Goalkeepers - a different breed.  This goes for custodians and their wont of individuality in the attire they take to the field.  We all will reference Jorge Campos' day-glo oversized kits of the mid-nineties and Fabien Barthez, the wannabe outfielder, bringing short-sleeved goalkeeper shirts to the Premier League - despite Peter Schmeichel having already eschewed forearm coverage for the same club previously - but the evolution has taken several twists and turns over the last few years.

If we travel back half a century, goalkeeper shirts were generally functional and seldom evoked the personality of the footballer inside.  The colour distinguished the player from his outfield teammates, like the blue blood rather than the subjects' red running through the veins of the British royal family, in order to indicate that this person lived by a different set of rules.  Shorts and socks could match the rest of the team, as below the waist a goalkeeper was akin to anyone else, but when the sleeves came into play these needed to be easily noticeable as legally handling in the box.

Lev Yashin wore a black shirt, for the USSR, which became iconic through the wearer's exploits, and Peter Shilton added a stitched number 1 to his green shirt - inspiring Brian Clough's legendary green jumper as he was the "one number 1 around here" - at a time when any further identification had generally been deemed unnecessary.  Aside from this there was a landscape of green - and yellow internationally - with few exceptions.

Contrast this with the spectacular - often horrendous - designs of the nineties.  The no-holds-barred assaults on the eyes of opposing strikers gave us some of the most gaudy designs we've ever seen on a football pitch.  Schmeichel modelled plenty of shocking styles with great success for Manchester United and Denmark.

The other option was to kit out goalkeepers in a design derived - with extra padding - from the strip his teammates would be wearing outfield.  Both approaches continued into the last decade, evolving - perhaps denoting the increasing football ability of goalkeepers instigated by the backpass rule of 1992 - into 'keepers wearing shirts and kits bearing the hallmarks of intended outfield kits.  Padding seemed to be phased out and the goalkeeper shirt was often provided by a change shirt not that day in use.

Outfield teamwear also featured.  One of the most famous goalkeeper shirts of all time is now Iker Casillas' black and yellow number worn when lifting the Henri Delaunary trophy in 2008.  Rather than being a bespoke goalkeeper shirt - like Luis Arconada's worn by Casillas' deputy Andrés Palop when celebrating that triumph - it was a year old adidas Golpe outfield teamwear template.

Euro 2008 came at the end of a season when Olympique de Marseille's Steve Mandanda had worn the Golpe design, as well as following Gianluigi Buffon's lead by turning out in an alternative kit from the outfield wardrobe, and the favour was even returned by his teammates wearing the shorts and socks of an intended goalkeeper kit to avoid a clash against Strasbourg.

Confirming beyond all doubt that there was little, if anything, to differentiate outfield kits from goalkeeper kits in terms of functionality, in 2009-10 Hibernian announced a few weeks into the season that their all black goalkeeper kit would be doubling up as a Third kit, and was consequently marketed and sold as such.

It's an idea that should be embraced - as I have predicted and implored - by England and Umbro, with the enormously popular all red goalkeeper kit.  England already missed the opportunity to wear the recent yellow and white goalkeeper kit outfield - which would have worked as a clever nod to meetings with Czechoslovakia, Poland and Italy in 1973 - and, before Nike take over, the red England kit deserves to take up its rightful place on the pitch.  Umbro do England goalkeeper kits well - as the Away and Home change attest too - but the people have spoken (not convinced?  Apply a ctrl F search for "away" to this page).

However, goalkeeper kits now appear to be regressing to the identifiably functional and specific creations of yore.  They may still contain the moisture-wicking and temperature regulating technology of their outfield counterparts but they are now often unmistakenably made to be worn by the last line of defence.  One current fashion, from both adidas and Nike, seems to be designing goalkeeper shirts with lower arms a different colour to the upper - with the potential to confound referees already struggling to enforce rules on baselayers when short sleeves are employed.

