Monday, 20 August 2012
Many think the home kit of this era to be the greatest England shirt of all time, yet it is the red away version that I always fondly remember. A quarter past five on the 16th June 1982 we kicked off our World Cup campaign against Platini and the French. A Bryan Robson goal just a minute later and we all really thought it could be ‘This time’ after the disappointment of missing Argentina in 78. It’s interesting to note that both sides wore their away strips although the home ones didn’t clash.
Worn for this match with white shorts and socks, it really suited Paul Mariner with the shirt doing its best to hide the shorts, complementing his wonderful head of hair. As an eleven year old boy, I thought he really looked sharp. Coolness personified. Yet the exact same articles of clothing did nothing for Mick Mills. Some players just need a large flappy collar! It would go on to get another outing in the second round against West Germany although this time with the correct red socks.
This was to be Ron Greenwood’s last hurrah as England boss and we went home without being beaten. It was a great squad of players, perhaps never bettered? The kit certainly hasn’t been.
2. Zaire (1974 Home)
Green and yellow are the traditional colours for Africa, Leopards are native animals there. Some things are just meant to be. What that country needed was a football shirt that would fulfil a purpose after the side were knocked out and could be worn back home with a pair of flared jeans and an afro.
Adidas got it bang on I’d say. The picture on the front was bigger than most modern day sponsors logos and has inspired a generation of real t-shirt copies ever since.
They reversed the colours for the second strip although this lost the collar and with it some of its charm becoming a simple V-neck.
Then of course there’s that Brazil free kick which guarantee’s this kit will always be seen and loved by generations to come.
3. Scotland (1986 Home)
Jock Stein was the manager that night but suffered a fatal heart attack due to the stress caused by the whole affair. His assistant at the time was a certain Alex Ferguson, then manager of Aberdeen. Ferguson stepped up to the mark and led his country to Mexico.
A traditional blue number from Umbro, the shirt was striped horizontally in two different tones, yet it was the shorts which always stick out in people’s minds. A big bold horizontal stripe ran through the middle of them! Other than this band, the kit was very conservative with standard Umbro collar and very plain socks.
It was this under stated but smart look that made the blue stripe on the shorts seem even more shocking and appealing.
Defeats to Denmark and West Germany both by the odd goal and a goalless draw with Uruguay saw the brave scots go home early.
It was also a brave attempt by Umbro as the competition was hotting up, especially from Denmark and the superb creations from hummel.
4. Belgium (1982 Home)
Braces, need I say any more? Admiral’s greatest template idea which had the most important of features, a design that continued from the shirt to the shorts.
These weren’t just striped braces but ones that had small admiral logos running down the length of them in a similar fashion to the stripes on the Tottenham and Leicester kits a few years previously.
Belgium started the tournament with a win over holders Argentina and wore white shorts with their red shirts and socks. The yellow braces on the white shorts looked a little harder to interpret yet maybe due to the quality of the opponents have become a little iconic. Well in my eyes anyway.
With the likes of Gerets, Ceulemans and West Ham’s Van Der Elst, this was one of the greatest Belgian sides ever to be assembled. They however struggled to make an impression after beating the holders gaining a 1-0 victory over the very inexperienced El Salvador and only managing to draw with Hungary.
That first game was enough to see them win the group and go on to face Poland and the Soviet Union in phase two. Belgium struggled to make an impact and went out quietly. After the European Championships two years previously where they had reached the final this was a bitter disappointment.
Once again the kit is fondly remembered for its design rather than the performances whilst wearing it.
5. Peru (1978 Home)
Wins against Scotland and Iran plus a very commendable draw against the Dutch blur into the memory compared to events that would occur in the second round.
That defeat to Argentina is one of the most controversial moments in World cup history, if they were playing Olympic badminton they would without doubt have been thrown out of the competition.
The politics behind it all are no way near as simple as the kit. A plain white shirt with a large red sash diagonally adorning it has become synonymous with Peru, but 1978 saw it in one of its simplest forms.
A colour way not unfamiliar to those in Argentina, River Plate wear the same design, this had a large Peru badge which was just as simple as the shirt itself. Two red stripes either side of a white one with the letters F.P.F. above them.
I recently saw a picture of Peru in the 1936 Olympics and the design, even down to the badge, was the same.
Over the years Umbro and Adidas amongst others have produced this kit, yet never deviating from what must be a very strict brief. It’s so good Peru have become far and away my favourite South American footballing nation just on the basis of it.
I’m even partial to the odd can of Red Stripe when they’re playing.