Another away kit shocker

by Mark Andrews

Now that the wait is over and the quite revolting new purple and black striped away kit is revealed, and given that we are only days away from the publication of the publication of the definitive book on the early years of Arsenal as a professional club, I thought it would be a good time to briefly review away kits in particular from a historical perspective.

The new away kit is possibly the most ahistorical offering since the green and blue monstrosity of the Woodcock era.

Most believe the low point in away kits was the bizarre bruised banana shirt of the early 90’s. I concur that it was the worst Arsenal away shirt of all time but at least that had a semblance of historical validity merging the very historically accurate blue with the yellow in an acid house cacophony.

Building on our work in the aforementioned “Woolwich Arsenal: the club that changed football”, we know that the original away kit was white – usually with  blue shorts, while in 1908 – 1910 an all blue shirt and shorts combination was used.   We also know that the Reserves played a home game against West Ham on 1st January 1910 in blue shirts.

The club returned to white as an away shirt in 1911, and the Reds v Blues public practice matches were played in August 1908, 1909 and 1910. All other seasons (both before and after that period) were played as red v whites.

It is possible that the blue colour was tried as an effort to save money and produce blue shirts for both the goalie and the away kit. As at the start of the 1909/10 season the Arsenal goalkeeper, Hugh MacDonald was noted by a member of the home crowd to be wearing for the first time a distinctive blue shirt. The exact phrase from the crowd was used according to the Kentish Independent reporter: “what’s ‘e playin’ in blue for? …rotten I calls it”.

This was due to the FA decree that as of the start of that season goalkeepers had to wear distinctive clothing, so that the official could see them in a scrum of players. At first the rules stipulated that these be red (not much use to Woolwich Arsenal) or blue, and within a few years green was permitted as a third colour for the goalkeeper.

The away kit was generally white or blue until the late 1960s when yellow as an away colour was used in 1969. It had previously been seen as the Arsenal colour in the FA Cup final in the 1950 season.

The recent 2008 away kit of white with dark red/burgundy trimming was arguably the most accurate away kit ever produced in historical terms. It is my favourite, though the 2005 yellow and blue variant of the 1979 kit runs it close as it brings back memories of the last minute Alan Sunderland goal, and this was the kit worn when we last won a trophy.

So as we bemoaned last year’s blue kit, it was at least of a traditional colour. However  this year we have another awful away kit which is neither traditional or aesthetically pleasing.


The new book Woolwich Arsenal: the club that changed football, is published on 20th July, 2012, and is available directly from the publishers.  For more details on the book please following this link


27 Replies to “Another away kit shocker”

  1. Not sure why you think the “bruised banana” shirt was an all time low. my crowd think its one of the best and in fact I have it on good authority that it was one of the best selling shirts of all time. its still in my wardrobe and gives me happy memories of Wrighty, Merse and smudger

  2. Interesting to read of the original permitted colour for goalkeepers’ jerseys.
    For many years before and after WW2, a goalie in an international match wore a distinctive yellow jersey but sadly now it’s a common sight in any class of match.

  3. Whoever is responsible for this coming season’s away kit should be shot.
    I like a white shirt with red trim, white shorts, white socks,personally.
    Can’t beat it… check out sixties’ photos.

    And the home kit is dire; a blue collar butted to red shirt? Awful.

  4. Robn,

    Possibly because those “happy” memories include being beaten by Wrexham in the FA Cup in 1992 while wearing the bruised banana kit.


  5. We wore red with white sleeves, not yellow, in the 1952 Cup Final against Newcastle.

  6. Dave,

    Thanks, I have amended the copy to incorporate your comment – It comes from not double checking the only bit of information I used from the historical kits site, which shows the correct red colour on one entry and refers to yellow in another.


  7. Arsenal direct website has listed the Purple and Black Striped kit as “Training Kit”.

  8. To be more precise this kit is listed as “AFC Nike Training Top” in Arsenal Direct. So I think you have jumped the gun by declaring it as the “Away Kit”

  9. I agree that the new away kit is ‘orrible.
    I am glad to have it confirmed that their is no historicity to it either – thanks.

    My favourite away kit is the Gold and Blue…We are Gold, We are Blue etc.

  10. Why should an away kit necessarily have to be the same colour as an old one from back in day? Why are people getting lairy about the fact that purple is a ‘non-traditional’ colour?

    If you think the kit is horrible just say so, don’t try and justify your arguments by making some half-arsed point about ‘history’.

    Yes, we’ve never had a purple kit before. But then again Arsenal didn’t have a yellow kit for the first sixty-odd years of the club’s life, and now that colour is heralded as a ‘classic’.