So goalkeepers have their own style back.  Padding seems to be experiencing a resurgenceUhlsport gloves have bright red fronts - risking the overused "he caught it red handed" pun - and, as the winner of a recent DF competition foretells, the louder patterns of the nineties may be commonplace again soon.  It will be sad to see the end of derivative styles such as the red France marinière goalkeeper shirt - based on the Away shirt of the time - but the characters which follow the lineage of individualists like warpaint-wearing Rüştü Reçber and Spider-man-masked Jérémie Janot will stand out like their personalities scream that they should.

Follow Jay29ers on twitter


Over recent weeks football kit manufacturers - particularly Warrior and Under Armour - have been taking flak over their choice of their clubs' change kit colours.  If we're honest, grumbles are consistently heard whenever new kits are released, a major objection being that the three kits over a season do not offer enough protection against the dreaded "clash", but the two new-kids-on-the-block American companies have taken this oversight to a new level.

There are two games which have people up in arms, one already played and one on the distant horizon: Hearts v Liverpool in the Europa League play-off round on 23rd August and West Brom against Tottenham on 2nd February next year.

In Scotland, Heart of Midlothian were forced to wear all white in a home game - changing to Away shirt and socks - as Liverpool's choice of all black Away kit was deemed to too similar to the dark-tinted maroon of the Jambos.  Red would have equally been unacceptable and Liverpool's "nightshade" and white Third would have both given purplish-on-purplish action and dropped us in "overall clash" territory.  So the home team changed.  It's not right, it's not proper but it happened.  The world moved on.

Come February, Tottenham Hotspur will visit The Hawthorns and, as things stand, we don't know what kits the sides will turn out in.  The argument holds that no Spurs kit will be acceptable, with the all white Home clashing with the navy-and-white-stripes/white/white West Brom kit, navy Away clashing with the navy stripes - and, crucially, West Brom's navy sleeves - and the black and grey halved Third being a bit too "dark, light, dark, light" when employed against a similar equivalent - somewhat proven against Reading.  The solution, overall clash fans, may be for West Brom to wear navy shorts and socks and Spurs to wear their Home kit.  We know the Baggies don't need much of a push to break out the change items and they're arguably just as recognisible in the shirt's darker accessories as they are in predominantly white.  It won't be right, of course, not proper, but it might happen.  The world will move on.

It is not acceptable for home teams to be forced to change.  Visitors should be respecting their hosts and making sure their own wardrobe holds enough variations - perhaps interchangeable - to avoid clashes.  If referees are not satisfied with the alloted kits the away side has at its disposal then they should be forced to wear a goalkeeper kit outfield - if enough units can be sourced in time - printed up training wear or, heaven forbid, wear the home side's change kit.  The home side changing any item should be a last resort and result in the visitors being fined, and that deterrent should perhaps be applied to the other undesireable scenarios too.

It shouldn't be so difficult to create three kits which are, one way or another, certain to avoid clashes.  Especially when distinguishing players on the pitch is the primary function of change kits, right?  Right?

This is where I have a problem with the argument and the anger at Under Armour and Warrior.  I dispute that the primary function of kits - certainly change versions - relates to their appearance on the field of play.  The purpose of change kits is to make money, and whilst they should also fulfill requirements as playing wear, I understand and agree with saleability as a starting point.  Of anything up to a million Liverpool shirts produced this year, only around 0.1% will be worn by the playing staff of the club's sides and the rest need to be sold.  It may be exactly the right time to rethink priorites.

I love football kits, you may have noticed, but I also like my football club(s) to compete.  Replica kit sales are a major source of revenue, whether this be directly, via the club shop, or through the potential leading to a manufacturer paying an obscene amount of money to produce the kit (or, indeed, a combination of both).  If kits are produced, or can potentially be produced, which will sell well, ideally globally, then this will fund player purchases, stadium redevelopment and help ensure, in these dark times, the continuity of a football club.

