Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Obscure Kits From British Football History #10

Sheffield Wednesday (home)
1965 - 1972

As a football fan of some advanced years there comes a point in your life when you find yourself pondering some of the quirkier aspects of the game's history. Things like 'When was the last time Ron Atkinson was a colour other than orange?' or 'Was Bryan Robson born injured?'

One such question that recently crossed my mind (and frankly didn't have far to travel) was "Why are Arsenal the only team to wear a shirt that has white sleeves contrasting another main colour?" It did, honestly.

The answer I arrived at was a simple one. Arsenal's white sleeve motif is not unique in the history of world football. North of the border, Hibernian have worn green shirts with white sleeves for many years while other teams such as Middlesbrough and Manchester City have had brief dalliances with the same white-sleeved approach in the not-so-distant past.

One team, however, abandoned the longest traditions of their football kit history for seven long years back in the mid-60's as they opted for white sleeves on a blue shirt. They were Sheffield Wednesday.

If ever a club remained unflinchingly attached to the uniform they wore, it was this one. For as long as anyone can remember, Sheffield Wednesday have always entered the field of play wearing blue and white striped shirts - even going back to the late-19th century when they were simply known as 'The Wednesday'.

So many players have been seen wearing those stripes over the years: Tommy Craig, Terry Curran, Carlton Palmer (OK, perhaps not Carlton Palmer...) The team's on-field identity remained strong and resolute throughout, yet between 1965 and 1972 it was all thrown away in favour of the strip you see here.

And make no mistake - this wasn't a 'here today, gone tomorrow' affair either. This was a genuine attempt at injecting some life into a famous old club at a time when they were on something of a high.

Having established a foothold in the old Division 1 in the late-1950's, The Owls pushed on and reached the FA Cup Final in 1966, although sadly this kit wasn't seen at Wembley thanks to Everton having first choice of shirt colours. No matter - Wednesday's kit was seen by a great many people before it disappeared without trace in 1972, never to be seen again.

From that point onwards it was back to the tried and trusted blue and white stripes, but distinctive though they are, who here would like to see the white sleeves return? I would, but then that's because I have a mind that ponders on quirky stuff like Ron Atkinson's skin colour and Bryan Robson's medical record.


Anonymous said...

Ipswich did a, kind of, reverse Sheffield Wednesday and went from blue and white stripes to blue with white sleeves in 1936, a kit that they wore until 1964 (and indeed wore when they won the 1st Division title under Alf Ramsey in 1961).

We also revived a version of that kit for a couple of seasons in the Premier League, 1992-94.

Chris O said...

Ah yes, you're quite right there. I remember being particularly fond of the 1992-94 version!

flicktokick said...

I remember the kit well. It was important enough to be No 17 in the Subbuteo catalogue - where it was also the reference for Karlsruhe in Germany.
Not that I'm a geek or anything, of course.

Chris O said...

You know what, flicktokick, I had this vague Subbuteo reference floating around in the back of my head while I was writing that article and you've just made me realise I wasn't losing my marbles!

I must have seen that kit subconsciously on the old Subbuteo wallchart for years without knowing it!

Actually my research tells me that this kit was originally used for Sheff Wed and Brighton up until 1980. By that time, Brighton had changed their strip (as had Sheff Wed), so they left it as a 'blank kit' with no club associated with it up until 2002!

Not that *I'm* a geek or anything...


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