So at Tottenham Hotspur, the white away shorts were combined with the gold shirt and socks.

Before White Hart Lane though came visits to Newcastle United and Derby County and on both occasions, light blue shorts were the preferred choice. One theory was that the West Midlands side had to borrow pairs from the Tynesiders, whose change strip was reminiscent of Brazil but now with orange stockings.

This claim doesn’t hold much credence as the Newcastle ones had a white stripe down the sides and were made by Bukta; them also being used at the Baseball Ground weakens the case further.

The goalkeeper shirts were of the same template as the outfield but weren’t made of the proliferated material and had a bigger hem at the base. The first-choice green top had the adornments in black; the second-choice blue with white decal was retained, complete with notice of their 1974 League Cup triumph.

It was a hard-fought campaign by Wolves but their away form ultimately cost them, succumbing to the drop by three points. The kits were kept on for the Second Division but there were more variants to be seen.

A fourth, gold pair of shorts were worn with the home kit for the new season and became the main alternate choice. It was closer to their lighter shade from the previous decade, jarring the overall look, finished off with two black stripes on each side.

There was a (relative) plethora of similar-coloured teams in the second tier for 1976-77, each one forcing Wolves to sport something different. All-white was seen away to Luton but at Bloomfield Road, Blackpool’s white shorts meant the black home set had to be called upon.

Also in the league were Hull City, whose white bottoms with amber-and-black striped shirts caused them to further deviate. The visitors’s white shirt had to be paired with their home shorts and socks, creating a very pleasing clash between both sides.

The green goalkeeper top now had gold embellishments. It’s not known if blue was used at all; its outings the season before weren’t due to necessity and Plymouth Argyle were going through their white phase so who knows?

Wolves bounced back at the first attempt, winning the Second Division title on the way. Their return to the top flight saw a new kit come in; a collared V-neck with Umbro taping along the shoulders and sleeves, and sides of the shorts. The tessellated initials returned, replacing the standard-rendered ones.

The incoming uniform lasted for five seasons but the club went through another rebrand during its lifespan — introducing the first version of the wolf head emblem that’s still used today, in 1979.

Colombia – 2013-14

To complement my recent piece I wrote for Museum of Jerseys, on the kit variants worn at the 2014 World Cup, I will be digging deeper into one of the teams I looked at. Despite the side in question only sporting its two registered uniforms in their standard layouts in the tournament, I hope this write-up will be more Frasier than Joey.

Adidas’s new home kits for Brazil 2014 weren’t greatly received due to their low contrast. Many thought this was down to FIFA’s regulations on the issue, it was more to do with the stylistic preferences of the German brand. Colombia typically had yellow shirts with blue shorts and red socks to match their flag, now they were white below the waist.

It first appeared against Belgium in November, a month after the South American section of the World Cup qualifiers concluded, when they were travelling through the Low Countries. As with other national teams in friendly action wearing Adidas, Jabulani sleeve patches took up the spaces left by the ‘free zone’ that were mandated by FIFA.

Five days later, it was time to go north and face the Netherlands. The host’s orange strip would not allow the visitors to be in yellow, giving their navy change its swansong. Introduced in 2011, the shirt had its own white set of legwear but the new ones were used. The shirt numbers on the night were in the 2012 style, when the kit debuted, whilst the digits on the shorts were new.

The incoming change kit — comprising of a red shirt, navy blue shorts and red socks — got its maiden outing in Los Cafeteros‘ next round of international friendlies, against Tunisia at Espanyol’s Cornellà-El Prat on 5 March.

Gone were the patches but in was the match details below the crest, though only featuring in Catalonia. For the rest of their run-up to the World Cup, they stayed in red and navy.

The home kit was seen next at the championships, used in all three group games and in the Round of 16. Its white socks were more plain than those worn in Benelux in autumn — removing the patriotic colours, barring the navy, and the federation’s initials.

If anyone thought that was down to FIFA’s clampdown on contrast, Germany wearing red-and-black topped socks against Portugal can throw that theory out of the window. The tournament was also the only time the player’s name were printed on their shirts during this period.

Brazil were standing in Colombia’s way in the Quarter-Finals, to no avail. The hosts were drawn in their home colours but to comply with the much-maligned regulations, they wore white shorts and resembled their opponents’ new look, who had to fully change.

After the tournament, it was a rematch of that Quarter-Final tie, two months later in Miami. Again, Brazil were in their home colours but changed the socks this time. Colombia dressed in red shirts and white bottoms, complete with the basic socks which have replaced the original pair.