So when a club, and its manufacturer, release three kits which seem too similar, or for whatever reason provoke anger, it's worth considering that a significant amount of research has been put into finding out what will sell.  And what will sell, it can equally be argued, is a fair gauge of what the fans really want.  For all the calls for Liverpool to wear red at home, white/black/white as an away change and yellow as a third option - complete with interchangeable shorts and socks - will this truly set the tills ringing?  The red Home kit has been well received on blogs, as has the black Away but which was the first replica shirt I saw being worn in the street?  The much-maligned (and I agree it's awful) Third, in short-sleeved version on a father and long-sleeved on his son.

There is method in the madness, and Warrior even suggest themselves that the "popular" colour of yellow doesn't necessarily sell in Liverpool kit form.  Their research perhaps should have made allowances for an horrendous 2004 Reebok number and an unsightly green Carlsberg logo on the 2006 version, but you can't blame them for their conclusions.

Even if we did have the colour of kits dictated by the loadmouthed minority (my membership is still valid) then should we have those same colours every season?  Will a goth ever buy a white kit?  Will those in warmer climes ever wear a yellow shirt in the summer, complete with covering of insects after a short walk to the shops?  You can't please all of the people all of the time so it's surely best to please everyone at some point over two or three seasons.  How many people will buy a white shirt twice, compared with how many will buy a black shirt and then a white shirt?  To that we can add all those who will buy one or the other.

The two ends do not need to be mutually exclusive.  For me, all Under Armour and Warrior have done wrong is not working back from their trio of bestsellers and tweaked the designs to make them more suitable to the multicoloured rigours of Premier and Europa League seasons.  Liverpool's Third kit already has white sleeves and white socks; could they not have made the body white with a nightshade (and orange) sash?  Some white change shorts might come in handy too.  Would that have impacted greatly on sales?  They're the experts I s'pose, but they weren't all that far from having a full set which would have covered all bases.

The most amusing argument I've read, for kits being made with primarily their use on the pitch in mind, suggested a parallel with hi-viz vests, created purely to ensure a worker is seen.  The difference is that football provokes a desire amongst millions of fans to look like their favourite players, which means it is a kit manufacturer and club's marketing arm's duty to ensure this can be followed through to maximum gain.  Whereas, with all due respect, who'd want to dress like YOU?

Follow Jay29ers on twitter

World Cup 2014 mascot

FIFA and the Local Organising Committee (LOC) are excited to introduce one of the most high-profile ambassadors of the 2014 FIFA World Cup™: a unique Brazilian three-banded armadillo (the Tolypeutes tricinctus), a creature that is indigenous to Brazil.

The mascot was officially launched as part of Brazilian broadcaster TV Globo’s weekly Fantástico entertainment show, where he was welcomed by Brazilian football legend and member of the LOC Management Board, Ronaldo.

“I’m delighted to welcome such an important member to the 2014 team,” said Ronaldo. “The mascot will play a key ambassadorial role in the next two years. I’m sure he will inspire many young football fans in Brazil and all over the world with the great passion which he has for the sport and for his country.”

One of the great ruminations of football kit design is the concept of multi-purpose shorts and socks.  That is to say, shorts and socks that suit, generally speaking are designed to suit, at least two of the outfield shirts in any team's season wardrobe.

There is a call for flexibility in this area due to greater emphasis than ever before being put on the avoidance of the "overall clash".  The implication seems to be that when two teams face-off they should not appear, even in the blink of an eye, to be similar in the way they are turned out.  This dictates that, occasionally, the intended and marketed combination of shirt, shorts and socks is inadequate.

Interchangeability is a concept, along with its contrary nemeses, which splits opinion.  In one corner, the traditionalist: logical, resourceful and considerate; seeing the benefit and good sense of giving each item most use and most function, thinking of the consumer buying not a pair of Home shorts but a pair of Home/Away, maybe even Home/Away/Third shorts - Utility shorts, if you will.