    Let’s let this kit make it’s own history, and see how it’s remembered. If we win an FA Cup final in it, then maybe we’ll associate it with happy memories.

    The old 80s green kit has a bad reputation – not because it was particularly horrible, but because it coincided with a poor season (including a memorable loss in the cup to lowly York City).

    My Arsenal wardrobe is full of yellow shirts and blue shirts and white shirts – maybe it’s time to get a little creative and try something new, see how it fits.

    Anyhow, we’re getting a light-coloured third kit this year anyway, so maybe those who don’t like the purple will still have a shirt to get excited about.

    It’s an away kit, the whole point is that it doesn’t have to be traditional – why not let the designers go a little crazy with it every now and again?

  11. Pad,

    Please have a look at the site and you will see the new away kit is “purple and black striped” or hooped.

  12. @Ryan F.
    Forget tradition and the rest of it…the reality is that it just looks bloody horrible.Worse, it’s ugly and we’ve never been an ugly side even in the bad old 55-68 days.

  13. Truly awful – hopefully bad enough to scare the opposition (or have them rolling around laughing). Either way I eagerly await the results of our away games next season (if not the video).

  14. I don’t think it looks all that bad, I actually like it. I also think if a number of you put your prejudices aside and looked at it more objectively then you might like it too. What dictates that the away shirt should follow some historically coloured tradition? Why is everyone so intent on clinging on to the past? And what is gonna be achieved by bitching about it here? (questions all rhetorical).
    We should count ourselves lucky really, I could have been a whole lot worse…. Nike’s effort with this years United shirt looks like a Burberry polo that’s been put through the washing machine with some burgundy bed sheets!!!

  15. Maybe I like the new away kit because I grew up listening to the Cure, and the new shirt looks like a pair of goth chicks stockings!!!!

  16. @ Ryan F,

    As the title of the blog is “the history of Arsenal” I don’t see why using historical arguments is a problem. It appears that as this subject is covered in the forthcoming book (of which I am a subscriber eagerly waiting for the postman) it linked with the away kit being released yesterday.

    The writer made it clear what he thought of the new kit, and was if anything too nice about it. The purple reign kit was met with derision when my office mates saw it. I heard it being described as effluent for the affluent, by the non premier league supporters.

    We are Arsenal with our own traditions and I for one am pleased that Adidas are rumoured to be the new kit suppliers. For the record I am a big fan of the “Bruised banana”.

  17. Alan,

    I am confused, is your comment: “the new shirt looks like a pair of goth chicks stockings!!!!” a vote in favour or against the new shirt?

    Take your point about the Man U away shirt, I thought it looked like a cross between a burberry and a pringle, with a hint of teatowel.


  18. Well, we are stuck with, so might as well support it.
    As others have said, “Here begins the Purple Reign!”

  19. But I notice that Man City cannot stop stealing from The Arsenal…their new away kit is redcurrent.
    A strange move for the team with one of the coolest away kits … ever. (From the late 70’s).
    Seems that they are trying to subsume the Arsenal identity.

    (If you consider these comments to be out of place – then delete. I don’t want to make the place untidy).

  20. I like the new away kit.:-)

    Still Addidas next year more new kits………

  21. m starting to like it. Couldnt digest it the first time though.

    BUT guys, if you have noticed, when you look at the new away kit the first thing your eyes lock onto is the crest. May be thats why they went for it.

  22. Fantastic website. I think a few more photos (especially in this article) wouldn’t go amiss though!

    Watching the Cologne match yesterday, the kit actually seemed overall to be quite bluish, like the dreaded non-events of an away strip we’ve had in recent years but with a little more red. So, not quite the disaster it looks like on the promotional photos.

    And Matt: yes, I thought I’d dreamt that Man City stole our best kit ever then realised it was actually true. I hear they’ve been buying up large patches of real estate around North London lately… 😉

  23. Ryan F

    “Let’s let this kit make it’s own history, and see how it’s remembered”

    As suspected it gave us no luck at all and did create its own history. It will be remembered as the kit we wore when we lost to Bradford of the 4th Division (League 2 in modern parlance)

    Thankfully next seasons away kit is yellow.

  24. Are you able to say what colour socks Liverpool wore in the 1950 FA Cup final ?
    Please do not supply the info available online, which could be incorrect.
    A story I’ve read in a book on LFC states that Liverpool wire blue and white hooped stockings. This was to do with an away match at Portsmouth the week before the Cup final: Liverpool had asked permission to wear their Wembley strip and as Pompey wore red socks they found that they needed replacements for their won red/white ones, so a staff member went into the town and could only find blue/white hoops, so they wore those and again in the Cup final.
    This has resulted in an ongoing dispute on a LFC forum: can any Arsenal fan or source come up with a definite answer,please?

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