Book Review – Black and Whites Stripes: The Greatest Collection of Newcastle United Matchworn shirts by Gavin Haigh
About the Author:
Gavin Haigh’s life as a passionate Newcastle United FC (NUFC) shirt collector began as a seven-year-old in June 1976 with a trip with his mother to Stan Seymour’s sports shop in the centre of Newcastle. He attended his first match in October 1976, standing on the Gallowgate, became a Milburn Stand season-ticket holder in 1992 and continues to attend every home match, his love and commitment to the club never wavering. Gavin’s knowledge of the history of the club and their shirts is second to none, his NUFC shirt collection currently standing at close to 1,000, of which 275 are matchworn shirts.
Back in October 2021 Conker Editions released 101 Manchester City Matchworn Shirts: The Players – The Matches – The Stories Behind the Shirts by Mark McCarthy. Now ten months on another book in the same vein has been released featuring this time the collection of Newcastle United shirts owned by Gavin Haigh.
As with most Conker Editions offerings this is A5 in size and like the Manchester City shirt book, with double-page colour spreads afforded to each of the matchworn jerseys. This allows a page dedicated to the image of the shirt, with the other offering a brief description and other images. This detail varies and can include information about the season, match or the individual who wore the shirt as well as some facts about the shirt manufacturer and in some cases, the technical claims made about the garment – an example being, ‘this is the ultimate ergonomic fit to maximise and individual’s performance in competition and ensure sportswear doesn’t hinder their output.’ Well, what can you say to that!
For this reader there were a couple of details that stuck in the mind whilst reading this book. Firstly, it was a surprise to see that Admiral provided shirts for Newcastle in the early 1970s prior to their legendary logo being present on many kits. Secondly, about ASICS the company who first made the Magpies shirts in 1993/94. The Japanese company was founded in 1949 and started out manufacturing basketball shoes. What this reader didn’t know was that the company name is an acronym coming from the Latin proverb, ‘anima sana in corpore sano’ translated as ‘pray for a sound mind in a sound body’.
Within the 208 pages, Haigh whittles down his 275 matchworn shirts to 101 for the book and the jerseys range from a silky materialled top which was used for floodlit matches between 1957 to 1959 to that from the 2021/22 Premier League season worn by Ryan Fraser. As you would expect there are shirts worn by many of the legends that have played in the famous black and white stripes, such as Bob Moncur, Gazza, Andy Cole, Peter Beardsley, Pavel Srnicek, Les Ferdinand, Shay Given, Gary Speed and of course Alan Shearer.
As with the Manchester City book, 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 revolving door of sponsors that now adorn the front of shirts.
No doubt fans from St. James’ Park will pore over each and every shirt, each providing memories of their own, 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 1976 League Cup Final, an unused Aertex shirt from the Club’s 1983 Asian tour, various special shirts from testimonial games and a reminder of the recent global pandemic with a 2019/20 shirt which has the NHS logo on the sleeve and also the players name replaced with ‘Black Lives Matter.’
Not to be forgotten, goalkeepers are represented within the book, with shirts that range from a classic plain green jersey from 1980-1982 worn by the likes of Steve Hardwick and Kevin Carr, a 1989/90 blue striped affair worn by the much-travelled custodian, John Burridge, a technicolour ‘broken glass’ ASICS classic worn by Pavel ‘is a Geordie’ Srnicek, all the way through to the luminous colours favoured by modern day No:1’s such as Martin Dubravka.
This is a another great addition to the growing list of titles about football kits and shirts in particular, which is undoubtedly aimed at Magpies supporters, but will appeal to anyone interested in shirts and their continually evolving history.
(Publisher: Conker Editions Ltd. August 2022. Paperback: 208 pages)
Buy the book here: Black and White Stripes