the colour of football

I was missing Italy yesterday. It would have been great to have been back there to pop down to our favourite bar/coffee shop in Servigliano to bask in the glory of the four Premiership’s clubs winning through to the Champion’s League quarter finals. Three of those clubs having won against top Italian Serie A sides of course. That said all the 2nd leg matches were close (except Liverpool’s virtual bye against the ageing matadors of Real Madrid) but there seems to be a lot of teeth gnashing in the Italian press about the power and strength in the Premiership. Well these things are cyclical but at the moment we do seem to be top dogs, which almost certainly means that Barca will go and win the bloody tournament – no doubt pleasing Messrs Platini and Blatter enormously.

But I’ve got a theory that it’s not just mere wealth but also club colours that play a significantly large part in football success. Just think about it when was the last time a team not wearing a predominantly red or blue strip won the Premiership or Champions League for that matter?  All those Italian and Spanish teams playing in stripes are just asking to get beaten.When, for example, was the last time Sheffield Wednesday were a major force on the European scene? About the same time that Brentford were. QED.

But if it’s all solid reds and blues to deliver success then it does get a bit samey don’t you think? Did you ever wonder why club colours in the English Premier and football leagues are what they are and why they are so, well, dull and repetitive and unimaginative? I think about things like this all the time. Just think about how many teams play in predominantly red and blue, then how many in stripes, how many in variations on predominantly white etc. There are several teams who play in hoops (why was that the chosen style over stripes I wonder?) and a small number of sides who play in green and  yellow. I’ve been counting up and I reckon there are 6 sides which play in claret predominantly – Villa, West Ham, Burnley, Scunthorpe, Northampton and Bradford. Why on earth did claret become so popular? Maybe it was the Chairman’s favourite tipple.

So which are the most distinctive  or different shirt designs/colours? I reckon Blackburn Rover’s quartered shirts are  unusual and also ugly and Wycombe’s halved shirts get close to emulating them. Wolves fans might claim that the old gold and black is unique but I’m also sure that little old Barnet play in the same colours and maybe even Hull City too.  Why does nobody play in regal purple (the only top flight team to do so that I can think of are are Fiorentina in Serie A and strictly speaking I think that’s classified as violet).

There are and have some striking and hideous change strips – the Coventry brown shirt from the 70’s was priceless and Arsenal used to play in a very abstract green, red and yellow horror. But the classically unique shirt colour in the world of football has got to be Blackpool FC’s choice of tangerine. Look at this classic beauty:


Heaven knows why this was chosen over straightforward orange but you’ve got to admire the integrity of the decision. If anyone can shed light on it I’d be really interested. And let me know your favourite colours and most hideous designs.



11 thoughts on “the colour of football

  1. After today’s result, I absolutely hate grey kits!

    I loved the centenary Newton Heath kit Man Utd wore for away matches in the 1991/92 season – green/yellow shirt and black shorts combo. I also liked the retro kits United wore on the 50th anniversary of the Munich air crash.

    Being a Blackpool girl, I have to agree on the individuality of the tangerine coloured shirts worn by the seasiders.

    My favourite kit? Without doubt it has to be Brazil’s. It’s instantly recognisable as the emblem of cool, imaginative football and conjures up the magic of the world cup watched as a kid growing up in the 70’s. I also like the international kits of Argentina and Spain.

    Bad international kits? England’s kits have been a bit dodgy in the past – remember that grey kit worn during Euro 96? Also in this category: Russia, Croatia, Cameroon, Saudi Arabia, Japan. Any ideas why Italy and Japan play in blue and white when their flags don’t contain blue?

  2. hi hel

    ah the magnificent brazil strip: yellow/green shirts, light blue shorts and white socks. it ought to look like a dog’s dinner but pele et al just made that strip look beautiful. i love it.

    was never a big fan of the newton heath replica kit – i think it was the draw string collar. and it looked so alien to man u some how.

    the italian shirt is blue because it takes its colour from the house of savoy possibly the most significant ruling family before unification. the red, white and blue is a very contemporary symbol of the unified state of italy. heaven knows why japan play in blue and white. maybe its because they eat whales?


  3. This got me thinking about shirt sponsors and here’s some suggestions from someone with perhaps too much time on her hands :-

    Paul Gascoigne – Prozac / Newcastle Brown Ale / Mind
    Robbie Savage – Kotex Panty Liners
    Ashley Cole – Relate
    Arsenal – Air France
    Newcastle – Kleenex toilet tissue
    Liverpool – Shi’
    Steven Gerrard – xbox street fighter
    Bobby Zamora – Specsavers
    David James – Help the Aged
    Michael Owen –
    Robbie Keane – Thomas Cook Travel
    Carlos Tevez – Oil of Ulay
    John Terry – Chinawhites
    Marouane Fellaini – Toni & Guy
    Petr Cech – Philip Treacy Hats
    Arshavin – Virgin

  4. hi russ

    belting site. love those mexican goalie shirts. bridget riley would be proud of them.

    and yep, i did sign off that boro shirt but only because it was that design or that design. black lettering on a blue background isn’t the most impactful brand statement!

  5. hi hel

    top sponsorship suggestions. cech and savage’s are just brilliant. challenge you to come up with some sponsors for:

    geoff boycott
    alan brazil
    martin johnson
    sir bobby charlton
    arsene wenger
    jose m
    fat phil

    race you to it

  6. hi hel

    some sponsor suggestions for the above:

    geoff boycott: tetley’s tea
    alan brazil: alka seltzer
    martin johnson: cheerios
    sir bobby: veet hair remover
    berbatov: more cheerios
    arsene: laser correction surgery
    jose m: matalan
    fat phil: special k


  7. Ooh Lordy! Your blog site takes a sudden swerve away from intellectual content with a list of songs befitting current and ex-managers within our beautiful game….

    Sir Alex Ferguson – You sexy mother f*cker
    Guus Hiddinck – From Russia With Love (and a big pay packet)
    Phil Scolari – Hey, Fatty Bum-Bum
    Rafa Benetiz – Spanish Fly / I Hate Everything About You
    Joe Kinnear – How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?
    Phil Brown – Captain Scarlet Theme Tune
    Arsene Wenger – Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now
    Harry Redknapp – Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves (pay great bungs)
    Tony Adams – Little Donkey
    Sam Allardyce – I Will Survive
    Mick McCarthy – On Ilkley Moor Bar Tat
    Juande Ramos – Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered
    Steve Bruce – Jimmy Jimmy (I wish you didn’t play for crappy Hull City)
    Gareth Southgate – Under Pressure
    Jose Mourinho – I’m Too Sexy (for my coat)
    David Moyes – I’m Popeye the sailorman
    Martin O’Neill – That’ll Be The Day (Villa get in the Champions League)
    David O’Leary – Call Me Irresponsible
    Alan Curbishley – Call Me
    Tony Mowbray – Down Down
    Kevin Keegan – Tragedy
    Sven Goran Eriksson – The Great Pretender
    Paul Jewell – I’m Just a Love Machine
    Fabio Capello – I Can’t Speak French (or English)
    Roy Hodgson – Wred Wred Wine / Walk Like An Egyptian
    Mark Hughes – How Much Is That Doggie in the Window (& is he Welsh?) / Wish Me Luck As You Wave Me Goodbye

  8. now hel, that is just bloody belting. so funny. i wished i’d come up with them. there isn’t one bad one. there’s a new radio show in the making here.


  9. hi alex

    many thanks for checking in and for the comments. you’re welcome anytime but be prepared for postings on everything under the sun (apart from geophysics and dirty leeds united)


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