Here we go again. Another season is upon us, and perhaps for the first time in quite a while, we’re eyeing the new campaign with some optimism.
And to keep us entertained between the end of Euro 2020 and next season’s kick-off is the release of the new kit for the 2021/22 season, which again comes from Umbro.
Based on the kits from the last few seasons, this is a good thing.
Normally, I cast a cursory eye over the kit, make a bit of a snap judgement as to whether I like it or not and then forget about it for the rest of the season, save for the odd comment when I’m watching the game like; ‘I love the third kit, it looks smart and we always do well in it don’t we?’.
However, this season it’s a bit different – we’ll be competing on a number of fronts and our stock has risen. Does our kit reflect the team’s standing in the game?
First, the home strip. It was first worn in the 3-0 pre-season friendly win over Reading, and for those of a certain generation, it might ring a few bells.
The club have said that it’s inspired by the kit worn at the turn of the millennium, when Paolo Di Canio volleyed that goal against Wimbledon, and you can certainly see the similarities: the blue detailing on the sleeves for instance.
I now think it looks great, having been a little bit underwhelmed at first. As you’d expect, it features the club’s traditional colours: a claret body with the blue sleeve detailing, and white shorts and claret socks to finish it off.
It definitely has that nod to the Fila shirts from the beginning of the noughties, a shirt that I particularly liked, and its relatively simple design (which I originally thought was too simple) is really clean and appealing. Thumbs up from me.
I’m not quite so keen on the away kit. Don’t get me wrong, I think that it looks pretty smart – being a modern take on the early 90s away kit, with white and blue stripes, with claret lining around the neck, minus the classic BAC Windows (or Dagenham Motors, depending on your preference) sponsor.
The thing is, I was never a fan of that 90s kit. I just thought the stripes were a little too in your face, and it wasn’t really very West Ham-like.
I prefer the single-colour, simpler designs, like the darker blue of the 06/07 and 12/13 away kit, or even the relative simplicity of the 19/20 white away kit.
That said, take away my irrational dislike of the 90s kit, and the modern version is pretty smart. It’s easier on the eye, definitely.
I don’t know, maybe it’ll grow on me like the home kit did. Maybe it’s just because it looks a bit like the Argentinian kit, and well, whilst we’re pretty good, we are very definitely not Argentina. We are West Ham.
What about that third kit then? Full disclosure here, if it were possible to fall in love with a kit, I’d be married to last season’s effort.
I thought it looked the best of the lot last season, and not just because we seemed to win a lot when we wore it. I loved the gold on black.
This season’s effort has a lot to live up to, both in design and in results.
The verdict? It’s nearly there. I like the colour: the dark blue is really smart. The white logos compliment it nicely, and the claret and blue touches on the sleeves are a nice touch. I’m not so sure about the claret and blue lines around the collar, though.
I understand what they’re trying to do here, but for me, having most of the collar as dark blue and the rest as two lines of claret and blue on top of each other just doesn’t work.
To me, it’s the visual equivalent of playing two notes next to each other on a piano. It jars.
It does, however, make a pretty simplistic design feel a bit more retro, and perhaps that’s what they were trying to go for.
Of course, I haven’t actually seen it worn by a West Ham player yet, and so perhaps I’m being a bit unfair and in fact, I will have the same feeling as last season when they wear it for the first time.
Until then, though, whilst I’m not completely convinced, I’m prepared to give it the benefit of the doubt.
All in all, when I look at our effort this season, I’m pretty happy with it. They all look pretty smart, really, for our first season in the Europa League proper.
We’ve done the kit, we’ve done the fixtures, now bring on the actual football.