Book Review: The Shirt Hunter: One Man’s Ceaseless Pursuit of Classic Football Kits by Perris Hatton

When I was first standing on the terraces of my beloved Fulham as a child, replica kits just weren’t a thing, but all this changed when Admiral came on the scene in the 1970s. With their bold designs and colours Admiral were the pioneers that led to the creation of the multi-million pound business in football kits that exists today.

The story of the Leicester based company is superbly told in another of Conkers Editions, fine stable of books, Get Shirty: The Rise & Fall of Admiral Sportswear and provides context for Perris Hatton’s The Shirt Hunter: One Man’s Ceaseless Pursuit of Classic Football Kits. Admiral not only provided the catalyst for the replica shirt market of today, but also could be said to have sparked the start of the collectables scene.

Fulham Osca remake 1981/82

One thing reading this book did was to look back at my own teams recent shirt history. Fulham, of recent years have been a Premier League club and is reflected in the fact that since 2013/14 have been with Adidas. Those of us though that remember the days of life in the lower echelons of the Football League will recall, that we had kits manufactured by companies such as Osca, Scoreline, DMF and Vandanel – companies mostly long since gone. Interestingly though, that whilst finding original replicas of those shirts will cost a small fortune, a retro market in remakes has taken place, so for Fulham for instance there are some great versions which pay homage to the Osca kits worn between 1981 and 1984.

Hatton is a major football shirt collector and dealer and uses all his knowledge and experience in the field to produce an interesting and entertaining book that will be a great read for anyone interested in football shirt memorabilia. Not only does he provides some hints and tips on buying, collecting and selling, but also various amusing anecdotes as he trawls the country for hidden treasures.

The largest part of the book, however, is given over to an A-Z of football kit manufacturers past and present, where you’ve find details and facts about the modern day big-guns of Adidas, Macron, Nike, Puma and Umbro, side-by-side with lesser known names lost since lost to polyester heaven – all as ever in true Conker Editions fashion, colourfully and lovingly illustrated.

(Publisher: Conker Editions Ltd. October 2023 Paperback: 184 pages)


Buy the book here: The Shirt Hunter

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UEFA 2020 Euro Championship – Day 25

The start of the last week of the 2020 European Championship Finals and just three games left, with the two Semi-Finals (Tuesday and Wednesday), culminating with the Final on Sunday. But for now it’s a rest day, so a look at instead the shirt manufacturers that the twenty-four nations have donned in this competition.

Leading the way is Nike with 9 countries (Croatia, England, Finland, France, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia and Turkey), with the German giant Adidas just behind on 8 (Belgium, Hungary, Germany, Russia, Scotland, Spain, Sweden and Wales), with the remaining 7 split between Puma with 4 (Austria, Czech Republic, Italy and Switzerland) and Hummel (Denmark), Jako (North Macedonia) and Joma (Ukraine), all having just one nation to their name.

England (c) Historical Football Kits

Sales no doubt of England’s shirts will have gone through the roof, as will replicas from the past, as the Three Lions have made it to the Semi-Finals and expect that to increase even further if England manage to make it to the Final. If they do and went on to win it, the shirt will attain iconic status – but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Austria (c) Historical Football KIts

It is disappointing to see that Puma have provided a templated approach to the change strips for their teams at this tournament and come in for more criticism from me for a quite eye-wateringly bad colour combo for the Austrian alternate strip. Whilst on the warpath, I’m also not a fan of the Portugal kits by Nike, with the collar and button on the red strip giving it the appearance of a polo shirt and as for the change strip with the weird, coloured bands…eeewwww.

Denmark (c) Historical Football Kits

My favourite…well it has to be Denmark’s distinctive red and white Hummel kit. There is something about the chevrons that is standout, and no doubt brings back memories of the Danes 1992 winning the Euros. Its good to see Hummel back in the English market with Everton and Southampton, amongst others donning Hummel strips and I look forward to seeing those designs in the forthcoming new season.

