I must confess to not being much of an expert on South American domestic club kits. I guess the relatively low profile many of the sides have in Britain (or certainly had during my kit awakening in the late '70s) is the reason. In fact probably the only fact I seem to have retained about shirts south of Mexico way is that at some point or other they all seem to have been sponsored by Coca Cola.
However, one South American shirt design has always stuck in my head for its originality, freshness and simple downright coolness, and that’s the iconic blue and yellow home strip worn by Boca Juniors - arguably Argentina’s most famous club.
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Of course all Boca home shirts are dominated by the in-your-face yellow band stretching across the chest. Its a remarkably simple but remarkably effective piece of design and one that has influenced many contemporary kits where large colour blocks are used to dramatic and dynamic effect. None, however, wear them with as much as panache as Boca. Perhaps it's the fact that the chest band often seems to appear just a little deeper than would be obvious?
The shirt was way ahead of its time in terms of fit and style and was beautifully put together with a thin and rather low-slung wrapover crew neck accompanied by the always stylish version of the adidas trefoil logo, minus the text and of course their trademark three-stripe trim. Interestingly for the era, there are no cuffs on the shirt; a decision perhaps prompted by the high South American temperature.
The kit was actually first worn in 1978 but it wasn't until 1980 that the final small (but very important) finishing touch was added in the shape of the four-star Boca Juniors badge. Each star houses the letters ‘C A B J’ which, of course, stands for Club Atlético Boca Juniors.
Its always puzzled me why this stunning strip design hasn't been ‘borrowed’ by more clubs, and in fact the combination of blue and yellow in this way is also relatively scarce. Legend has it that the distinctive colour scheme was apparently inspired in rather curious circumstances.
The story goes that another Argentinian side, Nottingham de Almagro, wore a similar kit to Boca and so in 1906 a one-off match was played to decide who could keep the colours as their own. Boca lost and decided to wear the national colours of the first boat to sail into port at La Boca the following day. It turned out to be a Swedish boat, Drottning Sophia, and so the classic blue and yellow colour scheme was born.
I can’t help but think Boca clearly eventually came out as winners in the fashion stakes, though.
Written by John Devlin, founder and illustrator of TrueColoursFootballKits.com.
John can be found on Twitter and True Colours is also on Facebook.
This shirt is part of The 50 Greatest Football Shirts Ever. The full list can be viewed here.