Lurid Colours and Questionable Designs: Football Kits of the 1990s

Football shirts, any fan worth their salt realises that they should be worn exclusively by those under 14.

Furthermore, they realise that grown men with a player’s name and number or worse still a hilarious nickname on the back of their shirt are symptomatic of large swathes of modern football fans, endemic throughout the modern game.

Despite being badly made in sweatshops, generally by one of two multinational corporations, these synthetic adverts for other multinational corporations, which do little to flatter the figure of the average fan, retail for nearly £50 each.  On the whole identical, with little – aside from colour – separating say the Nike Manchester United kit from their design for Barcelona, they are equally likely to be seen in shopping centres in South East Asia as they are on a Saturday in the stands.

However, whilst there has never been a time when it has been acceptable for football shirts to adorn the backs of grown men on the terraces, there was a time when they were less uniform and not identikit. When our heroes who took to the field in them of a Saturday afternoon also sported moustaches and mullets and the sponsor wasn’t a multinational company but your local scrap metal dealer. Each club didn’t issue three new kits season and West Ham’s kits were aptly manufactured by Pony.

These kits worn by Pavel Srnicek, Tony Daley, Ruel Fox, Jason Dozell and all manner of other Merlin sticker book superstars came in all number of lurid colours, in a variety of questionable designs. Chelsea travelled in tangerine and graphite, whilst Everton played away in Pink. There weren’t identical tiger stripers on the arms of Fraser Digby – keeper at Swindon Town – and that of Hans Segers in the Wimbledon goal. Neither of their kits were made by Nike, but by the internationally renowned Loki and Ribero respectively. They were gharish, they were ghastly, they were great.  Here’s to the shit football kits of the 1990’s.

Some of the Worst/Best examples of 1990’s kits.

Efan Ekoku is pictured here representing Norwich in 1993/1994, seemingly Jackson Pollock or a Pigeon with severe diahorea has been left to add the final flourishes to their traditional yellow shirts. Local Building Society ‘Norwich and Peterborough’ provide proper 90’s sponsorship.

Anyone who thinks that the tangerine and graphite kit was Chelsea’s worst of the 90’s doesn’t remember the goalkeeping shirts Dmitri Kharine combined with his trademark jogging bottoms. Throughout his spell at the club he wore gharish design after gharish design. This contains all the hallmarks of a classic 90’s Kharine kit, looking like a cross between a seat on the tube and a pair of curtains you might see on Neighbours.

Hull took the field in this beauty between January and May 1994. A contender for perhaps the worst kit in football’s history it looks more like a top which an ageing lady of ill repute may sport with fishnets and leather boots on a night out in the sponsor Pepis, which I’m assuming for the purpose of this metaphor is a questionable local night spot, than the shirt of a football team.  First prize to anyone who can identify what animal that is the print of too.

This kit from 1992, being modelled by Birmingham City’s Nigel Gleghorn, could only have come from the early 90’s, looking as it does, like either a sofa you could win on the Generation Game or a dress that a contestant on Family Fortunes may sport.

Worn by Sunderland goalkeepers between 1994-1996, this appears to be at least 15 different kits sewn together, all of them utterly disgusting.

By Callum West


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