Following on from the previous Alphablog, a fairly serious and pragmatic post about what to put in a design brief, I thought a more jovial, even tongue-in-cheek article would bring a slight change of pace.
It might even raise a smile and a memory for any other frustrated and nostalgic English football fans. This week, the subject is ‘England football kits’.
Resplendent in white (or red (or sometimes sky blue (or grey))), our boys have always had a reputation as strong footballing nation despite regularly displaying evidence to the contrary on the pitch. But the three lions have adorned many a famous kit, and have always been a well-recognised symbol in world football.
Here is a list of my top ten England kits over the last 50 years.
No. 10. 2010-11 Home
With the previous kit only 17 months into its expected 2 year lifespan, Umbro released this model of simplicity in time for England’s first match in the 2012 European Championship qualifying campaign against Bulgaria. Designed by legendary designer Peter Saville it features a collarless buttoned neckline and royal blue trim (as opposed to the traditional navy).
Key design feature: Tiny multicoloured replicas of the St. George cross on the shoulder represent modern, multicultural England.
Iconic moment: Um, a bit early to say. Probably Defoe racing onto Rooney’s throughball to complete a hattrick and a 4-0 win in the first match since a disappointing World Cup, vs Bulgaria.
No. 9. 2002 Away
Pushing a new idea into the arena of football kits, the replica version of this kit featured a reversible design that enabled fans to choose between the red away kit or the navy training kit. A clean, simple design.
Key design feature: Reversible red/navy design.
Iconic moment: Beckham lashing home the penalty against Argentina in World Cup 2002 and laying to rest ghosts of his red card against the same team four years earlier.
No. 8. 1994-96 Home
Famous for its prominence in Euro ’96, hosted in England, this kit featured navy and sky blue trim rather than red. A large collar was superseded only by an even larger navy v-shape below the neck-line!
Key design feature: The manufacturer (Umbro) logo and three lion’s badge featured in the centre rather than to the left and right of the chest.
Iconic moment: Gazza’s brilliant goal against Scotland at Wembley in Euro ’96 and subsequent ‘dentist’s chair’ celebration.
No. 7. 2004-05 Away
A very smart and well designed clean red kit represented England well during a successful run of results between 2004 and 2005.
Key design feature: The use of white trim to define the shape of the St. George cross on both shoulders was innovative and classy.
Iconic moment: It was worn once in England’s 2004 European Championship campaign, a Wayne Rooney-inspired 4-2 victory over Croatia.
No. 6. 1980-83 Home
A cult classic England shirt, unfortunately it hardly contributed to any tournament success as England crashed out of the 1980 Euro Championships and 1982 World Cup. In terms of design though it is one of the most iconic England shirts featuring Admiral’s bold royal blue and red stripes across the chest and shoulders.
Key design feature: The stripes across the shoulders – controversial (referring of course to the Union Flag, rather than England’s St. George cross) but classic 80s.
Iconic moment: Hard for me to say, since I wasn’t yet born! The away version of this kit was worn when Bryan Robson scored the then second fastest goal in World Cup history, against France.
No. 5. 1990-92 Home
I was 9 years old when this kit was worn during the Italia ’90 world cup – a child only just beginning to develop an interest in football. So as the first England kit I ever knew it is an essential addition to the top five despite the classic 90s style shiny fabric and floppy collar.
Key design feature: Diamond detail around the edge of the sleeves and down the side of the shorts was a classic Umbro mark at the time. All the elements worked well together at a time when football shirt fashion was beginning to take off.
Iconic moment: Gazza’s tears in the World Cup semi final against Germany in 1990.
No. 4. 2001-03 Home
A collarless v-shaped neckline, minimalist navy piping and a red stripe running vertically down the left side of the front all combined to produce one of the smartest England kits of all time – sleek, modern and fashionable.
Key design feature: The red stripe gave a great contrasting feature on an otherwise very crisp white shirt.
Iconic moment: If it wasn’t the memorable 5-1 win over Germany in Munich it was Beckham’s injury time thunderbolt free kick against Greece a month later that secured their place in the 2002 World Cup in Japan & Korea. Which to choose? Probably beating the Germans…!
No. 3. 2010 Away
Produced by Nike and distributed by subsidiary brand Umbro in the modern age of ‘technical’ kits, this sleek shirt mimics the 1966 World Cup winning kit with an implied simplicity and minimalist approach but brings it up to date with a tailored fit and multiple fabric structure.
Key design feature: The attention to detail of the ‘build’ – specific types of fabric were used for the shoulder joints (flexibility), the lower back (preventing overheating) and the front (protection and comfort).
Iconic moment: Sadly, getting hammered by Germany in the World Cup was the biggest occasion, and a shaky 3-1 pre tournament win against Egypt was the biggest win. An inauspicious start unfortunately!
No. 2. 2007-09 Home
Another visually unique and attractive home kit, the white is punctuated by an asymmetrical red horizontal stripe across the shoulders and again features a simple collarless neckline – always my preference when it comes to collars. It also benefited from the use of Umbro’s trademarked ‘Climate Control’ fabric that drew sweat away from the skin, keeping players’ body temperatures under control while they played.
Key design feature: An abstract visual of the three lions motif was hidden away in a thin strip down the sides of the body – a nice subtle touch.
Iconic moment: Theo Walcott’s superb hat-trick in a 4-1 away win against in-form Croatia in World Cup 2010 qualifying.
No. 1. 1965-72 Away
No clever technologies here. It’s the days before football shirt fashions and wicking fabrics. Just plain red, long sleeved, crew necked shirts, white shorts and red socks. When England were good, and they proved it! More for what it represents than any clever design features, the 1966 shirt is a real classic and it tops my list of England’s greatest football kits.
Key design feature: Plain and simple, thank you very much.
Iconic moment: THE iconic moment of English football history – Geoff Hurst’s hat-trick and Bobby Moore lifting the Jules Rimet trophy at Wembley in the 1966 World Cup final!
Thanks to England Football Online
for a lot of my research
And the following sites where I found images of the shirts:
Classic Football Shirts
UK Soccer Shop