Guest Columnist Keith Ingham takes on a tour of Leeds United Shirts from Golden Era Revie Simplicity to League One Italian Manufactured Oddness..
Well, season 2013/14 beckons and we will be wearing two kits that have already split the fans on their design and colours. The ‘Regal’ shirt worn at the end of last season against Brighton raised more than a few eyebrows – blue in colour with a broad blue stripe and yellow in the middle. It’s not really ‘Leeds’ but Macron have rarely produced shirts that fans really like but still purchase by the thousands. The away kit this season is a gold and blue design with blue shirts – a bit like a Leeds Rhino’s design a few years ago.
Of course blue and gold featured in the years before Don Revie started the long process of turning around the fortunes of the club. So I feel it’s time to lift the lid and generate a few pub debates on the kits I’ll nominate as the best and worst I’ve seen a Leeds United team turn up in.
The first I must mention just because of the colour is the 1967 red shirt worn against Spurs; I think it was a one off – thank goodness! Around that time a blue away was also used, but at least it had a white collar and cuffs. Switch to the 70’s when Admiral produced the Champions shirts and my favourite of all time – plain white with a collar and the ‘smiley’ badge of that era. The away shirt was also a favourite of mine – yellow with a blue and white stripe down the arms and shirt body.
The wilderness years after relegation brought us ‘Burton’ designs which are still available in the club shop today, so it’s fair to say the fans like these designs.
The Champions of ‘92 deserve a mention, both have great designs and with the tragic passing of Gary Speed, the appearance of it around the ground brought back fantastic memories of a really special player in the history of the club.
The Champions then turned out in the newly Sky-inspired Premier League, in a cardboard-feel white shirt, sponsored by the same company Admiral and a horrendous blue with yellow ‘vomit’ splashes must be in the ‘league of shame’ shirts. They also used a yellow with blue ‘vomit’ at the replayed match versus Stuttgart; Carl Shutt celebrating in a near empty Nou Camp will never ever be forgotten.
After Admiral, Asics were given a few years and their early attempts weren’t bad, white with both the LUFC and rose badge on it and a natty all-yellow away. From there to stripes around my increasing midriff and a green and dark blue striped shirt, Howard Wilkinson said he found it hard to view the likes of Brian Deane, Tony Yeboah and Rod Wallace!
When O’Leary’s ‘babies’ took the field, the supplier Nike made two simple kits, one white and one yellow – I even found the home one on sale in the Camp Nou, albeit for over 70 Euro’s, a lot of money in 2000.
Admiral returned post relegation with a look back to the 80’s thin blue and yellow stripes on a white backdrop and yellow with a collar for our travels with a ‘Bet 24’ sponsor.
Our latest manufacturer has gone from the OK (2009) to the ridiculous (glow in the dark), and generally the company is not regarded among the fans as the best designers of a football strip.
One strange fact is that when Leeds have been successful (e.g. ‘72 Cup winners, ‘92 Champions and even the Champions League semi-finalists) they wore a simple design for the home kit and furthermore the away kits of ‘92 and 2001 were yellow – coincidence…?
I’m sure I’ve left so many out but hopefully I’ve made a few designers think before they design another Leeds United strip. One last thought my favourite home was the ‘74 design, and for the away I’ll go for 2001 – but it’s a close run with the 1977 design! Maybe one day we’ll get Adidas, plain white shirt, three stripes and a yellow in the same style for the away …Well I can hope can’t I?! But the one thing that matters most is what’s in the shirt…the players.
Reporter – Keith