Monthly Archives: October 2014

The Evolution of Football Shirts Over the Years


Future, Forever, Victorious

Over the years, football shirts have changed drastically. With each team producing more or less a different shirt each season, and offering both home and away versions, football shirts have become a popular choice for fans. They are the ideal attire to wear when it comes to supporting your chosen team, and have become one of the top revenue makers for football clubs worldwide. Whether you only wear them to matches, or they are a staple part of your wardrobe, football tops have changed a lot over the years. This article is going to discuss the origins of the shirts and how they have progressed since the beginning of the sport, so the next time you don your favourite shirt, you can be proud that you know a little of the history surrounding where it came from too.

Football shirts – The Beginning

Football was originally quite a violent sport. There were no set rules, meaning large groups of people could play, which usually resulted in people getting hurt. But over the years it has become more civilised, and this shift towards civilisation involved the creation of the football shirt and its implementation. Originally, people simply wore whatever they liked, and there was a time when players were identified by other means such as coloured caps or scarves. But it was the English FA cup that finally saw the official introduction of uniforms. Basic uniforms had been around since 1870, but In 1879 rules were created that specified each team must be dressed in a distinct one so spectators could distinguish between players.

The color that each side chose usually related to the public school/university they came from, and each player would have their shirt individually made by their tailor. This meant that the FA cup final became a game largely for men who had some financial wealth, as they were the only ones who could afford to have a shirt made. However, supported by the Catholic church, a variety of teams in Scotland sprang up which resulted in the game being brought to the working class.  Eventually, a demand grew for a manufacturer.

The Production

Bukta were the first sportswear manufacturer and were established in 1879. The shirts they created were often referred to as jerseys, and were usually tight fitting without collars. They also came complete with long sleeves, a style that has since died out for everyone except goalkeepers. Originally, the patterns on shirts were quite basic, and stripes eventually appeared in 1883, but before that self coloured shirts were a more popular option. The original terminology for describing shirts was also different. What we now know as ‘quartered’ was once upon a time referred to as ‘harlequined’, and players who were picked for their country team had their badges sewn onto the shirt as opposed to being supplied with a new one by their club.


Unlike modern football shirts, traditional tops didn’t have sponsors. It is often thought that Liverpool were the first club to sign a sponsorship with Hitachi in 1979, but it was actually southern club Kettering Town who were the first to do this. They were sponsored by Kettering Tyres in 1976, and sponsorships have gone on to become a staple of the football industry with the total number of deals accumulating to over a 100 million since the beginning.

The Style

There have been some interesting style choices made over the years when it comes to the creation of football shirts. Before the 20th century, it was rare to have a team that donned matching tops and shorts, and for a short while, shirts with cowl necks became popular. Evidently, this trend did not last long, but one that has endured is the stripes. As time past during the 20th century, stripes on shirts became wider and wider. Hoops were also popular back then and some even had V shaped designs that can be seen on Manchester United’s 1909 FA Cup final kit.

Shirts were also originally knitted, and the eventual realisation dawned on the industry that perhaps another material could suit the sport better. Most teams shifted to tough materials like cotton and wool. This eventually changed again to the quality we know and love in modern day shirts. Nylon and polyester mesh found their place in the football industry for their comfort during long games.

The Goal Keeper and his Shirt

Up until 1909, the goalkeeper wore the same top as the rest of his team mates. Yet referees and viewers alike found it too hard to differentiate who was the goalkeeper and who were regular players. It was shortly introduced that goalkeepers must wear a different coloured top, which meant another colour was introduced into the game. Before this goal keepers sometimes wore jumpers to keep warm, and even flat caps to protect their eyes from the sun.

The Numbers

Numbers on the back of shirts weren’t always mandatory. In fact, up until after the Second World War, it was unheard of. But once the allies secured victory for the nation, a rule came about that stated each player must have a number. Times were hard due to post war money blues, but everyone banded together and numbers were soon secured on most players shirts.

The Future of Shirts

There have been different shirt materials trialled recently in an attempt to once again upgrade the football shirt to another level. These include insulating shirts and also ones that are more breathable, but the classic mesh is what the players and fans have come to know and love. The future of football and the shirts are ever changing, and the evolution will long continue past what we know in our life times. But for now, football shirts are popular, look good and allow a fan to show they are proud to support their team. What more could anyone ask for?

 This guest article was written by Rachel Jensen on behalf of Camp Retro, your first stop for retro football shirts. Check out the site for the best collection of retro kits.


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A Gooner’s Perspective: The Joys of Watching Arsenal in School


“The Maracana” is a historical stadium in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, which was opened in 1950 to host the FIFA World Cup in which Brazil was beaten by Uruguay 2-1 in the deciding game….

