Do we really need a third kit? In fact, does any team need a third kit? After all, the only reason for a second kit is to avoid colour clashes with opponents. Of course clubs never miss an opportunity to rinse fans of yet more cash. Nevertheless here it is, a shirt forged in the club’s history.
According to the publicity blurb ‘the hotter the furnace the stronger the iron’. The shirt itself is ostensibly white with a splash of colour in the lower half. They brand it as a fire graphic rising from the hem to tie in with the furnace concept. The kit is completed by coral shorts and white socks with contrasting trim.
A Dulux colour chart might refer to ‘Wild Swan’ when they really mean ‘white’. Similarly ‘Coral’ is ‘orange’.
I can just about tolerate teal and magenta as broad variations on blue. But when exactly was orange ever a West Ham colour? Perhaps they’re hoping we start playing like Holland? Crystal Palace adopted Brazil’s kit as their change strip a few years back; that didn’t work either.
Personally I quite like this kit but it looks like a tee-shirt with West Ham’s badge stuck on the front; possibly even veering into beach wear, it’s certainly not a football shirt. The fans’ reaction is a predictably mixed bag; one thought it looked like a cheap baggy tee-shirt from Sports Direct; some loved it, others thought it was time to bin Umbro.
However, West Ham aren’t the only club making graphic designers rich. With clubs at liberty to change every season, it’s a case of spot the difference where the home kit is concerned. A tweak of the sleeves or collar and behold a ‘new’ shirt. To be absolutely fair there isn’t much wriggle room with the design of home shirts; they have to follow fairly standard lines and colour schemes.
Looking around the Premier League Arsenal have the most pleasing home kit. A good effort drawn from the classic 90s design worn by Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp.
Southampton also score highly as they depart from their traditional stripes. This time they have gone for white shirts with a single red vertical panel running down the centre. This is a strong nod towards one of the coolest kits of all time as Ajax pioneered the style before the Great War.
But it’s the away kits that really set the head spinning; Where the mentality of a hyperactive five-year old really cuts loose. And there are some absolute humdingers on show. The opening weeks of the season played host to designs that should bear a health warning. Manchester City spared us their hideous black and red second kit. Instead we were treated to their third kit inspired by street art with a neon blurred hoop design.
Just as horrible is Chelsea’s away kit, a white number with turquoise strips and a dreadful ‘3′ dominating the shirt.
But the raspberry for the worst shirt must be awarded to Manchester United. Their hellish start to the season is complemented by a lime green shirt that makes players ‘disappear’ on a sunny day. Fans heaped scorn on the third kit courtesy of social media. One bitterly observed it ‘should be the away kit. We go missing so often that the players can now camouflage in the brighter grass pitches’.
The other stand out is Nottingham Forest who strangely lack a shirt sponsor. They failed to agree terms with existing sponsor BOXT and seek a new deal. After a 23-year absence from the Premier League, shouldn’t suitors be breaking the door down?
With the World Cup fast approaching we also brace ourselves for a new England kit. No official announcements have yet been made, but the kit is expected to feature a blue gradient with a flourish reminiscent of the Euro ’96 kit.
Images leaked online would suggest the same with a red away kit harking back to the early 90s. If these rumoured designs are accurate I’m not especially keen.
England’s lilywhite shirts are essentially a blank page begging to be jazzed up. Over the years, hints of red and blue have adorned the shirt with varying degrees of success. The three lions encased in a trusty shield should be sufficient. The red shirt from the 1966 World Cup Final is the ultimate for its simplicity and vibrancy.
My favourite England home kit is the 1986 vintage. A classic white shirt with blue v-neck collar and cooling mesh fabric. But to declare a favourite international kit is dogged by a wide choice. It seems red and white has always been the best colour scheme.
On that basis Peru have a kit of which they are rightly proud. All-white with a red sash and trim is smart, distinctive and the definition of class.