There is a story going around that Arsenal are going to come out with another special home shirt, in the same way that they did for the last season at Highbury.
This time it is to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the start of the club in December 1886 as Dial Square.
The story goes that Nike are involved in the project to play a season (or at least one game) in dark red shirts with no separate sleeve colour.
The idea is that the maroon shirts for the last year at Highbury were a great success, and that probably is the driving force.
But, as one who has devoted a lot of time in the last few years, to unravelling the issue of Arsenal’s early history, I have some doubts about this. For example, I have never been able to find any reliable evidence that the colour of shirts for the final season at Highbury were in fact a valid reproduction of the shirts worn in 1913.
Likewise although it is often said that the white sleeves were introduced by Herbert Chapman in 1925, the photos of the teams coming onto the pitch for the 1930 cup final show Arsenal playing in a kit where the sleeves are the same colour as the shirt. Which is why I tend to doubt a lot of things that are said about the colour of the kit.
So quite how anyone is dead certain what the exact colour of shirts in 1886 were, I am not sure. To the best of my knowledge there was no colour photography in 1886, and painters were very liberal with their interpretation of what they were given to paint.
Further, the Dial Square matches and even the Royal Arsenal matches, were not properly reported most of the time, and the popular “Illustrated Press” (as newspapers were called once they started running photos) was certainly not fully established until into the 20th century.
But the Tiny Totts did roll out a shirt to celebrate 125 years of not doing very much in 2007 (sky blue and white, I am told), so I guess the thinking is, if the Totts got away with it, maybe we should. I am not sure I quite like that reasoning.
Of course my knowledge might be wrong here, and I don’t claim a complete insight into the early years by any means. My research has been centred around 1910 (see below), so if you know something I don’t (which is not difficult) please do write in and correct me.
My work on Arsenal in 1910 is recorded in Making the Arsenal, and there is now an extract from the book on www.woolwicharsenal.co.uk
You can buy Making the Arsenal at amazon.co.uk or here
- Read what The Online Gooner said about MAKING THE ARSENAL here
- Read what Arsenal World said about the book here
- Read what Arsenal Independent Supporters Assn said about Making the Arsenal here
- Read what A Cultured Left Foot said about Making the Arsenal here
- Read a review of the Untold Arsenal (our reports on Arsenal day by day in the 21st century) here
I think that’s enough reading.
(c) Tony Attwood 2010