I’ll leave you with a little curious shirt stat from the Quarter-Finals. All the winners wore white shirts…

2012/13 Newcastle United (Away Shirt)

Manufacturer: Puma

Sponsor: Virgin Money

Shirt front

This was the four season that Puma had produced The Magpies kit and carried the Virgin Money logo. This logo appeared in January 2012, replacing Northern Rock on the shirts, and lasted only until the end of the 2012/13 season, before the controversial shirt deal with Wonga in 2013/14 began.

In terms of design, the away shirt was burgundy with a shoulder flash in navy, with burgundy shorts and burgundy socks with a single navy band. There was also a third strip which mirrored the away kit with the burgundy replaced with fluorescent lime green.

Shirt back

Pulling on the shirt that season for The Magpies were:

Adam Campbell, Cheick Tioté, Dan Gosling, Danny Simpson, Davide Santon, Demba Ba, Fabricio Coloccini, Gabriel Obertan, Gaël Bigirimana, Haris Vuckic, Hatem Ben Arfa, James Perch, James Tavernier, Jonás Gutiérrez, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Massadio Haïdara, Mathieu Debuchy, Mehdi Abeid, Mike Williamson, Moussa Sissoko, Nile Ranger, Papiss Cissé, Paul Dummett, Rob Elliot, Romain Amalfitano, Ryan Taylor, Sammy Ameobi, Shane Ferguson, Shola Ameobi, Steve Harper, Steven Taylor, Sylvain Marveaux, Tim Krul, Vurnon Anita, Yoan Gouffran and Yohan Cabaye.

Having finished a very creditable fifth place in 2011/12, which earned Newcastle a spot in the Europa League, 2012/13 proved to be very nearly catastrophic with relegation only avoided by five points, as they ended the season sixteenth.

Alan Pardew’s team opened their league campaign with a 2-1 home win over Spurs, followed by a 2-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea. Draws followed at St James’ Park, 1-1 with Aston Villa and 2-2 at Everton, with a 1-0 home win over Norwich City and a 2-2 draw at Reading. A second defeat of the season came at home 3-0 to Manchester United, but bounced back with a draw at local rivals Sunderland 1-1, a 2-1 victory over WBA ay home and a creditable 1-1 draw at Anfield, against Liverpool. Ten games played, only two defeats and a comfortable mid-table position.

However, the club then went on an awful run of thirteen games, in which only seven points were picked up out of a possible thirty nine. This barren spell included ten losses including a 7-3 hammering at Arsenal. This left The Magpies in amongst the relegation candidates and battling for survival. Their cause was helped as in their next two games, Newcastle pulled off two straight wins, including a win on the road at Aston 2-1 and at home over Chelsea 3-2. However, they couldn’t put forward a run and as the games ran down, they would win one and follow it with a loss. They were very much still in danger with three games remaining after a 6-0 home defeat to Liverpool, but managed a 0-0 at West Ham, before a 2-1 win with 10-men at QPR guaranteed their Premier League status with a game to go. Their last game of a disappointing campaign saw them slip to a 1-0 defeat to Arsenal.

There was no great run in the FA Cup (sponsored in this campaign by Budweiser), this season, as Newcastle exited the competition in the Third Round, losing at then Championship side Brighton. The Magpies had a number of injuries going into the tie, and their cause was also not helped in the game when Shola Amoebi was sent off for a second bookable offence. Brighton’s goals came courtesy of Andrea Orlandi after thirty three minutes and three minutes from time through Will Hoskins.

Given that Newcastle were in Europe for this season, they were exempt from entering the League Cup (sponsored by Capital) until the Third Round. They were handed a tough trip away to Manchester United, going down 2-1. United went two-up through Anderson (44’) and Tom Cleverley (58’), but The Magpies got back in the tie after sixty two minutes through Papiss Cissé. However, United held on and progressed to the Fourth Round.

