It's usually in the run-up to the start of a new domestic season that you'll hear them - the people bemoaning their favourite team's new kit. For some lucky fans, their club will be big enough to command a unique design, one that a major manufacturer will be only too happy to create for a team of great prestige and heritage. For almost everyone else, however, it's likely to be a template kit that's sported in the campaign ahead.
Kit templates have gained something of a negative reputation, a physical sign that a club can only afford an off-the-shelf design rather than an exclusive outfit by Adidas, Puma, Nike et al. This is perhaps unfair. Though it could be argued that some manufacturers should make more effort to create a wide range of designs, it's also true that some templates are good enough to demand the respect of those wearing the kit, be they players or fans.
That's where this occasional series aims to redress the balance, showing the versatility of a decent kit template while exploring the various permutations of styling and colour.
We start with a template many of you will have seen but only worn by one team, perhaps.
Many football kit aficionados used an alternative word - 'horrific.' What was once a by-word for effortless style had now become a challenge for those unwilling to embrace a new era in football kit design. Open-minded invention was how the mid-90's were panning out, and Germany's new kit aimed to prove it in no uncertain terms.
Even the green away shirt, not seen during the 1994 World Cup, used the same motif - to even greater howls of derision. Subtle it was not, yet it didn't stop other teams queueing up for something similar.
Elsewhere in the recently-expanded Europe, Georgia and Latvia were quick to adopt their own take on the Adidas diamonds. (By the way, has anyone else wondered why Adidas created a design founded on so many geometric shapes similar to that used by their rivals, Umbro, in their logo? Just us, then...)
Georgia's home kit, like Germany's, featured a white home shirt, but this time only two colours featured in those diamonds across the shoulders - red and black.
The same red/white/black colour scheme was applied to Germany's home shorts which had a diagonal cut-away across one leg. A peculiar feature and one which, as we'll see, was dispensed with by other teams wearing the same design. Georgia's socks, however, were different and featured the three broad Adidas stripes seen on other Adidas kits around the same time.
The away kit nicely transposed the colours to make red the predominant colour for the shirts and socks with the same black shorts.
Several European clubs also found a way to adapt the Adidas diamonds to their own effect too. In Hungary, BVSC Dreher of Budapest continued the often-used white theme, but chose blue and black as complementary colours.
In Israel. three top-flight teams had this template for their kit, of which Hapoel Haifa's home edition was virtually the same as Georgia's equivalent, and Maccabi Herzliya's was all yellow with blue and yellow diamonds on the shirt. Though evidence of these two outfits is difficult to find online, a third club, Bnei Yehuda, crop up on one or two YouTube videos wearing a very striking orange and black version. Here, as on a few of these Adidas kits, the diamonds do not have a speckled effect, as seen on the original Germany home shirt above, which doesn't unduly detract from the overall look.
The classic white-red-black combo came to the fore again in the form of FC Aarau's home kit for the 1994 and 1995 period, but arguably the best version of all was worn by Italian club Bari.
Using only a red and white palette, the club from Puglia looked fantastic both home and away, due in no small part to the absence of the wacky diamond cut-away on the shorts. In Bari's case, they chose plain white ones for the home kit and red ones for the change strip. Throw in a small flappy collar on the shirt instead of the regular tri-colour v-neck and you have a very nice couple of kits indeed.
Finally, as in Israel, three teams in the top division were wearing the above template, and once again it's difficult to know for sure how two of them looked due to the paucity of evidence. What is known is that Kocaelispor's shirt was white with black and green diamonds, accompanied by black shorts, while Petrolofisi's kit was virtually identical to Bari's, except the red diamonds continued onto their white shorts.
The change strip was all red, but the black and white diamonds were retained, even including the white speckling effect from the home kit. And there was even a bonus for fans of collars as the away shirt had thin red and black piping along the inner edge of the broad white 'V'. More intricate in detail than the other collars, it nevertheless showed the flexibility of the design to be customised for any team that wore it.
It wouldn't be surprising to hear of other teams wearing those crazy diamonds of Adidas, and indeed if you know of any, please feel free to leave us a comment below with details. If possible, we'll try and add a graphic so that everyone can see what the other variations of the template looked like.
Got any favourite templates you'd like us to feature in future Top Template posts? Drop us a line and let us know!
-- Chris Oakley