Whilst I make no apology for being opinionated, it occasionally becomes necessary for me to qualify my remarks.  For example, I recently railed against the use of sublimation in football shirt manufacture, only to have it pointed out to me that major sportswear manufacturers utilise the technique to create stripes, hoops, sashes and other integral patterns.  I was, of course, aware of this and merely hadn't been explicit enough in outlining that I was referring to sublimation's use when adding finer details such as single, double or triple striping on sleeves, manufacturers' logos, crests and sponsors.

Ah, sponsors.  Even more recently I wrote a piece taking aim at football clubs and associations - FAI, this means you - which allow shirt sponsorship to impact negatively on a design or reputation.  What I didn't make quite clear enough, it seems, is that I actually like football shirt sponsorship.

In fact, the right sponsor can make a football shirt.  Cork City/QPR with Guinness, St Pauli with Astra, Scarborough with Black Death Vodka (really!).  In my last article I referred to Liverpool's association with Carlsberg - as opposed to Standard Chartered - as being one which was celebrated by the fans, but I'm more of a Candy man (ha) myself, with a fondness for Crown Paints and, naturally, Hitachi.  In fact, befitting someone born in Kettering - home of the first British club to wear a shirt sponsor - I am keen to embrace brand logos appearing on shirts, if it's the right brand and the right logo, and the bigger the better.

CR Smith was a particular favourite with Celtic - though the larger player style rather than the downsized version used on the replicas.  And, whilst I understand the desire to get one's hands on a rarity, Uefa's limiting of the size of shirt sponsors is generally to the shirts' cost, even considering Borussia Dortmund's dispensing of the Die Continental wording on their run to Champions League glory in 1997, and creating a perpetually out of reach version of their 97-98 shirt in the final.

On the other hand, the Uefa rule that teams in opposition cannot wear the same sponsor - seemingly now defunct - has thrown up some great one-offs, as has the barring of alcohol and gambling sponsorship in certain countries.  Arsenal imploring people to visit Dubai paired up, in a cross-generational illustration of the UK's north-south divide, with Newcastle recommending a more modest outlay on a trip to Center Parcs.   Blink and you'll miss them but they attain legendary status.

Equally, an increased quantity can be as effective as an increased size.  The French - also prone to cross-competition sponsorship rotation - and, even more notably, South and Central American team's football kits are covered in logos.  It's cluttered and it must detract from from the original design but a large-sized main sponsor surrounded by smaller indicators of more modest deals, short sponsors - and here I do prefer sublimation, and will forever regret lending my 1994-95 l'OM shorts to a teammate, never to see them again - and even iconic sponsors on socks just, somehow, looks cool.  Like a Nascar or Piccadilly Circus, nay, Tokyo in football kit form.

If I haven't demonstrated my love for football kit sponsorship enough then I should point out that I've dreamt, for many years, of my own staccato-fixtured football team Marceltipool wearing an Away or Third kit displaying a whole array of sponsors.  How many?  Let's just say I have a number in mind...

Follow Jay29ers on twitter


Adidas - The European Championships by Richard Debenham

Design work from Richard Debenham commissioned by Adidas for Uefa Euro 2012 - on display at the fan zones in Poland and Ukraine. The project's aim was celebrate the rich history between Adidas and the European Championships, showcasing the finest playes that have graced the competition.

The designs concentrate on 3 legendary players from the tournament's past from 1972 to 2008, taking cultural references and styles, along with key Adidas elements from the year of the championship.

nike renovated football pitch ukraine

Nike was joined by Ukrainian football legend Andriy Shevchenko today to officially open a renovated football pitch, sports ground and gym at the school in Kiev where he honed his football skills and received his education.

The sports facilities were renovated to provide students at the school and kids in the local community with a high-quality facility to play football and other sports and have a dedicated gym for indoor sport and physical education

Latest Comments