Newcastle save their best cup performances for the Europa League. In the Play-Off Round, they emerged 2-1 aggregate winners over Greek side, Atromitos, with Haris Vuckic getting the solitary goal at St James’ Park in the Second Leg which sent The Magpies through into the Group Stages.

Programme v Bordeaux

Newcastle were placed in Group D, along with French side Bordeaux, Marítimo from Portugal, and the Belgian team Club Brugge. The Magpies opened their European adventure with a 0-0 draw at Marítimo and followed it with a 3-0 home win over Bordeaux (programme right). In matchday three and four, Newcastle played Club Brugge home and away. At St James’ Park, a Gabriel Obertan goal on forty eight minutes secured a 1-0 victory and all three points. In the return in at the Jan Breydel Stadium in Belgium, The Magpies came back from 2-0 to snatch a draw through goals from Vurnon Anita and Shola Ameobi. Newcastle secured progress to the knock-out phase with a 1-1 draw at home to Marítimo. The Magpies travelled to Bordeaux knowing that in order to top the group, they had to beat the French side. However, Les Girondins won 2-0 to take top spot, whilst Newcastle had to settle for finishing second.

Into the Round of 32, The Magpies faced Metalist Kharkiv from the Ukraine, with the First-Leg ending 0-0 at St James’ Park. In the Second Leg at the Metalist Stadium, a Shola Ameobi penalty on sixty four minutes was enough to sent Newcastle through 1-0 on aggregate, with Tim Krul outstanding in goal for The Magpies. Newcastle’s reward was another trip to Eastern Europe in the Round of 16 this time to Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala. The First Leg at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow saw Newcastle emerge with a creditable 0-0 draw. Back at St James’ Park Newcastle left it late, scoring three minutes into time added-on to go through once again 1-0 on aggregate with Papiss Cissé the hero.

The Magpies were one of three English teams in the last eight, with Chelsea and Spurs making up the Premier League trio. Newcastle travelled to the Estádio da Luz in Lisbon to face Benfica, and despite going ahead after twelve minutes through Papiss Cissé, succumbed to a 3-1 defeat. Papiss Cissé put The Magpies ahead with nineteen minutes remaining in the Second-Leg, but as Newcastle went in search of a second that would have taken them through, Benfica scored in stoppage time to end The Magpies European adventure 4-2 on aggregate.

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2013/14 Newcastle United (Home Shirt)

Shirt front

Manufacturer: Puma

Sponsor: Wonga

This was the fifth season that Puma had produced the United kit, and the first that it controversially carried the Wonga logo, with the deal with the loans company continuing until the 2016/17 campaign. Indeed, certain players initially refused to wear the shirt, but were persuaded otherwise before the league campaign got underway.

In terms of design, the famous black and white Newcastle stripes were added to by light blue and gold trim, worn with black shorts and black socks.

Shirt back

Pulling on the shirt that season for The Magpies were:

Adam Armstrong, Adam Campbell, Cheick Tioté, Conor Newton, Curtis Good, Dan Gosling, Davide Santon, Fabricio Coloccini, Gabriel Obertan, Gaël Bigirimana, Haris Vuckic, Hatem Ben Arfa, Jak Alnwick, James Tavernier, Jonás Gutiérrez, Loïc Rémy, Luuk de Jong, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Massadio Haïdara, Mathieu Debuchy, Mike Williamson, Moussa Sissoko, Papiss Cissé, Paul Dummett, Remie Streete, Rob Elliot, Romain Amalfitano, Ryan Taylor, Sammy Ameobi, Shola Ameobi, Steven Taylor, Sylvain Marveaux, Tim Krul, Vurnon Anita, Yoan Gouffran, Yohan Cabaye.

Behind the scenes, the reign of owner Mike Ashley was again subject to protests during the season, as was the appointment of Joe Kinnear as director of football. Kinnear though didn’t last the season as he resigned from the post in February 2014.