I’m sorry that’s not that “Maracana” I want to write about. This ‘Maracana’ is a local match viewing center situated right inside the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Nigeria, my wonderful university from 2005 – 2010. The viewing center has two big rooms constructed locally with aluminum roofing sheets from top to bottom.

On a hot Saturday afternoon with the early 12.45pm kick off, it’s not a nice place to be despite the standing fan recycling hot air around the two rooms with sweaty and arguing FUTO students rendering more pollution to the already charged atmosphere. I think the cost of a game then was between 20 Naira and 50 Naira and like Arsenal season ticket you can pay some 3% more to watch all the games for that weekend with a ridiculous stamp on your palms to identify that you’ve paid for the game you’re about to watch.

We braved those conditions despite the economy and the discomfort, and it was more annoying bearing in mind that we Arsenal fans here in Nigeria (and worldwide, I presume) were subjected to mocking misery due to the team’s ‘shortcomings’.

Why am I reminiscing on past like Liverpool fans always do? It’s not because I missed FUTO, but because I missed the excitement of those days. I miss having to look forward to the weekend to watch my Arsenal after enduring a long week of academic stress. I missed the fact that Arsene Wenger was braving the odds with youths. Hell!! I used to call him Prof back then. I miss our brand of possession football; you can win us but you can never out pass us not like these days.

I really miss the fact that when watching a game in the local viewing center, you would hear fans giving nicknames to literally all the players:

  • Cesc Fabregas was called “Fabrepass” for obvious reasons. He can see a pass no other person in the field imagined possible. Go on and take your pick of his most awesome passes.
  • Mathieu Flamini (I mean the old 2007/08 season Flamini) was called “Elijah” for his #Beardgang attributes (I’m sure my friend, Wilson Dike, will be smiling) and for raining fire on anybody who wants to disturb his precious defense.
  • Aliaksandr Hleb was called “Shakira” because his waist turns 3600, he always leaves his marker dead and he can hug the ball for the entire lost city of Atlantis.
  • Nicklas Bendtner was tagged “World Best”, a title he gave himself to his detriment and for his arrogance and lackadaisical attitude on and off the pitch. He just doesn’t care enough and he used to score 1 out of 11 chances but we still enjoyed him.
  • Jens Lehmann (Mad Jens) and Manuel Almunia (Aluminium) manning the sticks. Both have their days but their calamity rate always gives us nightmare. We still loved them though.
  • Tomas Rosicky (Rozza) the fans darling. His turn of pace, movement, quick feet, quick thinking, positive attitude is unequaled in arsenal. He does all these with his ever young face and amazing loose hair dangling freely at the back of his head. Believe me I could write a book about him but let’s leave it for another day.
  • Emmanuel Eboue (The Farmer): Always looked unkept and untidy but he is an arsenal cult hero. Ashley Young would be jealous of his dives if he’s shown the clips. He was a winner and a fighter for us.
  • Even some Hausa Arsenal fans called Gael Clichy “Kilishi”, because his name sounded like the dried meat.

Have I told you about our youth set up back then?, In fact I preferred watching Carling Cup because of the excitement of seeing the likes of Jack Wilshere, Fran Merida, Denilson, Kieran Gibbs, Carlos Vela, Henri Lansbury, Theo Walcott, Justin Hoyte, Kyle Bartney and even some bloke called Thomas Cruise strut their stuff. They were gifted, exciting to watch and can keep possession to the admiration of the whole Europe. We were even dubbed the “Barcelona of England”. In 2007, with some help from the Carling Cup president, Julio Baptista, the young lads made it to the Carling cup final which was eventually lost to Chelsea. I loved and respected the Invincibles but I somehow felt closer to this team, maybe because I was older and had more access to the television. Or maybe like this article’s intention it coincided with my university life. It became a part and parcel of me, my joy, and my escape.

I reminisce on the past to show a bit of my world then. I still have fond memories of those days where I met quite a number of fellow Gooners some of who constitutes a group I belong to called Team Gooner Daily. Automatically you make friends with who does like you do, who enjoys what you enjoy. Every match day you see familiar faces and till date these guys constitutes a large part of my life.

The common trait with the present squad is the lack of silverware to crown our efforts. We were close but not close enough. This article does not seek to dwell on that or the reasons for our inability to go the further mile but you could take a pick (school boy errors, tactical inferiority, poor refereeing, injuries, lack of funds to compete properly with the elite, our board’s lack of ambition, change of stadium, mass exodus of stars and experienced veterans; surely you can add your own). We still complained despite the beautiful football exhibited, we would have sacrificed the style for trophy. Fast forward to 2013/2014 season and you would laugh at the irony. We have better players now, more experienced more technically gifted if you like and cost quite a fortune to assemble; yet sometimes, our game can piss the calmest man off.

