Sunday, January 25, 2009

Obscure Kits From British Football History #9

Chelsea (away)
1978 - 1981

You'll have gathered by now that SPAOTP are big fans of ITV4's brilliant retrospective of vintage football, The Big Match Revisited. The series showing hour-long re-runs of football action from the 1978/79 season is a joy to behold for anyone that yearns for a more innocent time before rampant commercialisation took over.

This week's show featured a First Division clash between Manchester City and Chelsea at Maine Road dated January 22nd 1979, and it's from here that we get the latest in our Obscure Kit series.

With Manchester City playing in all-Sky Blue, Chelsea (managed by Danny Blanchflower) couldn't possibly enter the field of play wearing their traditional Royal Blue shirts for fear of a colour clash. It was therefore time to wheel out the change strip, and even by the rich and varied history of all Chelsea'a change strips, this one was a bit peculiar.

When playing away from home, Chelsea have worn various colour combinations down the years - white and blue, red and white, even yellow and blue, but between 1978 and 1981, Chelsea opted for the rarely seen combo of yellow and green.

A quick check of my True Colours book by John Devlin tells me that ostensibly this was an all-yellow kit with green trim, but on certain isolated occasions (such as the aforementioned match against Man City) green shorts would be worn to create a distinctly 'Norwichesque' ensemble.

Chelsea's kit at the time was made by Umbro and featured their familiar styling du jour, namely the famous diamond logo running liberally along the sleeves, shorts and stocking tops. It was a device they used to great effect on their blue and white home kit back then, but when their yellow away kit was originally launched in 1977/78, it featured blue trim, not green.

Obviously someone in the Marketing department decided to change things around to give the team a more Brazilian feel for the following year, but it didn't do them much good - they were relegated at the end of the 78/79 season and promptly stayed in Division Two for five long seasons.

Oh well, at least they'd make up for that with interest a decade or two later. And as for that yellow and green kit, we've still got the photographic evidence to remind us of a time when Micky Droy et al looked ever so slightly Brazilian. Or like a member of Norwich City's reserve team - one or the other.

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