The home kit remained unaltered against El Salvador and Canada in mid-October but a month later, the purist’s fantasy was realised.

Against the United States at London’s niche international football venue, Craven Cottage, the Yanks‘s all-white strip allowed La Tricolor to look traditional. The overall appearance was tainted by the badge on the shorts not matching the one the shirt, being navy-and-white as opposed to full-colour.

Their last match of 2014 saw the standard home layout against Slovenia. Come 2015, both kits were replaced and the traditional style returned although seldom worn in such format, with white socks preferred.

The new away had a dark blue top with two uneven yellow and red bands spaced out across the chest — depicting their flag — and predominantly yellow shorts and socks, which was never worn by the senior team in its default configuration.

Unpleasing Clashes #1 – Watford v Arsenal, 2016

My first post looking at two teams in similar colours showed how to pull it off, now we slide to the other end of the scale.

Since switching to Puma in 2014, Arsenal have developed a terrible knack of wearing a change kit when it isn’t necessary. Their new kits for 2016-17 may have prevented them from doing this at Vicarage Road; the two change choices having a strong yellow presence, though much more prominent on one than the other.

Alas this was not the case, the Gunners elected to wear their neon third — a very dark blue with vibrant yellow trim. Yellow socks were its default pair along with dark shorts.

Watford are also culpable of such antics, going through a phase of only wearing their home colours on the road when their alternate set clashed with the hosts.

Since returning to the top flight, they have established themselves in black shorts and socks — the shade now taking hold on their shirts. In their two prior stints since the Premier League’s formation, red was their secondary colour.

This meant on 27 August, in the Hertfordshire sunshine, it was yellow-and-black versus navy-and-yellow. The visitors’ kit was so dark, you could have mistaken it for black.

At the Emirates later in the season, the Hornets needlessly wore yellow socks. Their white away shirt was unsuitable so they just had to deviate one way or another.

Manchester United – Friendly Special

It may not be unusual for Manchester United to partake in a friendly match, there isn’t much else to do in pre-season, but it is for them to wear something out of the ordinary. Circumstances have led to an interesting kit to be conjured up for the day, which is definitely the case by default for any ad hoc opposition.

The first notable example would be against Ashton Town in November 1903; United wore black-and-white striped shirts out of respect for half back Sandy Bell’s father, who recently passed away. At the time, their change top was green-and-white stripes.

Testimonial matches seem to be a dying ember in the modern game. Typically reserved for those who’ve served their club for 10 years, such longevity for a player at one club keeps getting rarer as time goes by.

Originally used to give the man of the moment a big payout for retirement, the amount of money in football today makes that redundant at the top level, although proceeds now go to charity.

The Red Devils had 10 testimonials in the 1980s, for its servants who met the 10-year criteria, plus one memorial match for a staff member and a benefit match at home for the Prince of Wales Trust. They had six testimonials in the 2010s, including one for a player who left in 1966, which is a high figure for a Premier League team.

A few of these games they were involved in had them combined with another team, typically with their city rivals City. Both teams were two of the country’s best by the end of the ’60s but back then, the derby wasn’t as intense as it was when both again were vying for silverware at the start of the New ’10s.

In April 1964, a combined Manchester City and United team played an ‘all international XI’ at Maine Road for City legend Bert Trautmann, who was in goal for the home team. No special uniform was used by the Manchester XI, playing in sky blue.

Ten years later, City and United joined forces again for Peter Jackson, honorary secretary of the Manchester Football Association, as they took on a Bobby Charlton XI at Old Trafford. The Manchester XI went neutral this time and wore white, Charlton’s team were clad in red.

Quite possibly the most bizarre combination involving United came in June 1983, whilst on tour in Swaziland. Tottenham Hotspur were also out in the Southern African country and both sides went toe-to-toe, before joining forces to become ‘Spur United’, taking on the local national side.

What they wore was not far off to what Spurs called time on the year before; a plain Le Coq Sportif number albeit all-white and with red trim. Both clubs’ crests were placed next to each other on the left breast and the Swazi Spa logo adorned the chest.

The goalkeepers were in a yellow top but due to its details being obscured in the reference photograph and its quality, I daren’t risk to draw it though one can make a calculated guess based on what was en vogue in the French brand’s catalogue. If anyone’s aware of someone who has experience in illustrating the kit histories of Man United and Tottenham?