The 2 – 0 win against Sunderland on Saturday made me so sick I stopped watching after 75mins.  We were playing short passes to each other like we were in a training ground without movement or incision for the better part of 90mins. It took the different mental level of Alexis Sanchez to bail us out on two occasions where he exhibited up the pitch pressing; something is sure he learnt from the football school he came from. The irony is we wanted efficiency to be added to our sweet footie but instead we got efficiency or consistency of performance like Wenger said in his press conference and lost our sweet style. I hope in the nearest future with Theo Walcott, Mesut Ozil, Olivier Giroud back in the mix we can be efficient as well as play some footie that we came to love arsenal for.

Arsenal FC – a club worth loving.

This guest post was written by Austine Onono, or @nwakibie, as he’s known on Twitter. Feel free to follow him.

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Alexis Sanchez: Arsenal’s Valiant Knight in a Shiny Armor

Alexis vs Sunderland

Sometimes you just need that extra piece of the jigsaw puzzle, that get-out-of-jail-free card, that top top quality that can give you the edge when the chips are down, that footballer that can drag himself teammates to do better. In a team like Arsenal, such a demand is no different. Down the years, such players marauded Highbury and a couple more became heroes at the Emirates. The trend isn’t going to stop, not today, not ever.

Take a player like Robin van Persie for instance – yes, the fans hate and despise him for the way he departed to join Arsenal’s rivals but in his final two seasons at the club, RvP was in a world of his own. Yes, he scored goals with consummate ease but it was the manner, accuracy and timing of the goals that endeared him to the hearts of Gooners all over the world. With RvP on the pitch, there was that extra measure of confidence that he was going to do something, anything. C’mon, the fans even sang that ‘he scores when he wants’.

With the Flying Dutchman departing at the start of the 2012/13 season, Arsenal were hoping for that player that would be the all-in-all but Arsene Wenger chose a different approach – changing the mentality of the players from being ones that rely on a certain individual (RvP) to get all the goals but making it a team effort.

Then things turned out for good. True, there were no trophies to celebrate at the 2012/13 season – The Gunners shameful crashed out from the domestic cup competitions with losses to Blackburn and Bradford while a spirited effort against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena wasn’t enough to repair the damage that had been done at the Emirates. The Premier League campaign was more or less a struggle, with the Gunners battling with their fierce rivals, Tottenham, for a place in Europe. However, the major highlight of the campaign was the collective amount of goals the players contributed with. In the previous campaign, Robin van Persie scored 37 goals while Theo Walcott was next in line with 11. In the 2012/13 season, Walcott had 21, Olivier Giroud had 17, Lukas Podolski had 16 and the Player of the Season, Santi Cazorla, even had 12.

Last season saw the emergence of Aaron Ramsey and his 16 goals (including the match winner at the FA Cup final) saw him rise to an indispensable status at the club. Giroud did really good to build on his first campaign by scoring 22 goals, but he was on the end of some bashing from the fans, as they claimed that he didn’t score against the “so-called” big teams.

This season, Arsenal surprised everyone by signing Alexis Sanchez from FC Barcelona, a player that had come on the end of a career-best 21 goals in La Liga and he followed it up with a good performance for Chile in the World Cup. His first goal for the club turned out to be his most important, as he scored the goal that gave the Gunners their Champions League qualifying berth. He followed it up with the match opener against Leicester City before scoring his third goal in the pulsating 2-2 draw with Manchester City. He showed everyone that he’s also an adept set piece taker against Southampton and in October, he got on the score sheet against Galatasaray and Hull.

Yesterday, Arsenal played a Sunderland side that clearly bereft of confidence following the 8-0 pulverizing they received at St. Mary’s. With relatively no pressure, Wes Brown attempted to make a bad pass that turned out to be a neat assist for Alexis. The Chilean turned on the afterburners and within moments he was one on one with Vito Mannone. Don Vito made things easy for him by hitting the deck quickly and Alexis thanked him for his erratic decision making by dinking the ball over the Italian to make it 1-0 to the Arsenal. Sanchez’ second goal was more comical than the first with the Chilean poking the ball home after another horror show from Mannone.

In 15 games for the Gunners, Alexis has smashed in eight goals with five of them coming in the Premier League. Besides the goals, I’ve not seen any player in the team that works as hard as Alexis – maybe Danny Welbeck and Ramsey. He never gives up and his determination is exemplary. This lad will run to the end of the world and back to ensure that the ball he misses doesn’t get off the line and he’d also work his ass off to track back to help his fullback behind him. When you add to the fact that he’s so versatile, you tend to wonder how the Hell Arsenal did enough to acquire a player of his sheer overall quality, which has started rubbing off on his teammates.

If you think you’ve heard enough about Alexis, when you think of the fact that he requested to train with the team instead of taking a post-match recovery session ahead of the North London Derby, then you’d know that he’s one hell of a character.

I’m proud to know that Alexis has truly justified his huge transfer fee and he’s Arsenal’s valiant knight in a shiny armor.


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