Monday, July 10, 2006

Obscure World Cup Kits From History #3

Today, we take you back to 1970 and the sweltering heat of Guadalajara in Mexico. England are playing their first match at the World Cup as defending champions against Czechoslovakia and memories of their dramatic 4-2 win over West Germany in 1966 are still abundant. Such evocative images - 93,000 people crammed into Wembley, the wide green expanse of that pitch, lush from the previous night's rain, and those bold red shirts worn by the England side as they strode out to face the Germans. How those red shirts would become engrained into our collective consciences over the decades to follow.

So what better way to keep the memory going by starting the first match of the 1970 campaign wearing... SKY BLUE?!?! Whose idea was that?!?

Yes, England amazingly broke with tradition by temporarily abandoning the red worn with such pride in 1966 - a decision made even more incomprehensible given the fact that Czechoslovakia were wearing white. Remember, this was in the era when most of the world were watching in black and white. How could you tell which team was which?

The simple answer: England were the team in front. The debut of this sky blue strip on the world stage coincided with a 1-0 victory over the Czechs thanks to a 50th minute penalty from Allan Clarke. Yet this was no ordinary kit - this one, like the all-white strip worn in England's other matches of the 1970 World Cup, had little perforations in its shirt to allow the sweat to evaporate and the air to get to the body. And you wondered where those tea-bag manufacturers got the idea from...

Strangely, this was the last time England wore a sky blue strip for about twenty years and the next time they had to wear a change strip in the 1970 World Cup was in the quarter finals against West Germany. They reverted to the classic red and white from 1966, but it didn't bring them luck - they lost 3-2 and bombed out of the competition.

It's one of those kits you either love or hate, but it's just possible that it might have given England a bit of luck back in 1970. Will we ever see its like again, I wonder?


Smart said...

It reminds me of a subbuteo 'team' I had in the early 80's. It was the Spurs away\third strip, which also doubled up as Club Brugge.


Chris said...

LOL! Blimey, how the memories come flooding back!!!! Brilliant attention to detail there with the mention of Club Brugge!!!

Flicktokick said...

England have had sky blue change strips a few times since, including in 1986. Against Argentina they had sky blue shorts and socks on.
They also had a sky blue strip with a large lion printed on it which I dont think they ever wore.
Incidentally Bobby Moore playes his last match for England wearing a YELLOW strip. Away to Poland in a World Cup qualifier. I don't think that one saw the light of day again.

Chris said...

You're quite right, Flicktokick. England have had four pale blue strips since 1986 and the one you mentioned featuring the three lions was worn twice in 1992 for friendly matches against Spain and Czechoslovakia.

That yellow kit is a good shout. Now we ARE talking about obscure kits! It was apparently worn three times in 1973 - twice for friendly matches against Czechoslovakia and Italy (what is it with the Czechs?!?) and once in an important World Cup qualifier against Poland.

Thanks for reminding us, Flicktokick!


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