Returning to England, it was time to give Martin Buchan a farewell after 11 years of service. His boyhood club Aberdeen travelled down the M6 in August to pay tribute, who were riding high from their ‘double’ of the European Cup Winners’ Cup and Scottish Cup, guided by one Alex Ferguson. Both trophies made the trip and were paraded to the fans in the stadium, along with United’s FA Cup.

Club sponsor Sharp refused to have any part in the match so Buchan’s boot provider Puma supplied the kits — the only instance the club has worn their attire thus far — which were bereft of markings bar their leaping feline motif.

One could assume the sponsorless Adidas shirts oft-used in 1982-83 had the household appliance manufacturer’s logo applied to them, after broadcasting restrictions on shirt sponsorship were alleviated over the off-season.

Red socks were part of the package, which haven’t been paired with the home kit since going to Newcastle in October 1971 and weren’t seen again until as standard in 2018-19. Gary Bailey wore a predominantly yellow kit, a colour which was prohibited by the Football League at the time.

When Bailey’s day came, on 10 May 1987, the guests were England. Despite earning two caps for the Three Lions, he was part of the squad at the 1986 World Cup and Bobby Robson guest-appeared in his usual role. Bailey and Bryan Robson represented both club and country in the match, the latter team having shirts devoid of the lions passant arms and a different sublimated stripe pattern from the norm.

The next nation to visit Old Trafford and face United were the Republic of Ireland, four years later for Sir Matt Busby. Making his debut for the club was Peter Schmeichel, whose large stature and opponent’s colour created a perfect storm of him not having anything suitable to wear.

A prominently pink-and-purple Adidas Taifun shirt — a design popularised during Italia ’90 — in XXXL was acquired for the Dane, defaced with the Sharp logo to keep the commercial partners happy.

For the 40th anniversary of the Munich air disaster, it was agreed that a benefit match would mark it. Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Red Star Belgrade were touted as possible opponents but with Eric Cantona retiring at the end of the previous campaign, club chairman Martin Edwards thought it was a good idea to combine both.

Understandably, those affected by the 1958 tragedy feared that focusing on the Frenchman’s farewell would overshadow the main purpose and poignancy of the event. Pencilled in for 24 February, FA Cup commitments the next day ultimately pushed the date back to 18 August.

Cantona brought a European selection for the night, skippered by himself before switching sides at half time. The team were in Nike gear and wore black-and-white stripes with black bottoms, somewhat fittingly forcing the hosts to wear their European colours featuring white socks.

Goalkeeper Pascal Olmeta’s shirt had a black-and-yellow striped gradient pattern on the front, on the face of it looking like a precursor to Nike’s shot-stopping efforts introduced in 2002. Interestingly, United were offered an orange-and-black one when they signed to them that year but opted not to use it.

The following season, it was time to celebrate Alex Ferguson and what he achieved in the meantime. A World XI were organised and were kitted out in white and black, this time provided by club partners Umbro. United themselves were in their European colours again, now in their continental kit but for the shorts.

Schmeichel, who left during the summer, returned and wore something rather familiar; being in the same outfit he wore for most of 1998-99 but with different markings. His shirt was missing the One2One sleeve sponsors the outfielders had, the sleeve bands could not accommodate them.

He made way for Olmeta during the game, reappearing when the World XI were replaced by a Man United Ferguson XI on the 70th minute — a team which featured three number 7s, including David Beckham who was returning from a hamstring injury. Earlier opponent Cantona and Robson made up the magnificent trio.

To celebrate 50 years since the signing of the Treaty of Rome, the European Union contacted UEFA to mark the occasion with a football match for the uniting qualities of the sport. As it was also 50 years since United debuted on the European stage, it was decided they should play a team organised by Europe’s footballing body.

Billed as ’50 years in Europe & 50 years of Europe’, World Cup-holding coach Marcello Lippi hoped to have a star-studded side to take part in the UEFA Celebration Match but it taking place in a March midweek proved awkward, though there was a strong Italian presence from the previous summer.

For starters, Arsenal and Chelsea had to use that week to make up for lost Premier League time, brought on by the League Cup Final. Bolton Wanderers players helped fill the bench with national European champion Stelios Giannakopoulos, two-time club European champion Iván Campo, and 2002 World Cup starlet El Hadji Diouf. Liverpool provided the most substitutes, with four.

The guests were in all-white with blue piping and despite UEFA’s involvement — ensuring partners Adidas would dress their selection, a shorts clash was allowed due to the celebratory nature.

