Football Kit Memories: The best classic shirt picks

We’ve all got a favourite football shirt. Whether it’s the way it looks or the memories it evokes, a shirt is far more than something to spot your team-mate in (or not if you ask any of Manchester United’s players who travelled to Southampton in 1996).

That’s the premise of TSP Indy Football Podcast member Football Kit Memories and as the show celebrates hitting 60 episodes, host Craig McFarlane selected a few of his favourite shirts selected by a few of his guests. Drum roll, please…

Sam Delaney – West Ham Home Shirt 1983-85 by Adidas

I hooked up with ‘Britain’s Best Journalist’ Sam Delaney in January 2021 to talk to him about his work in print media, TV, radio and more latterly podcasting where he co-hosts the hilarious ‘Top Flight Time Machine’ with Andy Dawson.

Sam grew up in West London but ended up travelling to Upton Park as a child most weekends with West Ham-supporting neighbours. He described the Boleyn as having an “exciting air of menace” during the 80s, although he was keen to point out that football itself was then seen as “deeply uncool” until Italia 90 and a particular article in The Face magazine seemed to change all that.

Perhaps avoiding the more obvious 1985/86 shirt McAvennie, Cottee & Co almost won the league in, Sam instead chose the first West Ham shirt he owned from the season before.

The design split from the traditional claret body with blue sleeves, adding an additional blue hoop, which housed the club’s first shirt sponsor AVCO. Sam talked fondly about his ninth birthday where he proudly wore his shirt for a kick-about before a tea-party with hotdogs, jelly and ice cream descended into a food fight – something his friends still talk about to this day.

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Tim Vickery – Barcelona Away Shirt by Meyba 1991-92

“How’s the weather in Rio, Tim?” seems to be cliched question everybody asks Mr South American football, Tim Vickery, every time he dials in from Brazil… and it seemed rude not ask myself in March when I spoke to him (it was disappointingly cool for the time of year!).

During our chat we covered Tim’s time working in London before he took the gamble to move to Brazil and become the BBC’s man in South America. I’ve been a huge fan of the late-night BBC Radio 5Live World Football Phone In show for years and we talked about Tim’s fond relationship with co-host Dotun Adebayo (also an FKM guest) along with Tim’s work on Brazilian TV with Carlos Alberto.

One of the three football shirts Tim picked out was the garish Meyba Barcelona away shirt worn by the ‘Dream Team’ at Wembley in the European Cup final vs Sampdoria. Tim attended that day, disguised as a Barcelona fan (at least in the eyes of a West Ham fan he met later that evening in a bar), a story he shares on the podcast.

LISTEN TO TIM VICKERY’S FULL INTERVIEW

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Iain Trickett – Newcastle United 1995-97 home by Adidas

I really enjoyed speaking to founder of the eponymous super-cool fashion brand Trickett back in September.

In the episode, we explored some of the things that inspire Iain to create his beautiful products such as clothes, accessories and homeware, often derived themselves from the world of football. Iain cited football shirts as his first introduction into design and the passion he has for them is evident throughout.

Iain reflected on his time growing up as a football fan in the 90s where the sight of a foreign football shirt was a much rarer and more exotic treat than it is today. The particular story he told about the methods his father had to undertake to get him a 1994/95 Borussia Dortmund home shirt perfectly evoked a period of pre-internet, pre-Google-Translate and no next day delivery perfectly.

However perhaps the most interesting part of the conversation was Iain’s choice and justification of the famous grandad-collared Adidas Newcastle United Home shirt used in two consecutive seasons where the club famously finished second in the Premier League.

The design of the shirt and its Newcastle Brown Ale logo evoke so many nostalgic memories of Kevin Keegan, Alan Shearer and perhaps (what Iain calls) the Premier League’s “greatest underdog story” – although Blackburn and Leicester fans might have some argument about that!

The shirt (or its complimentary hooped away) was notably also chosen by previous FKM guests Johnny Sharples and Matthew Ketchell, but Iain’s breakdown of the design and construction based on his experience in the fashion industry was fascinating.

Iain explained the shirt itself is made of two different fabrics with the black stripes being lighter than their white counterpart in order to keep the athlete (and the rest of us!) aerated, while he waxed further lyrical on the unique design of the shorts and socks – all made, rarely even for the time, in England.

I loved Iain’s passion for the product and found it difficult to argue with his assertion that this garment is perhaps “the greatest piece of sportswear ever made”. But what do you think?

HEAR IAIN TRICKETT’S FOOTBALL KIT MEMORIES

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Dr Kevin Moore – Diego Maradona Mexico 86 away by Le Coq Sportif

Dr Kevin Moore recently joined me to discuss three shirts that are all in possession of The National Football Museum – where he was the founding Director for 20 years.

Dr Kevin’s passion and enthusiasm shone throughout as we discussed the foundation of the museum and a number of its exhibits, including the 1966 World Cup Final ball, with which Kevin has travelled all over the world meeting various dignitaries along the way.

It was a close call here between the England shirt Bobby Moore swapped with Pele at Mexico 70 (that led Dr Kevin meeting the great Brazilian in a marquee with Bishop Desmond Tutu!) and the skin-tight, tucked-in elegance of El Diego’s royal blue masterpiece, but I’ve opted for the latter.

Maradona is understandably a divisive figure for England fans and the memories he evokes have featured on the podcast a number of times. His death at just 60 years old in 2020 shocked many of us, and at the time of writing it’s been a bittersweet few days on Twitter as people share images and videos of the man who would have turned 61 at the end of October 2021.

The story of how the shirt came into the possession of England midfielder Steve Hodge is well-told but perhaps more surprising is the shirt’s popularity in the museum itself, where an anecdote from the cleaning staff confirmed it as the most sought-after exhibit in the building.

LISTEN TO THE FULL EPISODE

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Pat Nevin – France B home shirt by Adidas 1987 (Eric Cantona matchworn?)

During the 1980s and 90s, Pat Nevin was famous in equal parts for his industrious and skillful wingplay as much as his lifestyle off the pitch. A disciple of John Peel, post punk and an outspoken opponent of the racism then still commonly heard from the stands, Nevin stood out as someone who didn’t fit into the perceived mould of a professional footballer.

I managed to book in a chat with Pat last Easter before the publication of his first memoir, The Accidental Footballer. He was so generous with his time I ended up splitting the episode in to two parts (the first time I’d done that), meaning we were able to spend a good deal of the conversation upfront talking about his time growing up in Easterhouse (a scheme in Glasgow) in a family that valued academia, hard work and fairness for the wider community.

Before we recorded, Pat had climbed into his attic to retrieve a sealed plastic box of football shirts he’d swapped at the end of various games during his career.

Collectors will be aware of the kind of horror stories where an ex-pro has used a cup-winning jersey to clean the car windscreen or a rare under-21 international long-sleeve to do the gardening in, but while Pat knew the value of his own shirt collection it had remained sealed away for 20-something years.

Indeed, as Pat began to pull out a number of heavy cotton classics from the 80s like a magician with endless tricks, it was funny to hear him brag that he could “out-hipster the lot of us” should he want to.

Pat’s memory of a France B international held at Pittodrie in 1987, and the accompanying number 9 jersey Pat (thinks) he swapped with Eric Cantona is one of my favourite football kit memories so far…

PAT NEVIN’S FOOTBALL KIT MEMORIES

Football Kit Memories – the football podcast that gets under the shirt – is the place where well-known guests explore their own personal relationship with football through their choice of three football shirts.

Football Kit Memories: The best classic shirt picks
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