Book Review – 101 Manchester City Matchworn Shirts: The Players – The Matches – The Stories Behind the Shirts by Mark McCarthy

Football shirt collecting seems to have grown in popularity in recent years with this reflected in the  number of books recently published around the subject. These have included amongst other, The Arsenal Shirt: The history of the iconic Gunners jersey told through an extraordinary collection of match worn shirts, The Spurs Shirt The Official Book History of the Tottenham Hotspur Jersey, and The Leeds United Collection: A History of the Club’s Kits. This has been added to by Mark McCarthy’s 101 Manchester City Matchworn Shirts: The Players – The Matches – The Stories Behind the Shirts.

Whereas the Arsenal, Spurs and Leeds United editions are in a large format (i.e. what is commonly known as coffee-table book size), this Manchester City offering is A5 in size. What it means is that although all the books have similar information, such as images and description about the shirt, the larger versions offer more detailed text for readers. So whilst this might be a ‘nice to have’ it certainly shouldn’t dissuade any potential buyers wanting to purchase the book.

Mark McCarthy began his interest in football as a nine-year-old in 1983 after a visit to his grandfather’s house, when he was told that his cousin Mick McCarthy was joining Manchester City. Mark’s intention was to one day own one of Mick’s City shirts, however, by 2021 when this book was published the collection had grown to over 400 original matchworn or issued shirts.

This vast array of shirts is whittled down to 101 in the book, which range from a 1926 FA Cup Final shirt to a Champions League top from 2020/21. The selection is dominated by shirts from the 1980s onwards, reflecting both the modern trend for new shirts being released year on year and the fact that prior to that kits were recycled through the first-team, reserves etc. until they ultimately fell apart and were thrown away.

Whilst fans from the blue half of Manchester will pore over each and every shirt, for neutrals (and perhaps indeed for collectors themselves) the interest lies in those rare and quirky shirts which have a story to tell. As a result amongst the pages of the book there is an unused and unnumbered spare long-sleeved shirts from the 1981 FA Cup Final, a Nicolas Anelka shirt from the last Manchester ‘derby’ at Maine Road and a 1953 one-off top made from a shiny, silky material (which was supposed to help players see each other under floodlights) worn in friendly against Hearts. It was good also to see that goalkeepers were well represented within the book, with classic plain green shirts from Joe Corrigan included, all the way through to the luminous colours favoured by modern day incumbents such as Ederson.

This is a great addition to the growing list of titles about football kits and shirts in particular, which is undoubtedly aimed at City supporters, but will appeal to anyone interested in shirts and their history.

(Publisher: Conker Editions Ltd. October 2021. Paperback: 192 pages)


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