‘Unite Against Racism’ patches were worn on the their right sleeve; philanthropic patches were pretty much exclusively used under UEFA’s watch by those competing in the European Championship since 1996. This took place during the interim of Euros 2004 and 2008, when the ‘Fair Play’ patches on the left sleeve were subsequently replaced with ‘Respect’ ones.

Starting in net for the Europe XI was Santiago Cañizares; who had his sleeves cut short, wore teamwear shorts and had the same socks as his colleagues. The hosts were in their domestic colours, with black socks, yet they had their gold typeset and smaller sponsor which complied with UEFA regulations.

The next special team formed to face United was one picked by Michael Carrick, in 2017 after 11 years of service and with one more to offer, on the pitch at least. His first professional manager, Harry Redknapp, took charge of this very experienced side.

It was evened out by the home side being based on their European ‘double’ winners of 2008 though with a few discrepancies; Dimitar Berbatov didn’t join until the following transfer window, Cristiano Ronaldo was in Champions League Final action in Cardiff the night before thus was unavailable, making Michael’s brother Graeme help make up the numbers. Sir Alex Ferguson was in the dugout once more.

The Michael Carrick All-Stars were in all-white Adidas attire complete with white components, ruined by the socks having black stripes. This made the United ’08 team to wear red-black-black, contrary to the white bottoms they wore in Moscow on that particular May evening in 2008.

For that extra nostalgia factor — though be it before Carrick’s time — Edwin van der Sar was in the home goalkeeper kit, giving the Dutchman matching legwear to his teammates. Opposing custodian Shay Given was in a light blue shirt with navy shorts and socks, out of which only his top sported the Three Stripes.

Fight for Your Stripes

The story of Adidas earning their Three Stripes started in 1947, after the brothers Dassler had quite an acrimonious falling out. Not only did this result in the rebranding of their existing shoe business to centre around Adolf in 1949, breakaway brother Rudolf formed his own company in 1948, today better known as Puma.

One of Adi’s first solo projects was a running spike, registered with the three stripes in the year of his company’s shakeup. Three years later, after the success of the Olympic Games in Helsinki, Adidas bought the stripes trademark from Finnish sporting goods manufacturer Karhu for two bottles of whisky and the equivalent of €1,600.

Ever since, they have got into many disputes over any depictions of multiple isolated stripes, being a regular visitor to the courtroom. It can get as petty as objecting to FC Barcelona’s application to register a square of seven long rectangles in equal proportions, alternating between blue and garnet.

Contrarily, when sporting bodies decree that the stripes constitute excessive branding, Adidas are quick to argue that they are a “design element” and usually with unsuccessful results. The old addage of ‘you can’t have your cake and eat it’ springs to mind.

Arguably the most prolific case in Great Britain came about in the summer of 1975, regarding the design of Manchester United’s new change strip made by Admiral, who were at the top of their game at the time. One of their templates featured a band going down the left side of the torso, typically containing a fimbriation of varying widths or smaller stripes.

United’s shirt had three black stripes on a white band and it didn’t take long for Adidas to send a strongly-worded letter to a textile company in the East Midlands, asking what the deal was. Admiral defended their creation; stating that as they weren’t on the sleeves, they weren’t in infringement and a single line cannot be trademarked, no matter how many more were added.

While the case was ongoing, another black stripe was added to the shirt to appease the German firm — a stance they’ve since gone 180° on. Both sides finally reached a settlement by spring 1976, allowing Admiral to use the three stripes but for an annual fee, whether it was a fixed cost or royalty-based is unconfirmed.

Information provided by Marvin Nash to United Kits.

Crossing the Irish Sea, a much more heated battle took place in 1980, this time with O’Neills in the dock.

Adidas wanted to hang the Dublin family business out to dry but they stood strong, dismissing calls from the claimant that they started using the stripes in 1965. In their defence, a sports shop owner gave evidence of other makers using the motif on their clothing — including Europa, who notably supplied Hull City’s kits from the mid-’70s.

After three years of tussling between the two parties, the Supreme Court of Ireland ruled in the favour of David in his encounter with Goliath. As a result, O’Neills are allowed to use the motif but only in Ireland. Want to buy their marked products outside the island? By law, you’re only offered a two-striped ‘international’ version.

Not long after the 2004 Olympics in Athens, the International Olympic Committee ruled that the stripes breached their branding regulations. The IOC were pressured by rival sportswear manufacturers, claiming they exceed the allotted 20cm2 thus giving Adidas greater exposure, amid accusations of preferential treatment as long-standing Olympic partners.