This was to be United’s fourth season back in the Premier League since winning promotion and one which saw them finish in tenth position, with 49 points from their 38 league games. Their best run in the league saw them collect four successive wins in November, beating Chelsea 2-0 at home, 1-0 at Tottenham Hotspur, and two 2-1 victories over Norwich City and West Bromwich Albion. This pushed Newcastle up to fifth in the table, their highest position during the campaign and saw manager Alan Pardew win Manager of the Month. Any chance of making it into the top-six faltered badly in the New Year as from their last nineteen games they only won five games.

In the League Cup (sponsored that season by Capital One), Newcastle were drawn away to League Two Morecambe, with the Premier League side leaving it very late to secure the win. Shola Ameobi put The Magpies in front with just six minutes remaining, with his brother Sammy getting United’s second, four minutes into added-time. The Third Round brought Leeds United, then in the Championship to St James’ Park, with The Magpies again securing a similar 2-0 score-line as in the previous round. Papiss Cissé gave the home side a 1-0 lead after thirty-one minutes, with Yoan Gouffran sealing the win with a goal on sixty-seven minutes. Into the last 16, United were once again given a home draw, with fellow Premier League opponents, Manchester City the visitors to the north-east. It was a tie that ended 0-0 after ninety minutes, with City progressing to the Fifth Round after two goals in extra-time through, Álvaro Negredo (98’) and Edin Džeko (105’). City went on to win the League Cup against Newcastle’s rivals Sunderland at Wembley with a  3-1 victory.

There was no great run in the FA Cup (sponsored by Budweiser), this season, as Newcastle exited the competition in the Third Round, losing at home to Cardiff City (programme left), who were then in the Premier League. The Magpies looked to have been going into the draw for the Fourth Round draw after Papiss Cissé had put a much changed Newcastle team 1-0 up after sixty-two minutes. However, the visiting Bluebirds had other ideas as Craig Noone levelled on seventy-three minutes, and then struck a winner ten minutes from time through Fraizer Campbell, giving Cardiff passage with a 2-1 come from behind victory.

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FIFA World Cup 2014 – Sunday 13 July 2014

Of course we all know that it is the World Cup Final between Argentina and Germany tonight. However, at Adidas Headquarters in Herzogenaurach, Bavaria, there will be celebrations whatever the outcome as the winning team will be wearing kit made by the German company. Nike had to make-do with their two big-hitters (Brazil and Netherlands) squabbling over the play-off fixture yesterday.

Replica kits are big business and having your teams in the showpiece game affords major publicity and advertsing that is priceless. So who are the ‘Kit Kings’ from the World Cup Finals? I’ve started from 1974 as prior that point kit manufacturers logo’s didn’t appear on the playing shirts.

1974       West Germany: Adidas

1978       Argentina: Adidas

1982       Italy: Le Coq Sportif

1986       Argentina: Le Coq Sportif

1990       West Germany: Adidas

1994       Brazil: Umbro

1998       France: Adidas

2002       Brazil: Nike

2006       Italy: Puma

2010       Spain: Adidas

It’s probably no surprise that Adidas top the list given that they have been around since 1924 and have always sponsored the German national team. As a point of interest both Puma and Umbro were founded in 1924, but their respective records are poor by comparison. As for American giants Nike, they are a relatively new company, being founded in 1971 and came into football sponsorship (in Europe) much later. Their prize contract is that of Brazil which came into force in 1996. Even older that Adidas and popular in the 1980’s were Le Coq Sportif, founded in 1882, but no longer a major player in international football kits, but their involvement in football was enough to scoop two World Cup winners.

However, when you look around the streets week-in-week out, what is the international shirt that people are wearing (excluding England)? Invariably it is a Brazilian shirt – is that the power of Nike or the myth of Brazil as the ‘spiritual home of football’?

Whatever the result tonight, I can’t see a boom in the sale of German or Argentinian shirts in England…