The ban was upheld but they circumvented it for the next edition, the 2006 Winter Games, by combining the stripes with the number ‘3’. The numbers were broken into three segments and continued in a similar manner to their orthodox counterparts.

Needless to say, the 3s didn’t survive to Beijing 2008, if it was just a phase or a too distinct design for the IOC’s liking. Instead of being creative again to bypass the authorities, they were left off the garments altogether and that’s been the case at the Games since.

On the side, another IOC ruling banned logos of national sporting associations to be displayed, only of National Olympic Committees. No one at the Argentine Football Association got the message so its teams took to the field in strips with the AFA crest on full show, with the country’s NOC badge placed on the left sleeve.

The Games’ officials took notice and from the men’s knockout round, the Argentinians painted over the football crests, causing their kits to suffer from a double whammy of expurgation. The jacquard weave of the crest on the shirts was unaffected, however.

Footballing bodies started to introduce regulations in the 2000s, limiting the usage of the markings; in 2008 for UEFA and in 2010 for FIFA. This would have more to do with logistical convenience than commercialism if anything, cutting costs by not having to produce competition patches that would reliably stay put over such devices.

With the stripes relegated to the sides and most edges of the kits, although pastiches of pre-regulatory designs are allowed, any that go down the arm must leave a gap. In its infancy, the ‘free zone’ in Adidas’s realm was almost exclusive to its biggest names using bespoke designs.

Their teamwear catalogue, picked up by smaller teams sporting the brand, wasn’t yet compliant to the rules since domestic bodies couldn’t really care less. When teams wearing such pieces qualified for international competition, it was up to themselves to be obedient.

Heart of Midlothian’s 2012-13 Europa League Play-Off tie against Liverpool was infamous as it was, with the English visitor’s new Warrior kits (including a black second choice and “nightshade” third) rendering the host’s maroon unusable at Tynecastle.

In Adidas teamwear, which took cues from their premium assests, the stripes on both of Hearts’s shirts continued uninterrupted from the neck to the sleeve hem. They applied maroon patches over the offending area but they didn’t have to, yet.

Competition regulations allow domestic-specification uniforms to be worn up to the play-off round so the Edinburgh side threw caution to the wind, expecting to progress to the Group Stage.

In 2016, the European Union Intellectual Property Office ruled that the Three Stripes aren’t distinctive enough to warrant a trademark, much to the dismay of Adidas. The EU’s General Court upheld the verdict in 2019, practically giving anyone within the political bloc free rein over ‘three parallel equidistant stripes of equal width applied to the product in whichever direction’.

As detrimental the ruling is, it can be beneficial to them as what’s now legally a mere “design element” won’t be subject to stringent branding guidelines, in theory anyway.

It’s in the Name

Experimentations through the late 19th and early 20th centuries brought about assigning team numbers to different positions on the field, with results curiously varying from country to country. The advent of commercialism in sports, greater media exposure and such the ability for spectators to resonate with players later in the decade added personality to the digits.

Jersey numbering were thought to have first come about in a rugby union game between representatives of Queensland and New Zealand in July 1897. Player names on the shirts were a much later innovation, believed to have been initially tried out by the New York Americans for the 1926-27 National Hockey League season.

Names on the back became consistent in North America through the 1960s, as its major sports were regularly taking to the airwaves. Just like its reputation over there, soccer was late to catch on, the NASL made naming a requirement in 1975.

On the other side of the Atlantic, they were a bit more wary of the modernisation but Scotland tested the waters in 1979. One of their eminent clubs, Celtic, gave it a go a year later for Danny McGrain’s testimonial. Considering how reluctant they were to taint the backs of their hallowed hoops with numbers, it’s odd how they allowed such sacrilege for a legend.

South of the border, player naming became mandatory in the Premier League from its second season, Manchester United’s laundry room reportedly being too small prevented this from being in place straight away. Liverpool can boast to be the first English team to utilise the practice, in their 1981 Intercontinental Cup tie against Flamengo.

Its permanent adoption in the country coincided with the use of persistent squad numbers for the players, both concepts were trialled in the finals of the Football League’s and Football Association’s cup competitions for 1992-93, both contested between Arsenal and Sheffield Wednesday in another English football first.

Arsenal claimed a then-unprecedented cup double and the latter triumph earned them the right to face inaugural Premier League champions Man United for the Charity Shield. Arsenal used squad numbers for the 1993-94 curtain raiser but United stuck with the 1-11 numbering system once more, creating an anachronistic mess between them.

Premier League rules stipulate that players should use sport their family name on their backs, anything else would be subject to approval. Typically, nicknames and that are permitted if players have established themselves under such alias, Everton’s Predrag Radosavljević was allowed to have ‘Preki’ in the formative years, before he returned to his adopted homeland.

An early example, if not the earliest, to fall foul to this ruling was Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. Joining Leeds United the season the League introduced their own Optima-derived typeset, 1997-98, he opted to wear ‘Jimmy’. In spite of impressing against eventual champions Arsenal on his debut, Premier League officials weren’t happy as his birth name is Jerrel. He was made to use his surname from then on.

South American teams were late to catch onto it all, typically featuring names in competitions that were overseen by FIFA. They didn’t become compulsory in the Copa América until 2004 and in the 2010s, their big teams were still using the classic 1-11.

For the 2002 World Cup and 2004 Copa América, Cristian González of Argentina was registered under his birth name, despite going by Kily on club duty. Both instances had his initial preceding his family name although it was only the latter there was another namesake in the squad; Luis, AKA Lucho.

Cristian and Luis were joined by Mariano González for the 2004 Olympics who — owing to the popularity of his surname — went through the true form of his given name through his club career to distinguish himself. Strangely, Kily went by his nickname for the tournament but the other two used their surname, with their initial now following it.

Returning to England, via the USA, Eric Djemba-Djemba was part of the Manchester United contingent on a pre-season tour. He went by the single name whilst on their excursion but come the proper competitive football, he had to revert to the double-barrel, using smaller lettering so it could fit.

Eric was allowed to go by ‘Djemba’ for the Community Shield and Champions League qualifying at the start of 2004-05, presumably making use of the shirts that were left over from the summer. This meant he concurrently went by two different names, as the qualifiers sandwiched two Premier League games, which he featured in.

One United player to go by a nickname is Javier Hernández, better known as Chicharito (Little Pea). The League permitted this as he established himself under that in Mexico, although not all footballing bodies are supposedly this lenient.

Allowed to go by ‘Chicharito’ for his country under the auspices of CONCACAF and CONMEBOL (as Copa América invitees), he hasn’t made a World or Confederations Cup appearance under that name. Instead, he follows his teammates and uses his initial and surname. Despite not making an appearance for Real Madrid in the 2014 Club World Cup, he was registered under the nickname so it being outlawed by FIFA can be up for debate.

Raúl de Tomás going just by his initials is one of the biggest pet peeves in modern football. Fortunately, UEFA saw sense for once and were not amused by his antics so during his brief stint at Benfica, they forced him to go by something proper on his back in the 2019-20 Champions League.

An additional oddity is Wesley Sneijder for the Netherlands in 2014, this instance being more to do with aesthetics than abiding to governing bodies or national associations. The Dutch alphabet contains the digraph ‘IJ’ which can be rendered as those two separate characters, a single ligature or as a ‘Y’.

The typeset for the country included the combined digraph for the upcoming World Cup in Brazil and Sneijder duly used it, whereas Stefan de Vrij stuck with the two letters. Their blue away strip was replaced with a white one a year later, with the numbers receiving a slight cosmetic update but weirdly, the ligature was ditched from the new batch of identical orange lettering.

I started this post to look at players who used more than one name during the course of a season. As the introduction dragged on to go on about how shirt numbering and player identification came about, plus four additional illustrations since penning this, I’d rather not rid such information but explain the rapid change of subject.

Wales v New Zealand – 2007

This is not a pleasing clash nor unpleasing, which will get its moment soon enough, but it’s an intriguing one still.

When Wales hosted New Zealand on 26 May 2007 in Wrexham, they chose to wear a brand new white kit heavily containing green and red, including each sleeve in either colour. The right sleeve featured a sleeve patch to celebrate 130 years of them playing at the Racecourse Ground, the oldest international football venue still in use.

The All Whites had to change, debuting an all-blue piece which would seem out of place today. We are used to them wearing a reversal of their home strip reminiscent of their rugby union counterparts, which they have continuously kept up with since their next kit launch.

Of what was on show, only New Zealand’s was seen again — in the opening game of the OFC Nations Cup against Fiji later in the year. The competition doubled up as Oceania’s World Cup second qualifying round, which the Kiwis automatically started from as they reached their second ever championships, 24 years after their maiden appearance.

That match was incidentally the last time the blue was worn, by the men’s senior team at least, giving both uniforms sported in Wales on the day a combined total of three outings. Their under-17 counterparts wore it twice in their World Cup in the summer, against Brazil and England, also using its shorts with their white kit against North Korea.

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